Most of baseball's one-digit pitchers played in the 1930s and '40s. Since 1960, research shows, two or more pitchers have worn single digits in the same season just three times. This year is one of them. After signing with the Boston Red Sox last winter, David Wells chose No. 3 in honor of his hero, Babe Ruth, who immortalized it playing for Boston's archrival, the New York Yankees. Josh Towers of the Toronto Blue Jays for the third straight year is wearing No. 7.
To players, club executives and hard-core fans, the sight of a one-digit pitcher is jarring. Steve Vucinich, the equipment and clubhouse manager for the Oakland Athletics, for instance, doesn't like the very idea of it. If a pitcher asked him for a single digit, he says, "I would probably try to talk him out of it." If the pitcher insisted, Mr. Vucinich says he would seek clearance from the team's general manager."
What number did you wear, and who was it in homage of? Did you ever switch?
I'm a bit more familiar with footbal than baseball. It's interesting to note that quarterbacks (and kickers, of course) are the ones with the smaller numbers on their jerseys.