Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?

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Baseball is a sports game that includes a bat and ball. The game is played between two teams, each consisting of nine players. Each team takes turns to bat and field. A player from the fielding team called a pitcher throws the ball towards the batter while they try to hit it as hard as they can. After hitting the ball, the batter must run around four anticlockwise bases. Once the batter is done running around the bases and reaches where they started, also known as home plate, a run is scored. In the meantime, the fielding team must stop them from completing the run by bringing the ball back to the base. Let us know more detail about ‘Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?’.

Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?

Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?

Why do baseball players wear numbers? While watching a baseball game, you must have wondered why a number is written on each player’s jersey. Originally baseball uniforms were without numbers, but today, there is a number on the back and front of the jersey. Cleveland Indians were the first to introduce numbers on their jerseys in major league baseball so that fans could spot who was playing clearly. Today every team player and even coach has to wear a number to be easily recognizable on the field. Multiple players from the same team cannot have the same number. Each player is assigned a different and unique number.

Why did numbers become so important?

Even though players were assigned their numbers for identification and recognition, they soon became more critical. They became a source of superstition and players started having emotional attachments with their assigned numbers. They even carried the same number throughout different teams. When Ricky Henderson joined Blue Jays, he paid his teammate $25000 to get his number twenty-four. First, the numbers were introduced on the side of the jersey. But it became a laughing stock among the fans, and everyone disapproved of it, so they were removed. But in 1929, the New York Yankees again introduced numbers and shifted them on the back of the jersey. The number represents where you are in the lineup. 

Why are jersey numbers retired by teams?

Many times team decides to retire their uniform numbers, but they do this for a particular reason. They do this to ensure that the specific number is not worn again by anyone else and will remain associated with some players. Log Gehrig was the first player to have his number retired. When Gehrig had to quit playing baseball due to his medical condition in 1939, his number 4 was retired with him by the New York Yankees. So that it remains associated with him and is never worn again by any player of the Yankees. After Gehrig, more than 150 players had their numbers retired, even with multiple teams. Not only players but numbers assigned to coaches and managers are also retired since, in baseball, the coaching staff has to wear the same number as the players.

Ways to assign Jersey numbers: Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?

Initially, every team had its system of assigning numbers to players. They were allowed to give any number they wanted to any player. But Warren Giles, Red’s general manager, changed that. He introduced a system of assigning numbers still used in baseball by some teams. Catchers would only wear single digits numbers; infielders would wear tens; outfielders would wear the 20s, and pitchers would wear 30s or higher. One was reserved only for the managers. However, in the 1960s, Bill Vek, ex-owner of the White Sox, introduced names on the back of the Jerseys, making the system by Giles a little redundant. Players even started choosing their numbers. However, the method by Giles is still informally followed since position players still wear lower numbers and pitchers have higher numbers. 

Which numbers are never worn in MLB?

Even though Major League Baseball, aka MLB, was founded in 1876 and has been around for almost 146 years, few of the numbers have never been worn by a player on the field. No. 80, 86, 89, 90, 92, and 93 have never been worn by any major leaguer. Other strange numbers include 82, worn by Johnny Lazor, who debuted when he was 30. He was the only person to wear 82; no one else wore it after him. 


Baseball players started wearing numbers more easily recognizable by the fans and their teammates. More than one player cannot have the same number from the same team. Later on, due to the system set up by Giles, numbers started having meaning and represented the position of players. For example, a player wearing a single digit was a pitcher. Likewise, a player wearing a number in the 20s was an outfielder. But later on, along with numbers, names were also present on the back of players’ jerseys, making the purpose of numbers a little redundant. Due to this, players were allowed to choose their numbers which weren’t worn by any of their teammates, or buy the number from them if they were passionate about it.

Why Do Baseball Players Wear Numbers?
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