Ever since the 1930’s, baseball players have worn numbers on their backs. It all started with the 1916 Cleveland Indians, who got the idea from hockey and football. On June 26, 1916, in a game against Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago White Sox, the Indians came out of their dugout, with number patches adorning their left arms. The Indians only wore these patches for a few weeks that season, and a little bit in the 1917 season, before retiring them forever. Then, in 1923, the St. Louis Cardinals took the suggestion of sportswriter John Sheridon and also wore numbers on their sleeves. This didn’t last long, as the players were ridiculed by fans, sportswriters, and players alike. In 1929, the then World Series champions New York Yankees, along with the Cleveland Indians, decided that they were going to try numbers again, but this time on the back of their jerseys. This tradition, initially laughed off, became an integral part of major league baseball. In the upcoming weeks, we look back at the best players to wear each number.
NOTE: We are NOT looking for the total career statistics of players, just their stats while wearing the number listed.
#99-#90 (NOTE: No player has ever worn the numbers 93, 92, and 90)
#99 Manny Ramirez, LF, DH (2008-2010)
After getting traded from the Boston Red Sox in July of 2008, Manny Ramirez wanted a fresh start with the Dodgers. That included a number change. He decided to be the first player in Dodgers history to wear the number 99. While wearing that number, Ramirez accumulated a WAR of 6.5, while hitting 45 home runs in just two and a half seasons with the Dodgers and White Sox. Those seasons, however, were cut short by injury and suspension. I guess thats Manny being Manny.
#98 Onelki Garcia, RP (2013)
Like many of the high-numbered players on this list, Garcia wore his number as a September call up. He only had three appearances this September, giving up 2 runs in an inning and a third of relief work. While Garcia’s tenure while wearing the number 98 wasn’t good, he is, in fact, the only play to have ever worn that number.
#97 Joe Beimel, RP (2005-2011)
Throughout the majority of his entire career, Joe Beimel wore the number 97 because it was the year that his first born child was born in. He is also the only person to have worn the number 97. While wearing 97, Beimel had a 5.8 WAR in 7 seasons with the Devil Rays, Dodgers, Nationals, Rockies and Pirates. His best season was 2008 with the Dodgers, when he had a 2.02 ERA in 71 appearances.
#96 Bill Voiselle, SP (1947-1950)
Bill Voiselle’s fame isn’t because of his performance on the field, but for the number that he wore. In the last four years of his career, Voiselle wanted to honor his hometown, Ninety Six, South Carolina. After he was traded to the Boston Braves, he changed his uniform number from 30, to 96. To this day, he is the only player to have worn his hometown as a uniform number. While wearing 96, Voiselle had a 3.6 WAR, with his best year being ’48, where he had an ERA of 3.63 in 37 games pitched.
#95 Takahito Nomura, RP (2002)
Just like Onelki Garcia, Nomura is only on this list because he is he only player to have ever worn the 95. While Nomura did well in he Japan, his transfer to the major leagues did not go smoothly. Nomura only lasted one season in the MLB, posting and 8.68 ERA in 13.2 innings, and compiling a -.7 WAR. After his major league career didn’t work out, Nomura went back to Japan to finish his career.
#94 Felix Heredia RP, (2001)
While Heredia pitched many seasons wearing many different numbers, in 2001, Heredia became the first player to wear the number 94. However, his season in which he wore 94 wasn’t a good one. Heredia posted a 6.17 ERA and a 68 ERA+. The only other player to have worn 94 is Jose Mesa, who wore the number with the Detroit Tigers in 2004. Mesa actually just as bad of a season with the Tigers, making either choice equally bad.
#91 Alfredo Aceves (2008-2013)
While Aceves is better known for his hot tempure, and his failed years with the Red Sox, he is the best player to have worn 91, beating Hideo Nomo’s 2008 season, and Tim Spooneybarger. In a 2009 interview, Aceves told reporters that he wore the number 91 to honor his hero, Chicago Bulls Foward Dennis Rodman, who also wore the number 91. After pitching well for the Yankees over the course of three seasons, Aceves was signed by the Red Sox in 2010. Aceves’ first year with the Red Sox was very good, posting 2.7 WAR and a 2.61 ERA in 48 appearances. The Red Sox were hoping that Aceves would be their set up man or even closer, but after two very bad season in 2012 and 2013, the Red Sox parted ways with Aceves.