Frivolties: 27 Days
There are 27 days until we all hear the four sweetest words in the English language: Pitchers and Catchers report. With that in mind, and because reader Len has pointed out how infrequently we’ve been posting, here are some fun baseball-y things having to do with the number 27.
1) For all New York Yankees fans, Joe Girardi’s number has become something of a running gag. When he first took over for Joe Torre, he wore number 27, because of his stated goal of winning the 27th World Championship in New York Yankees history. While it would have been a little funny for the bizarre tactician’s number to stay 27 forever (er, until his inevitable firing), Girardi and the Yankees did win their 27th World Series in 2009. Girardi then changed his number to 28, much to the chagrin of Curtis Granderson, who joined during that subsequent off-season after a 3-way deal involving the Diamondbacks and his former club, the Tigers. Granderson has worn #14 in New York.
2) Yankee fans also love the number 27 for its connection to the 1927 Yankees, arguably the greatest team of all-time. That team went 110-44 and swept the World Series 4-0 for their first of two consecutive World Series championships. That team featured the top three home run hitters in the American League: Babe Ruth (60), Lou Gehrig (47) and Tony Lazzeri (18). Ruth personally out-homered each of the other seven American League teams.
3) Juan Marichal is probably the greatest pitcher to ever don #27. The “Dominican Dandy,” as I literally just found out he was nicknamed, wore #27 for all of his fourteen years with the San Francisco Giants. Marichal won 20 or more games 6 times and 243 for his career. Although he was a 9-time all-star, playing at the same time as Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, and Fergie Jenkins made him arguable the best pitcher to never win a Cy Young.
After wearing 41 through his 30th birthday, right-hander Kevin Brown changed his number to #27 after joining the Marlins prior to the 1996 season. That year, he would lead the league with a 1.89 ERA (215 ERA+) and 0.944 WHIP and would maintain the number 27 for the rest of his career – which saw him land the most lucrative deal in history up to that point (7 years, 105 million dollars) and get jobbed out of two Cy Young awards that he probably should have won (1996, and 1998 in his lone season with the Padres).
4) Jeromy Burnitz never wore #27, but he did hit 27 home runs in 1997. This is only significant because it led the Milwaukee Brewers, and 1997 was my first year following baseball. Being as he led my favorite team, I thought 27 home runs was a lot – until I watched the playoffs and saw how many Ken Griffey Jr. had hit that season. Incidentally, Griffey twice hit 27 home runs – once in 1992 (after which he would close out the decade averaging 53 per 162 games) and again in 2006, his last year as a full-time center fielder.
5) Eight different players have hit exactly 27 home runs and exactly 27 doubles in the same season; among those, Tommy Davis probably had the best year, winning the batting title at .346 and leading the league in both hits (230) and RBI (153) for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962. Reggie Jackson accomplished the feat twice, once in his lone season as a Baltimore Oriole, and again 9 years later as a member of the California Angels.