When Will the Milwaukee Brewers Retire No. 17?

Adam LindemerSenior Analyst IFebruary 14, 2009

If you're like me, you've been a Milwaukee Brewers fan practically your whole life. And if you're also like me, you might be wondering why the No. 17 jersey isn't retired.

That number belonged to James Elmer "Gumby" Gantner for 17 years, as he played in Milwaukee from 1976-92. He wore No. 17 for 17 years, huh? Interesting.

What's even more interesting is that no other Brewers player has ever donned the No. 17 on his back since Gantner. So what are they saving it for?

Hang it up next to the other Milwaukee greats; Hank Aaron (No. 44), Rollie Fingers (No. 34), Paul Molitor (No. 4) and Robin Yount (No. 19).

Gantner stuck to his roots as he never left the state of Wisconsin during his entire baseball career, and still hasn't since his retirement.

He was born and raised in Eden, Wisc. (near Fond du Lac), went to Campbellsport High School, and then to college at Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Gumby was then drafted by the Brewers in the 12th round of the 1974 Amateur Draft. He is now the manager of the Wisconsin Woodchucks, based in Wausau.

Gantner was part of the tremendous trio for the Brewers, with Yount and Molitor. Yount came into the majors first in 1974, Gumby two years later in '76 and then Molly in '78. Gumby was the third musketeer for his entire 17 seasons in the majors.

But he was a musketeer nonetheless. Time to show Gumby some love.

Gantner is the type of guy that doesn't care about this, though, and he shouldn't. The organization rather, needs to realize what Gumby brought to the team...consistency and a steady work ethic.

No. 17 won't be retired because Gantner was a Hall of Fame hitter; a career .274 hitter, he never hit .300 in a single season (his highest being .298 in '77 and .295 in '82). He finished with 1696 hits, including 262 doubles as well.

No. 17 will be retired because Gantner knew how to play defense (hence the "Gumby" nickname), with a career fielding percentage of .982.

Like Yount, Gantner was a "lunch-pail" guy, who came to work everyday, and did what it took to win. Every major league team should want 25 Jim Gantners on the roster.

I do believe it's finally time for the Milwaukee Brewers to show Gumby some recognition that will last a lifetime...and beyond.