Detroit athletes by the numbers: a list from zero to 98

Gordie Howe, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas, and Justin Verlander are some of the most popular uniform numbers fans request for their Detroit jerseys.

Gordie Howe, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas, and Justin Verlander are some of the most popular uniform numbers fans request for their Detroit jerseys.

Every kid who plays a sport has to make a choice at some point – what number do you want on your jersey? For some of us there’s no choice at all – we get what the coach or equipment manager gives us. But when we do get to choose the digits, we draw on our heroes for inspiration.

For some reason I always liked #9, and I requested that when I was in little league. Later, I selected #5 in homage to my favorite player George Brett. I can personally attest that just because you might wear your hero’s number, that doesn’t mean you inherit their skills.

There are all sorts of reasons for why players have specific numbers on their uniforms. Miguel Cabrera likes #24 because that was the number worn by Willie Mays. Barry Sanders wanted #21 when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but the equipment man told him that #20 was legendary for the franchise, having been worn by Lem Barney and Billy Sims, so Sanders agreed to take it. Many players just get whichever number the equipment man assigns them, but once they get it, they grow attached to it in a superstitious way. In 2012 one of the first things Torii Hunter did after signing a contract with the Tigers was to call Rick Porcello and offer him some cash for #48 – the only number Hunter ever wore in the big leagues.

Here’s a not-so-comprehensive list of the best players to wear certain numbers for the four Detroit pro sports teams. Some players wore more than one uniform number in their careers, but the numbers here are the most common. Names in italics had their uniform numbers retired by a Detroit team.

0

Andre Drummond, Orlando Woolridge, Olden Polynice

1

Lou Whitaker, Terry Sawchuk, Chauncey Billups, Lindsey Hunter, Billy Martin, Jose Iglesias, Reggie Jackson

2

Charlie Gehringer, Viacheslav Fetisov, Gary Bergman, Jake Wood

3

Alan Trammell, Marcel Pronovost, Mickey Cochrane, Ben Wallace, Dick McAuliffe, Joey Harrington, Eddie Murray, Ian Kinsler, Gary Sheffield

4

Joe Dumars, Goose Goslin, Red Kelly, Rudy York, Mark Howe, Aurelio Rodriguez, Jason Hanson, Bobby Higginson, Charlie Maxwell

5

Hank Greenberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jim Northrup, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

6

Al Kaline, Larry Aurie, Terry Mills

7

Ted Lindsay, Dutch Clark, Harvey Kuenn, Ivan Rodriguez, Rocky Colavito, Kelly Tripucka, Billy Rogell, Gary Unger, Rick Leach, Dan Maloney, Brandon Jennings, Brandon Knight

8

Igor Larionov, Ray Boone, Justin Abdelkader, Eddie Brinkman, Doc Cramer, Ron LeFlore, Don Wert

9

Gordie Howe, Matthew Stafford, Carlos Guillen, Rodney Peete, Nick Castellanos

10

Alex Delvecchio, Dennis Rodman, Tommy Bridges, Mayo Smith, Jim Leyland, Dale McCourt, Rusty Staub, Greg Monroe, Charlie Batch, Joe Murphy

11

Isiah Thomas, Sparky Anderson, Bill Freehan, Dizzy Trout, Greg Landry, Earl Whitehill, Mathieu Dandenault, Roy Williams

12

Sid Abel, Ray Scott, George Yardley, Bobo Newsom, Erik Kramer, Adam Oates, Jim Price

13

Lance Parrish, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Avila, Vyacheslav Kozlov

14

Brendan Shanahan, Jim Bunning, Schoolboy Rowe, Dutch Reibel, Austin Jackson, Dave Bergman, Gustav Nyquist, David Price

15

Vinnie Johnson, Tomas Holmstrom, Jim Ninowski, Brandon Inge, Pat Verbeek, Paul Woods, Golden Tate

16

Hal Newhouser, Bob Lanier, Gary Danielson, Vladimir Konstantinov, Milt Plum, Larry Foust, Tom Brookens, Austin Jackson, Earl Wilson, Chuck Long

17

Denny McLain, Brett Hull, Tony Clark, Frank Lary, Eric Hipple, Dallas Drake

18

John Hiller, Kirk Maltby, Tobin Rote, Fred Hutchinson

19

Steve Yzerman, Dave Rozema, Scott Mitchell, Anibal Sanchez, Bill Munson, Joe Niekro

20

Barry Sanders, Lem Barney, Billy Sims, Mark Fidrych, Mickey Redmond, Martin Lapointe, Allan Houston, Howard Johnson, Mickey Tettleton

21

Dave Bing, George Kell, Gene Shue, Willie Hernandez, Tomas Tatar, Reggie Bush, Ameer Abdullah

22

Bobby Layne, Dave DeBusschere, Tayshaun Prince, John Salley

23

Willie Horton, Kirk Gibson, Mark Aguirre, Mel Gray

24

Miguel Cabrera, Jack Christiansen, Chris Chelios, Mickey Stanley, Bob Probert, Mel Farr, Dexter Bussey

25

Norm Cash, Darren McCarty, John Ogrodnick, Pat Studstill, Jimmy Walker, John Long

26

Gates Brown, Frank Tanana

27

Frank Mahovlich, Jhonny Peralta

28

Yale Lary, Curtis Granderson, Prince Fielder, J.D. Martinez

29

Mickey Lolich, Mike Vernon, Aurelio Lopez

30

Chris Osgood, Magglio Ordonez, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Thompson, Cory Schlesinger, James Jones, M.L. Carr

31

Larry Herndon

32

Richard Hamilton

33

Grant Hill, Steve Kemp, Kris Draper, Nick Pietrosante, Matt Nokes

34

Chet Lemon, Bucky Harris, Petr Mrazek, James Stewart, James McCann

35

Justin Verlander, Virgil Trucks, Jimmy Howard

36

Bennie Blades

37

Doak Walker, Max Scherzer

38

Jeremy Bonderman

39

Dominik Hasek, Leonard Thompson, Milt Wilcox, Mike Henneman, Jon Warden, Ramon Santiago

40

Bill Laimbeer, Henrik Zetterberg, Phil Coke

41

Darrell Evans, Victor Martinez, Terry Barr, Terry Tyler

42

Chris Ford, Jerry Stackhouse

44

Dick LeBeau, Rick Mahorn, Todd Bertuzzi, Rob Deer

45

Cecil Fielder, Adrian Dantley, Ray Jarvis

46

Dan Petry

47

Jack Morris

53

James Edwards, Kevin Glover

54

Chris Spielman

55

Larry Murphy, Niklas Kronwall, Wayne Walker

56

Joe Schmidt

57

Stephen Boyd

58

Doug Fister

59

Todd Jones

60

Bubba Baker

91

Danny DeKeyser

71

Alex Karras, Dylan Larkin

75

Lomas Brown

76

Lou Creekmur, Jeff Backus

78

Doug English

80

Brett Perriman

81

Night Train Lane, Calvin Johnson, David Hill

84

Herman Moore

85

Petr Klima, Chuck Hughes

87

Johnnie Morton, Freddie Scott, Brandon Pettigrew

88

Charlie Sanders

89

Gail Cogdill

90

Ndamukong Suh

91

Sergei Fedorov, Robert Porcher

93

Johan Franzen

94

Ziggy Ansah, Luther Elliss

96

Tomas Holmström

98

Nick Fairley

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About Dan Holmes

The editor of Detroit Athletic Co. blog, is the author of Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and worked for Major League Baseball as a web producer. He contributed to Sock it to 'Em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and Deadball Stars of the American League. Follow him on Twitter at @thedanholmes or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.