On-Base Perception

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Ichiro and the 31 Yankees jersey number

New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki smiles as he

New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki smiles as he looks out of the dugout just before a game against the Mariners in Seattle. (July 23, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Ichiro Suzuki began his Yankees career in a familiar place with an unfamiliar number on his back.

When the first pitch from the Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda was delivered Monday night, there was Ichiro -- in rightfield at Safeco Field wearing No. 31.

Traded from the third base dugout to the first base dugout several hours before the game, Ichiro didn't ask the Yankees for the No. 51 jersey that he wore for the first 2,533 hits of his career with Seattle.

''No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it's hard for me to ask for that number,” Ichiro said at Monday's pregame news conference.

Although the number is not among those retired by the Yankees, No. 51 hasn't been worn by any Yankee since Bernie Williams last played in 2006. Williams is still a fan favorite and draws one of the largest ovations at Old-Timers' Day in the Bronx.

But the No. 31 jersey has its own history with the Yankees. Among those to wear that number are Hall-of-Fame rightfielder Dave Winfield and should-be Hall-of-Famer Tim Raines. Winfield, of course, had the more storied (and tumultuous) career in New York, playing 10 years and earning the moniker ”Mr. May” from late owner George Steinbrenner. Raines' time was shorter, but he did help win two World Series titles (1996, 1998).

Here's a look at every player who has worn No. 31 for the Yankees:

Roy Sherid, 1929
Ed Figueroa, 1976-80
Dave Winfield, 1981-90
Hensley Meulens, 1990-91, '93
Mike Humphreys, 1992
Bob Wickman, 1992
Frank Tanana, 1993
Xavier Hernandez, 1994
Brian Boehringer, 1995
Tim Raines, 1996-98
Dan Naulty, 1999
Brian Dorsett, 1999
Ben Ford, 2000
Glenallen Hill, 2000
Lance Johnson, 2000
Ed Yarnall, 2000
Steve Karsay, 2002-05
Jason Anderson, 2005
Aaron Small, 2005
Jose Veras, 2006
Josh Phelps, 2007
Edwar Ramirez, 2007
Ian Kennedy, 2008
Michael Dunn, 2009
Javier Vazquez, 2010
Ichiro Suzuki, 2012
 

And these coaches wore No. 31 for the Yankees:

Charles O’Leary, 1930
Jimmy Burke, 1931, '33
Cy Perkins, 1932
John Schulte, 1935-39
Art Fletcher,  1940-45
Red Rolfe, 1946
John Corriden, 1947-48
Jim Turner, 1949-59, ‘66-73
Johnny Sain, 1961-63
Jim Gleeson, 1964
Cot Deal, 1965
Mel Wright, 1974-75
Jeff Torborg, 1979

Tags: ichiro suzuki , yankees , tim raines , dave winfield

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