Every year various teams will bestow honors on various players or personnel in some fashion in their home ballpark. Be it retiring a jersey number, or induction into the team’s Hall of Fame, other like honor, or a statue dedicated in the person’s honor. And 2017 was no different.
2017 MLB Stadium Honors And Number Retirements
Being that 2017 was the 70th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier, the Los Angeles Dodgers bestowed the honor of being the first of non-number retirement for the franchise, besides a retired number, on Jackie Robinson. The dramatic statue of Robinson sliding into home in front of Dodger Stadium was unveiled on the anniversary date of his debut.
Other new stadium statues unveiled over the summer included;
Finally, a Ken Griffey, Jr. statue was placed outside Safeco Field in Seattle. Some bit of bad news though, as in October the statue of Griffey’s follow through was vandalized. The perpetrator stole the bat from the statue’s handle! No word on whether or not Griffey will be relocated once a bat is reattached.
The biggest team statue news was in Atlanta as the Braves opened SunTrust Park. Of the four statues that were outside Turner Field, only the Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro statues made the trip from Turner Field. The statue of Ty Cobb, that was outside the Braves’ homes since the 1970s, was planned to be shipped to Cobb’s home town of Royston, GA, while the original Hank Aaron statue would wind up staying on the grounds of the Braves’ previous two homes. This was due to a legal dispute between the Braves and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority. A new Aaron statue has been added in SunTrust Park, as part of an exhibit dedicated to Aaron.
Also in the spring, the Braves added a statue of Bobby Cox to the area where the Spahn and Niekro statues are.
Hall of Fame
Barry Bonds’ name was added to the Wall of Fame outside AT&T Park in San Francisco, which like the Brewers’ Wall of Honor is attained by achievement merits as opposed to other instances of team honors, where it is more about the honoree’s relevance in team history.
Which makes the 2017 additions to the Washington Nationals’ Ring of Honor seem a bit on the head scratcher side. First, the franchise that disowned the Montreal Expos retired number, added a third player whose number was retired by the Expos to the Ring of Honor with Tim Raines (the others being Gary Carter, and Andre Dawson). While Raines’ career ended some time before the franchise relocated to Washington, Ivan Rodriguez did play two seasons in Washington. It does seem clear though that both of them being members of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was the reason for them being added to the team’s ring of honor.
The Philadelphia Phillies had a dilemma with their 2017 Wall of Fame selection of Rose. While his induction would have been controversial enough considering the long-standing battle with Cooperstown, days before his scheduled induction the enshrinement of Rose was canceled due to news of a sex scandal had recently broken. The Phillies still held scheduled events for the induction weekend, but it was turned into a somber affair to honor the recently deceased Wall members Dallas Green, Jim Bunning and Darren Daulton.
In Other Halls of Fame News
The Twins added Michael Cuddyer and Andy McPhail.
Along with the statue, Frank Robinson’s number 20 was retired by the Indians, the previous season they had inducted him into their team Hall of Fame. With the retirement, the Indians became the third team to retire Robinson’s number (all number 20), and that ties Robinson with Nolan Ryan for the most franchises (not including Jackie Robinson’s across the board number retirement) to bestow a number retirement honor on a single person. Of course, Robinson is the only one with the same number as the Angels and Houston Astros retired Ryan’s 34, while the Texas Rangers retired Ryan’s 34.
In June the Red Sox retired David Ortiz’ 34, and the White Sox bestowed the same honor on Mark Buehrle’s 53. Ortiz was the 10th Red Sox to have his number retired, while Buehrle was the 11th White Sox. The last two of the 2017 number retirements were by teams with far fewer. Speaking of all-time great DHs, Edgar Martinez became the second ever Mariner to have his number retired, when the Mariners retired his number 11 on August 12th. The same day the Texas Rangers retired Rodriguez’s number 7, making him the third Ranger to have his number retired.
In upcoming franchise Hall of Fame news, in early December it was announced that the Colorado Rockies acquired a lease on a lot adjacent to Coors Field, with the purpose of creating a Ballpark Village, complete with a Team Hall of Fame.
Also in future franchise honors news, the Oakland Athletics have announced a Rickey Henderson statue to be unveiled outside their stadium sometime during the 2018 season. This would be the first such non-retired number based honor bestowed by the franchise.
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