Since so many of us here are so "numbers aware" I thought I'd post this.
List of Major League Baseball retired numbers
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Major League baseball and its participating clubs have retired various uniform numbersover the course of time, ensuring that those numbers will always beassociated with particular players of note. The use of numbers onuniforms to better identify one player from another, and hence to boostsales of scorecards, was tried briefly by the Cleveland Indians of 1916, and the St. Louis Cardinals of 1923. The first team to permanently adopt the practice was the New York Yankees of 1929. By 1932, all sixteen major league clubs were issuing numbers, and by 1937, the leagues passed rules requiring it.
The Yankees' original approach was to simply assign the numbers 1through 8 to the regular starting lineup in their normal batting order.Hence, Babe Ruth wore number 3 and Lou Gehrig number 4. The first major leaguer whose number was retired was Gehrig, at a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, following his retirement due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which became to be known popularly as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Since then, over 120 other people have had their numbers retired. Some of the game's early stars, such as Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson,retired before numbers came into usage. Teams often celebrate theirretired numbers and other honored people by hanging banners with thenumbers and names. Early stars, as well as honored non-players, willoften have numberless banners hanging along with the retired numbers.
Normally the individual clubs are responsible for retiring numbers. On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball took the unusual move of retiring a number for all teams. On the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking the major league color barrier, his number 42 was retired throughout the majors, at the order of Commissioner Bud Selig.This meant that no future player on any major league team could wearnumber 42, although players wearing #42 at the time were allowed tocontinue with it (see below).
Some[who?] have advocated giving Roberto Clemente'snumber 21 a similar treatment. They feel that Clemente's impact on theHispanic community is equal to that of Robinson's on the blackcommunity. The target goal for the retirement was in time for the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh,where Clemente played. RetireClemente21.com collected over 70,000signatures for the effort. So far, MLB has taken no decisive action onthis request.
Some teams do not retire jersey numbers, and instead celebrate their stars in other ways. The Toronto Blue Jays have a 'Level of Excellence,' where notable individuals in club history have their names posted under the fifth deck of the Rogers Centre.
Because fewer and fewer players stay with one team long enough towarrant their number being retired, some players believe that gettingtheir number retired is a greater honor than going into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ron Santo, upon his number 10 being retired on the last day of the 2003 regular season, enthusiastically told the Wrigley Field crowd as his #10 flag was hoisted, "This is my Hall of Fame!"
Some teams have not formally retired certain numbers, but nonetheless kept them out of circulation. For example, the Cincinnati Reds have only assigned Pete Rose's #14 to one other player after his retirement: his own son. #14 cannot be retired in honor of the older Rose at present, due to his lifetime ban from baseball. Also, after Darryl Kile's untimely death in 2002, the teams he played for (Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and St. Louis Cardinals) took his #57 out of circulation, but have yet to formally retire the number.
List of numbers on link below: