Skip to main content

99


The arrival of Hyun-Jin Ryu as a member of the Dodgers signaled another threshold moment in L.A. uniform numerology.

His choice of No. 99 marked the second time that a Dodger has worn that number while on a major league roster. No longer an uproarious one-and-done 2008 Mannywood dream, Ryu has taken 99 from Manny Ramirez and fashioned it with his own Far East style.


So far, Ryu, tonight's starter, and Ramirez are the only Dodgers to wear the final number before venturing into triple digits (They have 99 problems but their number ain't one).

But that started me thinking about the progression of the uniform number through Dodger history.


Wearing a number in the 90s is a phenomenon of the last 15 years for L.A. Aside from Ryu and Ramirez, reliever Joe Beimel wore No. 97, and Pirates/Jays cast-off Jacob Brumfield wore No. 94 in 1999.

The 80s numerals are a virtual wasteland with only Rick Wilkins, who played catcher for the Dodgers for all of three games, wearing No. 89 in 1999.

But seeing players with a number in the 70s is increasingly common. Two current bullpen residents, Kenley Jansen (No. 74) and Paco Rodriguez (No. 75) have hit the 70s. And even more players are wearing the previously unheard of jersey number in the 60s.

Remember when Chan Ho Park selected No. 61 as his number and how freaky it seemed?


But let's go back to the beginning.

During the 1930s and 40s, the vast majority of Dodgers uniform numbers went no higher than No. 39. There was one notable exception, which would fit in very nicely with today's uniform mind-set.


Joe "Ducky" Medwick wore No. 77 for a period in 1940 and 1941 after coming over to the Dodgers in a trade with the Cardinals.

Uniform numbers in the 40s grew increasingly common through the decades that followed, but a uniform number in the 50s was very rare.


Back-up catcher Joe Pignatano wore No. 58 during the late 1950s. Pitcher Larry Sherry wore No. 51.


But the first standout player to wear a number in the 50s for the Dodgers was Don Drysdale. He made No. 53 so famous that it was retired, the highest retired number in franchise history.

Even after Drysdale's retirement after the 1969 season, seeing a uniform number in the 50s was an exception, and a cause for pause.


I remember when Steve Howe hit the major leagues and started wearing No. 57. It looked so strange. I can still visualize staring at Howe's 1983 Topps card with a "does not compute" look on my face.

During this time, numbers in the 50s became the domain of relievers. Orel Hershiser, intially a reliever with the Dodgers, wore No. 55. Ray Searage, who pitched for the Dodgers at the end of his career, was constantly bumping the 60 ceiling with his uniform choice.


Up until this point, the only players to wear a number greater than 59 were Medwick, Mike Sharperson in his prospect days (No. 60) and a seldom-remembered backup catcher from the '70s, Paul Powell (No. 71).

But after Chan Ho Park, more players wore numbers in the 60s, mostly prospect types like catcher Angel Pena's No. 63.

In fact, wearing a number in the 60s, 70s or even 90s is more commonplace for the Dodgers these days than anyone wearing No. 11 or No. 34. Eleven is apparently still the domain of longtime coach Manny Mota, who is now a scout. And nobody has worn No. 34 since Fernando Valenzuela.

The Nos. 1, 2, 4, 19, 20, 24, 32, 39, 42 and 53 are also off-limits as retired numbers.

So, which 0-99 numbers have never been worn by a Dodger player on a 40-man roster?

Here they are:

68, 69, 72, 73, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 98.

I suppose there's some time left before anyone starts wearing No. 100.

Comments

petethan said…
Yum. Pretty Dodgers! Still looking for my first Ryu. Certainly off to an excellent start at upholding the Dodger pitching tradition. Might also need to start batting higher in the order!
Geoffrey said…
At Comiskey Park in the 1980s, 75 was used on the out-of-town scoreboards to indicate that the pitcher in the game was not in our program.
madding said…
It's weird to see players with such high numbers. The Cardinals have had two starts from Tyler Lyons recently, who is wearing #70. It seems to be more of a sign of young players being shuttled to the majors at a high rate without having any available lower numbers, especially on a franchise with a lot of retired/off-limits numbers. Some of the players actually end up sticking with the number they were assigned when they were first added to the 40-man roster, perhaps out of superstition more than anything else?

Popular posts from this blog

The pop culture tax

This isn't really a complaint, just something interesting that I've been noticing.

I'm working on wrapping up a couple of '70s-centric sets right now, getting down to those last 10-20-30 cards, and the usual candidates are being evasive.

I wish I could pick up all the stars early in my set-building quests so the end of the build isn't quite so painful but it never ends up that way. The best of the best usually take the most effort. But I expect that.

What always surprises me is some of the other players that end up being the final few.

Take, for instance, the 1977 Kellogg's set that I'm now trying to complete. I picked up three more cards from that set from Sportlots. The Jose "Cheo" Cruz card was one of them.



The other two were Dodgers, already in my Dodger binders but that doesn't help me complete the set now, does it?

I would've liked to add more with this most recent order but most of the other wants simply weren't available. Here…

Vehicles in the background

The 2020 Heritage team set for the Dodgers has been a milestone moment in terms of cars in the background on baseball cards.

If there was a timeline for chronicling cars on cards -- or should I say "vehicles on cards," very few drive a mere car these days -- it would include the 1964 Philadelphia Jim Brown card, the 1973 Topps Luis Alvarado card, another card I'll show in just a moment, and several others.

The latest stop on the timeline would be the Dodgers in 2020 Heritage.


Those are just a few examples. Most of the Dodgers Heritage cards this year feature a vehicle in the background if you look close enough. It has to be the most vehicle-infiltrated baseball team set ever. Even the two short-printed cards that I don't own yet -- Walker Buehler and A.J. Pollock -- each show cars.

I love this and I've documented the reasons why a few times. I am a recovered Matchbox cars addict and vehicles were my obsession as a kid before baseball came along. It also reminds …

The last card

I swear I was already in the middle of constructing this post when Fuji's post about looking for the last card in a set popped up in my reader.

"Crap," I said. "Well, everything's scanned and cropped, no going back."

Besides, this post is more for me than anyone else.

I've long wanted to put together a post highlighting the final card I needed from sets I have completed. It seems that some of those cards are burned in my brain while others are completely forgotten. If I have a post for these cards, then I won't ever forget about these elusive birds. I will simply consult the post!

So that's what I'll do here. Much like this post, I will update it as I complete sets. But this time it will be a much less orderly exercise.

Searching for that last card is what all set collectors have in common. It is what bonds us together. Sure, team collectors must find a "last card," too, but the sets are smaller and therefore the final card isn…