Thursday, May 31, 2012

Right Number Wrong Guy

As a Cub fan, I associate certain numbers with a particular player.  You probably do the same with your team.  For example, if you say "14" immediately Ernie Banks pops into my head.

Recently I was paging through my Fleer binder and came upon several cards that showed the right number but the wrong guy.

I'll start with this card, that shows Larry Biittner wearing #26.  I remember when Biittner joined the Cubs and it was a real shock to me to see #26 being worn by someone other than

Billy Williams.  Maybe Biittner got the word, too, because later in his time with the Cubs he switched to #33.

Lenny Randal has #21.  Like him or not, for most Cub fans, any mention of #21 brings

Sammy Sosa to mind, not Lenny Randall.

Why does Lloyd McClendon have 

Ron Santo's number?

Randy Martz is wearing a number that is now associated with the recently retired

Kerry Wood.  I wonder how long it will be before we see another Cub wearing #34?  When he left the team after the 2008 season, it took a little more than a season before Jeff Gray was given #34.  Jeff Gray???

We end with the second to last player to wear #23, Jim Tracy, who gave way to 

Ryne Sandberg.

So what numbers do you have that are permanently etched in your mind as belonging to a certain player?


  1. When I think of #10 after Ron Santo I picture Dave Kingman.

  2. 10 will always be Ron Cey for me.

    I just did one of my Dodger uniform look backs on No. 23

  3. Don't be silly night owl, Cey was #11!

    1. Cey doesn't even acknowledge wearing No. 11.

      When he signs Dodger cards, he puts a No. 10 with his signature. When he signs cards of him with other teams, it's just his name.

  4. After Santo, I also have nightmares about #10 in San Diego in 1984, leaning over to pick up a routine grounder, but having it go through his legs.

  5. As a Padre fan, 19 will always be Tony Gwynn. Non-baseball related, growing up in San Diego, #55 will always be Junior Seau (RIP).

  6. i will often remember numbers thanks to the players who wore them. my gym locker combination in college? that was baker-valenzuela-guerrero. even today i will remember numbers, at least in the short term by using player names, mostly from the dodger teams of my youth.

    3=sax (glenn burke was gone to oakland in early 1978, so it never stuck with me as his number. rudy law was a short-timer, too)
    5=jim lefebvre (my dad's favorite player, so i learned his number early on)
    8=reggie smith
    9=mickey hatcher. i used to use gary thomasson for number 9 (even though jerry grote wore it in 1977 and 1978), but once hatcher returned to the dodgers in 88, he took over.
    10=ron cey
    11=manny mota (or reese-reese)
    etc, etc.

    it is very strange to see the likes of jerry hairston jr wearing number 6 for the dodgers.

  7. 14 = Pete Rose
    5 = Johnny Bench
    8 = Joe Morgan

    And Griffey Jr. will always be #24 to me, even though he never wore it as a Red because of Tony Perez having it retired already.

  8. Phillies:
    1 - Richie Ashburn
    4 - Gene Mauch
    10 - Larry Bowa
    14 - Jim Bunning & Pete Rose
    15 - Richie Allen
    19 - Greg Luzinski
    20 - Mike Schmidt
    32 - Steve Carlton
    45 - Tug McGraw

    1 - Billy Martin
    3 - Babe Ruth
    5 - Joe DiMaggio
    7 - Mickey Mantle
    14 - Pete Rose
    22 - Jim Palmer
    24 - Willie Mays
    32 - Sandy Koufax
    44 - Hank Aaron

  9. The Mets are pretty stingy with retiring numbers and part of the reason is the lack of superduperstars to associate with them. Yet one sticks out over the others. I think #16 looks silly on anyone other than Dwight Gooden. Darryl Strawberry, who did more as a Met, wore #18 and I never say "hey! he's wearing Straw's number!!!" in anger when someone has it on the way I do with Doc and #16.

    The Mets also have taken #8 and #24 out of circulation for Gary Carter and Willie Mays respectively, yet on the rare occasion they are issued (with #24 very rare) it doesn't bother me. For all the fetish attached to numbers for the Yankees, it just didn't carry over to the Mets.

    As for other ballplayers, I see #44 and immediately think of Hank Aaron, even as a kid when Reggie Jackson was my favorite player, I thought of him as wearing Hank's number.

  10. #14 - Paul Konerko
    #23 - Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Robin Ventura (in that order)
    #35 - Frank Thomas
    #56 - Mark Buehrle

    You could name off other numbers and I might know someone who wore it, but the ones above, when I see the number, the player comes to mind first.