Best By Number, Baseball 97-90
Numbers are everywhere in sports, in fact, one may argue there is nothing quite as memorable as a number. A movie about Dale Earnhardt was simply titled “3“ and every sports fan can recognize the symbolism number 755 even if it doesn’t have the same titled as the past. Athletes numbers on their backs are as much as the name’s arching above them and no one can escape the number they wear or wore. Kobe will always be #8 even when he’s #24 and no one can recall that Ken Griffey Junior was #3 during his final year in Cincinnati. I have researched the best players in each sports to wear numbers from 0-99. This is the list for Major League Baseball.
Props to Major League Baseball for having zero players wear the number 98; therefore, we skip to #97 and the only player to ever grace a Major League diamond sporting where a Mat Latos fastball ranges. Joe Beimel played eleven years and 97 was his number for 7 of those seasons. He racked up a pedestrian 4.21 ERA over his career, but more importantly, his earned run average was a far more respectable 3.22 after abandoning the 50 he had been wearing during his first five seasons in Pittsburgh and Minnesota. Beimel was clearly always destined to wear 97 and will forever hold his place as Major League Baseball’s greatest 97; so long as a challenger doesn’t try to overthrow his uncontested title.
No one should think it an accident when Big Bill finally slid into his 96 as a member of the 1947 Boston Braves. Sure, Big Bill’s best years might have been spent as a 17 with the New York Giants, but as a member of the “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” staff of the 1948 Braves pennant team, Voiselle was 97. Why should a number worn only one other season (by a Mariner Suzuki…Mac Suzuki) not be a surprise pick? Well, Totsie grew up in a town in South Carolina. A town named Ninety Six which gave inspiration to his choice as the most obscurely numbered World Series starter of all time. Voiselle started and lost Game 6 of the Fall Classic during his stint with the 1948 Braves.
So, you just pitched three seasons for the Yankees. You’re Earned Run Average was a stellar 3.21 over that period. What’s next to do but go pitch for the Boston Red Sox? Current Boston reliever Aceves made that exact career move and chucked a the rawhide for a sub-3 ERA for he second time in his career during his first stint with the Red Sox. In 2012, he closed a few games, racking up 25 saves, but watched that role go by the wayside after his ERA ballooned to a hefty 5.36. Still, Alfredo is a World Series champ (posting two scoreless innings during the 2009 Fall Classic with the Yankees) who blessed us with a person worthy of putting on this list. Thank you, Alfredo! Good luck in your future!