Brewers by the Numbers: A Look at the Crew’s Uniform Digit History
Last week at Brew Crew Confidential, we took a look at the franchise’s most revered uniform numbers. This week, let’s continue with the trend by reviewing some of the other uni numbers – 73 other numbers, to be exact – that the team has issued over the past 47 seasons.
0/00 – The Brewers are one of a handful of teams to have issued both single and double zeros. Jeffery “Penitentiary Face” Leonard’s stay in Milwaukee was brief, but he still lays claim to the greatest nickname in team history and their first sub-1 uni number. Franklin Stubbs arrived in Milwaukee a few years later and asked for a single zero as a tribute to the smooth-hitting Al Oliver, who wore the digit as an initial. In 2000, free-spirited reliever Curtis Leskanic took the double zero when his request to wear 99 was denied (the team reserved that number for the batboys).
3 – An under-worn digit by Brewers players, it was frequently assigned to coaches and managers (Phil Garner and Ned Yost both wore it). It was also briefly worn by Gorman Thomas (1975-76) and by future all-star Dante Bichette during his lone season in Milwaukee (1991).
4 – Retired, of course, for Paul Molitor, Pat Listach actually wore #4 in 1996 as a tribute to his former teammate. It was also worn by Brett Favre when he took batting practice at County Stadium in 1998.
6 – Last worn in game action by Jeff Cirillo in 2006, #6 has been out of player circulation longer than any other non-retired number with the exception of Jim Gantner’s #17. Since 2007, it has been worn by coach Ed “Eddie Love” Sedar.
9 – Tied with #50 as the most-worn number in team history (28 different players wore it), there have only been a handful of seasons in which there was no #9 on the scorecard. Probably best known as Jean Segura’s digit, it was also worn by Marquis Grissom, Larry Hisle, and Tito Francona.
Hideo Nomo, one of a number of notable Brewers to wear #11.
11 – Worn by eight different players who played in at least one All Star Game, #11 has seen several different prominent wearers over the years. Hideo Nomo wore it in 1999, the lowest uni number ever issued to a Brewers pitcher. Richie Sexson set franchise home run records in it. Antone Williamson looked every bit an all-time bust in it. Gary Sheffield drew boos in it. Jim Gantner, Greg Vaughn, and Ronnie Belliard all wore it early in their careers. Lyle Overbay, Dave Nilsson, Charlie O’Brien, Davey May… a pretty decent team could actually be assembled from all the Brewers former 11s.
13 – Between 2006 and 2012, #13 was worn by Zach Jackson, Zach Braddock, and Zack Greinke. Zach Davies and Zach Duke are the only Zachs to play for the Brewers and not wear 13. The Brewers have never had a position players named Zach.
19 – Forever memorialized as Robin Yount’s number, there were actually three #19s to take the field for the Brewers before The Kid. Rick Auerbach, who slugged .265 over parts of three seasons, was the most accomplished.
20 – If there was ever a case for a “retired by committee” number for the Brewers, it’s #20. Kenny Sanders, the club’s first stud pitcher, wore it from 1970-72. Gorman Thomas wore it between 1978 and 1983 and again in 1986. After Thomas was traded in 1983, Hall of Famer Don Sutton took it and wore through the end of his time with the Brewers. Juan Nieves pitched the team’s only no-hitter in it. Kevin Seitzer and Jeromy Burnitz were all-stars in it. Scott Podsednik nearly won a Rookie of the Year award in it. And, most recently, Jonathan Lucroy became the team’s all-time catcher in it.
Charlie Moore, the most prolific wearer of #22 in team history, talks with an umpire in 1977.
22 – Charlie Moore wore #22 for each of his 14 years with the Brewers, the longest tenure of any Brewer besides Yount, Molitor, and Gantner. When Moore left the Brewers after the 1986 season, he had been with the team longer than anyone but Bob Uecker.
30 – Property of manager Craig Counsell and my prediction for the next Brewers number to be retired (please note that my predictions exist in a world where Mike McCarthy has been fired, Ryan Braun has been traded, Trevor Hoffman made the Hall of Fame, and Hillary won the election), #30 was also worn by Terry Francona, who will eventually be joined by Counsell as a World Series-winning manager.
33 – Something of a cursed number, no player has ever worn #33 for more than three seasons. The recently departed Chris Carter is probably the best Brewer to ever wear it.
34 – Retired for Rollie Fingers, FIVE players wore #34 after Fingers retired, including such luminaries as John Henry Johnson, Billy Bates, and Mark Lee. The number actually could have been retired even before Fingers joined the team. It was worn by pitcher Danny Frisella in 1976, who was killed that off-season in a dune buggy accident, the only time an active Brewers player has passed away.
No Brewer will ever be issued #42 again. But the whole team wears it every April 15.
42 – Retired league-wide in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997, players who were wearing the number at the time were allowed to continue to do so until they retired or changed teams. Scott Karl wore the number for the Brewers through the 1999 season.
44 – The first Brewers number to be retired, it is also the least-worn of the team’s standard numbers (1-50), worn only by Aaron, outfielder Hank Allen in 1970 and by a young Gorman Thomas in 1973 and ’74. Thomas surrendered it when Aaron joined the Brewers, having chosen it himself as a nod to Hammerin’ Hank.
50 – It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Brewers began to regularly issue numbers higher than 50. Perhaps this explains why, with #9, #50 is the most traveled number in team history, issued to 28 different players. Aside from Cy Young Award winner Pete Vuckovich, who wore it from 1981-86, there have been few 50s of much note. In fact, aside from Vuck, Kameron Loe is the only player who wore it longer than two seasons. It also seems to be a favorite among catchers who you forgot existed – remember Angel Solome, Jesse Levis, or Robinson Cancel? I do. Which is why I didn’t start dating until college.
52 – Worn by CC Sabathia during his dominant half-season in Milwaukee, #52 was also worn by pitcher Bill Parsons between 1971 and 1973. Parsons was the ONLY Brewer to wear a number higher than 50 for multiple seasons until the mid-1990s. They used to call those “Spring Training Numbers,” digits issued during training camp to players not expected to make the team.
Fiers’ 64 is a one-of-kind for the Brewers.
64 – The lowest uni number worn by only one player, Mike Fiers from 2011 to 2013.
65 – Like the 13th Floor of the Wayside School building, this uniform number does not exist. It’s the lowest number the team has never issued. Nor have they issued 66, 68, or (wait for it) 69.
67 – Until Jim Bruske wore #88 in 2000, this was the highest number ever issued, given to Jim Slaton early during his 1971 rookie season. Slaton was only the second big leaguer to ever wear #67, the first being Bill Patton in 1935 with the Philadelphia A’s.
Rookie Takahito Nomura went higher (number-wise) than anyone in team history.
95 – The highest number ever issued by the Brewers, 95 was worn by pitcher Takahito Nomura in 2002. Nomura threw less than 14 innings (with an ERA of 8.56) for the Brewers before being demoted. He never pitched in the majors again. He does, however, remain the only big leaguer to ever wear 95.