Sunday, January 22, 2012

Phillies player numbers over the years

There is a lot of hoopla concerning the number that a certain player wears for a team. The Phillies are no exception, you probably remember when you were growing up what number was popular among younger baseball players by the person on the team who was usually the best and the number he wore.

Thirty-plus years ago in the Philadelphia tri-state area, that number was usually # 20, whoever wore that number on their jersey was usually the best on the team. Of course the number 20 jersey is harkening back to the Mike Schmidt era with the Phillies, now a distant memory for some, and never experienced by many of the younger Phillies fans of today. Mike Schmidt’s #20, was retired by the Phillies on May 20th, 1990. Did you know that Mike Schmidt originally wore the #22 jersey in his debut as a Phillies player in 1972?

A retired player’s number is something reserved only for the very best in baseball. It’s not something that is lightly considered. The Phillies have 5 numbers that are retired and of course the 6th is one that every major league team has which was Jackie Robinson’s #42.

Phillies retired jersey numbers and players that wore the jersey:

1- Richie Ashburn
14- Jim Bunning
20- Mike Schmidt
32- Steve Carlton
36- Robin Roberts
42- Jackie Robinson – retired by all major league teams

When you think about certain players, you naturally start thinking of what number that they wore when they were playing, or still are playing for that matter. For me, I always associate the number #14 jersey with Pete Rose, when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. But can anyone remember what number he wore when he was on the Phillies? That same number 14, as the Phillies didn’t retire the number until 2001 for Jim Bunning. Rose played for the Phillies from 1979 to 1983, he then went on to play until his retirement to 1986 at 45 years old.

For a lot of people who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s watching Phillies baseball, the #10 will always be remembered for the scrappy, Larry Bowa, at shortstop. Bowa held the shortstop position for the Phils for 14 years, and always wore the same number throughout his career with the Phillies.

Phillies players who got ‘retired numbers’ with letters!

There are more players with retired numbers than listed above, two more players from the Phillies have ‘retired numbers’ in the form of letters. The reason was simple, Grover Cleveland Alexander is retired with the Phillies by the use of the letter, P. In the days that Alexander played baseball, players didn’t even wear numbers on their jersey’s so the Phillies solved that with the use of a letter.

The other player with a ‘retired number’ that isn’t a number is Chuck Klein. Klein wore numerous numbers with the team, so the Phillies wisely chose ‘CK’ as Klein’s retired number. During the course of his career, Klein wore the number 1,3,8, 26, 29, 32, and 36 jersey.

Harry Kalas was also recognized by the team with a retired ‘HK’ designation. Kalas was the Phillies longtime broadcaster who died on April 13th 2009.

The #45 is always associated with one of the most celebrated Phillies relievers ever, Tug McGraw. I remember McGraw when he pitched with the Mets even before he was with the Phillies, but his famous leap off the mound with his arms pointed to the sky claiming the 1980 World Series victory is one that is forever etched in my memory as a real sign of Phillies greatness and of course Tug’s #45 jersey. Tug retired in 1984, after 19 seasons in the big leagues and passed away at 59 years of age in 2004.

The #8 jersey, now worn by Shane Victorino was also worn by another ‘lifetime’ Phillies player, Bob Boone. Boone held the number 8 jersey from 1973 to 1981 with the Phillies are was behind the plate for hundreds of Phillies wins. Boone started with the Phillies in the late part of 1972, but originally wore the #40 jersey before he switched to the #8 jersey the next season.

Who can forget Curt Schilling's jersey that he wore with the Phillies? Curtis Montague Schilling wore the #38 jersey for his entire career with the Phillies. Of course during the past 30 or more years the most famous number a pitcher has worn with the Phillies has been Steve Carlton’s #32, Steve’s number was retired by the Phillies in 1989.

Other famous Phillies who wore many numbers with the team are very common as well. Particularly, players in the 1950’s and 60’s wore many numbers with teams without too much attachment. Jim Konstanty wore the numbers 26 and 35 during his career with the Phils, while John Vukovich wore several numbers during a few stints as a Phillies player, wearing the 30,26,22, 28, and 18 jersey.   

What was your favorite Phillie? You probably can still see the number of his jersey when you think about which player you admired. Here’s a list of some Phillies are the jersey number that they wore over the years:

Famous and ‘not so famous’ Phillies and their jersey numbers:



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