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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Other teams celebrate good old days, too

Mel Stottlemyre during the New York Yankees 65th

Mel Stottlemyre during the New York Yankees 65th Old Times' Day prior to their game against the Colorado Rockies at Yankee Stadium. (June 26, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

You've heard it before: Nobody does Old-Timers' Day like the Yankees.

But that doesn't mean nobody else honors their retired stars.

The Yankees, who had their 65th Old-Timers' Day Sunday, are the lone baseball franchise to hold one every year.

Two teams, the Tigers and Reds, have considered bringing back the tradition but decided to go with multiple events during the season. Other clubs hold events their fans cherish just as much as what took place at Yankee Stadium Sunday but don't call them "Old-Timers' Day."

The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, for example, held a "Legends Game" on June 11 at AT&T Park. Gaylord Perry was the only Hall of Famer to play in the game, but Willie Mays and Willie McCovey were in attendance, as they are for nearly every Giants home game.

"We constantly are celebrating our history," said Mario Alioto, the Giants' senior vice president of corporate marketing. "Our past is a big part of who we are today. There's a feeling of our history around the ballpark and with our fans."

The same can be said for the Tigers, who last held an official Old-Timers' Day in 1999 -- the final season at Tiger Stadium.

Bringing back Old-Timers' Day as an annual event has "been considered in the past because of the rich tradition and history, but not recently discussed," said Ron Colangelo, the Tigers' vice president of communications.

Colangelo is no stranger to tradition and history. A Newark native and former public relations executive with the Jets, Colangelo attended the last Old-Timers' Day at the original Yankee Stadium as a 9-year-old in 1973 and remembers seeing Mickey Mantle hit a home run off Whitey Ford.

(Nice memory. For a video of the home run -- complete with Mel Allen's call -- search "Mickey Mantle 1973" on YouTube.)

The Yankees seem to have the most past to honor, but other franchises have been around as long or longer.

The Pirates, for example, began play as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1882 and were charter members of the National League in 1887. The Pirates, like many clubs, have in recent years used interleague play as the jumping-off point for honoring their glorious teams of yore.

The Pirates used the occasion of a visit by the Baltimore Orioles last week to bring back 19 members of their 1971 team, which defeated the Orioles in a seven-game World Series. Both teams wore 1971-style uniforms in a game that attracted 33,806 fans to PNC Park; the Pirates average just over 21,000 per game.

"We also did the same last year during the 50th anniversary of the Pirates' World Series championship over the hated Yankees in 1960," said -- or boasted -- Jim Trdinich, the Pirates' director of media relations.

Other franchises hold alumni days or alumni weekends. The Phillies will have three days of events Aug. 12-14, beginning with their "Wall of Fame" induction ceremony. This year's honoree is John Kruk.

Statue unveilings are big, too. The White Sox will be adding one for Frank Thomas on July 31. The Cubs will honor Ron Santo on Aug. 10. And the Reds will have a Johnny Bench Night on Sept. 14, complete with a statue added to the four they already have at Great American Ball Park.

(Ted Kluszewski. Frank Robinson. Joe Nuxhall. Ernie Lombardi. In case you were wondering.)

The Red Sox held seven Old-Timers' Days from 1982 to 1993. Many of baseball's historic franchises -- and even our own relatively young Mets -- used to hold annual Old-Timers' Days sponsored by Equitable Life Insurance. But Equitable dropped out and teams eventually discontinued the events because of the cost of bringing large groups of players to town and/or lack of interest.

The Mets stopped their Old-Timers' Days in the early 1990s and now do targeted events, such as honoring the 1969 or 1986 championship teams, holding Mets Hall of Fame inductions or bringing back groups of former players to interact with fans and the community.

"We've done major events, but year-in, year-out, we feel that the alumni association activity is a great way to bring the players back and engage them with our fans and the community," said David Howard, the team's executive vice president of business operations. "We do it over the course of a season rather than in a single day."

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