NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With Hiroki Kuroda wearing number 18, newest Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka had to choose a new number.
His choice? Number 19.
The number was most recently worn by backup catcher Chris Stewart, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this offseason.
Many Yankees’ greats wore the number including postseason hero Aaron Boone, longtime lefty Dave Righetti, hard-throwing righty “Bullet Bob” Turley and utility man Luis Sojo.
Even franchise legend Whitey Ford briefly wore the number 19. Known mostly for his trademark number 16, Ford wore number 19 during his rookie season. Third baseman Robin Ventura wore number 19 after joining the Bombers from the crosstown Mets in 2002.
One Yankee number 19 whom Tanaka would be wise not to emulate is Jack McDowell. “Black Jack” endured a rough ride in his lone season in the Bronx in 1995. McDowell famously gave a middle-finger gesture to fans at Yankee Stadium after being booed off the field after a getting shelled against the White Sox on July 18, 1995.
Oddly enough, McDowell was facing Righetti that day in the second game of a doubleheader.
Yankees fans are hoping that the number will prove lucky for Tanaka, after the prized Japanese ace signed a seven-year contract worth $155 million.
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