Henderson’s No. 24 is ready to retire

By Susan Slusser
Updated: February 24, 2009

ARIZONA — In another sign the A’s are preparing to retire Rickey Henderson’s jersey number, catcher Kurt Suzuki switched from No. 24 to No. 8 this spring.

“He’s a Hall of Famer and they’re retiring his number, so that’s a good enough reason,” Suzuki said Monday. “No complaints on my end. Rickey deserves to have his number retired. I just agreed.”

A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich said there has been no official decision about retiring Henderson’s number and noted that the team waited until the year after Dennis Eckersley was elected to the Hall to retire the closer’s No. 43.

There have, however, been rumblings that the A’s are pointing toward this year to put No. 24 on the outfield wall, and a team source said not to be surprised if it happens sooner rather than later this season.

Suzuki said he’d worn No. 24 as a tribute to a high school teammate, Jarrett Tanaka, who died in a car accident when Suzuki was a sophomore at Baldwin High School in Maui, Hawaii.

“He was like a brother to me, and people always said we looked alike, too” Suzuki said.

Suzuki selected No. 8 in part because of another Hall of Famer, one whose jersey the Yankees retired in 1972.

“It’s a good number,” he said. “Yogi Berra. So now it’s Yogi Suzuki.”