There are no retired numbers within the Jays organization aside from Jackie Robinson’s #42, which was a league wide retirement. With so many Jays seasons in the history books, and so many great players having played for the Jays, you would imagine that at least a few would be worthy of a number retirement, but such has not been the case…..thus far.
Jared Macdonald recently touched on Roberto’s induction in the Hall of Fame, being the first player to ever be inducted while wearing a Blue Jays cap. There is some evidence that the Jays may in fact be ready to go through with and announce a number retired for Roberto Alomar’s #12. Here is what I came up with:
- First, he is one of 9 people who have been inducted into the Blue Jays Level Of Excellence. I’m somewhat a fan of this kind of recognition since it gives the organization a chance to recognize excellence, but I do think that in some cases it could be used as a way of not being forced to retire a jersey number. However, I don’t believe that this is the case in Roberto’s case. Of the 9 people inducted, 3 do not have jersey numbers to retire anyhow, so you do see the need for this kind of recognition in their cases (Tom Cheek, Paul Beeston, and Pat Gillick).
- Second, he may only have played a portion of his career in Toronto, but winning back-to-back championships there during that time surely makes it as “significant” a time as it could be. His level of play as a Blue Jay warrants an accolade as highly thought of as a jersey retirement, and he is unlikely to be surpassed by any future player at his position within the Jays organization. And hey, if someone does come along and plays 2B better than he did, retire his jersey as well, because that will be one great player.
- Third, he wore #12, the same number that had been worn by Edwin Encarnacion in 2010. Vernon Wells was dealt to the Angels, and suddenly Edwin Encarnacion picks up his #10 in order to begin the 2011 season. Did he always prefer #10 to #12? Not if you follow his career jersey numbers which have him wearing #12 or 28 the majority of the time (both with the Reds and the Jays), and #7 on a shorter occasion. So why the sudden need to change his jersey to #10? He could be sending a message that his bat will replace Vernon Wells in the lineup, but that seems like a far-fetched idea (something a friend and I came up with over a beer).
- The biggest evidence I have that Alomar’s number may be retired this season lies in that I believe that when Edwin left Toronto briefly and went to Oakland, the Jays made the decision to retire Roberto Alomar’s jersey in 2011 and that no player would get to wear #12 as a result. Therefore, with the decision already made, when Edwin signed with the Jays they let him know that #12 was unavailable and he was forced to grab another number. I’m not sure why he decided to wait until Vernon departed and chose to wear #10, but I do know that if he had his choice, he’d most likely still be wearing #12.
Maybe I’m making too much out of nothing here and could be way off base, but I do believe that the Jays are itching to show off some of the greats in their history and Alomar fits that bill the best now that he will be a Hall of Fame inductee. I would not be surprised in the least if the Jays announced plans to retire his number at some point this spring and to see his #12 retired for good by the Jays. As the best second baseman, and arguably the best position player, ever to wear the Jays uniform, he definitely deserves it. Building a class of Blue Jays greats by retiring jersey numbers that start with Roberto’s #12 would be a perfect first step to increasing the sense of historical greatness within the entire organization, from its players, all of the way through to its fans. Sure, you can have something like the level of excellence, but it doesn’t have the same effect as retiring the player’s number because the enormity of the commitment required differs.
It would be great to start seeing some jersey retirements for the Jays when warranted, but the Yankees have something that is the perfect historical value place in Monument Park, and, in my opinion, it’s time that the Jays promote and build the importance of their history in a similar manner. Any ideas on how the organization could enhance the visibility and meaning of the Blue Jays Level Of Excellence and how it could be improved?
Hopefully we will see Roberto Alomar’s #12 retirement ceremony sometime in 2011. If we don’t, I will be one very surprised individual.