Detroit athletes by the numbers: a list from zero to 91

Steve Yzerman’s #19 is the best-selling jersey in Red Wing history.

Every kid who plays a sport has to make a choice at some point – what number do you want on your jersey? For some of us there’s no choice at all – we get what the coach or equipment manager gives us. But when we do get to choose the digits, we draw on our heroes for inspiration.

For some reason I always liked #9, and I requested that when I was in little league. Later, I selected #5 in homage to my favorite player George Brett. I can personally attest that just because you might wear your hero’s number, doesn’t mean you inherit their skills.

There are all sorts of reasons for why players have specific numbers on their uniforms. Miguel Cabrera likes #24 because that was the number worn by Willie Mays. Barry Sanders wanted #21 when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but the equipment man told him that #20 was legendary for the franchise, having been worn by Lem Barney and Billy Sims, so Sanders agreed to take it. Many players just get whichever number the equipment man assigns them, but once they get it, they grow attached to it in a superstitious way. One of the first things Torii Hunter did after signing a contract with the Tigers this month was to call Rick Porcello and offer him some cash for #48 – the only number Hunter has worn in the big leagues.

Here’s a not-so-comprehensive list of the greatest players to wear certain numbers for the four Detroit pro sports teams. Some players wore more than one uniform number in their careers, but the numbers here are the most common.

0

Olden Polynice

1

Lou Whitaker, Terry Sawchuk, Chauncey Billups, Lindsey Hunter, Billy Martin

2

Charlie Gehringer, Gary Bergman, Jake Wood

3

Alan Trammell, Marcel Pronovost, Mickey Cochrane, Ben Wallace, Joey Harrington, Eddie Murray

4

Joe Dumars, Goose Goslin, Red Kelly, Rudy York, Aurelio Rodriguez, Jason Hanson, Bobby Higginson, Charlie Maxwell

5

Hank Greenberg, Niklas Lidstrom, Jim Northrup

6

Al Kaline, Terry Mills

7

Ted Lindsay, Harvey Kuenn, Dutch Clark, Ivan Rodriguez, Rocky Colavito, Kelly Tripucka, Billy Rogell, Rick Leach, Brandon Knight

8

Igor Larionov, Ray Boone, Eddie Brinkman, Doc Cramer, Ron LeFlore

9

Gordie Howe, Matthew Stafford, Carlos Guillen, Rodney Peete

10

Alex Delvecchio, Dennis Rodman, Tommy Bridges, Rusty Staub, Greg Monroe

11

Isiah Thomas, Sparky Anderson, Bill Freehan, Dizzy Trout, Greg Landry, Earl Whitehill

12

Sid Abel, Ray Scott, George Yardley, Bobo Newsom

13

Lance Parrish, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Avila

14

Brendan Shanahan, Jim Bunning, Schoolboy Rowe, Austin Jackson, Dave Bergman

15

Vinnie Johnson, Tomas Holmstrom, Brandon Inge

16

Hal Newhouser, Bob Lanier, Gary Danielson, Vladimir Konstantinov, Tom Brookens

17

Denny McLain, Brett Hull, Tony Clark, Frank Lary, Eric Hipple

18

John Hiller, Fred Hutchinson

19

Steve Yzerman, Dave Rozema, Scott Mitchell, Joe Niekro

20

Barry Sanders, Lem Barney, Billy Sims, Mark Fidrych, Martin Lapointe, Allan Houston, Howard Johnson

21

Dave Bing, George Kell, Gene Shue, Willie Hernandez

22

Bobby Layne, Dave DeBusschere, Tayshaun Prince, John Salley

23

Kirk Gibson, Willie Horton, Mark Aguirre, Mel Gray

24

Miguel Cabrera, Jack Christiansen, Chris Chelios, Mickey Stanley, Mel Farr

25

Norm Cash, Darren McCarty, Pat Studstill, Jimmy Walker, John Long

26

Gates Brown, Frank Tanana

27

Jhonny Peralta

28

Yale Lary, Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson

29

Mickey Lolich, Mike Vernon

30

Magglio Ordonez, Rasheed Wallace, Cory Schlesinger, M.L. Carr

31

Larry Herndon

32

Richard Hamilton

33

Grant Hill, Steve Kemp, Kris Draper

34

Chet Lemon, Bucky Harris

35

Justin Verlander, Virgil Trucks

36

Bennie Blades

37

Doak Walker

38

Jeremy Bonderman

39

Dominik Hasek, Leonard Thompson

40

Bill Laimbeer

41

Darrell Evans, Terry Tyler

42

Chris Ford, Jerry Stackhouse

44

Dick LeBeau, Rick Mahorn

45

Cecil Fielder, Adrian Dantley

47

Jack Morris

53

James Edwards, Kevin Glover

54

Chris Spielman

56

Joe Schmidt

57

Stephen Boyd

60

Bubba Baker

71

Alex Karras

75

Lomas Brown

76

Lou Creekmur

78

Doug English

81

Night Train Lane, Calvin Johnson, David Hill

84

Herman Moore

85

Chuck Hughes

87

Johnnie Martin, Freddie Scott

88

Charlie Sanders

89

Gail Cogdill

91

Sergei Fedorov, Robert Porcher

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About Dan Holmes

The editor of Detroit Athletic Co. blog, is the author of Ty Cobb: A Biography. He was formerly the Web Producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and worked for Major League Baseball as a producer. He contributed to Sock it to 'Em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and Deadball Stars of the American League. Follow him on Twitter at @twebman or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.