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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Names and Numbers.

In 1929 the New York Yankees became the first team to wear numbers on the backs of their uniforms on a regular basis. The "original" ten Yankee uniform numbers were:
#1 - Earle Combs
#2 - Mark Koenig
#3 - Babe Ruth
#4 - Lou Gehrig
#5 - Bob Meusel
#6 - Tony Lazzeri
#7 - Leo Durocher
#8 - Johnny Grabowski
#9 - Benny Bengough
#10 - Bill Dickey.

As you can see there wasn't much thought here. The numbers followed the batting order. Aside from the obvious shuffling of the batting order, what about subs and pitchers? Oh, well. The numbers for Ruth and Gehrig became famous. Of course Dickey went on to wear 8 as did Yogi Berra. Both are in the Hall of Fame.  Joe DiMaggio wore 9 in 1936, Joe's rookie season, because Frank Crosetti was wearing 5. Pretty sure that Tommy Henrich wore 7 in 1937, later 9. In Mickey Mantle's rookie season many know that he wore 6 originally because Cliff Mapes had 7 before Mapes was traded to the St. Louis Browns; Bob Cerv also wore 7 in 1951 after Mapes while Mantle was in the minors. Mapes also wore 3, Ruth's number. Only number 4 was worn by only one player.

Numbers on baseball uniforms were nice. They helped sell scorecards. Then in the late 1950s teams started to add player's names above the numbers. That eliminates the need to buy a scorecard. The New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox are the only MLB teams with numbers only on home uniforms. The Yankees are the only team with numbers only on away uniforms. No names for the Yanks. Good for them. So why use numbers at all? Seems pretty stupid. Oh, it's tradition, the universal excuse for pretty much every stupid thing done in baseball.

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