Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ultimate Number Players: #11-15

Welcome to the latest installment of Ultimate Number Players! You know the rules by now, so here we go with the newest batch!

Ultimate #11: Luis Aparicio

The consistency of Luis Aparicio's career has always astounded me. In 18 seasons, he never took the field at any position besides shortstop, always played at least two-thirds of his team's games at the position, and always wore #11. With the White Sox (twice), the Orioles and the Red Sox, he's the perfect guy to represent this number.

Ultimate #12: Dusty Baker

According to Baseball-Reference, Roberto Alomar wore #12 at every stop except Arizona, where Steve Finley already had it, forcing him to wear #2. However, according to Baseball Almanac, Alomar wore both #2 and #12 for Arizona. The 2004 Diamondbacks traded away both Finley and Alomar during the season, and the Finley trade was five days before the Alomar trade. Is it possible that Alomar wore #12 in the two games he played for Arizona after the Finley trade? Without any documentation, I can't be sure. If Alomar in fact did, he would definitely be the Ultimate #12.

In the meantime, the Ultimate #12 has to be Dusty Baker, who not only wore the number at each of his four major league stops (Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Athletics), but has worn it at each managerial stop as well (Giants, Cubs, Reds). Unfortunately, I can't find pictures of Baker with a visible #12 for each of those teams, nor can I find one for any other player who potentially qualifies for the Ultimate Number Player designation, so I won't be able to include a photo collage with this one. Sorry!

Ultimate #13: Billy Wagner
Perhaps one of the most underrated players of our era (career 187 ERA+!), Wagner wore the unlucky #13 with five teams: The Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves.

Ultimate #14: Pete Rose

The rare "gritty gamer" type who was actually a Hall of Fame-level player, Rose wore #14 with his hometown Reds, the Phillies (before it was retired for Jim Bunning), the Expos in a brief stint, and the Reds again, where he broke the all-time hit record.

Ultimate #15: Davey Lopes
A legitimate Hall of Very Good second baseman, Lopes wore the number with the Dodgers, Athletics, Cubs and Astros, though there were periods with the latter two teams when he wore different numbers.

Since I can't find pictures of Lopes with a visible number 15 for each of those teams, there's going to be another substitute photo collage. The player? Kevin Millar, who also wore it with four teams: The Marlins, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays. He was nowhere near the player Lopes was, but he stuck around long enough to make his mark on baseball.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ultimate Number Players: #6-10

Last time we looked at the Ultimate Player for numbers 1 through 5; this installment will include the next sequential quintet. If you need a refresher on how a player qualifies for this list, check that link.

Ultimate #6: Willie Wilson

The speedster wore #6 with the Royals, Athletics and Cubs, and was easily the best of the few players who made it to three teams.

Ultimate #7: J.D. Drew

He may have been perceived as dispassionate and businesslike, but he got the number with the Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Red Sox.

Ultimate #8: Gary Carter

It's always nice when Hall of Famers show up. Gary Carter was a no-doubter here. He was the only player to get the number with as many as four different franchises and he topped that by adding a second stint with one of those teams. In order, he had it with the Expos, Mets, Giants, Dodgers and Expos again.

Ultimate #9: Lee Stevens

This one was surprising, but the journeyman first baseman managed to get the number with the Angels, Rangers, Expos and Indians.

Ultimate #10: Lefty Grove

No player who played for more than two teams managed to wear #10 at every stop. One who did though, was possibly the greatest left-handed pitcher ever, and earned the "Ultimate Player" title for sporting it with the Athletics and Red Sox.

However, given that it's nearly impossible to find a single photo where Grove's #10 is visible, for the photo collage I went with another Hall of Famer who qualifies, Ron Santo, who wore it with both the Cubs and White Sox.

Next time we'll be looking at 11 through 15. Stay tuned!