home sitesearch contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Former Baseball: Yankees retire number of Louisiana Lightning

Daily Advertiser, August 24, 2003

NEW YORK – Ron Guidry wiped tears from his eyes as his framed No. 49 jersey was carried onto the field at Yankee Stadium.

After 14 fantastic seasons in pinstripes, "Louisiana Lightning" was simply overwhelmed by the cheers this time.

The New York Yankees retired Guidry’s number Saturday and gave him a plaque in Monument Park alongside the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

"This will probably be my toughest game, to tell you how much I appreciate today," Guidry said from the podium at home plate.

Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Phil Rizzuto and Dave Winfield were on hand to honor Guidry – plus former teammates such as Goose Gossage, Don Mattingly and Graig Nettles.

The No. 49 was painted along the baselines, and fans received a commemorative Ron Guidry Day pin. He became the 16th player – and second pitcher (along with Ford) – to have his number retired in the 101-year history of the Yankees.

Jackson carried Guidry’s framed jersey out to the podium, and public address announcer Bob Sheppard read the inscription on Guidry’s plaque, which listed both of his nicknames – "Gator" and "Louisiana Lightning."

Part of it read: "A dominating pitcher and a respected leader of the pitching staff for three American League pennants and two world championships. A true Yankee."

The slender lefty with the biting slider spent his entire 14-year career with New York, winning 170 games from 1975-88 – which ranks fourth on the team’s career list. He helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1977 and ’78.

"Twenty-seven years ago I walked into the stadium for the first time and I remember looking at this field and seeing how beautiful this place was," Guidry said. "Every little boy’s dream is to play major-league ball. I feel fortunate not only that I got to play pro ball, I got to play it with the only team I ever wanted to play pro ball for."

A four-time All-Star, Guidry had one of the greatest seasons ever for a pitcher in 1978, when he went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts and 248 strikeouts en route to the AL Cy Young Award.