When Adley Rutschman’s long-expected promotion to the Orioles finally came last Saturday, the team announced that the top prospect would be assigned No. 35.
That shouldn’t have been a surprise. Rutschman wore No. 35 as far back as Oregon State, and Oriole jerseys with 35 have been regularly sold and spotted at the ballpark since last year.
However, there have been fans and even media members who expressed outrage. Mike Mussina wore No. 35, and his jersey was never retired by the Orioles despite entering the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Mussina’s legacy with the Orioles was a complicated one. He left the team after 10 seasons to join the New York Yankees in 2001. His statistics were a little better in 10 seasons with the Orioles than his eight seasons in New York. Mussina, who won 270 games and lost 153 in his 18 seasons, was 147-81 with the Orioles and and 123-72 with the Yankees.
He declined to be identified with either the Orioles or Yankees on his Hall of Fame plaque.
The Yankees have retired 21 numbers, including those of Ron Guidry, Elston Howard, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams, all outstanding players who aren’t in the Hall of Fame, but they’ve yet to retire Mussina’s 35.
The Orioles have retired just six: Earl Weaver (4), Brooks Robinson (5), Cal Ripken Jr. (8), Frank Robinson (20), Jim Palmer (22) and Eddie Murray (33).…