A drive to get NASCAR to retire the black No. 3 Chevrolet driven by late racing star Dale Earnhardt has gained significant momentum, but columnist Steve Campbell of the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union refuses to give it a push.
Campbell has nothing against Earnhardt, whom he considers "perhaps the best race-car driver in history." It's just that he thinks that people have the whole concept of retiring numbers backward.
"Leon Spinks should have his car retired. Ted Kennedy should have his car retired. Frank Drebin should have his car retired.
"Not Dale Earnhardt."
Instead, he suggests, why not retire the numbers that have brought bad times and bad karma?
"Wouldn't Boston Red Sox fans get on with their lives easier if the team retired Bill Buckner's number instead of Ted Williams' and Carl Yastrzemski's?
"Do New York Mets fans really want to look at Kenny Rogers' No. 37 again? Could it be that part of Rob Johnson's problem with the Buffalo Bills is that he has been wearing Scott Norwood's No. 11? Wouldn't the New York Yankees be better served jettisoning the jersey of Ruben Sierra than the treasured numbers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and the rest?
"And wouldn't it be best for all concerned if no Carolina Panther ever wears Rae Carruth's No. 89 again?"
An honor he'll do without
When first baseman Wally Joyner returned to the Angels this season after a nine-year hiatus, his old No. 21 had been taken by reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa. So, when the Angels asked what other number Joyner might like to wear, he suggested No. 5, his number when he played at Brigham Young.
"I was surprised it was available," Joyner told the Los Angeles Times.
The number should have been retired long ago, but Brian Downing declines to cooperate. Downing wore No. 5 from 1978 to 1990, playing in more games than anyone else in franchise history. He holds team records in nine offensive categories.
The Angels would like to retire No. 5, but Downing has repeatedly refused, still unhappy in part because the team released him in 1990 without advance notice.
Should staff ace wear No. 1?
Before this season, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rob Ducey requested to switch from 25 to 2.
"Duce" has always wanted to wear deuce.
His number's up
Keith Olbermann, formerly of Fox Sports Net, wondered whether that was because "he's been around so long that his speedometer just turned over?"
Earning their letters
The New York Yankees have retired 14 numbers - four more than any other baseball team.
Broadcaster Tony Kubek, an ex-Yankee whose number is not retired, said several years ago that club owner George Steinbrenner wants to retire every available number.
"He wants to have his players wear letters, a first for baseball," Kubek said. "He could have a diphthong on first base, a vowel on second and, who knows, maybe an umlaut on third."
And he could always retire Billy Martin's "#$&*@!!!!"
Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.