In Yankees lore, 45 men have worn the No. 12 since the team began using numbers on their jerseys in 1929. There are plenty of names on that list who are just footnotes in the media guide these days, but among the Nos. 12 are many names that are revered and even a few who are either already in or surely on their way to the Hall of Fame.
2. HONORABLE MENTION: Billy Martin (1950)
On any list of best Yankees, Billy Martin would be a tough omission for almost any “best of” Yankees list…even this one. No. 1 may be retired in honor of Martin in Monument Park, but in his rookie season, Alfred Manuel Martin played 36 games at second base for the Yankees while wearing No. 12. Billy may have “fired” that jersey the next year, but hey, it still counts!
3. No. 12: OF Kenny Lofton (2004)
Like Martin, Kenny Lofton is best known for wearing a different number, the No. 7 he sported with the Indians and five other teams. But, in the one season he patrolled center field at Yankee Stadium, Lofton sported No. 12 on his back, an unfortunate fact many opponents found out while watching Lofton rob them of hits with spectacular catches.
4. No. 11: C/INF Jim Leyritz (1990-92, 1999)
Continuing the trend of No. 12s who achieved fame elsewhere on the numeric dial is Jim Leyritz, who hit his huge postseason home runs in 1995 and 1996 (among other moments) while sporting No. 13. But if you go one click down that dial, 12 is the number Leyritz wore in his first three seasons with the Bombers, and he donned it once again for a portion of the 1999 campaign as well.
5. No. 10: C Ivan Rodriguez (2008)
Rodriguez was iconic as No. 7 for the Rangers, Marlins, and Tigers, but because of that Mantle guy, “Pudge” had to change it up when he came to the Bombers in 2008. Rodriguez took the No. 12 instead, which made “I-Rod” and A-Rod neighbors on both the alphabetical and numerical roster lists.
6. No. 9: RHP Vic Raschi (1946)
Raschi won 120 games for the Yankees from 1946-53, and 12 was one of two numbers he wore in his rookie year. We won’t spoil the other, but we’ll give you a hint: the following year, another New Yorker began a career that made it the most famous number in baseball.
7. No. 8: IF Eric Chavez (2011-12)
Chavez may have bolted for the Arizona desert, but “Ultra-vez,” as John Sterling would call him, was a solid reserve contributor for the Yankees over the last two seasons while resurrecting a career that had been besieged by injuries in recent years.
8. No. 7: 1B/OF/DH Ron Blomberg (1969, 1971-77)
Blomberg is noted for being the first designated hitter in MLB history, and he took that at-bat in 1973 wearing No. 12 for the Yankees. That piece of history alone makes him worthy of a spot smack dab in the middle of this list.
9. No. 6: IF Gil McDougald (1951-60)
From 1951-1960, the Yankees went to eight World Series (and won five of them) on the backs of names like Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Rizzuto. But another key contributor of the ‘50s was Gil McDougald, a career .276 hitter who won the 1951 AL Rookie of the Year Award and played in five All-Star Games during his 10-year career.
10. No. 5: 2B Alfonso Soriano (2002-03)
Soriano wore three different numbers in his first three years with the Yankees, but his near-MVP campaign in 2002 and 30-30 followup in 2003 came while wearing No. 12 – the jersey he has kept throughout his tenures in Texas, Washington, and now Chicago.
11. No. 4: LHP Herb Pennock (1932-33)
Pennock was a Yankee from 1923-33, and wore both 11 (1929) and 16 (1930-31) before switching to 12 for his final two seasons. All told, he won 162 of his 241 games in pinstripes, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1948.
12. No. 3: RHP Waite Hoyt (1929)
Hoyt won 157 of his 237 MLB games with the Yankees, and is the second member of the Hall of Fame on this list…but he edges out Pennock because he was the first Yankee to wear No. 12, taking it in 1929 when the Bombers first added numbers to their jerseys.
13. No. 2: RHP Roger Clemens (1999)
After spending years in Boston and Toronto as No. 21, the newly- Hall of Fame eligible Clemens chose to transpose the digits when he first joined the Yankees and their No. 21, Paul O’Neill, in 1999. “Rocket” soon switched to No. 22, but if you add up the numbers signifying where Clemens ranks on the all-time lists for wins (ninth) and strikeouts (third), you get…12. Spooky!
14. No. 1: 3B Wade Boggs (1993-97)
Kind of fitting that on the first full day another famed Red Sox third baseman became a Bronx Bomber, it’s Boggs who tops this list…and, to be fair, intentional symmetry aside, the guy does have 3,010 hits, five batting titles, and a plaque in Cooperstown.