Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers on Their Jerseys

Like other sports, a baseball player’s uniform number is meant for identifying the player. With the passage of time uniform number has assumed significant meaning to the player and his fans.

A number may sometimes become symbolic of a player’s meritorious career, and also corrupt public minds because of the elements of superstition in their blind faith in suitability or unsuitability of numbers. A Uniform number is usually displayed at the back of a baseball player, sometimes both on the back and front.

One of the earliest known photographic image of the use of uniform numbers dates from 1909 Chicago Daily News showing great José Mendez throwing ball. A famous Cuban ballplayer, Mendez had been a representative of the pioneering body of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Baseball Players Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers on Their Jerseys

In 2006, he was allowed into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In the said photograph, Mendez has been spotted in his Cuban Stars attire with number ‘12’ displayed on his left sleeve.

Viewing hockey’s and football’s use of uniform numbers, the Cleveland Indians were the first big league club to use numbered uniforms proper for the first time while taknig the field at League Park in Cleveland, on June 26, 1916, displaying huge numerals on the left of their sleeves. The trial with numbered sleeves continued for a couple of weeks during that season but was discarded at all the following year.

Cleveland Indians also happened to pioneer wearing numerals on the back of their jerseys. The MLB game, for the first time had both teams wear numerals on their jerseys, was played between Indians and Yankees on May 13, 1929.

The trend has also frequently been acknowledged as pioneering with the New York Yankees in 1929, as the leading World Champions were scheduled to commence the new season donning uniforms with numerals. Around mid 1930s, nearly every major league had started wearing uniform with numbers.

In the past, the number allotted to a baseball player designated his relative position in the batting lineup. For example, first eight openers of Yankees wore numerals from 1 through 8 while the backup wore # 9. Whereas the first eight pitchers liked to display Nos. from 10, 11, 12 and then 14, deliberately avoiding # 13 being the superstitious in most of the cases. Other position players and the reserve ones would display remaining numbers such as 15 to 26 for the roster was normally limited to 25.

At present numbers are allotted to players very indiscriminately in any Major League Baseball as they represent different fixed positions in the field. Based on the old system the pitchers usually have the higher numbers.

Some specific numbers are associated with certain high profile players who have specialty over a certain position such as for example the backup player.

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