NicDB

Numbers That You Free Associate With Certain Positions

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Today as I was watching football, I saw a couple teams' receivers wearing #12.  By now I'm used to seeing receivers in pretty much all of the 10s, but a receiver in #12 still looks odd to me because I can't seem to un-associate it with quarterbacks.  It was codified as a "glamour" number by Joe Namath before QB's wearing that number won every Super Bowl from VI through XIV.  On top of all the NFL Films footage I consumed from that era, I grew up watching guys like Jim Kelly and Randall Cunningham carry on the tradition through now where we have two of today's best, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers wearing it.  So I'm not sure if I'll ever be used to recievers, kickers, or punters wearing it.

Another one for me is #50 in basektball.  It seems odd to me whenever anyone but a center wears it.  David Robinson was one of my favorite players when I started watching basketball, and I know college centers were traditionally steered into wearing number 50-55.  But 50 is still the only one that seems odd to me if anyone but a center wears it.

I think we can take for granted that 1 on anyone but a goalie in hockey looks odd, and that most of us are still adjusting to pitchers in single digits.  But does anyone else have any more personal examples of this?
 

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Yes, indeed. Number 12 will always be the quintessential quarterback number: Namath, Staubach, Bradshaw, Stabler, Griese when I was growing up, and then the latter-day guys such as Doug Williams with Tanpa Bay, Kelly, and Cunningham. I can see now that I favoured Scott Brunner over Phil Simms because Brunner wore number 12, and just looked so much cooler at the position.

 

Due to Thurman Munson (my favourite player growing up) and Jerry Grote, I perceived number 15 as a catcher's number. Tim McCarver and Darrell Porter further confirmed this perception.

 

Number 44 is a slugger's number, thanks to Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey. When Reggie Jackson came to the Yankees, he was originally assigned number 20. But early in spring training he chose to switch to number 44 in tribute to Aaron.

 

When Howard Johnson was moved to centre field, he briefly changed from his normal number 20 to number 44. But he quickly went back, stating that he didn't feel like he was enough of a slugger to wear number 44. Also, Ron Darling has mentioned his discomfort with wearing number 44 as a pitcher, which explains his eventual change to numbers in the teens.

 

In soccer, while numbers by position are no longer mandated, the tradition of the goalkeeper wearing number 1 remains very strong.  Number 6 is almost always worn by a centre back; and number 9 is so strongly associated with strikers that the position itself is often referred to as the "9".

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When I was a kid, 7 and 12 were the QB numbers (with some notable 11s and 16s).  It was a big deal (to a little uni-nerd) that Steve Walsh - an (allegedly) good QB - was going with a single-digit-non-7-number like 4.

 

steve-walsh-of-the-new-orleans-saints-wa

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Running backs “look best” when their numbers are in the 30s, specifically 32, 33, and 34. Fullbacks “look best” in numbers 40-49.

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11 hours ago, Ben in LA said:

Running backs “look best” when their numbers are in the 30s, specifically 32, 33, and 34. Fullbacks “look best” in numbers 40-49.

I think RBs are good in the 20s through about 34.  I'm with you on fullbacks.

 

I am still not liking WRs wearing 10-19.

 

In Baseball, I am still weirded out by pitchers in single digits. I have a few feelings with numbers in baseball. One is that I think of 16-19 as pitcher numbers, even though one of my favorites, Tony Gwynn wore #19.  I also think of #1 and #2 as fast-running middle infielders or utility players.

 

In hockey, I have no memory of players wearing #1 besides goalies.  As an aside, I wish goalies still wore that number.  

 

For some reason, in both baseball and basketball, I think of #20 as being worn by common players (as opposed to stars).  It's probably not true (Gary Payton comes to mind).  Maybe the Twins and T-Wolves have had mediocre players wearing that number or something.

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10 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

I think RBs are good in the 20s through about 34.  I'm with you on fullbacks.

 

I am still not liking WRs wearing 10-19.

 

In Baseball, I am still weirded out by pitchers in single digits. I have a few feelings with numbers in baseball. One is that I think of 16-19 as pitcher numbers, even though one of my favorites, Tony Gwynn wore #19.  I also think of #1 and #2 as fast-running middle infielders or utility players.

 

In hockey, I have no memory of players wearing #1 besides goalies.  As an aside, I wish goalies still wore that number.  

 

For some reason, in both baseball and basketball, I think of #20 as being worn by common players (as opposed to stars).  It's probably not true (Gary Payton comes to mind).  Maybe the Twins and T-Wolves have had mediocre players wearing that number or something.

 

I wouldn't say I necessarily dislike it, but I'm still not completely used to it.  Maybe it doesn't seem as odd as it could because I'm old enough to remember Charlie Joiner and Gene Washington wearing No. 18 . . . and (vaguely) Lance Alworth wearing No. 19.  I also remember Cliff Branch wearing No. 21 and Fred Biletnikoff wearing No. 25. The real outlier from that era was Glenn Doughty who was a wide receiver for the Colts in the 70s and wore No. 35. 

 

Ahem!!! 😛

 

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55 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

In Baseball, I am still weirded out by pitchers in single digits.

 

Good point.  That feels wrong.

 

 

55 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

One is that I think of 16-19 as pitcher numbers, even though one of my favorites, Tony Gwynn wore #19.

 

When I was a kid, "pitchers' numbers" were mainly in the 30s and 40s.  Pitchers wearing numbers in the teens had been a practice before my time (Whitey Ford, Vic Raschi, Bob Feller, Don Larsen, Dizzy Dean, Hal Newhouser come to mind).  An early re-adopter of pitching with a number in the teens was Vida Blue, who switched from number 35 to number 14 in the mid-1970s; but it didn't really take off until Dave Righetti came up in 1981 and sported number 19.  A few years later, Dwight Gooden made the practice fully mainstream by wearing number 16. 

 

 

55 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

For some reason, in both baseball and basketball, I think of #20 as being worn by common players (as opposed to stars).

 

The first player whom I associate with number 20 is Frank Robinson, a great star. [Edit: I see that @leopard88 beat me to that mention.]  And then there's the only player who prevented Robinson from wearing his number 20 during his brief time with the Dodgers: Don Sutton.  Another prominent number 20 is Tommie Agee; while not a Hall of Famer like Robinson and Sutton, he was a player who played a pivotal role in one of the most famous seasons ever.   But I can see thnking of the number as representing solid middle infielders such as Bucky Dent and Frank White.

 

 

55 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

I also think of #1 and #2 as fast-running middle infielders or utility players.


I think of those numbers that way, too.  But I must admit that my first impression of number 1 was as a power hitter, on account of Bobby Murcer.  When Murcer returned to the Yankees in 1979, the walking disaster that was Billy Martin was manager.  So Murcer wore number 2 for the rest of his career.  By 1979, a player like him wearing number 2 seemed strange in a way that his wearing number 1 in 1973 did not.

 

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All of the Redskins WRs this year are wearing numbers between 10-19 Specifically 10, 13, 15, 17, 18. Their TEs all wear numbers between 80-89. Specifically 82, 85, 86, 87. To me, that’s how it should be. 80-89 look too bulky to be worn by WRs.

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In hockey, goalies typically wear numbers 1, or numbers 30-35.  Defensemen stuck to 2-8.  Forwards never wore numbers 2-6. 

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14 hours ago, Ben in LA said:

Running backs “look best” when their numbers are in the 30s, specifically 32, 33, and 34. Fullbacks “look best” in numbers 40-49.

 

I think an argument can be made for feature backs in 20, 21, and 22. 

I tend to associate 25 with a stud who is too injury prone to realize his potential.  But that is no doubt influenced by my being a Packers fan.  So, Dorsey Levens and Ryan Grant.

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In football, I usually associate #21 with defensive backs who could also return punts.

 

For instance, Darrien Gordon, who wore #21 for the Chargers before LaDainian Tomlinson.

darrien-gordon-of-the-san-diego-chargers

 

And of course, you can't forget Deion.

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In the NFL, I think of 80 as a star wideout (Jerry Rice, Rod Smith) or a possession guy. I think of 83 as a speed receiver ('90s Anthony Miller, Lee Evans). 19 should, to me, be the most common WR number in the teens, because it was first to catch on when the league brought 10-19 back into play for receivers. (Keyshawn Johnson mainly, but also a guy named Matthew Hatchette with the Vikings around the same time.) 

 

44 is maybe the best fullback number (Tom Rathman). For halfbacks, I generally expect more power the higher the number. 

 

49 has always been a fave because it was the highest number available to a defensive back. I always thought of those guys as hard-hitting DBs on the brink of being a linebacker, like Dennis Smith.

 

I don't much like defensive ends wearing numbers in the 60s; those are more for defensive tackles and offensive guards. 90s work well for any defensive linemen and for outside linebackers. 56 is a number for a pass-rushing linebacker. LT made it so, and others like Shawne Merriman came along and cemented the impression.

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The only real association I can think of is for hockey goalies.

 

Traditionally they were either 1 or 30, then it became 1 or anything in the 30s, and now i also think of goalies when I see 29, 41, 60, or 90.

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15 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

When I was a kid, "pitchers' numbers" were mainly in the 30s and 40s.  Pitchers wearing numbers in the teens had been a practice before my time (Whitey Ford, Vic Raschi, Bob Feller, Don Larsen, Dizzy Dean, Hal Newhouser come to mind).  An early re-adopter of pitching with a number in the teens was Vida Blue, who switched from number 35 to number 14 in the mid-1970s; but it didn't really take off until Dave Righetti came up in 1981 and sported number 19.  A few years later, Dwight Gooden made the practice fully mainstream by wearing number 16. 

 

Scott McGregor, who was one of my favorite players when I was growing up, beat Gooden to No. 16 by about 6-7 years.

 

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In the "the thing I learned today" category, I have discovered that there is a prominent Australian actor and model named Scott McGregor.

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I was just thinking about starting this thread last week! Specifically, baseball:

0-9 for fielders

10-19 for fielders (15 and 19 sometimes for pitchers)

27 and 29 for pitchers

32, 34-39 for pitchers

44 is for sluggers only

Most 50s for pitchers, though 51 for outfielders (Ichiro/Bernie Williams)

 

Most of these were ingrained in my mind based one my team having players in certain positions wear these numbers growing up.

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1 hour ago, leopard88 said:

Scott McGregor, who was one of my favorite players when I was growing up, beat Gooden to No. 16 by about 6-7 years.

 

There certainly were several other pitchers who wore numbers in the teens before Gooden; the number 16 was also worn by Frank Viola.

 

But, even though Viola and Scott McGregor were solid performers, they were not superstars on the level of Gooden.

 

While Gooden's career didn't hit the heights that most of us were expecting, he was a phenomenon during his first several seasons, and was then considered to be nearly the calibre of Koufax. Gooden's presence in all the national magazines wearing number 16 had the biggest influence in bringing numbers in the teens back into the mainstream for pitchers.

 

For example, when Atlee Hammaker wore number 14 for the Giants in the early 1980s, it looked weird in a way that Vida Blue had not looked weird with that same number (of course, Hammaker would go on to look even weirder wearing number 7 on the mound); and this choice of his was frequently remarked upon. But, after Gooden's emergence, this practice became normalised; and no one commented anymore when Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, David Cone, and other pitchers took numbers in the teens.

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Good topic. In random order...

 

- I like hockey. But I don't know it's history as well as the NFL or NBA. That said, 1 and 33 seemed to me to be the quintessential goalie numbers, with a few outliers like Ron Hextall (27) and Eddie the Eagle (20).

 

Far as the NBA goes.  

 

- I've always associated 55 with the big men--or maybe Dikembe Mutombo made that much of v an impression on me--although plenty also wore 33 (Zo and Ewing, notably). 

 

- Thanks to Jordan, I think the number 23 had transcended basketball itself and, at least for me, thanks to Jordan I've always associated that number with "the best" or "the greatest". Plenty athletes have worn that number before and since, but I see it and think Jordan first. (Coincidentally until recently I've adopted it as my number, being that I was born on the 23rd.)

 

- I like others see 12 as THE QB number. On the other side, for some reason it seems like 14 is the antithesis of that...aside from Brad Johnson winning a SB wearing that, I can't think of a single QB who's had sustained success wearing that. (So Sam Darnold, I hope you break the mold here.) Kind of the same thing with 11. I don't believe in luck, but if I did, I'd say those two numbers are about as negative-luck as it gets for QBs (although Mark Rypien and to a degree Drew Bledsoe might have something to say about that).

 

32 and 34 for me are the stereotypical RB numbers. I'm guessing Jim Brown started that trend with 32, but OJ Simpson and Marcus Allen certainly carried it forward. I remember when Errict Rhett got drafted by the Buccaneers and showed up wearing that...reminded me of James Wilder. But of course Rhett only lasted four years with Tampa, so...

 

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22 minutes ago, Buc said:

On the other side, for some reason it seems like 14 is the antithesis of that...aside from Brad Johnson winning a SB wearing that, I can't think of a single QB who's had sustained success wearing that.

 

Depending on how you define "sustained success", there's Richard Todd and Dan Fouts. 

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Anyone else see 17 as more of a WR number than a QB number?  I can't, off the top of my head, think of a QB that I'd free associate with that number.  And it has more history than most numbers in the teens of being worn by stud wideouts.

EDIT: I just thought of Brian Sipe, Don Meredith, and Jim Hart.  But they all happen to be guys who's careers can be defined in heartbreaking playoff losses.

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I also see 21 as the number for multi-purpose players: Terry Metcalf, Cliff Branch, Deion Sanders, Eric Metcalf, Charles Woodson.

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3 hours ago, Buc said:

- I like others see 12 as THE QB number. On the other side, for some reason it seems like 14 is the antithesis of that...aside from Brad Johnson winning a SB wearing that, I can't think of a single QB who's had sustained success wearing that. (So Sam Darnold, I hope you break the mold here.) Kind of the same thing with 11. I don't believe in luck, but if I did, I'd say those two numbers are about as negative-luck as it gets for QBs (although Mark Rypien and to a degree Drew Bledsoe might have something to say about that).


Y'know, if there is any number in the teens that should be seen as belonging to wide recievers, yet isn't, it's 14.  He only invented the friggin position!

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But to @Ferdinand Cesarano's point.  Here's a pretty famous game featuring two #14 QB's in the prime of their careers.
 

 

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