Baseball Players with Uniform #s Retired by Multiple Teams

Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (L) had his #35 retired by the Atlanta Braves. Many also feel that his late brother Joe Niekro (R) also deserves to have his #36 retired by the Houston Astros. (That’s me, Bill McCurdy, in the middle above. The photo was taken in 2005, on the day of Joe Niekro’s induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.)

In addition to Joe Niekro, there are number of deserving former players out there whose numbers could easily be retired with ease and complete justification. The practical question is, how long can this relatively new condition continue to thrive until most teams use up all the available one and two digit figures available? The thought of three-digit uniform numbers hardly sounds like a great station to reach. On the other side, if some of the older clubs who have been doing the retired number honor longer suddenly stop, the danger over the years to come exists that better players may come along than some of those who have already had their numbers retired. In that case, how do we justify withholding the same honor from the newer greats in franchise history?

Maybe each club should simply establish its own franchise hall of honor and leave uniform number retirement out of the honors formula.

Jackie Robinson is the only player to have his #42 retired by all thirty LLB clubs in honor of his 1947 civil rights role in breaking the ancient racist color line, but are you  aware that eight other former big leaguers have had their playing numbers retired by more than one team? I was jogged into a state of greater consciousness of this fact as I mulled over the list of those who have been so honored and found it interesting.

Nolan Ryan again is the leader of the pack, Three of his four clubs shone the light of attention on both Ryan and themselves by retiring his team number. The Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim (California Angels in Nolan’s day) retired his number 30; the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers also retired the #34 that he wore with their clubs.

Longtime home run king Hank Aaron had his #44 retired by both the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Manager Sparky Anderson had # 10 retired by the Cincinnati Reds and then saw #11 equally honored by the Detroit Tigers.

Catcher Carlton Fisk saw his #27 retired by the Boston Red Sox and then played long enough, and apparently well enough, to have hi new inverted #72 retired by the Chicago White Sox.

Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, had his #9 number with the Oakland A’s retired, but also his #44 with the New York Yankees tkane out of use by others on that club as well.

Pitcher Greg Maddux is another same #/two team number retiree. (I missed Greg on my first weep, but Barb Presko Hughes pigtailed my catch and brought us up to speed on the omission. Thanks, Barb!) Greg Maddux’s #31 was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs.

Intrepid slugger Frank Robinson held onto his #20 long enough to see it retired by both the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles.

Finally, Ole Perfesser Casey Stengel wore drab old #37 long enough as manager of both the juggernaut New York Yankees and the jigsaw-puzzle New York Mets to have it retired by each Gotham City team.

I may have missed someone in today’s morning rush, but I don’t think so. Feel free to check me out at Baseball Almanac.Com.

And have a nice Thursday. Once again, too bad it’s not coming our way with any rain.

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14 Responses to “Baseball Players with Uniform #s Retired by Multiple Teams”

  1. mike Says:

    So the answer to the great trivia question “What players had the same uniform number retired by two different teams for which they played?” is Aaron, Ryan and Robinson, then. Since Stengel and Sparky were managers.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mike:

      We have to add Greg Maddux to that list. His #31 was retired by both the Braves and Cubs, but I missed him on my initial look-see at the list. Barb Presko Hughes let me know about it and I have since made the correction within the column with added credit to Barb for her help in me getting it right.

  2. Barb Presko Hughes Says:

    I think Greg Maddux also had his number retired by the Braves
    and the Cubs.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Barb:

      Thanks for catching my omission of Greg Maddux, I’ve now made the correction within the column and given you due credit for helping me get it right.

      Also, I have to ask: Are you related to former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Joe Presko? He was another of my Buff heroes as a kid.

      Regards, Bill McCurdy

  3. Bob Dorrill Says:

    Another question you might ask is “What number has been retired twice by one team for two different players”? The answer is #8 by the New York Yankees and the players are Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Bob:

      Do you think Mario Rivera will be given shared credit for #42 with Robinson after he retires? I’m not even sure if MLB would allow it, but, if they do, the Yankees then become the only club with two retired numbers that are each shared by two players.

  4. Doug S. Says:

    The Cardinals have two retired #42’s – Bruce Sutter and the league mandated Jackie Robinson.

  5. Wayne Roberts Says:

    The Astros need to “un-retire” almost all of theirs…way too many for a marginal franchise when compared to other teams that have fewer, St Louis as noted above. Stick with bona fide HOF members are some truly, truly unique situation, of which none come to mind right now. I once did an analysis of this and Houston’s number is embarrassing.

  6. Bud Hoffman Says:

    I know I’m late on this one, but I’m a trivia host and I’m currently working on a round about famous moustaches, in honor of “Movember,” and your page popped up in my research. I have to add Rollie Fingers to the list. His #34 has been retired by both the A’s and the Brewers. Thanks for the entertaining read.

  7. Curt Walz Says:

    Also would like to add Rod Carew. He has had #29 retired for both the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

  8. cocclm01 Says:

    Rod Carew!

  9. Mark Says:

    Rod Carew #29 with Twins and Angels

  10. Ron Salisbury Says:

    Rod Carew?

  11. Todd Newville Says:

    Besides Rod Carew (No. 29 with the Twins and Angels) and Rollie Fingers ( No. 34 with the Athletics and Brewers), you can add Wade Boggs to the list. Boggs’ No. 26 is retired by the Red Sox and his No. 12 is retired by the Tampa Bay Rays. Good list!

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