Friday

Athlete Number 47 - Tom Glavine


Another real close one. This one came down to two top-notch pitchers. Both are starters who have had long and impressive careers. In the end though, the numbers bore out that not Jack Morris, but rather Tom Glavine, is the best professional athlete to wear the number 47. Oddly enough, the pitcher whose career statistics are most similar to Tom Glavine's is Jack Morris, according to baseball-reference.com. Glavine, one of the game's best lefties, accumulated an impressive 305 wins, to go along with a relatively low 3.54 ERA over twenty major league years. More of Tom's credentials:


  • Ten-time All-Star

  • 1995 World Series MVP

  • Two-time Cy Young Award Winner (1991 and 1998)

  • Five-time NL wins leader

Tom was also a superb hockey player as a youngster. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL amateur draft.

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Wednesday

Athlete Number 46 - Andy Pettitte


Lee Smith was great; the all-time saves leader for a while before Trevor Hoffman passed him. He wore the number 46 while with the Cubs for only eight of his eighteen seasons. Lou Groza was great too, but wore 46 for only six of his NFL years, and was mainly a tackle during that time period, not the kicker he became known for (he also wore 76, and had that number retired by the Browns.) Andy Pettitte however, is the best athlete to wear the number 46. Andy wore the number 46 in his nine years with the Yankees from 1995 to 2003. He amassed 149 wins in that time span. Altogether, including his three years with the Astros, Pettitte has 186 wins and a .641 winning percentage. According to wikipedia.com, "Through 2006, he is one of only 5 active players with at least 180 wins, 1,700 strikeouts, and a winning percentage above .640. The others are Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Pedro Martinez, each of whom is older than Pettitte." That's pretty good company. The two-time twenty game winner will presumably wear number 46 again when he returns to the Yankees this year.


Did you know......Andy is the only MLB pitcher since 1930 to win at least 12 games in each of his first nine seasons? (source: imdb.com)

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Friday

Athlete Number 45 - Pedro Martinez


Pedro Martinez is the best professional athlete to wear the number 45. Yes, Bob Gibson is a Hall of Famer, and was a great pitcher, as is Pedro. Let's compare the numbers.

In Pedro's 18-year career, here are his numbers:



  • 219 wins, 100 losses

  • .687 winning percentage

  • 2.93 career ERA

  • 1.74 best year ERA

  • 162-game average of 242 strikeouts

  • 313 best year strikeouts

In Mr. Gibson's 17-year career, here are his numbers:


  • 251 wins, 174 losses

  • .591 winning percentage

  • 2.91 career ERA

  • 1.12 best year ERA

  • 162-game average of 209 strikeouts

  • 274 best year strikouts

These stats are very close. Bob Gibson's best year ERA of 1.12 is absolutely amazing. However, Pedro's 1.74 best year isn't far off that mark. Given Pedro's close to .100 lead in winning percentage and his 162-game average of 249 strikeouts, we'll give him the nod. But it's real close.

(credit to baseball-reference.com for research information)

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Sunday

Athlete Number 44 - Hank Aaron


Mr. October was great; Jerry West, John Riggins and Willie McCovey were real good; Hank Aaron was the BEST professional athlete to wear the number 44. Hank, of course, is the all-time MLB leader in home runs with 755, since 1974 (as of 2006.) Some more of Hank's qualifying statistics:

  • 1956 and 1959 League Leader in batting average
  • 1957, 1963, 1966, 1967 League Leader in home runs
  • 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1966 League Leader in rbi
  • 1957 MVP
  • All-Star from 1954 - 1976
  • .305 career batting average
  • .364 career World Series batting average
  • 2,297 career rbi

Did you know.....Hank's brother Tommie played professional baseball for the Braves as well? (photo courtesy wikipedia.com)

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Friday

Athlete Number 43 - Dennis Eckersley


Eck, the Hall of Fame Major League Baseball pitcher, is our pick for the best athlete to wear number 43. Dennis Eckersley was primarily a starting pitcher with the Indians, Red Sox and Cubs from 1975 through 1986. It was in 1987 with the Oakland Athletics, that Eck started compiling his impressive career saves total of 390 as a reliever (three of these were between the years of 1975 and 1986.)

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, "Dennis Eckersley blazed a unique path as a big league pitcher, one that most likely will never be repeated. He began as a young hotshot starting pitcher, mowing down hitters with a blazing fastball. But years later, when it looked as if he was just another washed up hurler just happy to be hanging on, he was transformed, thanks to his pinpoint control, into the game's top reliever. This success story ends with the game's ultimate happy ending - election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame." Read the full Hall of Fame baseball biography for Dennis Eckersley by clicking here:
MLB HOF Dennis Eckersley

Some of Eck's credentials:

  • 1992 AL Cy Young winner
  • 1992 AL MVP
  • 1988 NLCS MVP
  • 2004 Hall of Fame inductee
  • 6-time All-Star ('77, '82, '88, '90, '91, '92)
  • 197 career wins
  • 24 year pitching career
  • 1988, 1992 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year winner

Did you know......Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz are the only two pitchers in baseball history who have recorded both 20-win and 50-save seasons?

(photo courtesy of usatoday.com)





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Monday

Athlete Number 42 - Jackie Robinson


No question here. The man to break the color barrier in major league baseball is the best athlete to ever wear the number 42. The number 42 is now retired for every major league baseball team (with grandfathering for those players wearing the number 42 when the decision was made to retire it across baseball, i.e. Mariano Rivera,) because it was Jackie Robinson's uniform number. According to Henry Aaron on TIME.com's article about the most important people of the century, "He thrilled fans, shattered baseball's color barrier and changed the face of the nation." Other than breaking baseball's color barrier, here are Jackie's other creds:

  • 1947 NL ROY
  • 1949 NL MVP
  • 1949 NL Batting Champ
  • 1962 HOF inductee
  • 6-time All-Star
  • 1955 World Series Champion
  • .311 career batting average

Did you know.....Jackie played baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League? (photo courtesy of achievement.org)





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Saturday

Athlete Number 41 - Tom Seaver


This was an easy one. "Tom Terrific" is THE best to ever wear the number 41. The only player ever to be commemorated with a New York Mets cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Seaver made his mark with Amazin's in the 1960s and 1970s. (By the way, Seaver was elected to the Hall in 1992 with highest percentage of votes ever at 98.84%.) Seaver's creds:

  • 3-time Cy Young award winner (1969, 1973 and 1975)
  • 1967 ROY
  • 1969 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
  • 1969 World Series Champion
  • 5 time league leader in strikeouts ('70, '71, '73, '75 and '76)
  • 3,640 career strikeouts
  • 311 career wins

Did you know......Tom struck out a record 10 consecutive batters in 1970? (photo courtesy baseballhalloffame.org)





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Athlete Number 40 - Gale Sayers


"The Kansas Comet," Gale Sayers, is our pick for the best athlete to wear the number 40. Sayers was a running back with the Chicago Bears who some compare to Barry Sanders, and who many include in the list of top 5 running backs ever to grace the gridiron in the NFL. Injuries limited Sayers to a brief pro football career, from 1965 through 1971. Here are some of Gale's creds:

  • 9,435 Net Career Yards
  • 4,956 Career Rushing Yards
  • 336 Points Scored
  • All-NFL Five Straight Years
  • Set a rookie record in 1965 with 22 TDs, and 132 points
  • Three time Pro Bowl Offensive Player of the Game

Did you know.....Gale wrote a biography of his playing career entitled "I Am Third," ? Get it by clicking the link in the post title.

(photo courtesy of sayers.com)

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Friday

Athlete Number 39 - Roy Campanella


The three-time MVP and eight-time All-Star is our choice for the best professional athlete to ever wear the number 39. In a mere ten seasons for the Dodgers, Roy Campanella amassed 242 home-runs with a .276 batting average. Not too bad for an all-star caliber catcher. Campanella, who was the first catcher to break baseball's color barrier, was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. (photo courtesy of roycampanella.com)


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Sunday

Athlete Number 38 - Curt Schilling


An unpopular number with the athletes, 38 has been worn by few superb athletes. Of those that have chosen to wear 38, Curtis Montague Schilling is our choice for the best ever to don the number. Curt has pitched for several MLB teams in his career. He started with the Orioles, had a brief stay with the Astros, spent a majority of his career with the Phillies, and won MLB championships with both the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. Here are some of Curt's credentials for being the best athlete to wear the number 38 (through 2006):

  • 207 lifetime wins
  • 3015 lifetime strikeouts
  • 3.44 lifetime ERA
  • 2001 World Series MVP
  • 1993 NLCS MVP
  • Cy Young runner-up in 2001 and 2002 (to his teammate Randy Johnson)

Did you know.....Curt is a staunch advocate of ALS sufferers? (photo courtesy of fansedge.com)




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Wednesday

Athlete Number 37 - Doak Walker


The versatile 1948 Heisman Trophy winner from SMU, and Hall of Famer who played his entire career with the Detroit Lions is our choice for the best athlete to wear number 37. In 1950, the diminuitive (5'11", 173 lb.) Doak won the Rookie of the Year of the NFL, was all-NFL, and the scoring-champion of the NFL. Wow. Doak was all-NFL and a Pro Bowler in five of his short six-year career. Imagine if he continued to play longer. This guy was a stud. And he could do it all; throw, catch, intercept, kick...you name it, he did it. (photo courtesy profootballhof.com)

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Friday

Athlete Number 36 - Robin Roberts


No we are not talking about the former ESPN anchor, although she is impressive also. The best athlete to wear the number 36 is former Phillie great and Hall of Fame pitcher, Robin Roberts. Some career average stats:

  • 3.41 ERA
  • 15 wins per 162-game season
  • 124 strikeouts per 162-game season

Some career season-high stats:

  • 28 wins
  • 198 strikeouts
  • 346.7 innings pitched!!!!
  • 2.59 ERA
  • 33 complete games (that's in a season - not a career!)

The guy was a pitching stud. (photo courtesy athlonsports.com)

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Wednesday

Athlete Number 35 - Tony Esposito


The National Hockey League goalie, most notably for the Chicago Blackhawks, Tony Esposito is the best athlete to wear the number 35. Tony, who was one of the first to utilize the butterfly style of goaltending, was elected to the NHL Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1970, Mr. Esposito was the winner of both the Calder and Vezina trophies, as well as a runner up for the Hart trophy. That year he also set a modern day record with fifteen shutouts.
(image courtesy of wikipedia.com and nhl.com)

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Thursday

Athlete Number 34 - Walter Payton



Sweetness comes in as the best athlete to wear number 34. He is in my opinion, the best running back to ever play football in the NFL. He could run through, over or around you. Sir Sweetness used his skills to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher from 1984 through 2002. (Emmitt Smith now holds that title.) Walter Payton was the NFL and Pro Bowl MVP in 1977. Walter was elected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and held the record for most consecutive years with 1,000 plus yards (10.)

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Tuesday

Athlete Number 33 - Tony Dorsett



The best athlete to wear number 33 is Tony Dorsett. The Pennsylvania native and Heisman trophy winner in 1976 was the 1st draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1977. He went on to be one of the best running backs in NFL History. He led the Cowboys in rushing yards and touchdowns in is rookie season, despite not starting until the 10th game of the season. He was a four time pro-bowler, playing in two Super Bowls and five NFC championship games. Tony rushed for 12, 739 yards in his career. Tony set a record for a touchdown from scrimmage with a 99-yard scoot against the Vikings during a Monday night game. (photo courtesy of allposters.com)

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Wednesday

Athlete Number 32 - Sandy Koufax

sandy koufax - number 32
The best lefthander to ever pitch in the major leagues, Sandy Koufax, is the best athlete to wear the number 32. The Brooklyn and LA Dodger played a mere 12 seasons. In those 12 seasons, though, he proved to be a pitching behemoth. He won five consecutive era titles, posting a career 2.76 mark. He also won 25 or more games three times, was the NL MVP in 1963, won three Cy Young Awards (1963, '65 and '66,) and two World Series MVPs (1963 and '65.) 'Nuff said. (picture courtesy of quietfm.com)


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Tuesday

Athlete Number 31 - Mike Piazza


The last player taken by the Dodgers in the 1988 draft, Mike Piazza, is the best athlete to wear the number 31. Although it is apparent that his talent wasn't forseen by the major leagues, Mike proved himself to be extremely proficient as a hitter. He is the best hitting catcher in major league history. Mike is the all-time leader in home runs by a catcher at 415 (as of 8/22/06,) and holds a .309 career batting average. Although Mike Piazza was well known as the MVP of the New York Mets, he has his most outstanding year with the LA Dodgers. In 1997, Mike belted a gaudy .362 to go along with 40 homers and 124 RBI. (photo courtesy of baseballXXL.de)

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Thursday

Athlete Number 30 - Martin Brodeur


The career New Jersey Devil and top NHL goalie, Martin Brodeur is the pick for the best professional athlete to wear the number 30. With Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000 and 2003, Martin is recognized as one of the top, if not the top, goalie in the NHL. (He has also been Canada's starting goalie in recent international play.) Here are some of his creds:

  • 1994 Calder Trophy winner
  • 2003, 2004 Vezina Trophy winner
  • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 NHL All-Star
  • 3-time Stanley Cup champion (starting in goal)
  • 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004 Jennings Trophy winner

Did you know.....Marty's dad, Denis, played in the 1956 Olympics for Canada as goaltender?

(photo courtesy of nhl.com)


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Wednesday

Athlete Number 29 - Rod Carew


Another tough one. When I first thought about who number 29 would be, Eric Dickerson seemed like a lock. However....if you look at Rod Carew's career numbers, they are quite overwhelming. Here you go:

  • AL Batting Title 1969, 1972-75, 1977-78
  • .328 lifetime hitter
  • 1967 Rookie of the Year
  • 1977 AL MVP
  • All-Star from 1967 through1984
  • 3,053 lifetime hits
  • 1991 Hall of Famer (1st year of eligibility)

Did you know.....Rod Carew's number 29 has been retired by both the Twins and the Angels? (photo courtesy of southwestern.edu)

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Sunday

Athlete Number 28 - Marshall Faulk


The best athlete to wear the number 28 is Marshall Faulk, known by most casual NFL fans as a member of the St. Louis Rams. Faulk was taken out of San Diego State with the number 2 draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 1994. Although Faulk started his career and proved himself with the Colts, he really made a name for himself as one of the best in the game with the St. Louis Rams. After five years in Indy, Faulk went over to the Rams in 1999 and together with Kurt Warner and "the greatest show on turf," started to put up some big numbers. In his inaugural season with the Rams, Faulk rushed for 1381 yards (the most in his career up to that point,) and caught passes for 1048 yards. The Rams won the Super Bowl that year, due in no small part to Faulk's contribution. Faulk's creds:

  • NFL MVP in 2000
  • AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1999, 2000 and 2001
  • First running back in NFL history to lead his team in receptions five separate seasons
  • NFL rushing TD leader in 2000
  • 19,154 yards from scrimmage
  • 767 career receptions for 6875 yards 
  • 7 time pro-bowler
Did you know.....Marshall has two cousins who played professional football (Kevin and Trev)?  (photo courtesy of espn.com)


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Thursday

Athlete Number 27 - Juan Marichal

Sox fans (both Red and White,) will be dissapointed to know that Juan Marichal is the best athlete to ever wear the number 27. Of course, they'll be dissapointed because although Carlton Fisk was a strong consideration here, Marichal receives the honor. Known for his high leg kick pitch delivery, Juan broke into the bigs on July 19, 1960 with the San Francisco Giants. In his debut game, he shut out the Philadelphia Phillies with one hit. Some start. It was the beginning of a Hall of Fame career. His acheivements:

  • 2.89 lifetime ERA
  • Averaged 20 wins from 1962-1971
  • 9-time All-Star
  • Led NL twice in complete games and shutouts
  • 2,303 career strikeouts
  • 83.69% Hall of Fame election rate

Did you know......Juan Marichal's nickname is the "Dominican Dandy?" (photo courtesy of latinosportslegends.com)

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Sunday

Athlete Number 26 - Wade Boggs

Another tough one. Billy Williams, of the Chicago Cubs, was a real consideration here, but the title of best athlete to wear the number 26 goes to the long-time Red Sox star, Wade Boggs. Boggs, a recent Hall of Famer, who retired with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and won the World Series with the Yankees, was one of the best pure hitters in the game. He started off of course with the Sox, and batted a mere .349 in his rookie season! This would have given him the batting title, but he was 121 at-bats short of the requirement. For an encore, in his sophmore season he hit .361 for the year. In fact, Boggs hit over .360 in four of his first seven seasons. He could flat out hit. Here's some statistical proof:

  • .328 lifetime batting average
  • 3,010 hits in 18 seasons
  • 5-time batting champ (1983, 1985-1988; he was third at .325 in 1984)
  • 8-time Silver Slugger
  • 12-time All-Star
  • 2-time Gold Glove winner
  • 7 consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits

Did you know.....Wade was very superstitious and ate chicken before every game? (photo courtesy of psacard.com)

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Tuesday

Athlete Number 25 - Barry Bonds


Unfortunately, the best athlete to wear the number 25 gained some notoriety for all the wrong reasons. The guy is in the record books as major league baseball's all-time home run champion. And we're here to talk about the BEST to ever wear the number, and here he is. The son of Bobby Bonds, an outstanding major leaguer in his own time, Barry became by far the most feared hitter in baseball.  His name put the fannies in the seats, just like the Babe did years ago. Why did people come just to see Barry? Here's an idea why:
  • Seven-time NL MVP (1990, '92, '93, 2001, '02, '03 and '04)
  • 1st MLB athlete to win four MVPs in a row (2001-2004)
  • 1st all-time in HRs with 762
  • 14-time All-Star
  • 12 Silver Slugger awards
  • 8 Gold Glove awards
  • 500/500 club's only member (500 homers / 500 steals)
  • All-time leader in walks with 2,558
  • Single-season home run leader with 73 dingers in 2001
'Nuff said.
Did you know.......Wille Mays is Barry's godfather? (photo courtesy of pointedmagazine.com)


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Monday

Athlete Number 24 - Willie Mays


The "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays is the best athlete to wear the number 24. Willie was a true "five tool" athlete, hitting for average and power, throwing well, fielding well, and running the bases with speed. He was an athlete is every sense of the word, and it was evident in his statistics. Willie's athleticism with the Giants (and Mets for a short time,) helped him acheive the following:



  • Two-time NL MVP (1954 and 1965)
  • 1951 NL Rookie of the Year
  • 24-time All-Star (Ted Williams said: "They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays.")
  • 1954 NL Batting Champion
  • Four-time NL home run leader

Did you know....the Giants ballpark is currently located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, with a statue of Willie outside surrounded by 24 palm trees, and a right-field wall that stands at 24-feet high, all in honor of Willie?

(photo courtesy of sanfranciso.giants.mlb.com)

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Friday

Athlete Number 23 - Michael Jordan


Is there even a discussion here? Michael Jordan, wearing number 23 for the Chicago Bulls, may be the best athlete on this list. Many people consider him the best basketball player ever. He could absolutely take over a basketball game. It was an entirely different game when he was on the court versus on the bench - which was rare. He could drive the lane, shoot from anywhere, dazzle with his acrobatics, play defense and win. Jordan was passionate about winning. This proved to be true on the basketball court, golf course or playing cards with his teammates. His drive to win led to his credentials as the best athlete to wear number 23, here:
  • 1985 NBA Rookie of the Year
  • MVP of the NBA for: 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, and 1998
  • MVP of NBA Finals: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998 (every year he was in it)
  • 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 32,292 career points (third most when he retired, behind Kareem and Karl Malone)
  • 10-time NBA scoring leader (seven consecutive)
  • All-Star game MVP in 1988, 1996, and 1998
  • 33.6 PPG average in six NBA finals
  • Named the greatest athlete of the century by ESPN in 1999


Buy a Michael Jordan 23 Bulls Jersey on eBay

Did you know.....Michael played professional baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization for the Birmingham Barons? (photo courtesy of espn.com)



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Thursday

Athlete Number 22 - Emmitt Smith



The best professional athlete to wear number 22 is the all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith. Emmitt was drafted number 17 by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990 draft, out of the University of Florida. He went from being a late first round draft pick to a three-time Super Bowl champion and holding the all-time NFL rushing title. Emmitt Smith was the consumate professional and a world-class hard working athlete. Of all the running backs in people's all-time best lists, Emmitt is probably the most complete back. He could do it all well: accelerate and rush for yardage, make key blocks for Troy Aikman, and catch Troy's passes in the flat. Although he may not have been the "flashy" back that Barry Sanders was, he certaintly put up the statistics to consider him one of the best ever. Here are some of Emmitt's credentials:
  • NFL All-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards
  • 166 touchdowns as a running back ranks 1st all-time
  • 1,586 postseason rushing yards ranks 1st all-time
  • 21 playoff touchdowns ties him with Thurman Thomas for the all-time record
  • Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
  • 1993 NFL MVP
Did you know.....Emmitt set the University of Florida single-game rushing record in his first start at the school? (photo courtesy of cnnsi.com)



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Athlete Number 21 - Roberto Clemente



Number 21 - Roberto Clemente
The pick for the best athlete to wear number 21 may be the most difficult choice of them all. It was neck and neck on this decision. Warren Spahn versus Roberto Clemente. Pitcher versus Hitter. In the end, Roberto's offensive prowess, combined with his defensive strength, proved to be the tie breaker.

Here are some of "Bob" Clemente's acheivements:

  • Hit better than .300 for the season, thirteen times
  • 1966 NL MVP
  • 12-time All-Star
  • Two-time World Series Champ (1960 and 1971)
  • 1971 World Series MVP
  • Four-time NL batting leader
  • Twelve Gold Gloves

Here is an interesting story about Roberto Clemente, relayed by my brother, who is a new resident of Pittsburgh. My brother was sitting in a bar in Pittsburgh, when his new neighbor walked in. They started chatting about sports and the subject of Roberto Clemente came up. His neighbor told him that he went to a Pirates game as a child and while the Pirates were warming up, he went down to field level to get Clemente's autograph. He sought out Clemente, and handed him his baseball glove to be signed. Clemente took the glove and walked away. Strange, huh? Well, when Clemente came back, the glove was signed by the entire Pirates team. That's the kind of guy Roberto Clemente was.


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Sunday

Number 20 - Barry Sanders


There are a few Hall of Famers which could be considered as the greatest athlete to wear the number 20, including: Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Don Sutton, Lou Brock and Gino Cappelletti. I'm nominating the running back who some say is the best to ever carry the ball, Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders could move like no other running back ever moved. He would juke, dance and hurdle his way around and over defenders, when you thought for sure he would be tackled. Although he never played for a Super Bowl contender (and for most of his career with the Lions they weren't the most competitive team,) he was a perenial All-Pro and NFL standout. If you consider the "best" running back to be an all-around blocking, receiving, carrying the ball back, then Barry might not be the best. If you consider the "best" to be the most spectacular, fun to watch, productive when he had the ball back, Barry was the best ever in that category. Here are some of Barry's notable statistics:

  • Led the NFL in rushing yardage four times (1990, 1994, 1996 and 1997)
  • Rushed for over 1,500 yards in a season five times in his career
  • 1989 Rookie of the Year
  • 1997 Co-NFL MVP
  • Rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997
  • Ten time All-Pro
  • Fourth all-time in career yards from scrimmage with 18,189
Did you know......Barry Sanders was five feet, eight inches tall?


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Saturday

Number 19 - Johnny Unitas

There was an amount of competetion here to determine the best athlete to wear number 19. But certaintly not enough strong competetion to overcome Johnny Unitas, who some consider the best quarterback to ever take to the gridiron. When Johnny U retired, he held most of the NFL passing records. An amount of those records have been overtaken, however one remains. Johnny threw a touchdown pass in 47 straight games. A task comparable to Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak. Some say this record, somewhat like the say of Joe's record, will not be broken. That is to be determined by the future star QBs of the NFL. However, one thing is certain: Johnny Unitas was one of the best quarterbacks, and players, the NFL has ever seen.

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Friday

Number 18 - Peyton Manning

The best athlete to ever wear the jersey number 18 is now Peyton Manning.  Click here to find out why.



(Number 18 was listed formerly as Dave Cowens - see below for the reasons why)

Unless you followed the NBA a few decades ago, or are a big NBA and sports-in-general fan, you may not have heard of the best athlete to wear number 18. His name is Dave Cowens and he played for the Boston Celtics. Here are his creds:
  • 1974 and 1976 NBA Champion
  • 1973 NBA MVP
  • 1971 NBA Co-Rookie of the Year
  • Seven-time All-Star
  • Named one of the 50 best players in NBA history (1996)
  • 13,516 career points
  • 10,444 career rebounds
  • 17.6 career ppg
Did you know.......Dave Cowens is Florida State's all-time leading rebounder?

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Tuesday

Number 17 - Dizzy Dean



As Dizzy said, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." And his stats and acheivements indeed back up his nomination as the best athlete to wear number 17. Dizzy pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs between 1930 and 1941. He also made a comeback with the St. Louis Browns in 1947. Part of the 1934 "Gashouse Gang," Dizzy was the last player to win 30 games until 1974 (he went 30-7 in 1934.) Dizzy was the NL MVP in 1934, and led the NL for four consecutive years in both complete games and strikeouts. Dizzy was certainly quotable, coming up with these statements:

  • "I ain't what I used to be, but who the hell is?"
  • "All ballplayers want to wind up their career with the Cubs, Giants or Yankees. They just can't help it."
  • "Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss."

(quotes courtesy of dizzydean.com)

Did you know.....Dizzy pitched alongside his brother Paul "Daffy" Dean, with the Cardinals? (photo courtesy of sportsecyclopedia.com)


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Sunday

Number 16 - Joe Montana


"Joe Cool" is the best athlete to wear number 16. How did Joe get that nickname? Here's an example of his demeanor that shows why: It's the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXIII, with 3:10 left on the clock, the 49ers at their own eight yard line and down 16-13 to the Bengals. Harris Barton, a lineman for the 49ers at the time, explains, "Right before that series, we're standing on the sidelines, and he says, `Look up there.' He's pointing up in the stands. He says, `That's John Candy.' '' They went on to score and win the Super Bowl. Here are some of Joe's credentials:

  • Four-time Super Bowl winner (starting QB)
  • Three-time Super Bowl MVP
  • Eight-time Pro Bowl selection
  • NFL Hall of Fame class of 2000
  • Second all-time in passing efficiency (92.3)

Some consider Joe to be the best quarterback to ever play the game. Did you know....that Joe produces wine under the label Montagia? (photo courtesy of espn.com)



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Friday

Number 15 - Bart Starr


Athough Thurman Munson gets strong consideration here, and could be the sentimental favorite, Bart Starr is the best athlete to wear number 15, based largely on his statistics, awards and championships. This Alabama boy was drafted number 200 in the 1956 NFL draft. He went on to quarterback the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships. Bart was the 1966 NFL MVP and led the Packers to victory in the first two Superbowls (1967 and 1968.) Did you know.....Bart Starr's real first name is Bryan? (photo courtesy of bartstarr.com)

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Thursday

Number 14 - Ernie Banks


"Let's play two!" Now wearing number 14 for the best athletes by the numbers, is "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks. Ernie's number 14 was the first number to be retired by the Chicago Cubs. Ernie, who played in the Negro leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs, became the Cubs first black player in 1953. According to The Sporting News, Ernie ranks at number 38 on the 100 greatest baseball players list. Ernie Banks won the NL MVP in 1958 and 1959, when the Cubs weren't among the teams contending for the playoffs. Here are some key Ernie Banks stats:

  • 512 career homers (tops at shortstop until surpassed by Cal Ripken Jr.)
  • Cubs all-time leader in: games played (2,528,) at-bats (9,421,) and total bases (4,706)
  • 11-time All-Star
  • 1960 Gold Glove winner
  • Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 1977

Did you know......Ernie, as a coach for the Cubs, filled in at manager for a couple innings in 1973, technically making him the first black manager in the majors? (photo courtesy of athlonsports.com)

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Wednesday

Number 13 - Dan Marino


"Dan the Man" is the best athlete to don the number 13. 13 was a lucky number for Dan Marino as he put up some unbelievable passing numbers over his long career with the fish. Dan played his entire career for the Miami Dolphins, spanning the years 1983 through 1999. He had a cannon for an arm, and could put the ball right in the receivers hands going long down the sideline. In 1984, Dan passed for 5,084 yards! Just one of his many records. He also threw for 48 TDs in 1984, which was a record for years, until recently broken by Peyton Manning. Marino was the NFL's MVP in 1984. Some more key Marino stats are: thirteen seasons with 20 or more touchdowns, 420 touchdowns for his career, 61,361 yards passing for his career, 60 games with 300 or more yards passing, 21 games with four or more touchdowns in his career. These are all records, and the list could go on for a country mile. Did you know......Dan was the first rookie QB to be selected to start in the Pro Bowl? (photo courtesy of espn.com)


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Tuesday

Number 12 - Terry Bradshaw


Terry Bradshaw is the best athlete to wear number 12.  This Hall of Famer led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a record four Super Bowls within six years, and eight AFC central championships. Here are some key Terry Bradshaw stats:


  • 1978 NFL MVP
  • Four-time Super Bowl Champion
  • Three-time All-Pro
  • Super Bowl XIII and XIV MVP
  • Passed for 932 yards and 9 touchdowns in four Super Bowls


Did you know......Terry Bradshaw signed a contract in 2006 to be the fourth string quarterback of the Daytona Beach Thunder of the American Indoor Football League?




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Number 11 - Mark Messier

The best athlete to wear the number 11 is Mark Messier, "the Captain." Messier guaranteed the New York Rangers would win game six against the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup playoff semi-finals of 1994, and they did. Messier then laced up his hockey skates and led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship, their first in 54 years. Here are some of Messier's credentials:

  • Six-time Stanley Cup champion
  • 15-time NHL All-Star
  • Two-time Hart Trophy award winner
  • Only player to captain two Stanley Cup champion teams ('89-'90 Oilers and '93-'94 Rangers)

Did you know.....Mark Messier played for the Mets. The Spruce Grove Mets of the AJHL that is. (photo courtesy of espn.com)


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Sunday

Number 10 - Guy LaFleur


The best athlete to wear number 10 is "the flower," Guy LaFleur. The flower was a 17-year veteran of the NHL, playing for the Canadiens (most of his career,) the Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques. Here are some of his key stats:

  • Led NHL in scoring (Art Ross trophy) for three seasons, 1976-1978
  • First in NHL to reach six consecutive seasons with more than 50 goals and 100 points
  • NHL MVP (Hart Trophy) for two years, 1977-1978
  • Stanley Cup playoff MVP (Conn Smythe Trophy,) 1977
  • NHL Hall of Famer

Did you know.....Guy was ranked by the Hockey News in 1997 as the 11th greatest NHL player of all-time? (photo courtesy of allposters.com)

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Number 9 - Gordie Howe


Gordie Howe's acheivements in professional hockey were enough to give him the nod over Ted Williams, who could arguably be considered the best here (his website even has a Number 9 store.) Gordie Howe is second or third in a multitude of professional hockey statistical categories, and that is only because the "Great One" is currently first in those categories. Howe retired as the leader. In fact, Gordie's nickname is "Mr. Hockey." He is by far the best athlete to ever wear an NHL jersey with the number 9 on it. Here are some notable Howe statistics:


  • Second most NHL regular season goals: 801
  • Second most NHL & WHA regular season points: 2,358
  • Most NHL regular season games played: 1,767
  • Most NHL seasons played: 26
  • Most NHL & WHA regular season goals: 975
  • Most decades played in by a professional athlete: 6
  • Finished in top five in scoring for a record 20 straight seasons

Did you know....Gordie Howe played professional hockey at age 70? He played one shift in 1997 for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. (photo courtesy of nhl.com)

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Saturday

Number 8 - Yogi Berra

After further consideration.......................................

The best athlete to ever wear number 8 has been amended from Troy Aikman to Yogi Berra.  After the feedback and a more, ahem, objective look at the stats and accolades, Yogi's MLB career was indeed impressive.  A World Series Championship Ring for each finger?  C'mon, that is just awesome.  That's part of why Yogi was named the best MLB athlete to wear number 8.

And I will state once more, I am not a Yankee fan. They just put up some of the best numbers.........objectively.



Did you know............that Yogi's real first name is Lawrence?

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Number 7 - Mickey Mantle


John Elway would have to be considered here, starting five Super Bowls and with all his late game heroics. However, being as objective as possible (especially given that four of the first five best athletes are Yankees,) Mickey Mantle
is the choice for number 7. Here are his credentials:
  • All-Star: 1952-1965, 1967-1968
  • MVP, 1956-1957, 1962
  • Twelve-time pennant winner
  • Seven-time World Series winner
  • World Series record-holder for: home runs (18,) RBI (40,) runs (42,) walks (43,) extra-base hits (26,) and total bases (123.)
And according to the people who watched him play, he had blazing speed and could crush the ball. Of course, he hit 54 homers the year his teammate Roger Maris hit 61 to set the record. Did you know.....Mickey was the first switch-hitter to reach 500 career home runs?
(photo courtesy of notablebiographies.com)

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Number 6 - Bill Russell


This is a tough one. Both Stan Musial and Julius "Dr. J" Erving could very well be considered the best to wear this number. However, looking at Bill Russell's personal and team acheivements, we'll give him the nod here. Check it out:


  • Five-time NBA MVP: 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965
  • Eleven-time NBA Champion: 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969
  • Twelve-time NBA All-Star: 1958-1969
  • Olympic Gold Medalist: 1956
  • NCAA Champion: 1955 and 1956
  • NCCA Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament: 1956
He acheived these accolades with the University of San Francisco, the Boston Celtics and the USA. Did you know......Bill was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks, second overall in 1956. His draft rights were subsequently traded to the Celtics. (photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images)

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