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 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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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, "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:

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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 for research information)

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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

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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

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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'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

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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

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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

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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

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