Remember star birthdays? Probably not, if you were born at either the very beginning or the very end of the month, long after this particular fad passed from childhood. Your star birthday is when you turn the age of your day of birth; mine is 14, and I remember thinking, “welp, it’s all downhill from here” (spoiler alert: mostly this is true). Since this is the 11th day of celebrating number 11, let’s look at some other luminaries who have worn the double-ones for the Seattle Mariners:
- Tommy Smith, 1977 - Tommy Smith came to Seattle as part of the expansion draft. He played in 27 games, got seven hits, and then never played professional baseball again. For all I know, that first season of Mariners baseball so broke him that he went down to the docks, clambered into a cargo container and sailed off for someplace they’d never even seen a trident.
- Charlie Beamon, 1978 - Charlie Beamon, Sr., was a pitcher with unremarkable numbers who played for three seasons with Baltimore. Charlie Beamon, Jr., was an OF/1B/DH with unremarkable numbers (I take it back, a DH who hits .200 is pretty remarkable) who played for three seasons, two of them with Seattle.
- Mario Mendoza, 1979 - 1980 - Hey! It’s the guy from the line!
- Jim Maler, 1981 - Jim Maler was a highly regarded prospect out of the South, an exciting, dynamic young hitter who was the Mariners’ first-round draft pick in 1978 and oh hey what’s this from Wikipedia:
Maler suffered a severe knee injury his first year in the minor leagues with Seattle, which slowed his career. . .It seems that, just as quickly as Maler's promising young career began, it was over. He played his final big league game on July 24, 1983. His big league career was over before his 25th birthday as he suffered another devastating knee injury in 1984 that ended his Major League career.
You’ll have to finish this article on your own, I have some candles to light.
- Bud Bulling, 1982 - 1983 - look, there’s no way Bud Bulling was a real person. That’s not a name a person has, that’s the name of a stock player in a video game.
- Darnell Coles, 1983 - If you read the article linked in yesterday’s entry in this series, you’ll know that Darnell Coles is the guy manager Jim Lefebvre was depending on to become a third base superstar, because he was an “athlete,” whereas Edgar was a “no one” waiting in the wings. In 1989, Coles slashed .252/.294/.359; in 1990, .215/.248/.336 before eventually being traded and having his job taken by the person who now wore his old number.
- Bob Kearney, 1984 - 1987 - Kearney was a catcher who played for the Mariners and that’s probably all you need to know about him.
And that’s it.* So far. See, technically Edgar’s number can’t be retired yet because under Mariners policy, only players in the Hall of Fame are eligible to have their numbers retired. I know, right? This is the official policy:
The Mariners plan to retire uniform numbers only very selectively and subject to substantially higher expectations than those applied to the Mariners' Hall of Fame. To be eligible to have one's number retired, in addition to the criteria outlined above, the former Mariners should have either a) been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and been in a Mariner's uniform for at least five years, or b) come close to such election and have spent substantially his entire career with the Mariners. Eligibility shall not commence until after the former player has been voted on once for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which for all practical purposes means six years after retirement.
Aw, they’re so cute when they’re being all legalese-y. I’m not sure if pulling less than 50% of the vote counts as “coming close” but it sure seems like that second clause is in there to protect the ability to retire #11 even if the BBWAA makes the wrong choice. But it would be so much easier to make the right choice. Make the right choice, voters.
*Currently, Vinny Nittoli is wearing #11 at Modesto, Matt Festa is wearing #11 at Everett, and D.J. Peterson is wearing #11 at Tacoma, but this is okay because we like all those guys. Especially D.J. Go, D.J.!