Whether it happens on Sunday or next season or (incredibly) years from now, the Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s No. 2. But, if Jeter’s number is retired this weekend, his will be just the second of the 20 men whose numbers were retired while still an active player — Mariano Rivera became the first last September.
That’s not to say every other player has had to wait three, four or even 10 years after their playing days to receive the honor. Here’s a look at the quickest turnarounds in pulling a number from circulation in the franchise’s storied history.
The 32-year-old former MVP catcher died tragically on Aug. 2, 1979, while practicing landing a plane in Ohio, just a day after scoring a run in the Yankees’ 9-1 victory against the White Sox. Owner George Steinbrenner wasted no time retiring his captain’s No. 15 that same day.
“The Iron Horse,” who was forced to step away from the diamond due to ALS, played his final game on April 30, 1939. The team rallied support for the captain and retired his No. 4 on July 4, just 65 days later. It was that day Gehrig gave the famous “luckiest man on the face of the Earth” speech.
“The Yankee Clipper” hung up his spikes for good at the end of the 1951 season, leaving as a champion when the Yankees beat the then-New York Giants in six games on Oct. 10. Barely six months later, the Yankees gave “Joltin’ Joe” a proper sendoff and retired his No. 5.
The former three-time MVP and seven-time World Series champion called it quits after the 1968 season, signaling the end an era in franchise lore. Given all his accomplishments, and his status as one of the most beloved Yankees of all, it was a no-brainer to retire his No. 7 on June 8 the following year.
“Donnie Baseball” called it a career after the 1995 postseason — during which he hit .417 with a home run and six RBIs in five games — unfortunately missing out on an elusive World Series ring by one year. But, the Yankees did right by their former MVP and captain by retiring his No. 23 on Aug. 31, 1997.