OPINION: Todd Frazier Right To Keep No. 29 For Yankees
Todd Frazier was perhaps the biggest name in a mutli-player deal between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees on July 18. A slugging third baseman, Frazier also played for the Cincinnati Reds, where he won the 2015 Home Run Derby, and returns close to home to a team fighting hard for a playoff spot.
Originally from New Jersey, Frazier appeared on field at Yankee Stadium back in 1998 after the Toms River Little League team won the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Now as a seven-year MLB veteran, Frazier has been able to return to the East Coast, along with former Yankees pitcher David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, who was a member of the Yankees organization before his MLB career.
Frazier had worn no. 21 while with the Reds and White Sox, and was looking to also wear 21 with the Bronx Bombers. But while that number is not retired, it is rarely been worn in the past decade.
That’s because Paul O’Neill had donned no. 21 during his tenure as a Yankee from 1993 to 2001. Following his retirement and impressive career with the Yankees, who won four World Series titles in that time. A fan favorite, 21 will certainly be linked to O’Neill for a long time.
When I heard Frazier was inquiring about 21, I was excited. He idolized O’Neill as a child, and being a ‘hometown’ guy seemed to validate my thoughts. But now wearing No. 29 since becoming a member of the Yankees, sticking with it and not opting for 21 seems right.
Although he did make an attempt to grab No. 21. Frazier wanted to reach out to Paul O’Neill, but ultimately opted not to. A member of the Yankees clubhouse told Frazier to “keep him at 29.”
O’Neill’s No. 21, while not retired, ought to be at this point. Fans obviously adored him and what he contributed to a Yankees club that was unstoppable in the late 90’s. The last player to wear 21 for New York was LaTroy Hawkins in 2011, who was scorned by fans and ultimately changed his number.
O’Neill is an icon, while Frazier is still looking to build on his MLB career. It seemed ambitious and optimistic for Frazier to try and grab 21, but he can began a new legacy while wearing 29. He has had a down season so far, but the change of scenery on a better team may be able to propel him to help the Yankees earn a postseason bid, all in front of his hometown fans.