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Wednesday, 17 February 2016 12:46

The Mets Behind the Numbers

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The Mets announced that they will, at times, be sporting their "racing stripe" uniforms in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series Championship team. I have always had a fascination with the Mets uniforms and to be quite honest, I absolutely hated those uniforms. The home uniforms were bad enough, but the road uniforms had a weird block lettering and then a silly looking script. Heck, Keith Hernandez has so often made his opinion of those uniforms known during broadcasts, calling them "hideous." I am a traditionalist, and although I liked the brief appearance of the blue and orange piping on the sleeves during the Lee Mazzilli era in the late seventies, early eighties, I am truly partial to the traditional home uniforms. But my favorite is the traditional away jerseys with the tiffany style lettering on the front and the full block numbers on the front and back.

And uniform numbers worn by the players always seemed to pique my interest. I am sure most people can be presented with a number and immediately associate it with a specific Mets player. In fact, sometimes you see a number on a player’s back and you either love the player or simply the way the number looks and all of a sudden that becomes YOUR number.

I actually came to love the number 12, believe it or not, because I really liked the way it looked in the full block style on the old Mets road uniforms when I saw Ken Boswell wearing it. Boswell was not my favorite player, but he was one of my favorites. It bothered me to see it assigned to a guy like Jack Heidemann (I know, who is he?) when he came to the Mets. And I got excited when Lee Mazzilli came up and wore it his first year, and was disappointed when he swapped numbers with John Stearns and took the number 16. Some very obscure players wore my number 12 over the years, although there were some really good players like Tommy Davis, Cleon Jones, Stearns, Ron Darling, Willie Randolph and Roberto Alomar.

So I began to take a look at all of the uniform numbers worn by players over the years and there were some very interesting facts. Especially since you will tend to think of a specific player being associated with a specific number and not even realize that such a well-known player with a well-recognized uniform number could have possibly worn another number. For instance, Cleon Jones will forever be a part of Mets lore as number 21. However, Jones wore the number 34 for three seasons, and 12 for one, before donning the familiar 21. And believe it or not, before Ed Kranepool fashioned number 7, HE wore the number 21 before giving it up to Warren Spahn.

Looking at the numbers, it also made me see that there were players who were around that I simply just forgot about, but seeing them listed jarred my memory. And there were a lot that were good and popular players, most of them having arrived after they were over the hill and way past their primes (Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Ken Boyer, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar) or traded away and becoming superstars (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Ken Singleton) elsewhere.

Believe it or not, the number that has been worn by the most Mets is the number 6 which has been worn by 40 different players, followed by the number 29 (37) and the number 44 (36). And it is no wonder that there were so many players wearing the number 6 because it actually has the shortest longevity. Other than Wally Backman no player wore it very long and the names on the list are mostly guys that you have never even heard of. And given that the number 44 has always been traditionally linked to superstars like Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, and Reggie Jackson, the Mets have had no player who wore the number who would warrant being mentioned alongside those names, they were all pretty obscure players.

Which number has been worn the least? The number 14 belonged to Gil Hodges and then was worn briefly by Ron Swoboda before being handed over to Ken Boyer. And number 37 was never worn by a player. It was only issued to Casey Stengel as the team’s first manager and then never issued again.

There are some players who for one reason or another had multiple uniform numbers. Some of them were up and down from the farm system and their previous number was taken when they returned. Some gave way to another more prominent player. Others just decided to change their luck. Baseball players are so superstitious.

There were sixteen players who, believe it or not, wore three different numbers while with the Mets. And three of those players actually wore FOUR numbers: Ed Lynch (31, 35, 36, 50); Jeff McKnight (5, 7, 15, 18); Hank Webb (22, 29, 30, 42); The players who wore three numbers while with the team: Wally Backman (6, 28. 39); Ron Darling (44, 12, 15); Kevin Elster (2, 15, 21); Pedro Feliciano (25, 39, 55); John Gibbons (7, 8, 35); Jason Isringhausen (29, 44, 45); Cleon Jones (12, 21, 34); Mike Jorgensen (10, 16, 22); Lee Mazzilli (12, 13, 16); Kevin Mitchell (7, 32, 35); Charlie O’Brien (5, 22, 33); Omar Quintanilla (0, 3, 6); Les Rohr (31, 33, 42); Dick Selma (30, 34, 39).

I decided to take a hard look at the numbers and broke it down into five questions: (1) Who do you immediately think of? (2) Who wore it the longest? (3) Who were other popular players who wore it? (4) Do you remember this guy? (5) I can’t believe this guy was on the team?

I’d love to know what others think.

It was a lot of time, and it filled my brain with more “useful” information that my mother would just shake her head and yell at me for. But what the hell...here goes:

1

Who do you immediately think of? Mookie Wilson

Who wore it the longest? Mookie Wilson (10 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Richie Ashburn, Lance Johnson

Do you remember this guy? Sergio Ferrer

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Vince Coleman

2

Who do you immediately think of? Justin Turner

Who wore it the longest? Mackey Sasser (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Marv Throneberry, Jose Oquendo

Do you remember this guy? Roy Staiger

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Jim Fregosi

3

Who do you immediately think of? Bud Harrelson

Who wore it the longest? Bud Harrelson (13 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Rafael Santana, Curtis Granderson

Do you remember this guy? Vance Wilson

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Richie Hebner

4

Who do you immediately think of? Ron Swoboda

Who wore it the longest? Ron Swoboda and Lenny Dykstra (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Duke Snider, Rusty Staub, Robin Ventura

Do you remember this guy? Bruce Boisclair

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Bob Bailor

5

Who do you immediately think of? David Wright

Who wore it the longest? David Wright (12 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ed Charles, Steve Henderson

Do you remember this guy? Jim Beauchamp

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Joe Foy

6

Who do you immediately think of? Wally Backman

Who wore it the longest? Wally Backman (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Al Weis, Mike Vail

Do you remember this guy? Rich Puig

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Carlos Baerga

7

Who do you immediately think of? Ed Kranepool

Who wore it the longest? Ed Kranepool (15 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Hubie Brooks, Jose Reyes

Do you remember this guy? Todd Pratt

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Kevin Mitchell

8

Who do you immediately think of? Gary Carter

Who wore it the longest? Gary Carter (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Yogi Berra

Do you remember this guy? Dan Norman

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Chris Cannizzaro

9

Who do you immediately think of? J.C. Martin

Who wore it the longest? Todd Hundley (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Gregg Jefferies, Joe Torre, Todd Zeile

Do you remember this guy? George Theodore

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Bruce Bochy

10

Who do you immediately think of? Duffy Dyer

Who wore it the longest? Duffy Dyer (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Rusty Staub, Rey Ordonez

Do you remember this guy? Rod Kanehl

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Gary Sheffield

11

Who do you immediately think of? Wayne Garrett

Who wore it the longest? Wayne Garrett (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Roy McMillan, Duke Snider, Tim Teufel

Do you remember this guy? Pepe Mangual

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Lenny Randle

12

Who do you immediately think of? Ken Boswell

Who wore it the longest? John Stearns (9 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ron Darling, Jeff Kent, Cleon Jones

Do you remember this guy? Jack Heidemann

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Tommy Davis

13

Who do you immediately think of? Edgardo Alfonzo

Who wore it the longest? Edgardo Alfonzo (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Lee Mazzilli, Neil Allen, Billy Wagner

Do you remember this guy? Jeff Musselman

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Roger Craig

14

Who do you immediately think of? Gil Hodges

Who wore it the longest? Gil Hodges and Ken Boyer (2 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ron Swoboda

Do you remember this guy? Ken Boyer

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Ken Boyer

15

Who do you immediately think of? Jerry Grote

Who wore it the longest? Jerry Grote (12 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Carlos Beltran, Ron Darling, Rick Aguilera, Al Jackson

Do you remember this guy? Jose Vizcaino

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? George Foster

16

Who do you immediately think of? Dwight Gooden

Who wore it the longest? Dwight Gooden (11 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Lee Mazzilli, Paul LoDuca, Angel Pagan

Do you remember this guy? Dave Schneck

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Hideo Nomo

17

Who do you immediately think of? Keith Hernandez

Who wore it the longest? Keith Hernandez (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Felix Millan, Fernando Tatis, Choo Choo Coleman

Do you remember this guy? Rod Gaspar

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Don Zimmer

18

Who do you immediately think of? Darryl Strawberry

Who wore it the longest? Darry Strawberry (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Joel Youngblood, Bret Saberhagen

Do you remember this guy? Dave Marshall

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Moises Alou

19

Who do you immediately think of? Bobby Ojeda

Who wore it the longest? Roger Cedeno, Ron Gardenhire, Bobby Ojeda (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Tim Foli, Roger Cedeno

Do you remember this guy? Anthony Young

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Heath Bell

20

Who do you immediately think of? Tommie Agee or Howard Johnson

Who wore it the longest? Howard Johnson (9 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Choo Choo Coleman, Jeromy Burnitz, Shawn Green

Do you remember this guy? Rich Ownbey

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Roberto Petagine

21

Who do you immediately think of? Cleon Jones

Who wore it the longest? Cleon Jones (10 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Warren Spahn, Ed Kranepool, Kevin Elster, Carlos Delgado

Do you remember this guy? Terry Blocker

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Elliot Maddox

22

Who do you immediately think of? Donn Clendenon

Who wore it the longest? Kevin McReynolds (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Jack Fisher, Al Leiter, Ray Knight

Do you remember this guy? Alex Ochoa

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Doc Medich

23

Who do you immediately think of? Doug Flynn

Who wore it the longest? Doug Flynn (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Joe Christopher, Bernard Gilkey, Jason Phillips

Do you remember this guy? Leroy Stanton

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Jesus Alou

24

Who do you immediately think of? Art Shamsky

Who wore it the longest? Johnny Lewis and Art Shamsky (4 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ken Boswell, Ed Charles, Willie Mays, Ricky Henderson

Do you remember this guy? Kelvin Torve

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Ricky Henderson

25

Who do you immediately think of? Don Hahn

Who wore it the longest? Keith Miller and Bobby Bonilla (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Frank Thomas, Dallas Green, Amos Otis, Del Unser, Danny Heep

Do you remember this guy? Al Pedrique

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Willie Montanez

26

Who do you immediately think of? Dave Kingman

Who wore it the longest? Dave Kingman (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Galen Cisco, Terry Leach, Rico Brogna

Do you remember this guy? Ced Landrum

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Marco Scutaro

27

Who do you immediately think of? Craig Swan

Who wore it the longest? Craig Swan (10 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Dallas Green, Jim Hickman, Don Cardwell, Todd Zeile, Nelson Figueroa

Do you remember this guy? Stan Jefferson

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Randy Milligan

28

Who do you immediately think of? John Milner

Who wore it the longest? Bobby Jones and Daniel Murphy (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Wally Backman

Do you remember this guy? Mark Bomback

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Tommy Herr

29

Who do you immediately think of? Ken Singleton

Who wore it the longest? Steve Trachsel (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Alex Trevino, Ike Davis

Do you remember this guy? Danny Frisella

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Mickey Lolich and Frank Tanana

30

Who do you immediately think of? Nolan Ryan

Who wore it the longest? Nolan Ryan, Hank Webb, Mike Scott, Alberto Castillo, Cliff Floyd, Josh Thole (4 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Dick Selma, Mike Torrez

Do you remember this guy? Mardie Cornejo

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Dock Ellis

31

Who do you immediately think of? Mike Piazza

Who wore it the longest? John Franco (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Harry Parker, Mike Vail, Bruce Berenyi

Do you remember this guy? Jack DiLauro

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Larry Bearnarth

32

Who do you immediately think of? Jon Matlack

Who wore it the longest? Jon Matlack (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Jack Hamilton, Kevin Mitchell, Mike Stanton

Do you remember this guy? Tom Hausman

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Dean Chance

33

Who do you immediately think of? Ray Sadecki

Who wore it the longest? Ray Sadecki (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Pete Falcone, Eddie Murray, John Maine

Do you remember this guy? Barry Lyons

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Ron Hunt

34

Who do you immediately think of? Cal Koonce

Who wore it the longest? Mike Pelfrey (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Cleon Jones, Dick Selma, Nolan Ryan, Danny Frisella, Bob Apodaca,

Do you remember this guy? Blas Minor

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Jimmy Piersall

35

Who do you immediately think of? Rick Reed

Who wore it the longest? Dillon Gee (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Jon Matlack, Randy Jones, Kevin Mitchell

Do you remember this guy? Charlie Williams

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Billy Beane

36

Who do you immediately think of? Jerry Koosman

Who wore it the longest? Jerry Koosman (12 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ed Lynch and some really obscure names that are insulting to Kooz

Do you remember this guy? None even worth remembering with this group

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Greg McMichael

37

No player ever wore this uniform number.

38

Who do you immediately think of? Rick Aguilera

Who wore it the longest? Rick Aguilera (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Buzz Capra

Do you remember this guy? Skip Lockwood

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Ralph Terry

39

Who do you immediately think of? Gary Gentry

Who wore it the longest? Bobby Parnell (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Dick Selma, Hubie Brooks, Wally Backman, Doug Sisk, Jeff Kent

Do you remember this guy? Nino Espinosa

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody noteworthy

40

Who do you immediately think of? George Stone

Who wore it the longest? Jeff Innis (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Pat Zachry

Do you remember this guy? Calvin Schiraldi

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody noteworthy

41

Who do you immediately think of? If you don’t know then you have been living on another planet.

Who wore it the longest? Tom Seaver (12 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Clem Labine

Do you remember this guy? Gordie Richardson

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Clem Labine

42

Who do you immediately think of? Ron Hodges

Who wore it the longest? Ron Hodges (12 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Ron Taylor and Roger McDowell

Do you remember this guy? Butch Huskey

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Mo Vaughn

43

Who do you immediately think of? Jim McAndrew

Who wore it the longest? Jim McAndrew (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Terry Leach and R.A. Dickey

Do you remember this guy? John Mitchell

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Bill Wakefield

44

Who do you immediately think of? David Cone

Who wore it the longest? David Cone and Jason Isringhausen (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Jeff Reardon, Ron Darling, Howard Johnson

Do you remember this guy? Bob Myrick

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Mike Cameron

45

Who do you immediately think of? Tug McGraw

Who wore it the longest? Tug McGraw and John Franco (7 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Pedro Martinez

Do you remember this guy? Jerry DiPoto

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? John Candelaria

46

Who do you immediately think of? Oliver Perez

Who wore it the longest? Oliver Perez (5 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Neil Allen

Do you remember this guy? David West

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody noteworthy

47

Who do you immediately think of? Jesse Orosco

Who wore it the longest? Jesse Orosco (9 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Jay Hook, Jerry Koosman, Joe McEwing

Do you remember this guy? Wally Whitehurst

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Tom Glavine

48

Who do you immediately think of? Jacob DeGrom

Who wore it the longest? Aaron Heilman (6 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Randy Myers, Glendon Rusch

Do you remember this guy? Randy Tate

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody Noteworthy

49

Who do you immediately think of? Jon Niese

Who wore it the longest? Jon Niese (8 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Walt Terrell, Todd Hundley, Armando Benitez

Do you remember this guy? Ed Hearn

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody noteworthy

50

Who do you immediately think of? Sid Fernandez

Who wore it the longest? Sid Fernandez (10 seasons)

Other popular players who wore it? Benny Agbayani

Do you remember this guy? Vance Wilson

I can’t believe this guy was on the team? Nobody noteworthy

 

Above 50 there is not much but I have listed the most prominent player to wear the number:

51 – Mel Rojas

52 – Yoenis Cespedes

53 – Bobby Abreau

54 – Mark Clark

55 – Orel Hershiser

56 – Brian McRae

57 – Johan Santana

58 – Jenrry Mejia

59 – Guillermo Mota

60 – Scott Schoenweiss

61 – Livan Hernandez

62 – Erik Goeddel

63 – Chris Schwinden

64 – Elmer Dessens

65 – Doug Simons

66 – Josh Edgin

68 – Dario Alvarez

70 – Wilfredo Tovar

71 – Gonzalez German

72 – Carlos Torres

73 – Kenny Rogers

75 – Francisco Rodriguez

77 – D.J. Carrasco

99 – Turk Wendell

00 – Tony Clark

0 - Rey Ordonez

Read 6187 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 May 2022 23:51
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About New York Mets Mania

Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.