Best By Number, Baseball 58 and 57
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 behind number 755 even if it doesn’t have the same titled as the past. Athletes’ numbers on their backs are as much a part of themselves as the name’s arching above 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 most of the numbers from 0-99. This is the list for Major League Baseball.
Mired in what is the remnants of former Phillies World Series glory, Jonathon Papelbon is better remembered as the closer on a Boston World Series champion in 2008. In his seven years in Boston, Papelbon claimed a 2.33 ERA and became known as one of the finest closers the game had to offer. His best effort? His 2006 rookie year out of the Sox pen where he tossed 68.1 innings giving up seven earned runs the entire season and capturing 35 saves en route penciling his name onto four straight all-star teams. Today, he seems little more than Philadelphia trade bait as a rebuilding process looms in the City of Brotherly Love; however, many teams will be eager to try and capture one of baseball’s most fiery and popular relievers.
You can say whatever you want about the New York Mets’ decision to trade for the south-paw, change-up expert in 2008 and the ensuing $137.5 million contract; there’s no ignoring the dominance displayed during eight years in the homer dome in Minneapolis. Santana earned a pitcher’s Triple Crown in 2006 and claimed a pair of Cy Youngs during his time with the Twins. The Venezuelan also threw the Mets franchise’s first no-hitter sporting his customary 57 in 2012 and earned a key to the city of New York for his efforts. Why did this superstar pitcher continue to wear fifty-seven throughout his enduring twelve year career? We can only assume it’s a Venezuelan thing he shares with compatriot and former Met teammate Francisco Rodriguez. Either way, his career seems well on track at thirty-four so long as he can escape the Queens doldrums.
Francisco Rodriguez: The record holder for most saves in a season, K-Rod made his 57 World Series christened in 2002.
Darryl Kile: The most recent player to die while active, Kile accumulated 133 wins wearing 57.