BY THE NUMBERS: MLB EDITION: IN THE BEGINNING
(Spring training and/or early career jersey numbers for major stars of yesterday and today).
68: Number issued to Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols by the team in spring training of 2001. Of course, Pujols became famous wearing #5.
9: Phillies and Cubs fans recall strong-armed, power-hitting outfielder Johnny Callison as #6, but, as a youngster with the White Sox, he helped keep #9 warm while Minnie Minoso (for whom the digit is retired by the Pale Hose) spent 1958-59 in Cleveland flannels.
92: Spring training, 1998, and recent draftee Troy Glaus is given this lineman-type number in preseason action by the Anaheim Angels, as evidenced by his 1998 Topps rookie card.
4: The first Cubs number (1959) of sweet-swinging HOFer Billy Williams, whose glory days were spent in #26.
31: Both in #’s 9 and 44, Reggie Jackson terrorized American League pitching for close to two decades. He wore something different, however, when first called up by the defunct Kansas City A’s at the tail end of 1967.
32: Roger Maris wore this number (as well as 5, 35 and 3) during his pre-Yankees tenure in Cleveland and KC. The “32” represents his rookie digits in ’57 with the Tribe.
28: Dave Concepcion, a famous wearer of #13, was issued this number while still a minor leaguer in the 1969 Reds exhibition season.
9: Another star who wore the lucky 13 with pride, Ozzie Guillen was issued #9 with the Padres in 1984, though never making the Show until his ’85 debut with the Chisox.
25: Prior to the issuance of his rookie card (1975 Topps), George Brett was clad in #25, rather than his customary #5.
46: That’s what Hall of Fame hurler Fergie Jenkins wore during his late-season stint with the 1965 Phillies. He wore 30 to open the ’66 season with the Phils before becoming a legend in #31.
25 (again): This was also the first regular season uniform number of Mike Piazza, during late 1992 with the Dodgers.
54: Gary Sheffield has worn several numbers, but this one was bestowed upon him as a major league hopeful with the Brewers in 1988 spring training.
MORE TAGGED THREADS THAT ARE TROUBLE
One of the more confusing non-team issued item genres are the 1989-91 Rawlings MLB jerseys of select stars issued by the now-defunct Score Board.
Score Board initially sold these as autographed display jerseys, but foolishly had tagging included on the items. Of course, the results were problematic, as secondary market sales saw the items being advertised as game-used when they weren’t.
While a complete listing of these signed retail jerseys is not available, many are identifiable, by virtue of the tagging sequence and/or identifiers used on the Score Board-issued retail pieces. Ones we can unequivocally spot are as follows:
1989 Giants home Mays and Clark: Home versions of Say Hey Willie’s and Will the Thrill’s Giants jerseys are spottable as being Score Board, non-team issued pieces by the year notation in the strip tag…the retail versions use a four-digit (1989) year identifier, not the norm on team-issued 1989 Giants gamers.
1989 Rangers Nolan Ryan: Another home knit with another four-digit 1989 notation in the tail strip tag, compounded by the fact that Ryan rarely, if ever, wore Rawlings jerseys when he pitched, opting to wear Goodman threads on the days his turn in the rotation came up.
1989 Mariners Ken Griffey Jr.: “GRIFFEY JR.” … if the NOB plate on the 1989 Mariners home shirt in question says this, it’s a Score Board retail item…Junior never wore a gamer that identified him as JR. in the NOB.
1990 Athletics home Jose Canseco: A big star in 1990, the plethora of jerseys strip tagged “2 90” are Score Board issues, not items supplied to the Athletics.
Examples of the tagging on the non-real things are shown alongside…despite the fact that many authenticators were active in the hobby in this era, many have taken little care in studying this group of retail issues, and have rubber-stamped these tagged replicas as game-used in their LOAs.
One final note…unless laundered out, all of these Score Board retail jerseys will be autographed on the front.
Additional information on any Score Board issues not listed here are welcomed and appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org for future mention in The Shirt.
INTRIGUING PROTOTYPE: Although uniform style changes generally settle on a distinct design for home, road, and alternate sets, multiple designs are often considered before the final selection is made. The accompanying photograph is a prototype designed by a Wayland Moore for consideration when the Atlanta Braves switched over to double-knits after the 1971 season. The prototype was made by the eventual supplier of the ’72 Braves unies, Medallist Sand-Knit, even resembling the final product down to the two-button rounded collar. The big difference? This prototype made red the primary color and whites the trim color on lettering and numbering, whereas the style Atlanta eventually used flip-flopped the two hues.
NEXT TIME: More collecting by the numbers…see you then.