Monday, February 23, 2015

Best Baseball Players By Uniform Number

All this talk about which Yankees deserve to get their uniform numbers retired leads me to ask: Who are the best baseball players to wear each number?

It reminds me of a list that Rick Reilly made in Sports Illustrated in 1989, calling it "The Heavenly Hundred." He stretched things a bit, giving Number 1 to Jack Nicklaus, since the leader of the Masters "wears" it; 1A to Secretariat, his number in the 1973 Preakness; 41 to Roger Bannister, the number he was wearing when he became the first man to break the 4-minute mile; and said, "This space available" for 93, as it was before Doug Gilmour became a big star.

He also gave 18 to Jackie Robinson, as he wore it as a basketball player at UCLA. Jackie's number on their football team was 28, which Reilly gave to 1950s Detroit Lion Yale Lary. 42? He gave that to Sid Luckman, who, to be fair, was a very important football player; along with Sammy Baugh, 1 of the NFL's 1st 2 great quarterbacks.

I'll do these for the other major sports as well.

These are my picks for baseball. Yankees in bold.

0 Al Oliver, because the zero reminded him of an O. Previously, usually wore 16. Also wearing it, because either their first or last names began with an O, were Oscar Gamble, Oddibe McDowell, Junior Ortiz, Rey Ordonez, Adam Ottavino and Omar Quintanilla.

00 Jeffrey Leonard. Usually wore 30. Other notable players who wore it have been Bobo Newsom (1940s Senators), John Mayberry ('68 Astros), Don Baylor ('88 A's), Jack Clark ('90 Padres), and Jose Canseco ('98 Jays).

1 Richie Ashburn. Don't tell me Ozzie Smith: With a few exceptions, he couldn't hit well enough for his glove to cancel out his bad bat. Also ahead of Earle Combs, Pepper Martin, Frank Crosetti, Bobby Doerr, Pee Wee Reese, George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss, Billy Meyer, Fred Hutchinson, Billy Martin, Bobby Richardson, Bobby Murcer (the 1st time around), Lou Whitaker, Mookie Wilson and Tony Fernandez.

2 Derek Jeter. Ahead of his fellow University of Michigan man Charlie Gehringer. Also ahead of Red Rolfe, Red Schoendienst, Nellie Fox, Zoilo Versalles, Sandy Alomar Sr., Tommmy Lasorda and Bobby Murcer (the 2nd time around).

3 Babe Ruth. Ahead of Bill Terry, Frankie Frisch, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Earl Averill, George Selkirk, Billy Cox, Willie Davis, Harmon Killebrew, Dick McAuliffe, Joe Schultz, Bud Harrelson, Phil Garner, Dale Murphy, Harold Baines, Alan Trammell, Rafael Santana and Ned Yost.

4 Lou Gehrig. Ahead of Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Luke Appling, Joe Cronin, Ernie Lombardi, Marty Marion, Ralph Kiner, Duke Snider, Jackie Jensen, Bob Allison, Ron Swoboda, Lenny Dykstra, Yadier Molina, David Bell, Alex Gordon, and the incredibly underrated Paul Molitor. Buck Leonard wore it in he Negro Leagues, but we never got to see him play regularly against major league-caliber pitching -- the best Negro Leaguers could certainly have played in the majors, but the average player might not have -- so we can only guess about him.

5 Joe DiMaggio. Ahead of Bob Meusel, Hank Greenberg, Lou Boudreau, Brooks Robinson, Jim Northrup, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Davey Johnson, Don Mincher, Bill Madlock, Jeff Bagwell, Albert Pujols, Nomar Garciaparra and Pat Burrell. Don't even think about putting David Wright here.

6 Stan Musial. Ahead of Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon, Johnny Pesky, Stan Hack, Carl Furillo, Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito, Clete Boyer, Johnny Callison, Tony Oliva, Al Weis, Sal Bando, Roy White, Steve Garvey, Willie Wilson, Wally Backman, Ryan Howard, and Joe Torre as Yankee manager.

7 Mickey Mantle. Ahead of Al Simmons, Joe Medwick, Pete Reiser, Al Rosen, Dick Stuart, Kevin Mitchell, Craig Biggio, Pedro Feliz and Matt Holliday. Don't even think about putting Jose Reyes here. Cal Ripken Sr. wore it as Oriole manager.

8 Yogi Berra. Ahead of Bill Dickey, Dick Sisler, George "Shotgun" Shuba, John Roseboro, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan, Reggie Smith, Bob Boone, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Gary Gaetti, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.

9 Ted Williams. Ahead of Gabby Hartnett, Charlie Keller, Enos Slaughter (as a Cardinal), George McQuinn, Hank Bauer, Minnie Minoso, Wes Westrum, Bill Mazeroski, Roger Maris, Joe Torre as a Cardinal and a Met, Graig Nettles, Manny Trillo, Dane Iorg, Matt Williams, Gene Larkin, John Olerud, and Reggie Jackson in his Oakland days. Roy Hobbs is fictional, and would have had to go a long way to surpass Ted -- whom Robert Redford honored in The Natural by wearing 9.

09 Benito Santiago. Wore it because he didn't like the backstrap of his catcher's chest protector mostly covering his 9.

10 Lefty Grove. Ahead of Lloyd Waner, Phil Rizzuto, Davey Williams, Tony Kubek, Earl Battey, Ron Santo, Sparky Anderson as Reds manager, Chris Chambliss, Larry Bowa, Ron Cey, Dick Howser, Tony La Russa, Tom Kelly, Pat Borders, Larry Wayne Jones Jr., Coco Crisp and Travis Ishikawa. Gary Sheffield is ineligible, and you know why -- and wouldn't be ahead of Grove, anyway. And, for impact on a single team, wouldn't be ahead of any of the others, either.

11 Carl Hubbell. A tough call ahead of Paul Waner and Luis Aparicio. Also ahead of Waite Hoyt, Lefty Gomez, Ray Boone, Joe Page, Johnny Sain as a Yankee, Gus Triandos, Bill Freehan, Wayne Garrett, Manny Mota, Jim Fregosi, Hal McRae, Sparky Anderson as Tigers manager, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, Bill Mueller and Jimmy Rollins\.

12 Wade Boggs. Another tough call, since he wore 26 with the Red Sox a lot longer than he wore 12 with the Yankees and Devil Rays. Ahead of Gil McDougald, Tommy Davis, Bill White, Dusty Baker, Ron Darling, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent, Steve Finley, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Bellhorn.

13 Omar Vizquel. Another tough call, but the only other options are Dave Concepcion and Billy Wagner. And maybe Ozzie Guillen. Ralph Branca? Considering what happened to him, not really an option. Alex Rodriguez? Ineligible, and you know why.

14 Ernie Banks. Ahead of Gil Hodges, Larry Doby, Gene Woodling, Bill "Moose" Skowron, Ken Boyer, Jim Bunning, Pete Rose, the older Vida Blue, Lou Piniella, Jim Rice, Mike Scioscia, Kent Hrbek and Paul Konerko.

15 Jim Edmonds. As a Cardinal. Wore 25 with the Angels. Ahead of Red Ruffing, Johnny Mize (with the Giants, where he had his best seasons), Tommy Henrich, Sandy Amoros, Tim McCarver, Dick Allen, Joe Torre as a Braves player, Jerry Grote, George Foster, Thurman Munson, Davey Lopes, Darrell Porter, Rusty Kuntz, Sandy Alomar Jr., Bob Brenly, Bruce Bochy, Tim Salmon, Kevin Millar, Dustin Pedroia, and Carlos Beltran with most of his teams.

16 Whitey Ford. Ahead of Herb Pennock, Ted Lyons, Hal Newhouser, Hank Thompson, Ron Perranoski, Claude Raymond, Frank Viola, Garrett Anderson, Reggie Sanders, and Dwight Gooden as a Met. (Doc may have been a better pitcher at peak level, but, come October, you'd be a fool to take him over the Chairman of the Board.) Also ahead of Hideo Nomo: It's "best," not "most important."

17 Dizzy Dean. Ahead of Vic Raschi, Carl Erskine, Enos Slaugher (as a Yankee), Camilo Pascual, Mike Shannon, Denny McLain, Mike Andrews, Mickey Rivers, Keith Hernandez, Mark Grace, Chris Sabo, Darin Erstad, Lance Berkman and Todd Helton.

18 Johnny Damon. Ahead of Mel Harder, Don Larsen, Ted Kluszewski, Gene Tenace, Omar Moreno, Darryl Strawberry (as a Met), Mariano Duncan (as a Yankee), Scott Brosius and Matt Cain.

19 Bob Feller. Ahead of Johnny Murphy, Alvin Dark, Jim Gilliam, Bob Turley, Billy Pierce, Dave McNally, Bert Campaneris, Greg Luzinski, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn, Bob Ojeda, Francisco Cabrera, Jeff Conine, Jay Buhner, Aaron Boone, Josh Beckett and Joey Votto. That's a lot of hits and a lot of wins to be ahead of, but Feller was the greatest pitcher of his generation.

20 Frank Robinson. Ahead of Mike Schmidt, who grew up as a Reds fan in Dayton, Ohio, and wore 20 in Frank's honor -- as far as I know, the first player ever to get his number retired after wearing it in honor of someone else who had it retired. Also ahead of Pie Traynor, Monte Irvin, Lou Brock, Tommie Agee, Don Sutton, Bucky Dent, Frank White, Howard Johnson and Jorge Posada. Way ahead of Kevin Youkilis. Josh Gibson wore it in the Negro Leagues. Luis Gonzalez is ineligible, and you know why.

21 Roberto Clemente. A tough call ahead of Warren Spahn. Roger Clemens could also be considered -- by the strictest of definitions, he is eligible -- but why would you want to list him here? Sammy Sosa is ineligible, and you know why -- and wouldn't be ahead of those 3, anyway. Also ahead of Bob Lemon, Curt Flood, Cleon Jones, Tommy Harper, Bake McBride, Willie Hernandez, Roger Clemens as a Red Sock and a Blue Jay, and Paul O'Neill.

22 Jim Palmer. Ahead of Allie Reynolds, Don Mueller, Donn Clendenon, Jack Clark, Ray Knight, Will Clark, Billy Hatcher, Jimmy Key, Al Leiter as a Met, Roger Clemens as a Yankee and an Astro, Scott Podsednik, Jacoby Ellsbury as a Yankee, and, so far, Robinson Cano as a Mariner and Clayton Kershaw.

23 Ryne Sandberg. Ahead of Bobby Thomson, Tommy Byrne, Jim Lemon, Ralph Terry, Dick Williams, Willie Horton, Kirk Gibson, Don Mattingly. Mark Gubicza, David Justice as a Brave, Tino Martinez as a Mariner, Jermaine Dye and David Freese.

24 Willie Mays. Ahead of Early Wynn, Billy Johnson, Walter Alston, Jimmy Wynn, Tony Perez, Mike Torre, Rick Dempsey, Whitey Herzog, Tom Brunansky, Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr., Tino Martinez as a Yankee, Robinson Cano as a Yankee, and Miguel Cabrera. Manny Ramirez is ineligible, and you know why -- and wouldn't be ahead of Mays, anyway.

25 Tommy John. I have a place on this list for Jim Thome. Ahead of Whitey Lockman, Gus Bell, Joe Pepitone, Norm Cash, Bruce Kison, Jose Cruz Sr., Buddy Bell, Don Baylor, George Hendrick, Andruw Jones, Joe Girardi as a Yankee player, Troy Glaus, Mike Lowell and Mark Teixeira. Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds are ineligible, and you know why. Ty Cobb played before uniform numbers were worn, and wore it in an old-timers' game, but that doesn't count. Had he worn it as a manager or a coach, then it would count. Buck O'Neil wore it in the Negro Leagues. As for Tony Conigliaro, we'll just never know, but I find it hard to imagine that he could have hit more home runs than Thome, even with the Green Monster.

26 Billy Williams. Ahead of Hank Borowy, Dusty Rhodes, Gates Brown, Boog Powell, Joe Rudi, Dave Kingman, Joe Altobelli, Steve Farr, Johnny Oates, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, and Chase Utley. Although the Angels retired it for him as their "26th Man," team owner Gene Autry never actually wore the number.

27 Juan Marichal. Ahead of Carlton Fisk in Boston, Catfish Hunter in Oakland, Kent Tekulve, Lonnie Smith, Jose Rijo, Fred McGriff, Danny Jackson, Geoff Blum, Scott Rolen, Joe Girardi as Yankee manager (in 2009), and, so far, Mike Trout.

28 Walter Johnson. Played before uniform numbers were worn, but wore it as Washington Senators manager in 1932. Ahead of Bert Blyleven; Bert may have struck out more batters than the Big Train, and shouldn't have had to wait to get into the Hall of Fame as long as he did, but he wasn't a better pitcher. Also ahead of Preacher Roe, Vada Pinson, Mike Marshall, Sparky Lyle, Randy Myers, David Justice as a Yankee, Jayson Werth and Buster Posey.

29 Rod Carew. Ahead of Wally Post, Mickey Lolich, Catfish Hunter as a Yankee, Ken Singleton, Dan Quisenberry, Joe Carter, Fred McGriff, John Smoltz, Brett Boone and Keith Foulke. I once saw footage of Cy Young wearing it in an old-timers' game, but that doesn't count. It was the number most commonly worn by Satchel Paige, at least in the major leagues, but by the time he got there, while still very good -- he helped the Indians win the '48 Series and went 12-10 at age 45 for the awful '52 Browns -- he wasn't what he was in the Negro Leagues, where he wore several numbers.

30 Nolan Ryan, as an Angel. He wore 34 as an Astro and a Ranger, but was better as an Angel. Ahead of Gene Bearden, Eddie Lopat, Bobby Schantz, Maury Wills, Orlando Cepeda, Mel Stottlemyre as a Yankee pitcher and Met pitching coach, Ken Griffey Sr. Willie Randolph, Garry Maddox, Tim Raines, John Tudor and Greg Counsell.

31 Greg Maddux. Baseball's winningest living pitcher. Ahead of Bucky Walters, Jim Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Ed Figueroa, Dave Winfield, Tim Raines as a Yankee, Dave Roberts, Jon Lester, and the still eligible for the moment Mike Piazza. Also ahead of John Franco, who switched numbers to let Piazza have 31 when he got to the Mets.

32 Sandy Koufax. Ahead of Elston Howard, Jim Umbricht, Steve Carlton, Tom Browning, Alex Fernandez, Derek Lowe and Josh Hamilton. Also ahead of Eddie Collins, who played before uniform numbers were worn, but wore it as an A's coach.

33 Honus Wagner. Wore it as a Pirates coach. Ahead of Johnny Sain (as a Brave), Lew Burdette, Bob Cerv, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Frank Howard, Eddie Murray, Mike Scott, David Wells, Larry Walker, Jason Varitek, and Cliff Lee. Jose Canseco is ineligible, and you know why -- and wouldn't be ahead of Wagner or Murray anyway.

34 Rollie Fingers. Ahead of Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Stewart, Kirby Puckett, Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett. David Ortiz is ineligible, and you know why, and wouldn't be ahead of Rollie, anyway. What about Bryce Harper, is he a serious challenger yet? That's a clown question, bro.

35 Phil Niekro. (Yes, bold. He did pitch for the Yankees in the 1984 and '85 seasons.) Ahead of Jim Konstanty, Sal Maglie, Mike Cuellar, Manny Sanguillen, the younger Vida Blue, Don Gullett, Randy Jones, Bob Welch, Frank Thomas, John WettelandMike Mussina and Justin Verlander.

36 Robin Roberts. Up there with Lyons, Marichal and Blyleven as a criminally underrated pitcher. Ahead of Don Newcombe. Gaylord Perry, Jim Kaat, Steve Hovley, Jerry Koosman, Joe Niekro, David Cone as a Yankee and Edinson Volquez.

37 Casey Stengel. If you have to select a player, there aren't many to choose from. Do you want to go with Kenny Rogers? I don't. How about Dan Plesac? How about the still mostly-unproven Stephen Strasburg? Your best bet may just be Keith Hernandez as a Cardinal. There's also Norm Charlton and Charlie Liebrandt. And... Holy cow, oh my goodness, I don't believe it, I don't believe it, Rick Camp! Rick Camp!

38 Curt Schilling. I don't want to give it to him, but who else could I give it to? Eric Gagne is ineligible, and you know why, and wouldn't be ahead of Schilling anyway. Nor would Roger Craig Larry Christenson or Rick Aguilera. And it's way too soon to put Brian Wilson here. So, until evidence comes forward that Schilling cheated, he gets the nod. Ray Dandridge wore it in the Negro Leagues.

39 Roy Campanella. Not much competition, except for Dave Parker. An intriguing pair, whose careers can be divided into threes. Due to the color ban, Campy didn't reach the majors until he was 27; due to his car crash, he last played at 36; so he probably missed 5 or 6 years at the beginning, and maybe as many at the end. As for Parker, he got off to a great start, then tailed off due to his drug habit, but had some very good seasons after he kicked it. Campy is in the Hall; had the Cobra not used cocaine and kept up his pace, he'd be in it, too. Speaking of guys who snorted away their chance at the Hall of Fame, Darryl Strawberry wore 39 as a Yankee.

40 Troy Percival. It's easy to forget how good a reliever he was. Ahead of Danny Murtaugh, Don Wilson, Rick Sutcliffe, Bud Black, Dave Henerson (as a Red Sock), and Mike Timlin (as a Blue Jay). Madison Bumgarner may be on his way to taking this number, but he's not there yet.

41 Tom Seaver. Ahead of Eddie Mathews, Clem Labine, Darrell Evans, Jeff Reardon and Pat Hentgen. Charlie Manuel, of course, is better known as a manager.

42 Mariano Rivera. If it's "most important," it's Jackie Robinson. The only player who can touch Jackie for importance, unless you want to go back to the founders of the game, is Babe Ruth. But it's not "most important," it's "best"; while Jackie was one of the best players of his time, and 1 of the top 5 or 6 2nd basemen ever, Mo was the best relief pitcher ever. Also worth mentioning is Bruce Sutter; aside from Jackie and Mo, he's the only player to have the number retired by any team. They're also ahead of Jerry Coleman, baseball insider-book pioneer Jim Brosnan, and Dave Henderson with Oakland.

43 Tris Speaker. Wore it as a coach with the late 1940s Indians, and his 3,514 hits, including a record 792 doubles, and his recognition as the best-fielding center fielder ever before DiMaggio, puts him ahead of Dennis Eckersley, who nonetheless must be recognized as a very good starting pitcher who became one of the best relievers ever -- maybe the best until Rivera. Also ahead of Johnny Antoneli and Mark Wohlers. Cito Gaston, of course, is better known as a manager.

44 Hank Aaron. Ahead of his fellow Mobile, Alabama native Willie McCovey, and Reggie Jackson, who wore it as a Yankee and an Angel in tribute to Hank. (He couldn't keep wearing 9 because Graig Nettles had it, and couldn't have his 2nd choice, Jackie Robinson's 42, because a Yankee coach had it.) Also ahead of Phil Cavaretta, Dick Ruthven, Chili Davis (with most of his teams), Eric Davis and Adam Dunn.

45 Bob Gibson. Ahead of Pedro Martinez, who tried to be Bob Gibson (especially with the headhunting), but never could be (Gibson sometimes got better after 100 pitches). Also ahead of Johnny Podres, Tug McGraw, Jim Beattie, John Candelaria, Chili Davis (as a Yankee) and John Franco (after Piazza came to the Mets, Franco switched to the number of his idol, McGraw).

46 Andy Pettitte. Ahead of Jim Maloney, Mike Flanagan, Lee Smith (as a Cub), Jacoby Ellsbury (as a Red Sock) and Craig Kimbrel.

47 Tom Glavine. Ahead of Jay Hook, Jack Morris, Jesse Orosco, Steve Bedrosian, Lee Smith (as a Cardinal) and Johnny Cueto. Terry Francona wore it as Red Sox manager, and Cal Ripken Sr. wore is as an Oriole coach.

48 Torii Hunter. Ahead of Ralph Garr, Don Stanhouse and Pablo Sandoval. It's a bit odd that this number is usually considered a pitcher's number, yet all of these except Stanhouse are hitters. But then, this is the man known as "Stan the Man Unusual."

49 Hoyt Wilhelm. It pains me to not put Ron Guidry here, but Louisiana Lightning can't match the old knuckleballer's career. Also ahead of Larry Dierker, Rob Dibble and Tim Wakefield.

50 J.R. Richard. A tough choice, considering he had only half a career. But Richard was the closest thing we've had to Bob Gibson since Gibson -- even closer than Clemens, Pedro and the next man on this list. Jimmie Reese had it retired by the Angels for his services as a coach, but that hardly puts him on top. Also ahead of Pete Vuckovich, Kent Mercker, Mike Timlin (as a Red Sock), Jamie Moyer, and a pair of Mets who wore it because they're from Hawaii, the 50th State: Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani.

51 Randy Johnson. Ahead of Larry Sherry, Willie McGee, Bernie Williams, Trevor Hoffman, Ichiro Suzuki and Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz.

52 CC Sabathia. Ahead of Mike Boddicker. Now, we get into territory where there the choices are few and far between

53 Don Drysdale. Ahead of Dick Tracewski, Ken Holtzman, Bobby Abreu and John Farrell. Melky Cabrera is ineligible, and you know why -- and wouldn't be ahead of Big D, anyway.

54 Rich "Goose" Gossage. It's hard to believe that the Goose played 23 seasons, for so many teams, and yet never once wore another number. Ahead of Brad Lidge.

55 Orel Hershiser. Ahead of Hideki Matsui (again, it's "best," not "most important") and Tim Lincecum (unless "The Freak" has a career renaissance after age 30).

56 Mark Buehrle. For overall impact, it's Jim Bouton, due to writing Ball Four. But Bouton's chance at keeping this one beyond the 2005 World Series ended when he blew out his elbow and became a knuckleballing reliever. Or else he almost certainly never would have written the book. Whereas, even now, Buehrle can smoke 'em inside.

57 Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. Ahead of Johnny Vander Meer, Steve Howe and Darryl Kile. Also ahead of Johan Santana. Sorry/not sorry, Met fans, but as crazy as K-Rod drove you, in Anaheim, he was one of the top relievers in the game, and holds the record for most saves in a season. And that tops everything Santana did with the Twins, and his 1-hitter for you. (Don't tell me it was a no-hitter: Beltran's drive was a fair ball, and you damn well know it.)

58 Jonathan Papelbon. The bum.

59 Jim Thome. Wore it in his rookie season with the Indians. Afterward, usually wore 25. If you want a player who wore 59 regularly, there's 1990s reliever Todd Jones.

60 Dick Allen. Wore it in his last season, with the A's. Previously, usually wore 15. The player who wore it the longest? Scott Schoenweiss.

61 Livan Hernandez.

62 Joba Chamberlain.

63 Ryan Madson.

64 Dwight Gooden. Only wore it in his first spring training with the Mets. The player who's worn it the most is Michael Bowden.

65 Phil Hughes. Another place where he finishes ahead of The Great Johan Santana, who wore it early in his career.

66 Don Zimmer. Usually wore 23 when he played. By the time he was coaching with the expansion Colorado Rockies, he began increasing his number by 1 every season, to match the number of years in which he'd been employed in professional baseball. When he died, still a special assistant to the Rays, he was wearing 66, and they've now retired it. If you must have a player, there's Juan Guzman. Remember? The 1992 and '93 World Champion Blue Jays? Yasiel Puig has a ways to go to match him.

67 Francisco Cordova. You might remember him pitching the 1st 9 innings of a 10-inning no-hitter for the '97 Pirates. Ahead of Brandon Workman.

68 Dellin Betances.

69 Alan Mills. A 1990 Yankee call-up. The only player to wear it in more than one season was Bronson Arroyo, and he's ineligible, and you know why.

70 Joe Maddon.

71 Scott Linebrink, with the 2008-10 White Sox.

72 Carlton Fisk, with the White Sox. Ahead of Xander Bogaerts.

73 Tony Phillips. A decent player who wore several numbers (was at his best while wearing 2 with the Bash Brothers A's), and wore 73 with the '97 Angels and White Sox. The only player who wore it for more than 3 seasons was Ricardo Rincon.

74 Ugueth Urbina. He may be the O.J. Simpson of baseball -- with considerably less talent -- but who else wore this number as well? Only 4 other players have ever worn it, and only 1 of those, Kenly Jansen, wore it for more than 1 season.

75 Barry Zito.

76 Mike Koplove, '05 Diamondbacks.

77 Joe Medwick. Wore it when he was acquired by the Dodgers in 1940 and '41, as Pete Reiser was already wearing 7. Ivan Rodriguez (also usually a 7) wore it with the '09 Astros, but he's ineligible, and you know why.

78 Blaine Boyer, '06 Braves.

79 Jose Abreu, with last year's White Sox.

80 Never worn. Mascots and batboys sometimes wear uniform numbers with the last 2 digits of the year on them, but that doesn't count.

81 Eddie Guardado, with the '06 and '07 Reds. Usually wore 18.

82 Johnny Lazor, 1943 Red Sox.

83 Justin Turner. Eric Gagne wore it with the most cheat-ridden team in history, the '07 Red Sox, and he was 1 of only 2 members of that team to show up in the Mitchell Report, so he's ineligible.

84 Prince Fielder, with last year's Rangers. Previously wore 28.

85 Lastings Milledge, with the '09 Nationals and Pirates. Wore 44 with the Mets.

86 Never worn.

87 Dan Otero, with the 2012 World Champion Giants.

88 Rene Gonzalez. Not really a better player than Albert Belle, who wore it with the Orioles at the end of his career, 10 years after Gonzalez wore it with them. But Belle is ineligible, and you know why.

89 Never worn.

90 Never worn.

91 Alfredo Aceves, with several teams, including the 2009 World Champion Yankees.

92 Never worn.

93 Never worn.

94 Jose Mesa, who reversed his usual 49 while with the '07 Tigers. The only other player who's ever worn it is Felix Heredia, who wore it with the '01 Cubs. You might remember his horrible relief pitching with the Yankees, a substitution who served up "meatballs," which led me to nickname him "the Meatball Sub." And I still say his name sounds like an embarrassing skin condition. Buck O'Neil wore it as a publicity stunt in an "independent" minor-league game, because that was his age (and drew a walk... and died within weeks, so maybe even that overexerted him), but it wasn't in the majors, so it doesn't count.

95 Takahito Nomura, '02 Brewers.

96 Bill Voiselle. The pitcher wore it in honor of his hometown, Ninety-Six, South Carolina. (The photo of him, at the top of this post, comes from the town's official website.) He won 21 games for the '44 Giants, and when the '48 Braves won the Pennant, Boston Post sportswriter Gerald Hern coined the phrase "Spahn and Sain and two days of rain" -- later altered to be, "Spain and Sain and pray for rain." But Voiselle and Vern Bickford (who wore 24) won 24 games between them, as many as Johnny Sain (who wore 33), and both had a better ERA that year than Warren Spahn (who wore 21). (In 1999, to reflect the Red Sox rotation, Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe suggested, "Pedro and Lowe and three days of snow.")

97 Joe Beimel, with several teams, including last year's Mariners.

98 Onelki Garcia, '13 Dodgers.

99 So Taguchi. Mitch Williams, who dumped 28 in honor of 99 because he was compared to Charlie Sheen's 99-wearing Ricky Vaughn in Major League, and was even given the character's "Wild Thing" nickname, is better known for wearing it, But Taguchi wore it on 2 World Championship teams, the '06 Cardinals and the '08 Phillies. That's right: Unlike "Mitchie-Poo" (Harry Kalas' nickname for him), Taguchi wore it on a Phillies team that won the Series. This number has actually been worn by 14 different major leaguers, including Yankees Charlie Keller (who usually wore 9, but wore 99 in a brief 1952 comeback) and Brian Bruney (2009 World Champions). Turk Wendell wore it with the Mets from 1997 to 2001, and ex-Met Todd Hundley wore it with the '01 Cubs, in honor of his father Randy Hundley, who wore 9 as a Cubs catcher. And, of course, Manny Ramirez wore it in his "Mannywood" tenure in L.A., but, as I've said, he's not eligible.

In spite of the jokes about what might happen if the Yankees retire any more numbers, there has never been a triple-digit uniform number in Major League Baseball.

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