Willie Mays: Should MLB Retire #24? A Number Many Legends Have Worn

The Hall-of-Famer behind "The Catch" has passed away at the age of 93-years-old. MLB legend Willie Mays was certainly famous for his incredible play on the field, but he also became synonymous with the number on his back. In fact, on ESPN's morning show Get Up, this morning, the topic came up of whether or not Major League Baseball should retire Mays' number 24. Don't get your hopes up. While it would certainly be a respectful nod honoring Mays in this way, other professional sports associates have traditionally not taken this route in recent years. For example, although it has been debated often, the NBA has not retired Michael Jordan's #23, but the NHL did retire Wayne Gretzky's #99. The difference is that this was very close after Gretzky's retirement. In addition to being a World Series champion, Mays was also a 24-time all-star. His signature #24 was retired by the San Francisco Giants in 1972. This speedy outfielder ended his career with the Mets from 1972-1973. New York retired #24 just two years ago in 2022. Over the past 40 years of baseball history, many iconic players have sported #24. If the number had been retired, these stars would have had to select something else. Actually, one of them did. Let's explain. MLB Legend Willie Mays Wore #24, Here Are Some Others Who Also Have Willie Mays was the Godfather to Barry Bonds. In Pittsburgh, where Bonds started his career, Bonds opted to honor his Godfather, sporting 24 on his back. However, this obviously had to change when Bonds then played for Mays' team, the Giants, starting in 1993. Bonds switched to #25. Staying in the outfield, Ken Griffey Jr. rocked #24 with the Seattle Mariners. To this day, the Mariners blue jersey with 24 prominently placed on the back, and the backwards M's cap is one of the best baseball poster images around. Though he eventually switched to #99, Manny Ramirez was #24 with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. Over his 14 years wearing that number, Ramirez won two World Series titles. Rickey Henderson who also had an incredible combination of power, speed, and defense also wore #24. Behind only Mays, many consider Henderson to be the second best baserunner in MLB history. Henderson played 25 seasons. He played for nine different teams, but after four different runs with the Oakland A's his number 24 was retired by the franchise in 2009. More recently, Miguel Cabrera wore #24. Current players who are playing in the major leagues who sport Mays' number on their back include Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees and David Peralta of the San Diego Padres. Both are also outfielders. As we continue to pay tribute to Mays the debate remains open on whether or not #24 should be retired forever. Would you have preferred all of the players mentioned above selected a different uniform number honoring Mays in this way?

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