Yankees Tradition: The Weight Of This Thing Is Becoming Too Much

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees have a rich and long tradition that they don’t hesitate to flaunt when it’s convenient for them to do so. All of a sudden, though, a situation has arisen that makes it not so convenient.

Yankees outfielder-to-be, Clint Frazier just can seem to get out of his way. First, there was the silly thing about the length of his hair, which the team’s PR Department optimized by ensuring that full-size photos of Frazier getting his locks cut appeared everywhere but on Donald Trump’s schedule for the day.

And now, we have the even more inane story going around that Frazier asked the team if he could wear a jersey with No. 7 on it. And with that request comes a volley of shells being fired and questions being asked as to how Frazier could even think of having the number that belonged to Yankees icon, Mickey Mantle.

Of course, never mind the fact the Yankees long ago retired number seven making it impossible for any future or current Yankee to wear that number again.

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But, let’s get real about this. If Frazier did indeed ask for Mantle’s number, and there’s substantial wonderment about that, more than likely he did it not knowing the history behind his request. And it should have been up to Suzyn Waldman to correct Frazier so he could immediately retract what he said if he said it.

Because first of all, Clint Frazier was not born into this world with an umbilical cord stamped New York Yankees. He grew up in Georgia where the word Yankee means Northerner Liberal. And at this time last year, he was a member of the Cleveland Indians organization and far removed from the swirl of the Big Apple.

Frazier is also 22 years old. He was born in 1994, which is the same year that:

  • Tonya Harding won the National Figure Skating Championship title but was stripped of her title following an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.
  • Oj Simpson fled the police in his white Ford Bronco.
  • Lisa Marie Presley married Michael Jackson
  • Forrest Gump Topped the Box Office Charts

That was a long time ago, wasn’t it? How about the Yankees in 1994 – remember anything about them? They reigned supreme as the best team in the American League before a players’ strike derailed their World Series hopes.

How about the starting rotation for the Yankees in 1994 – can you name even two of the starters that year? I couldn’t. I needed some help.

I’ll include this video because it’s a heartfelt tribute to “The Mick” and symbolizes what many Yankees fans may be feeling following Frazier’s gaffe:

My point is this. It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that Clint Frazier was not aware of the #7 mystique and if you asked him today who played second base on the vaunted 1961 Yankees Championship team alongside Mantle, he would only be able to look at you with a blank stare (Answer: Bobby Richardson).

Clint Frazier, like all of the Baby Bombers, is a professional ballplayer who happens to wear the uniform of the New York Yankees. He is paid to hit home runs, not to be the team’s Official Historian.

Yankees Tradition – Bah Humbug!

And the same goes for all of them. The weight of this thing called “Yankees Tradition” is becoming a bit too much.

And to expect this new breed of team talent to follow in the footsteps of someone like Derek Jeter, who played the role to the hilt and deserves an Academy Award for his performance, is not only nonsense, but it’s counter-productive to what the Yankees are trying to achieve here.

The Core Four is gone, and I’m almost thankful for it in the sense that these kids deserve a chance to carve out THEIR  era of Yankees history. Mickey Mantle, if he were alive today, would be 86 years old. I remember watching him play as many of you do as well.

But, in every sense of the word, he’s history. Having said that, I would hope that all of these Baby Bombers, and especially Frazier, take a stroll out to Monument Park to spend a few minutes out there, preferably alone, to absorb what the Yankees have built and accomplished over the years.

But it shouldn’t be a requirement. And that’s the crux of what this is all about. It’s not about a uniform number. David Wells, for example, dreamed of wearing #3 as a tribute to his idol, Babe Ruth, for years as a believer. And he was largely admired for that.

The “times they are a changin’ has become my mantra of late. But even an old timer like myself sees there is no sense in fighting what is inevitable. #7 is up on the wall at Yankee Stadium, and it will be there forever as a retired number.

Good for all of us who remember why #7 is retired, but for a 22-year-old, how about just giving him a pass.