CHICAGO–New Cub pitcher Ted Lilly will not be allowed to wear number 31 for the Cubs in 2007. According to interim President John McDonough, the Cubs do not have plans for retiring #31, worn by Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and surefire first ballot Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, but it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to have someone else wear the number.
“We’ve had some great players wear number 31,” McDonough said, while Yankees owner George Steinbrenner held a ceremony retiring Corey Lidle’s #30 Yankee jersey. “From Mark Guthrie to Donovan Osborne, old number 31 has a lot of great memories,” McDonough said, as Alex Rodriguez’s #13 was preemptively retired behind him and, coincidentally, Donovan Osborne’s #46.
“You know, Bobby Ayala wore number 31,” McDonough continued, as Jim Leyritz and Alfonso Soriano shook hands with Steinbrenner on ESPN, holding aloft their recently-retired #12 jerseys.
“And don’t even get me started reminiscing about Kevin Foster’s days as number 31 in your scorecard,” McDonough said, briefly distracted by a “Remembering Ruben Sierra” segment on ESPN which coincided with the retirement by the Yankees of his #24 jersey along with Jesse Barfield’s #29 and Steve Balboni’s #28, #36, #45, #50, and #66.
“Beloved Comcast analyst Dan Plesac also wore the number since Jenkins and Maddux left,” McDonough added, talking over the sound of cheering as ESPN televised the hoisting of Kevin Brown’s #27, Javier Vasquez’s #33, Jose Contreras’s #52, and Brad Halsey’s #57 and #61.
It remains to be seen if the Cubs will eventually retire #31 in honor of Maddux and Jenkins. It also remains to be seen if the Yankees will start using fractions instead of whole numbers on the backs of their jerseys.