List of Major League Baseball retired numbers
Major League Baseball and its participating clubs have retired various uniform numbers over the course of time, ensuring that those numbers are never worn again and thus will always be associated with particular players or managers of note. The use of numbers on uniforms to better identify one player from another, and hence to boost sales of scorecards, was tried briefly by the Cleveland Indians of 1916, but this failed. The first team to permanently adopt the practice was the New York Yankees of 1929. By 1932, all 16 major league clubs were issuing numbers, and by 1937, the leagues passed rules requiring it.
The Yankees' original approach was to simply assign the numbers 1 through 8 to the regular starting lineup in their normal batting order. Hence, Babe Ruth wore number 3 and Lou Gehrig number 4. The first major leaguer whose number was retired was Gehrig, in July 1939, following his retirement due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which became known popularly as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Since then, over 150 other people have had their numbers retired, some with more than one team. This includes managers and coaches, as Major League Baseball is the only one of the major North American professional leagues in which the coaching staff wear the same uniforms as players. Three numbers have been retired in honor of people not directly involved on the playing field – all three for team executives. Some of the game's early stars, such as Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, retired before numbers came into usage. Teams often celebrate their retired numbers and other honored people by hanging banners with the numbers and names. Early stars, as well as honored non-players, will often have numberless banners hanging along with the retired numbers. Because fewer and fewer players stay with one team long enough to warrant their number being retired, some players believe that getting their number retired is a greater honor than going into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ron Santo, upon his number 10 being retired by the Chicago Cubs on the last day of the 2003 regular season, enthusiastically told the Wrigley Field crowd as his #10 flag was hoisted, "This is my Hall of Fame!" However, Santo would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July 2012, nearly two years after his death, after being voted in by the Veterans Committee.
List of all-time retired numbers
|Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame|
- Team founder and former MLB Commissioner. Number selected symbolically.
- Aparicio's number was temporarily unretired with his approval for fellow Venezuelan shortstop Omar Vizquel. Vizquel played the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the White Sox.
- Date of formal ceremony; number retirement took effect at the start of the 2016 MLB season. The number was also retired for all Mariners minor league affiliates at that time.
- Team founder. The number represents the "26th man"—Major League Baseball rosters are limited to 25 players, except for games played on or after September 1, when rosters are expanded to 40.
- Number was already retired league-wide.
- Served as president, chairman, or CEO of the Cardinals from the team's purchase by Anheuser-Busch in 1953 until his death in 1989. The number represents his age at the time the number was retired in 1984.
- The Number 455 was retired in honor of the fans after the Indians sold out 455 consecutive games.
List of pending number retirements
|No.||Player or other figure||Team||Date|
Former retired numbers
It is very rare for a team to reissue a retired number, and usually requires a special circumstance, such as the person for whom the number was retired returning to the team in a player, coach or manager role. Harold Baines provides one example of this when he returned to the White Sox multiple times. The White Sox also re-issued Luis Aparicio's number 11, with his permission, to fellow countryman Omar Vizquel in 2010–11.
In cases of franchise relocation, the handling of existing retired numbers is at the discretion of team management. The team may decide to continue honoring the retired numbers (as did the San Francisco Giants), or it may choose to make a "fresh start" and reissue the numbers (as the Washington Nationals have done).
When the Florida Marlins moved to their current stadium, Marlins Park, and were rebranded as the Miami Marlins, the number 5, which had been retired for the team's late first president Carl Barger, was returned to circulation because player Logan Morrison requested permission to wear the number to honor his father.
|5||Carl Barger||Marlins||April 5, 1993|
||Expos||July 31, 1993|
||Expos||July 6, 1997|
||Expos||June 19, 2004|
|10||Rusty Staub||Expos||May 15, 1993|
- Placed into circulation in 2012 when the Marlins moved to their new park and decided to honor Barger instead with a plaque at the stadium. The first player to receive the number was Logan Morrison. Barger was the team's first president, but died in December 1992, four months before the team's first game. The Marlins chose to retire #5 because it was the number worn by Barger's favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.
- The Montreal Expos retired numbers in honor of four players (Carter #8, Dawson #10, Staub #10, Raines #30). When the franchise relocated to Washington, D.C., after the 2004 season, the newly christened Washington Nationals chose not to recognize any uniform number retired while in Montreal. On October 18, 2005, the NHL's Montreal Canadiens honored the departed team by raising an Expos commemorative banner listing the retired numbers to the rafters of Montreal's Bell Centre.
- The Reds retired Hershberger's #5 after his death in 1940, but returned it to circulation two years later. Cincinnati later re-retired the number 5 for Johnny Bench.
Retired in honor of multiple players
The following numbers have been retired in honor of multiple players:
- Chicago Cubs, #31: retired in 2009 for Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux
- Cincinnati Reds, #5: retired in 1940 for Willard Hershberger who had committed suicide during the season; returned to service in 1942; retired in 1984 for Johnny Bench
- Montreal Expos, #10: retired for Rusty Staub in 1993; ceremony to honor #10 for Andre Dawson was held in 1997
- New York Yankees, #8: retired in 1972 for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra
- St. Louis Cardinals, #42: retired in 1997 by all teams in MLB for Jackie Robinson; ceremony to honor #42 for Bruce Sutter was held in 2006
- New York Yankees, #42: retired in 1997 by all teams in MLB for Jackie Robinson (players already wearing the number could continue to do so by special arrangement); ceremony to honor #42 for Mariano Rivera was held in 2013
Alternative methods of recognition
A number of teams have formal or informal policies of only retiring numbers of players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, although there is no league-wide uniformity and teams sometimes break their own guidelines. As an alternative to retiring numbers, many teams have established other means of honoring former players, such as team-specific Halls of Fame (Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Mariners, Mets, Orioles, Padres, Rangers, Reds, Red Sox, and Twins) or Walls of Fame (Giants and Phillies), a Ring of Honor (Nationals) or Level of Excellence (Blue Jays). In addition, several teams have kept certain numbers out of circulation since a player left, but have not formally retired them.
Only one team does not currently have any retired jersey numbers (other than Robinson's #42 retired in all of MLB). The Washington Nationals franchise had retired jerseys in honor of four players when known as the Montreal Expos, but un-retired them upon moving to Washington. The Nationals have established a "Ring of Honor" instead, which includes two of those Expos players, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson; the Nationals' first manager, Frank Robinson; players from the original Washington Senators Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Goose Goslin, Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Heinie Manush, Sam Rice, Harmon Killebrew, and Early Wynn, as well as owner Clark Griffith; players from the second Senators franchise Frank Howard; and Homestead Grays players Cool Papa Bell, Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cumberland Posey, and Jud Wilson.
The Miami Marlins had previously retired #5 in honor of their first team president, the late Carl Barger, but un-retired it entering the 2012 season. The Marlins did not have another retired number until September 26, 2016, when #16 was retired following the death of pitcher José Fernández.
Numbers kept out of circulation
Some teams have not formally retired certain numbers, but nonetheless kept them out of circulation. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers' current policy is only to retire the numbers of longtime club members if they are inducted into the Hall of Fame; the lone exception was longtime Dodger player and coach Jim Gilliam, whose #19 was retired when he died of a cerebral hemorrhage during the Dodgers' 1978 postseason run. Nevertheless, the Dodgers have informally kept Fernando Valenzuela's #34 out of circulation since he last played for the team in 1990. The San Francisco Giants have a similar policy, but have kept Tim Lincecum's #55 out of circulation since he departed after the 2015 season, though it is not formally retired.
The Milwaukee Brewers have not issued Jim Gantner’s #17 since his retirement.
The Seattle Mariners have kept the following numbers out of circulation since the departure of a popular member of the team who wore it: #14 (Lou Piniella), #19 (Jay Buhner), and #51 (initially for Randy Johnson, and later for Ichiro Suzuki). Similarly, no one had worn #33 for the Colorado Rockies since the departure of Larry Walker in 2004 until Walker gave his approval for Justin Morneau, a fellow British Columbia native who had idolized Walker as a boy, to wear it when Morneau was with the team from 2014 to 2015.
On Opening Day of the 2012 season, the New York Mets unveiled a memorial "Kid 8" logo to honor the late Gary Carter. Although no Met has worn the number 8 since Carter's election to the Hall of Fame, it is not retired. Following Willie Mays' retirement in 1973, Mets owner Joan Payson promised him that the team would not reissue his #24; since then, the only Met to wear it has been Rickey Henderson from 1999 to 2000 (with the exception of a minor league call-up named Kelvin Torve, who was inexplicably issued #24 in August 1990 before fan complaints prompted the team to change his number to #39 ten days later).
The New York Yankees have not re-issued Paul O'Neill's #21 since he ended his career, except for a brief period in 2008 when Morgan Ensberg and then LaTroy Hawkins wore #21, before fan complaints led Hawkins to change his number to #22 in April.
The Baltimore Orioles have not re-issued numbers 7, 44, and 46 since the passing of Cal Ripken, Sr., Elrod Hendricks, and Mike Flanagan respectively. The team has placed a moratorium on the three numbers in their honors.
The Los Angeles Angels have not re-issued Nick Adenhart's uniform number 34, after he was killed in a car accident on April 9, 2009.
Number retired by Major League Baseball
Normally the individual clubs are responsible for retiring numbers. On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball took the unusual move of retiring a number for all teams. On the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking the major league color barrier, his number 42 was retired throughout the majors, at the order of Commissioner Bud Selig. This meant that no future player on any major league team could wear number 42, although players wearing #42 at the time were allowed to continue wearing it (Mariano Rivera was the last active player to be grandfathered in, retiring after the 2013 season). Starting in the 2007 season, the 60th anniversary of Robinson's Major League debut, players and coaches have all worn the number 42 as a tribute to Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15.
There is a lobby to have uniform #21 retired in all of baseball to honor Roberto Clemente.
Players who pre-date uniform numbers
Four teams have honored players who played before the advent of uniform numbers by placing their names among those of players whose numbers have been retired:
- Philadelphia Phillies: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Chuck Klein; both are denoted with a stylized "P" at Citizens Bank Park (Klein had various numbers in the later years of his career, but never wore one consistently)
- Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Hughie Jennings, George Kell, Heinie Manush; Cobb's name is displayed on the left-field wall of Comerica Park along with the players and manager whose numbers have been retired; the others have their names displayed on the right-field wall (Cochrane actually wore #3 for the Tigers, and Kell wore three different numbers, but the Tigers have not retired these numbers). The Tigers have scheduled the retirement of #3, but that will be for Alan Trammell.
- San Francisco (New York) Giants: Christy Mathewson and John McGraw; both are denoted with "NY" and their names at AT&T Park
- St. Louis Cardinals: Rogers Hornsby, denoted with an "SL" and his name at Busch Stadium
- Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner – New York Mets; The radio booth at both Shea Stadium and Citi Field are named for the beloved, late Murphy. The television booth at Citi Field is named for Kiner, who continued to broadcast some home games for the Mets until his death in early 2014. In addition, a special memorial logo honoring Kiner, depicting a microphone along with his name and the years 1922–2014, was displayed at Citi Field on the left field wall adjacent to, but not as a part of, the Mets' retired numbers, from 2014 to 2016. In the 2016 Mets yearbook, a sidebar in an article on Mike Piazza's upcoming number retirement implies that Kiner has been "retired" a la William A. Shea. This was reinforced when the Mets' retired numbers were moved to the roof facade during the 2016 season to accommodate Mike Piazza's #31; Kiner's "number" was placed adjacent to the Shea and Jackie Robinson numbers, no longer separated from the others.
- Jack Buck – St. Louis Cardinals; honored with a drawing of a microphone on the wall with the retired numbers.
- Lon Simmons, Russ Hodges, and Jon Miller – San Francisco Giants; honored with stylized old-style radio microphone displayed in place of a number.
- Marty Brennaman, Waite Hoyt, and Joe Nuxhall – Cincinnati Reds; honored with microphones by the broadcast booth.
- Jerry Coleman – San Diego Padres; a "star on the wall" in reference to his trademark phrase "You can hang a star on that one!" The star is painted in gold on the front of the press box down the right field line, accompanied by Coleman's name in white. Upon Coleman's death in 2014, the broadcast booth at Petco Park was named in his honor.
- Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn – Philadelphia Phillies; At Citizens Bank Park, the restaurant built into the base of the main scoreboard is named "Harry the K's" in Kalas's honor. After Kalas's death, the Phillies' TV-broadcast booth was renamed "The Harry Kalas Broadcast Booth". It is directly next to the radio-broadcast booth, which is named "The Richie 'Whitey' Ashburn Broadcast Booth". They both also have statues at Citizens Bank Park (though Ashburn is in uniform for his statue).
- Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers; honored with his name alongside the retired players on the Left-Centerfield Brick wall in Comerica Park and a statue & portrait at the stadium's front entrance. Honored with the Media Center named after him also.
- Bob Uecker – "50 Years in Baseball" along with Uecker's name is next to the Brewers retired numbers at Miller Park.
- Tom Cheek – Toronto Blue Jays; honored with a banner on the Rogers Centre's "Level of Excellence" bearing his name and, in place of a jersey number, 4,306 – his streak of consecutive regular-season broadcasts.
- Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse – Chicago Cubs: Caray is remembered inside and outside of Wrigley Field. A statue of him leading the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is near the bleacher entrance (originally at the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue), and a caricature of him adorns his former WGN-TV broadcast booth. Brickhouse's catch phrase, "Hey hey!" is memorialized in large red letters on each foul pole. (Brickhouse also has a statue on Michigan Avenue.)
- Dave Niehaus – Seattle Mariners; the press box at Safeco Field was renamed the "Dave Niehaus Media Center" on April 8, 2011 prior to the Mariners' home opener against the Cleveland Indians. In addition, a part of First Avenue NW outside the stadium was renamed Dave Niehaus Way, and the wall in deep right-center field also has a microphone with a Dave Niehaus graphic.
- Vin Scully – Los Angeles Dodgers; in 2001, the Dodgers honored Scully by naming the press box at Dodger Stadium the "Vin Scully Press Box". However, on January 29, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council in a unanimous vote, renamed Elysian Park Avenue to Vin Scully Avenue, changing the address of Dodger Stadium to 1000 Vin Scully Ave.
- Arch McDonald and Bob Wolff - Washington Senators: MacDonald and Wolff's names are on the Washington Nationals' Ring of Honor at Nationals Park.
- Bill King – Oakland Athletics; The Athletics named their broadcast facilities the "Bill King Broadcast Booth" after King's death in 2005.
Owners and contributors
- The initials of former San Diego Padres owner Ray Kroc are painted in gold on the front of the pressbox down the right field line, accompanied by his name in white.
- The initials of former Boston Red Sox owners Tom and Jean Yawkey are rendered in Morse code and painted in white on the manual scoreboard on Fenway Park's Green Monster.
- Charles Bronfman was inducted into the Expos Hall of Fame as its inaugural member in 1993, and a circular patch placed on the right field wall with his name, the number 83, which he used to wear during spring training, and the words "FONDATEUR / FOUNDER".
- On April 8, 2008, the final opening day at Shea Stadium, the New York Mets unveiled a "Shea" logo which was displayed on the left-field fence next to the team's retired numbers. The stadium was named for William Shea, a prominent lawyer who was responsible for the return of National League baseball to New York.
- Walter A. Haas, Jr., honorary jersey retired (with stylized Old English "A" in place of a number) in 1995, located in right field. Owner of the Oakland Athletics from 1980 until 1995. Haas purchased the team from Charles O. Finley in 1980, saving the team from potentially moving out of the area.
- At the start of the 2007 season, the Kansas City Royals designated Seat #9 in Section 127, Row C at Kauffman Stadium as the "Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat" in honor of Negro Leagues legend and Royals scout Buck O'Neil. During each home game, the Royals honor a fan who exemplifies O'Neil's spirit of humanitarianism and community service by inviting that fan to sit in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.
- The names of Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick, the team's first president and general manager, respectively, are list on the Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence, alongside the team's retired numbers.
- Jauss, Bill (September 29, 2003). "Santo: Flag 'my Hall of Fame'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- Schmuck, Peter (September 11, 1996). "Baines' hit season is designated delight DH: Unwanted by the Orioles, veteran shows he's far from through with an '80s-like year for the White Sox". The Baltimore Sun.
- Gregor, Scot (February 8, 2010). "White Sox unretire Luis Aparicio's No. 11 for Vizquel". Daily Herald.
- Capozzi, Joe (February 13, 2012). "Miami Marlins un-retire ex-team president Carl Barger's No. 5 for Logan Morrison, but Barger family unhappy". Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on July 4, 2012.
- baseball-almanac.com (2009). "Retired Uniform Numbers in the National League". baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- MLB Advanced Media (2009). "Franchise Retired Numbers". MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- MLB Advanced Media (2009). "Yankees Retired Numbers". MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- MLB Advanced Media (2009). "Cardinals Retired Numbers". MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- Jaffe, Jay (June 23, 2016). "Picking the best players whose numbers have yet to be retired in MLB". SI.com.
- Baggarly, Andrew (September 13, 2015). "Commentary: It's time for Giants to retire Barry Bonds' number". Bay Area News Group.
- Goold, Derrick (February 23, 2015). "Why McGwire's No. 25 is back off the rack". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Schulman, Henry (May 7, 2016). "No one's getting Lincecum's No. 55 anytime soon". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Washington Nationals 2016 Media Guide". MLB.com. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- Steinberg, Dan (August 26, 2016). "Senators legend Frank Howard is humbled and thrilled to enter the Nats' Ring of Honor". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- Polacek, Scott (September 26, 2016). "Jose Fernandez's No. 16 to Be Retired by Marlins". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- "Big Unit beats Dodgers 2-1 in Manny's LA debut". Yahoo.com. February 8, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
- Harding, Thomas (January 27, 2014). "Walker OKs Morneau wearing No. 33 with Rockies". MLB.com. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "Accidental 24: The Kelvin Torve Interview". Mets by the Numbers. February 11, 2008. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Cohen, Jason (February 26, 2015). "The Yankees need to reissue Paul O`Neill's no. 21". Pinstripe Alley.
- "Orioles Insider: Guthrie wants to know whether he should keep No. 46 – Baltimore Orioles: Schedule, news, analysis and opinion on baseball at Camden Yards". Baltimore Sun. August 25, 2011. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
- Cafardo, Nick (December 22, 2015). "Red Sox finally do right by Wade Boggs". The Boston Globe.
- Araton, Harvey (April 14, 2010). "Yankees' Mariano Rivera Is the Last No. 42". The New York Times.
- Ruiz, M. Teresa. "SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 27". State of New Jersey. State of New Jersey. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- 2016 New York Mets yearbook, page 62
- McCullough, Andy (January 29, 2016). "Street is renamed to honor Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully". LA Times. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- Blair, Jeff (August 15, 1993). "This used to be his playground; Bronfman was always a fan; Original owner steps into Expos Hall of Fame". Montreal Gazette. Montreal Gazette. pp. D.1.
- Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century, Marc Okkonen, 1991, Sterling Publishing.