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Jersey Numbers You Rarely See Your Team Use

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The other day a random thought popped into my head when I was think about my favorite NFL team, Washington.

 

I realize that for some odd reason, the team hasn’t issued #27 to ANY player for the past TEN YEARS. The last person to wear it was Larry Johnson in his short stint with the team in 2010.spacer.png

 

Before Johnson, it was CB Fred Smoot donning the number from 2007-09

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The most notable player to wear 27 for the team was Ken Houston

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I haven’t found a reasoning behind the non-issuing of such a random number. Washington is known to hang up numbers in a closet to never be touched again instead of retirement. Aside from Sammy Baugh (33) and Bobby Mitchell (49). However, I doubt 27 has been hung up like 21 for the team.

 

Has anybody else noticed this type of oddity about their favorite teams?

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The Packers have 1 and 5 "unofficially" retired.  No one has worn 5 in a regular season game since Don Majkowski's rookie year in 1987 (he switched to 7 the following year).

IIRC, the only player to wear 1 in Packers history is Curly Lambeau.  But it was one of many that he wore.

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Eagles have never retired Randal Cunningham's 12, but nobody has worn it in a regular-season game since he left after 94.  They had also kept Brian Westbrook's 36 out of circulation for a while after he retired, but now it's back in play.

 

Flyers never retired 31 for Pelle Lindberg since he was killed while DUI and they don't want to celebrate that, but they've held it out of circulation since mid 80s

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The Pats have had only 4 players to ever wear #1, and no one has worn it since 1983, but that'll change this year when Cam Newton takes the field. Since 2003, it's been reserved for the mascot, Pat Patriot.

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The Seahawks, of all the numbers currently in circulation, have rarely issued the number 6 - the number wasn't used by the team from 1987-2010!

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Dodgers haven't used 34 since 1990, and #0 on a player since 1985.  I would think a lot of high numbers fall into this category in baseball.

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Historically the Canucks don't issue numbers in the '90s. There have only been 2 exceptions so far. Pavel Bure originally wanted to wear 96 when he came over from Russia, but was rebuked by the team and given number 10. Then after 4 seasons of dominance and the arrival of Mogilny (who wore 89) the team allowed him to switch to 96, which was followed by a precipitous drop in production and the beginning of slew of injuries. He promptly returned to #10 and a resurgence on the ice quickly followed.

 

The other was Jared McCann, who wore 19 in junior but since that was retired by the Canucks, opted for 91 instead. Benning was in charge at this point and his administration relaxed the high number rules, but we still have yet to see anyone else wear a number in the 90s. In total the team has seen less than 2 full seasons of a player wearing a number in that range.

 

Vancouver Canuck #96 Pavel Bure during warm up at GM Place.

Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Canucks @ Florida Panthers | Georgia  Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly

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9 hours ago, NicDB said:

The Packers have 1 and 5 "unofficially" retired.  No one has worn 5 in a regular season game since Don Majkowski's rookie year in 1987 (he switched to 7 the following year).

IIRC, the only player to wear 1 in Packers history is Curly Lambeau.  But it was one of many that he wore.

The Packers do give out the 1 to some players in the preseason that you know are never going to make it to the regular season, like Jawill Davis last year:

texans-packers-football-green-bay-usa-sh

 

But you're right, the only documented player to play at least 1 regular season game for the Packers wearing 1 is Curly Lambeau from 1925-26 (and probably before 1925, as shown on these 1923 and 1924 programs, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame only has programs since 1925 and thus media guides only report uniform numbers since 1925).  Curly also wore 14 (1927), 42 (1928), and 20 (1929, NFL Champion).  Another rare number is the next one, 2.  Mason Crosby is only the second Packer to wear 2, becoming the first player since 1926 to do so.

 

After crunching the numbers, here's all the Packers numbers numbers that no one asked for:

 

Non-retired Packers numbers that were worn during the least amount of seasons:

1 (2 seasons, as mentioned)

6 (9 seasons)

2 (15 seasons)

9 (18 seasons)

49 (21 seasons)

 

Non-retired Packers numbers that were worn by the least amount of players:

1 (1 player)

2 (2 players)

6 (8 players)

94 (9 players)

69 (10 players)

 

Non-retired Packers numbers that were worn during the shortest careers:

6 (1.13 seasons per player)

41 (1.27 seasons per player)

19 (1.28 seasons per player)

49 (1.31 seasons per player)

20 (1.44 seasons per player)

 

Non-retired Packers numbers that were last worn the longest time ago:

1 (1926, Curly Lambeau)

5 (1988, Curtis Burrow; Don Majkowski did wear it during his 1987 rookie season as well)

60 (2007, Rob Davis)

49 (2013, Robert Francois)

57 (2014, Jamari Lattimore)

72 (2014, Garth Gerhart)

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The Ducks haven't used 35 since trading J.S. Giguere to the Leafs in 2010. It might be unofficially retired, but it's probably next on the list.

 

Several numbers in the 80's and 90's have either been worn once or have never been used; Sergei Fedorov was the first Duck to wear 91. Mascot Wild Wing wears 93, but the only player to wear it was Anatoli Semenov in 1995-96. Ilya Bryzgalov originally wore 30, but during his brief return in 2014-15 he wore 80 instead.

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I never noticed the Packers apparent aversion to issuing single digit numbers before.  But in every major era of the Packers, there's really only one guy you think of in a single digit.  Paul Hornung (5) in the Lombardi years, Brett Favre (4) in his era, and Mason Crosby (2) in the modern era.  Even in the "dark" (70s & 80s) years, I can only come up with Robbie Bosco (6) and Don Majkowski (5, 7) who wore single digits.

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Well, since 3 and 4 are retired, and 1 and 5 are unofficially retired, it's kind of easy to keep the single digits off the field.  The current single digits are Mason Crosby (2), J.K. Scott (6), and Tim (Freaking) Boyle (8).  Another point with the single digits is that the media guide only counts players who have played a game, so that means there might be a bunch of back-up players in the single digits that just never made it to the field.

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On 9/6/2020 at 6:21 AM, wildwing64 said:

The Ducks haven't used 35 since trading J.S. Giguere to the Leafs in 2010. It might be unofficially retired, but it's probably next on the list.

 

To add to that, Gibson wore 35 in juniors but wears 36 with the Ducks. There could be other reasons for this (maybe he just felt like a change, maybe he always wanted 36 but Kitchener didn't have a 36 in a goalie cut, etc.) but him switching to 36 upon joining the Ducks organization does lend more credence to there always being a plan to retire 35 at some point.

 

Relating to juniors, being a Calgary Hitmen fan over the years, it always seemed like their jersey numbers were set up more like minor hockey where they ordered jerseys numbered 1-35 and players just pick one. Looking it up right now on Elite Prospects pretty much confirmed that. The Hitmen have 2-19, 21-29, 32 available for skaters and then 1, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35 available for goalies, with 20 having been retired in 2005. The last time they had a skater wear a number higher than 32 was the 2001-02 season and that was a guy who played 4 games that season wearing 33 before getting traded and then another guy who wore 34 but is only listed as playing one game. Going even further, 32 hasn't been worn since 2015-16, with the highest skater number being 29 since then. The only other exception is 27 which was worn by the most prominent goalie in the team's early history for two seasons and a game from 1997-2000 but has been exclusively skater ever since.

 

I'm not a Flames fan, but 2 has been worn by only six players in the 26 years since Al MacInnis left the team and hasn't been worn since 2004, but his number was Forever a Flame'd in 2012 and not officially retired. Fellow non-retired number and 2014 Forever a Flame recipient Joe Nieuwendyk has seen his 25 worn 11 times over the 25 years he's been gone with 2018 being the last time it was worn.

 

In addition, Theo Fleury's 14 has not been worn since he left the Flames in 1999, besides when he made a comeback attempt during the 2009 preseason. His number has not been retired (nor Forever a Flame'd) despite many calls for it to be. I, and many Flames fans, have theories about why it hasn't happened yet and when it might happen, but that's a can of worms.

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English football clubs rarely retire numbers. While a player the stature of David Beckham would surely have had his number retired in any American sport, the number 7 at Manchester United has its own lore, and cannot be taken out of circulation.

 

But it was shocking to see how quickly Chelsea gave out Frank Lampard's number 8 and how quickly Arsenal gave out Thierry Henry's number 14 after those era-defining players left their teams. In Henry's case, he did not even reclaim his old number when he made a brief return to the club, allowing it to stay with Theo Walcott. And even John Terry's unusual number 26 was given out by Chelsea a couple of years ago.

 

Chelsea have not retired Lampard's number, but they have unofficially retired the number 25 last worn by Gianfranco Zola. 

 

Another number that had been in unofficial retirement for a long time was Willie Mays's number 24 with the Mets.  It was not worn (except for a brief assignment in error) between Mays's retirement after the 1973 season and Rickey Henderson's arrival in 1999, and not again after Henderson's departure. But the last two seasons it has been worn by another former Yankee, Robinson Cano (which displeases me greatly).

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7 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

English football clubs rarely retire numbers. While a player the stature of David Beckham would surely have had his number retired in any American sport, the number 7 at Manchester United has its own lore, and cannot be taken out of circulation.

 

But it was shocking to see how quickly Chelsea gave out Frank Lampard's number 8 and how quickly Arsenal gave out Thierry Henry's number 14 after those era-defining players left their teams. In Henry's case, he did not even reclaim his old number when he made a brief return to the club, allowing it to stay with Theo Walcott. And even John Terry's unusual number 26 was given out by Chelsea a couple of years ago.

 

Chelsea have not retired Lampard's number, but they have unofficially retired the number 25 last worn by Gianfranco Zola. 

 

Another number that had been in unofficial retirement for a long time was Willie Mays's number 24 with the Mets.  It was not worn (except for a brief assignment in error) between Mays's retirement after the 1973 season and Rickey Henderson's arrival in 1999, and not again after Henderson's departure. But the last two seasons it has been worn by another former Yankee, Robinson Cano (which displeases me greatly).

Makes sense, especially considering numbers were traditionally, and in international play still are, restricted to 1-23.

 

Ligue 1/2 still restrict players to numbers no higher than 30, with 1, 16, and 30 being reserved for GK.

 

Just not enough numbers to go around if you start retiring them.

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Three people have worn 42 for the Dodgers...and that’s because they only started retiring numbers in the early 70s.

Only two people wore 53...and one of them wore it for just one year. If he hadn’t...

Only two people wore 99.

Only one person wore 68...and he was recently traded.

Only one person has worn 74...and he’s still wearing it.

No one has worn 79-84, 86, or 90-96.

The number I customized my Dodgers jersey with (37) is too common. Oh well!

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For baseball, I feel like it's cheating if we're counting numbers that would have traditionally been vacated after spring training.  

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St. Louis Cardinals:
 

#51 is/was unofficially retired for Willie McGee, but since he is now a Cardinals coach it is in-use. There have been fan led campaigns to officially retire #51 for McGee, but he doesn’t meet the team’s policy for a retired number. 
 

#51 was given to a rookie pitcher, Bud Smith, in 2001 but after the fan outcry for McGee he was switched to #52.

 

#57 is unofficially retired for Darryl Kile. 


#5 is unofficially retired for Albert Pujols and will someday be officially retired. 


#25 was unofficially retired for Mark McGwire. Troy Glaus was offered #25 when he was traded to St. Louis, but he said he didn’t want to take McGwire’s number and opted for #8. Of coarse McGwire eventually came back as a coach and resumed #25. It cannot be considered retired today as Dexter Fowler wears it. 
 

#32 was unofficially retired for about 10 years for Josh Hancock who died in a drunk driving accident. That broke when Matt Adams, later Jack Flaherty, and now Matt Winters wore the number. 
 

Cardinals fans can be annoyingly touchy when it comes to uniform numbers. Many cried foul when Alex Reyes got #29 (Chris Carpenter), Jhonny Peralta got #27 (Scott Rolen), Matt Holliday/Jon Jay/Rafael Furcal got #15 (Jim Edmonds), and Marcel Ozuna got #23 (David Freese). In my opinion, none of these should be retired. 
 

Using their own rules, the Cardinals could retire more numbers but they choose not to. I’m thankful for this. I really don’t want to see them become the Yankees and have a slew on the left field wall. Albert will get #5 and Yadi will get #4, and I think the Cardinals will reserve number retirements for generation defining players. The rest will be elected to the team’s hall of fame and I’m fine with that. 

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