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Original Issue


For athletes and fans alike, the name of the game often isn't a name at all, but lots of digits

I hate football. I just like to watch number 33 run around in those tight black pants.

Like Tom Cruise's girlfriend in All the Right Moves, sports fans identify their heroes by the numbers. More than that, a number—be it on a jersey, a race car, or a saddlecloth—often becomes one with the athlete. Sometimes we can envision a player's number but can't remember his name. We have that in common with Choo Choo Coleman, No. 17, who once said to a teammate on the Mets, Charlie Neal, "Sure I remember you. You're number 4."

"Numbers, you know, have a mysterious life of their own," Dr. Irving J. Matrix, the numerologist/magician/con-artist creation of author Martin Gardner, once said. Indeed, it was almost as much No. 77 as it was Red Grange who ran for four touchdowns in the first 12 minutes against Michigan on Oct. 18, 1924. From that day forward, 77 may as well have been taken out of sports circulation. It forever belongs to Grange.

Jersey numbers transmit all kinds of cabalistic messages. There's a sense of power about the double numbers—Grange's 77; the 99 of Wayne Gretzky; the 22 of Elgin Baylor; the 33s of Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Sammy Baugh; the 44s of Jerry West, Henry Aaron (Aaron, sensing this, switched to 44 after wearing 5 in his rookie season of 1954) and a remarkable succession of Syracuse All-America running backs (Jimmy Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little); the dirty, bloody 66s of Ray Nitschke and Bulldog Turner; or the 88s of John Mackey and Alan Page. It was appropriate in Page's case, since he played quarterbacks like a piano—he could really rattle their ivory. Numbers below 10 signal stability and longevity, that of a Ruth (3), an Orr (4), a Musial and a Bill Russell (6) or a Yastrzemski (8). Roll that lucky No. 7, and call out Mickey Mantle, Hank Luisetti or Stirling Moss. Toss a No. 9 into a face-off and see who skates off with the puck—Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe or Rocket Richard. If No. 2 isn't Nellie Fox or Leo Durocher, then it's a Notre Dame quarterback with a single-bar helmet and an ethnic name. No. 1 is a scrappy captain type, a Pee Wee Reese, or a hockey goalie with a plate in his head, two teeth in his mouth and mayhem in his eyes.

Hank Greenberg's retired No. 5 meant so much to the Detroit Tigers that the club wouldn't let a fellow named Jim Northrup wear it even in its fantasy camp. The Chicago Bears named a defense, 46, after retired safety Doug Plank's jersey number. Mention 32 at an all-night poker game and watch everybody argue over who the rightful claimant is. Is it Sandy Koufax? (Too short a career, K-man.) Franco Harris? (Not outside Pittsburgh.) Cookie Gilchrist? (Not outside Buffalo.) Jack Tatum? (You would probably prefer Johnny Sample over Willie Mays for 24, too.) O.J. Simpson? (Too late, Orenthal.) Jimmy Brown? (Yes, of course; he took that number when he joined the Browns.)

Bet the 4 horse. Hit 'em on the numbers. Mike Ditka, All-Pro: "I don't ever pick on anybody who has a number above 30." William Shakespeare, All-Elizabethan: "There is divinity in odd numbers."

Are you a Knick fan in search of omens? On the night before the Patrick Ewing-thon, the first number picked in the New York State Lottery was Ewing's at Georgetown—33. See No. 65 in spring training? You're watching a young righthander destined for seasoning in Pawtucket. Who's that No. 111 practicing punts? You're watching spring football at Ohio State. Is that No. 74 catching a pass? Wake up, you're watching the Canadian Football League.

Numbers are often the only link between fan and hero. One can but guess what percentage of New England's populace has slipped on a No. 22 Boston College jersey and scrambled around the backyard in search of Gerard Phelan. "If I had a nickel for every kid I saw with a 22 Flutie jersey," says BC sports information director Reid Oslin, "I'd be a millionaire." It was the same thing three decades ago in Baton Rouge, when young LSU fans went swivel-hipping through the streets wearing Billy Cannon's 20. A pilfering souvenir hunter at the University of Maryland was so fond of Randy White that No. 94, and not 74, was the number eventually retired in White's honor; White wore 74 until the middle of his junior season but then had to switch when the last 74 jersey vanished from the equipment room.

I've always thought that Ty Cobb's image would have been better had he not come along before the custom of numbering players. He seems perfect for 11—an unusual, cranky kind of number, a Norm Van Brocklin-Bob McAdoo number. "Yeah, he was a mean sumbitch, but ol' number 11 could play, couldn't he?"

Some numbers suggest nothing or nobody. Any good 92s come to mind? Not to me. I think of 20 as a kind of nothing number (Bernie Kosar says a 20 jersey was thrown at him "like an old dishrag" during his sophomore year in high school when no one knew he could play), even though Frank Robinson and Cannon wore it, not to mention that it's the number of wives possessed by Chol Bol, grandfather of Manute Bol. Yet its double, 40, seems special, conjuring up the speed and grace of Gale Sayers as well as the toughness of Joe Morrison.

If numbers convey so much to the fans, what do they signify to the athletes who are wearing them? Sometimes nothing at all. In managing the Senators, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and Tigers from 1935 to '56, Bucky Harris wore Nos. 35, 30, 28, 50, 27, 37 and 32. But such indifference is the exception. Tommy Lasorda claims that he "doesn't care about numbers," yet he can remember that he wore 11 in the minors, 27 in the majors, and that when he became the Dodger manager in 1977 he switched from 52 to 2 because he admired Durocher.

Sometimes the choice of a number has logic to it. The townsfolk from Ninety Six, S.C. never would have forgiven Bill Voiselle, a pitcher for the Giants and Braves in the '40s, if he hadn't had 96 on his back. Ex-Washington Husky quarterback Sonny Sixkiller could hardly have chosen any number but 6. When he played for the White Sox, Carlos May chose 17 so that his birth date. May 17, would appear on his back. When catcher Carlton Fisk changed his Sox from Red to White, he figured it represented a turnaround in his career, so he turned around his number from 27 to 72.

Pitcher Jerry Reuss divined the need to wear 41 on his back from a freeway sign. "There was something about the way it looked that just appealed to me," says Reuss. On the other hand, before his '83 season with the Astros, California's Frank LaCorte suddenly found something quite unappealing about his No. 31. "It reminded me of a 3-1 count," said LaCorte, who burned his uniform and became No. 27. Last year in spring training he reclaimed 31, promptly came up with calcium deposits in his right shoulder and didn't throw a pitch all year.

Willie Mays set off his 24 in diamonds on a pair of cuff links. That's fine if you're Mays. But if you're Bobby Tolan, and you get traded from St. Louis to Cincinnati and can't get your familiar 17 with the Reds, you're going to be stuck with a lot of gold 17 jewelry. Tolan, who as a Red became Vada Pinson's old 28, wore the 17 stuff anyway. If you want to ring up Garvey Marketing Group down in San Diego, the last four digits are 6666. And who can forget the time Ted Turner claimed that Andy Messersmith's nickname was Channel and put the word on the pitcher's jersey to go with his number, 17. Channel 17 is Turner Broadcasting System's UHF station in Atlanta.


1. The University of Kentucky's basketball co-captains in 1954 wore Nos. 30 and 6. Their numbers were different in the pros when they played for the Celtics and the Hawks. Who were they and what were their pro numbers?

2. Fill in the blanks on this classic offensive line that blocked for 5 and 31 and gave pass protection to 15: Nos. 64, 63, __, __, __ and __.

3. Only one major league pitcher wears a single-digit number. Name him.

4. Otto Graham's number change on the Browns in 1952 at the suggestion of the NFL was a sign of the economic times in which he played—the imprint of the old number was still visible under the new. What were the two numbers?

5. What do opponents of the Chicago Bulls have in common with Dr. Wilhelm Fliess, a close friend of Sigmund Freud?

6. In auto racing two car numbers are more famous than all others. Name them and the drivers who chose them.

7. The title of Hot Rod Hundley's autobiography contains what number?

8. What number did George Plimpton wear with the Detroit Lions in Paper Lion? What was Sidd Finch's number?

9. What unusual numbers did the Jones twins, Larry and Harry, wear as Kentucky football players in the 1950s? What numbers did the Van Arsdale twins wear? What jersey numbers were put on a recruiting poster sent to the basketball-playing Dozier twins at Baltimore's Dunbar High School?

10. Enough of the easy ones. Why would Todd Christensen's number make hardcore numerologists think of William Shakespeare and the Bible?

"The genesis of number is hidden behind the impenetrable veil of countless prehistoric ages."
—Dr. Tobias Dantzig, mathematician

In 1888 the Cincinnati Reds wore numbers on their sleeves as an experiment, but the players complained that this made them numbers instead of people. The numbers were removed. The Cleveland Indians (in 1916) and the St. Louis Cardinals (in 1924) also briefly tried numbers (fans of the former complained that the numbers made the players look like convicts), but a consistent number system as a basis of identifying players did not really catch on in baseball until the Yankees adopted the practice in 1929.

Jersey numbers came along in similarly slow fashion in other sports. Scour turn-of-the-century college football photos and you'll generally see only one player, the captain—a ruddy, good-looking chap with hair parted down the middle and a job waiting for him after graduation—wearing a jersey numbered on the front, usually a 0 or a 1. Some jerseys bore numbers on the back, some did not. College teams early in the century seemed unusually proud of their class year. Members of the 1917 freshman team at Yale, for example, wore a 1921 inscription on the front of their jerseys. What with redshirting and the failure of athletes to graduate, today's players would have to wear a question mark.

Allison Danzig, in his book The History of American Football, credits Pitt, in 1908, with being one of the first college teams to number its backs. That was apparently the work of publicist Karl Davis, who had the program concession and made sure that the numbers changed each week. The first mention of numbers in Spalding's Official Foot Ball Guide (edited by Walter Camp) was in 1915, when it was noted that the rules committee, whose secretary was Camp, had recommended that players be numbered. Some teams followed the recommendation; many did not. In 1937 the committee made numbers mandatory by enacting Rule 5, Section 3: "All players must wear minimum 6-inch Arabic numerals on front and minimum 8-inch Arabic numerals on back of jerseys, whose color must be in sharp contrast with the color of the jerseys." Players who didn't abide by the rule had two minutes to number up or be suspended.

O.K., then, what number was Babe Ruth wearing when he hit tater No. 60 on Sept. 30, 1927? If you said none, you're correct. The number 3 has become so associated with the Babe that we automatically place it on his big back in our every mental image of the man. But he never wore it regularly, nor did Lou Gehrig wear his famous 4 until Opening Day 1929, when the Yankees officially decided to wear numbers. The club had the numbers coincide with batting-order position. Thus, Earle Combs wore 1, Mark Koenig wore 2, Ruth 3, Gehrig 4 and Bob Meusel 5.

When the Bronx Bombers sneezed in those days, the rest of the league said, "Bless you," so the numbering of players was widespread by 1930. Still, there was at least one successful holdout—Connie Mack. In what for 1937 represented a heavy dose of acerbic sports-writing. Bill Boni of the New York Post wrote after noting that Mack's A's still did not wear numbers: "It has been agreed that this is, perhaps, just as well—that the odd citizens who attempted to perform various chores for Connie Mack prefer to be cloaked in anonymity on the grounds of self-defense."

Baseball has no formal number-by-position system. The National League briefly tried one in the '50s (managers, coaches, catchers 1 to 9; infielders 10 to 19: outfielders 20 to 29, etc.), but there were many complaints from established players who just didn't want to change. The remnants of the system can still be seen with the Cubs and the Reds, but it never really caught on.

Since 1952 the NFL has followed a number-by-position policy: 1 to 19 are now reserved for quarterbacks and punters, 20 to 49 backs (offensive or defensive), 50 to 59 centers and linebackers, 60 to 79 linemen, 80 to 89 receivers, 90 to 99 defensive linemen and linebackers. But it has allowed for exceptions—like linebacker Nick Buoniconti's 85 (grandfathered in from the AFL), and the many wide receivers who wear backs' numbers (Cliff Branch's 21. etc.). College basketball prohibits the use of digits above 5 to make it easier for refs to indicate which players have committed fouls. In the NBA anything from 0 to 99 is acceptable, but smaller guys usually get the smaller numbers. Some players are clearly misnumbered. Moses Malone's 2 should go to a point guard, and Albert King's and Kiki Vandeweghe's 55 should belong to a clumsy center, as it does in the case of Stuart Gray. The NHL, which years ago had a lot of numbers in the 60s and 70s, is positively vapid in its numbering. Most players dutifully wear 1 (often a goaltender) through 44. The only exceptions are Gretzky's 99 (which he selected as a junior player back in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. when he couldn't get No. 9) and Mario Lemieux's 66 (selected to imitate Gretzky).


Once and for all, Ralph Branca wants the world to know that he did not have a phobia about 13.

The Dodgers gave him No. 13 when he joined the team in 1944; Kirby Higbe, who had worn the number, was in the service. Branca switched to 20 when Higbe returned in '46, then took back 13 after Higbe was traded in '47. He wore 13 with pride until the late afternoon of Oct. 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson took him downtown at the Polo Grounds. When the righthander reported to spring training in '52, a No. 12 jersey was waiting for him.

"The Dodger front office, in its sublime wisdom, changed the number for me," says Branca. "I resented it very much."

St. Louis pitcher Mort Cooper wore 13 until midway through the 1942 season; when he was stuck so long at 13 victories that he kept changing his uniform number. He switched to 14 then 15 and then 16 before pitching his way out of the rut, finishing with a 22-7 record, a 1.78 ERA and the MVP award.

"I know there's nothing to it, but I won't give out 13 without an argument," says Frank Cox, the equipment manager at Auburn. That's exactly how the late Bill Lucas, the Atlanta Braves' vice-president and director of player personnel, felt in 1978 when he issued an organization-wide decree that No. 13 was off-limits. Lucas then drove to Miami to watch his son. Bill Jr., play for Florida A & M against the University of Miami. Young Bill went 2 for 4...with a 13 on his back.

Auto racing, understandably, is rife with triskaidekaphobia. No one wants to even think about a fiery crash involving a car numbered 13. George Mason came to Indianapolis in 1914 with a 13 on his car, started 13th and finished 23rd. Seventeen years later Louis Schneider arrived with a 13, and officials made him paint over it. Maybe that's why he won the race that year.

Vancouver Canuck defenseman Lars Lindgren was one of the few hockey players to tempt fate by wearing No. 13. In 1981 Lindgren switched from 3 to 13, saying he was doing so to rid himself of a persistent injury jinx, but he may have jinxed himself in another way: In November 1982, he shot the puck into his own net during a game against Edmonton. Two NHL players are wearing 13 this season—center Ken Linseman of Boston and forward Bob Brooke of the Rangers.

The most famous athlete to scoff at triskaidekaphobia was Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt wore No. 5 at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, but 13 with the University of Kansas, the Warriors, the Lakers and the 76ers. But Wilt's 13 is not one of the handful of numbers (Aaron's 44 with the Braves and Brewers, for example) retired by more than one team. The Warriors never got around to retiring Wilt's No. 13, nor Rick Barry's 24, even though they've retired Nate Thurmond's 42, Tom Meschery's 14 and general manager Alvin Attles's 16. Such decisions have put the Warriors where they are today.



24—Whizzer White, Supreme Court Justice, running back at the University of Colorado.
48—Gerald Ford, ex-President, occasional golfer, football center at the University of Michigan.
42, 24—Bill Bradley, senator, basketball forward at Princeton and with the New York Knicks.
33—Morris Udall, congressman, basketball forward at Arizona.
11—Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to '69, basketball guard at Arizona.


44—Ed Marinaro, Officer Joe Coffey on Hill Street Blues, running back at Cornell, and Michael Warren, Officer Bobby Hill on HSB, point guard at UCLA.
7—Mark Harmon, Dr. Bobby Caldwell on St. Elsewhere, quarterback at UCLA.
24—Marion Morrison, a.k.a. John Wayne, American legend, tackle at USC.
42—Tom Selleck, hunk on Magnum, P.I., basketball bench-sitter at USC.


88—Pat Summerall, CBS announcer, end-placekicker, New York Giants.
16—Frank Gifford, ABC announcer, a little of everything, New York Giants.
3—Curt Gowdy, broadcast announcer, basketball guard at Wyoming.
11—Chet Forte, ABC producer-director, basketball guard at Columbia.
24—Dick Enberg, NBC announcer, 5'11" center for the Armada (Mich.) Rural Agricultural School basketball Tigers.


4—Jack Molinas, Columbia basketball player and fixer of games.
35—Rick Kuhn, Boston College basketball player and shaver of points.
088586—Mercury Morris, Dolphin running back, serving 20 years in Dade Correctional Institution on a cocaine trafficking conviction.

"Goodbye, Twenty-three. I know how lonely it is on the road, but you'll manage."

Just as Barbara Jane Bookman said goodby to Billy Clyde Puckett in Dan Jenkins's Life Its Ownself, so do America's sports franchises say goodby to their superstars by retiring jersey numbers. The Boston Celtics are the leaders in this ritual, as Jerry Sichting discovered after arriving there in a trade at the beginning of this season. First he asked for No. 14, which he had worn with the Indiana Pacers, but it was hanging in the Boston Garden rafters in honor of Bob Cousy. Then he asked for 24, but that was up there in honor of Sam Jones. He eventually settled for No. 12.

At the rate they're going, the Celtics may someday run out of numbers. It was a fear of doing exactly that that caused the Indianapolis Colts to consider unretiring Gino Marchetti's 89 and Raymond Berry's 82. For the same reason, the Chicago Bears have never retired Dick Butkus's 51, which has been worn by a succession of Bears (Dan Neal, Mickey Malham, Mel Rogers, Bruce Herron, Kelvin Atkins and Jim Morrissey this season), none of whom has been mistaken for Butkus. Dick shouldn't feel too bad—George Halas's 7 is available, too.

In some cases, the retiring of a number is somewhat less than out of respect—former Ohio State basketball coach Fred Taylor, for example, personally saw that No. 21 was put out of circulation in the mid-'70s because it was worn by a trio whom Taylor considered world-class flakes—Larry Siegfried, Dick Taylor and Jody Finney.

Sometimes it takes family intercession to keep a retired number retired. In 1983 the Boston Bruins dusted off Dit Clapper's retired No. 5 and gave it to defenseman Guy Lapointe. Only after Clapper's daughter Marilyn campaigned to get 5 back in mothballs did the Bruins retreat.

"God made integers, all else is the work of man."
—Leopold Kronecker, mathematician

Or more specifically, the work of the late Bill Veeck, who on Aug. 19, 1951 sent 3'7", 65-pound Eddie Gaedel up to bat with a‚⅛ on his back. Believe it or not, Gaedel's was not the only non-integer ever worn on the back of the jersey. That distinction also belongs to Billy Barty, a 3'9" little person who wore¼ while playing basketball and softball for the Hollywood Shorties.


The possibility of conflict is ever present where numbers are concerned. Take the time the Colts lost a shot at obtaining Hacksaw Reynolds. In advance of a possible deal to bring the Ram middle linebacker to Baltimore back in the late '70s, Reynolds let it be known he wanted his customary 64. But David Taylor [a lineman] has it, said the Colts. Then I want no number, said Reynolds. But you're not allowed to wear no number, said the Colts. Then I'm staying in Los Angeles, said Reynolds. "Can you imagine that?" says Browns general manager Ernie Accorsi, who was then with the Colts' front office. "The deal fell through because of a number."

Not surprising, really. But sometimes things can be worked out amicably, as when Frank Howard yielded No. 9 to Ted Williams when the latter became manager of the Senators in 1969. "I don't give a damn what number I wear," Howard told equipment man Fred Baxter. He got 33. Jim Beauchamp willingly, not to mention wisely, gave up 24 when Mays came to the Mets in '72. Herschel Walker's number situation at Georgia was a little more complicated. He had worn 43 at Johnson County High School, but that was taken by a veteran Bulldog linebacker, Keith Middleton. So Walker was promised the reverse of his old number, 34, which at the time was being worn by freshman fullback Chris McCarthy. "They told him he could have it, but they didn't tell me," said McCarthy. "I would have gladly given him the number, but I was a little mad about it at the time." McCarthy later became one of Walker's closest friends and—as No. 46—also his chief blocker in 34's Heisman Trophy-winning junior year.

When quarterback John Hadl was traded by the Rams to Green Bay in 1974, he discovered that 21, his number in L.A., was on the jersey of Charlie Hall, a veteran defensive back. "I offered him $2,000 for the number," remembers Hadl, "but all he'd take was a case of beer." That didn't work for Dave (Tiger) Williams when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks by Toronto six years ago and found defenseman Bob Manno wearing his No. 22. Williams offered $10,000 for the number, but Manno said no. Williams settled for 26, got 22 back when Manno went to the minors, lost it again last season when he was traded to Detroit (where Brad Park had it), but reclaimed it after being purchased by the L.A. Kings.

One of the first celebrated number conflicts involved Ruth's 3, which was on the back of Wally Berger when Ruth signed with the Boston Braves in 1935. Berger was one of the Braves' leading hitters and didn't want to give it up. Guess who won that one? Sometimes a number is lost so fast it makes a player's head spin, as Frank Quilici discovered in March of 1971, when he was released by the Twins. Bill Rigney had a change of heart overnight and asked Q to stay on as a coach, but his No. 7 had already been given to Steve Brye. So Quilici went to 43 because its sum equals 7.

When Rick Barry was signed by Houston, he couldn't get 24 because Moses Malone was wearing it. (Do you want to ask Moses Malone to give up his number?) So Barry took to wearing 2 at home and 4 on the road. Later, when Malone went to Philly, Bobby Jones was wearing No. 24. That's when Moses switched to 2, which fits him like a bad suit.

Likewise, when Julius Erving came to the Sixers, he wanted to stick with his familiar 32. But when he looked up he could see it already hanging from the rafters—it had been retired in honor of the man who would soon became his coach, Billy Cunningham. The Doc has been No. 6 ever since.

Staten Island construction worker Pasquale (Pat) Consalvo's first choice of numbers for the Jan. 18 New York State Lottery was 12, 14, 22, 32, 34 and 44. But then he got to thinking about his son, Michael, a quarterback and safety in an amateur football league. Michael wears No. 43 on his jersey, so Consalvo changed the last number to 43. And won $30 million, the largest payoff in state lottery history.


He wasn't alone. George Selkirk, Allie Clark and Bud Metheny also wore the famed 3 before it was retired by the Yankees on June 13, 1948. "Tiger" Mapes, a lifetime .242 hitter, had the further distinction of wearing No. 7 before Mickey Mantle, as did Bob Cerv, Leo Durocher and Charlie Dressen. Mantle's first number was 6—he took 7 after Mapes was traded.

Now dazzle your friends with these additional Yankee numbers trivia:

Joe DiMaggio broke in with No. 9 before switching to 5. While Joltin' Joe was in the service in 1943, first baseman Nick Etten wore 5.

Yogi Berra broke in with 35 before switching to 8, a more endomorphically suitable number for him.

Whitey Ford didn't wear 16 until 1953, three years after his rookie season. Before that he was No. 19.

And guess what Yankee hopeful wore 16 in spring training of 1952? Gene Mauch. Both Tony Kubek (who became 10) and Clete Boyer (6) of the Yankees used to wear No. 34.

The number of Babe Ruth's bowling ball that resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame is N29918. Just thought you would like to know.


Yes, it's true. Back when Dean was a ninth-grader playing for his father, Alfred, at Lowther Junior High School in Topeka, Kans. he wore 00 on his chest. Button-down Dean in 00? Did he smoke ciggies in the boys' room, too?

Not really, explains Dean. "Back in Kansas then, all the basketball numbers were double digits—00, 11, 22 and so on. It so happened that my favorite player at Topeka High wore 00. It wasn't considered that unusual." Dean wore Nos. 23 and 22 at Topeka and at Kansas, where he was sixth man on a national championship team.

Some other 00s—football's Steve Bagarus and Ken Burrough, basketball's Tony Campbell, Johnny Moore and Robert Parish, baseball's Bobby Bonds and Paul Dade.


Jackie Robinson wore 18 as a basketball player at UCLA, 42 as a Brooklyn Dodger.

Gene Conley wore 17 as a Boston Celtic, 22 as a Milwaukee Braves pitcher.

Danny Ainge wore 2 as a Toronto infielder, now wears 44 as a Celtic.

Dick Groat wore 10 as a basketball All-America at Duke, 24 as a Pirate shortstop.

Jack Nicklaus wore 11 as a basketball player at Upper Arlington High School, liked to use No. 5 Titleists as a junior golfer.


1. Wildcat co-captains Frank Ramsey (30) and Cliff Hagan (6) wore 23 for the Celtics and 16 for the Hawks.

2. The Green Bay Packer line that blocked for the backfield that included Paul Hornung (5), Jim Taylor (31) and Bart Starr (15) consisted of Jerry Kramer (64), Fuzzy Thurston (63), Jim Ringo (51), Forrest Gregg (75), Bob Skoronski (76) and Ron Kramer (88).

3. The Giants' Atlee Hammaker (7) is the lone single-digit pitcher. Last season he surrendered his No. 14 to Vida Blue.

4. Graham had worn 60 in the old All America Football Conference, then switched to 14.

5. Freud's friend Fliess was obsessed with the number 23, which is Michael Jordan's number.

6. Richard Petty (43) and A.J. Foyt (14).

7. Clown: Number 33 in Your Program, Number 1 in Your Heart. Hundley, however, wore No. 20 when he was at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Charleston, W. Va.

8. Plimpton, like Orlando Woolridge, Al Oliver and many, many others, wore 0. Sidd Finch wore 21.

9. The Jones twins wore 1A and 1B. In the Indiana high school all-star game, the Van Arsdales both wore No. 1 jerseys with their first names added. They wore 30 (Dick) and 25 (Tom) at Indiana, and both wore 5 for their first pro teams, Dick with the Knicks, Tom with the Pistons. When they played together at Phoenix, Dick wore 5 and Tom wore 4. Fans of South Carolina basketball sent the Doziers a huge homemade poster that read: SOUTH CAROLINA WANTS PERRY AND TERRY. The jerseys on the poster bore 31 (Terry's) and 41 (Perry's), numbers the twins now are wearing as Gamecocks.

10. Todd Christensen, a tight end, wears No. 46. Back in 1976, Bishop Mark Hodson, writing in the Times of London, pointed out something quite unusual about Psalm 46 in one translation of the Bible. Count 46 words from the beginning of the psalm and the word is "shake." Count 46 words from the end (excluding the word selah, a musical direction) and the word is "spear." A coincidence? No way. The translators did their work in 1610, when Shakespeare was 46 years old. Not surprisingly, none of this has anything to do with how Christensen became No. 46. He was given a running back's number at Oakland and decided to stick with it because "I like a number that affords relative anonymity." Notre Dame's triple-threat halfback of the '30s, William Shakespeare, wore No. 63. The University of Miami wide receiver of recent vintage, Stanley Shakespeare, wore No. 6. As for the Shakespeare, the one who finds divinity in odd numbers, he deserves an immortal's number. But, 3 and 77 are already taken.



After Flutie won his Heisman, the two-twos were everywhere.



Page was a natural 88 because he played quarterbacks like a piano.



Bucky Harris became a well-traveled, multidigited manager.



Devotion to a particular number has frequently created problems for traded players.



With reason, collegians no longer wear the year of their graduation.



When the Duke was riding herd on USCs rivals, his number was 24.



In the game of retiring numbers, the Celtics are the world champs.



Richard, Hull and Howe all were dressed to the nines in the NHL.



A case of cold ones got Hadl the number he coveted from Hall.



A 48 Ford went from a Michigan starting line to the Oval Office.