11 Jersey Numbers Retired for Unconventional Reasons

Retiring a player’s jersey number is most often reserved for all-time greats. Other times, it’s a tribute to a player whose career is cut short by illness or death. And sometimes, as in the case of Lou Gehrig — the first professional player to have his number retired — it’s both. Here are 11 numbers that have been retired for a variety of different reasons.

1. #455 – Cleveland Indians

One of the only triple-digit numbers to be retired, the Indians honored their fans with a ceremony on April 22, 2001. From June 12, 1995, to April 2, 2001, the Indians sold out a record 455 consecutive games at Jacobs Field. The Colorado Rockies owned the previous record for most consecutive sellouts with 203. "I believe it's safe to say that this amazing feat of consecutive sellouts will never be matched," Indians owner Larry Dolan said after the streak was snapped in the second game of the 2001 season. "I hope our fans take great pride in setting the standard in major league baseball." Dolan was wrong. This past season, the Boston Red Sox watched their sellout streak at Fenway Park surpass 700 games.

2. #23 – Miami Heat

Despite the fact that he never played for them, the Heat retired Michael Jordan’s No. 23 before his final game in Miami in 2003.

“In honor of your greatness and for all you’ve done for the game of basketball – and not just the NBA, but for all the fans around the world – we want to honor you tonight and hang your jersey, No. 23, from the rafters,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “No one will ever wear No. 23 for the Miami Heat. You’re the best.”

Jordan averaged 30.1 points in 38 career games against the Miami. LeBron James, who previously wore No. 23, announced his plans to switch to No. 6 out of respect for Jordan during what would turn out to be his final year in Cleveland.

3. #5 – Cincinnati Reds

When the Reds honored Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench in 1984, it marked the second time the franchise had retired No. 5. The first time came under much sadder circumstances.

Late in the 1940 season, Cincinnati backup catcher Willard Hershberger, who was forced into action following an injury to Ernie Lombardi, committed suicide. Hershberger, whose father had committed suicide when Willard was 18, blamed himself after the Reds were swept in a double-header, and reportedly expressed his suicidal thoughts to manager Bill McKechnie. The Reds dedicated the rest of the season to the man they called Hershie and defeated the Tigers in the World Series. Hershberger’s No. 5 was temporarily retired, but reactivated in 1942. Bench, a 14-time All-Star, wore it proudly from 1967-1983.

4. #12 – Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback Sam Adkins, a 10th round draft pick out of Wichita State, appeared in 11 games for the Seahawks from 1977-1981. He completed 17-of-39 passes for two touchdowns and four interceptions, and the number he wore is retired along with former teammate Steve Largent’s No. 80 and left tackle Walter Jones’s 71. What gives? In 1984, the team retired No. 12 in honor of its fans (not Adkins) in a ceremony at the Kingdome. The Seahawks have taken great pride in the home-field advantage provided by their 12th Man.

The Seahawks and Texas A&M, which began using the 12th Man slogan in 1922 and trademarked it in 1990, settled a dispute over the use of the slogan in 2006. If the Seahawks use the 12th Man moniker in radio or TV broadcasts, they must mention that the slogan is copyright of Texas A&M.

5. #7 – Washington Capitals

Yvon Labre scored 14 goals in nine NHL seasons, but his No. 7 hangs from the rafters at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. Labre joined the Capitals in their first season, scored the team’s first goal at home, and was captain from 1976-78. Fans and teammates respected Labre’s constant hustle, even as the Capitals struggled through some ugly seasons. He was an assistant coach and color commentator for the team after his retirement and later served as the Capitals’ director of community relations. Labre’s number was retired on Nov. 7, 1981.

6. #1 - Pittsburgh Pirates

Bill Meyer compiled a record of 317-452 during his stint as Pittsburgh manager from 1948-52, and in his final year, the Pirates lost a franchise-worst 112 games. Why then, in 1954, was Meyer the second Pittsburgh player or manager to have his number retired (after the legendary Honus Wagner)?

Meyer’s declining health was well documented and he was a popular figure with the Pittsburgh media and fans. As Baseball Digest’s editors explained in 1990, “He was well liked even though his teams finished 4th, 6th, 8th, 7th, and 8th during his managerial tenure…Meyer’s record as a minor league manager – a highly successful one – also figured in the decision.” Meyer suffered a stroke in 1955 and died in 1957 at the age of 64.

7. #42 – MLB

Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 across the entire league on April 15, 1997, 50 years after Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Players who were wearing the number at the time were allowed to keep it. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the only active player who wears No. 42.

8. #9 – Real Salt Lake

When Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey announced his decision to retire Jason Kreis’s No. 9 earlier this year, controversy erupted. Even Kreis, who scored only 17 of his 108 career goals as an MLS player with Real Salt Lake before taking over as coach, questioned whether he deserved the honor. Internationally, retiring jerseys is rare in soccer, and typically reserved for players who have died. “We live in America,” Lagerwey said at the start of an epic rant defending the decision. “We play in an American soccer league. We have playoffs, we don’t have relegation, we retire numbers.”

9. #7 – New Orleans Hornets

When the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, the team retired Pete Maravich’s No. 7. The Utah Jazz, for whom Maravich played the majority of his career, had previously retired Pistol Pete’s number. All but one of Maravich’s years with the Jazz came before the team moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City. That, coupled with Maravich’s tremendous college career at LSU, was the Hornets’ reasoning for retiring his number. The team’s only other retired number is 13, which belonged to Bobby Phills. The Baton Rouge native died in a car crash in 2000.

10. #99 – NHL

After Wayne Gretzky played his final game on April 18, 1999, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that his iconic No. 99 would be retired across the league. “You have always been and always will be ‘The Great One,’” Bettman said. “There will never be another.”

11. #40 – Arizona Cardinals

Pat Tillman starred as a linebacker at Arizona State and was selected in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He converted to safety and, in 2000, set a new team record for tackles. Following the 2001 season, Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract offer to enlist in the Army with his brother, Kevin. Tillman became the first NFL player to die in combat since the Vietnam War when he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004. The Cardinals retired Tillman’s No. 40 in a ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium later that year.

Reynolds Wrap Made a Food Harness to Keep Your Favorite Super Bowl Snacks Close

Reynolds
Reynolds

If you plan to watch the big game on Super Bowl Sunday, and also anticipate eating your body weight in food while doing so, then the aluminum foil aficionados at Reynolds Wrap have something they want to show you.

You can now satiate your appetite without moving a muscle or missing a play, thanks to the Reynolds Wrap Hunger Harness. This $5 “wearable snack pack” has plenty of pockets to hold your appetizers, main course, snacks, and beverage, all while keeping your food nice and toasty. Essentially, it’s a mini kitchen you can wear like a front-facing backpack or a baby carrier, because after all, snacks are precious cargo.

A man models the Hunger Harness
Reynolds

Want to nervously eat a dozen buffalo wings while you yell at the referee on your TV screen? Just tuck them into the upper thermal pouch in your Hunger Harness and you’re good to go. Want to make sure you have enough tortilla chips to last through the halftime show? There’s a side pocket for that, too—plus an insulated slot for your queso or dip of choice.

A built-in food tray rests on your lap and “turns you into a human table,” and there’s also a pouch for your can of soda—or more likely, your can of beer.

The Hunger Harness will be sold in waves in limited quantities. (It's currently sold out, but will be restocked again.) Keep checking the Reynolds website for updates, and if you're thinking of ordering one for yourself, please heed this advice from Reynolds: “Use caution when handling hot food and beverages.” Lovers of lava-hot pizza rolls, you've been warned.

5 Fast Facts About Muhammad Ali

Kent Gavin/Getty Images
Kent Gavin/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali is one of the most important athletes and cultural figures in American history. Though he passed away in 2016, the heavyweight boxing champ was larger than life in and outside of the ring. The man who coined the phrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” won 37 knockout victories. Here are five more fast facts about Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. The Greatest.

1. Cassius Clay was named for a white abolitionist.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and named after his father, who had in turn been named for a white abolitionist. The original Cassius Clay was a wealthy 19th-century planter and politician who not only published an anti-slavery newspaper, but also emancipated every slave he inherited from his father. Cassius Clay also served as a minister to Russia under President Abraham Lincoln.

2. Muhammad Ali's draft evasion case went to the Supreme Court.

In the early 1960s, Clay converted to Islam, joined the Nation of Islam, and took the name Muhammad Ali. According to his religious beliefs, Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War when he was drafted in April 1967. He was arrested and stripped of his boxing license and heavyweight title. On June 20, 1967, he was convicted of draft evasion and banned from fighting while he remained free on appeal. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned his conviction in 1971.

3. He received a replacement gold medal.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Ali won the gold medal for boxing in the light heavyweight division. But, as he wrote in his 1975 autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story (edited by Toni Morrison!), he supposedly threw his medal into the Ohio River in frustration over the racism he still experienced in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Some historians dispute this story and suggest that Ali just lost the medal. Either way, he was given a replacement when he lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

4. Muhammad Ali was an actual superhero.

In 1978, DC Comics published Superman vs. Muhammad Ali—an oversize comic in which Muhammad Ali defeats Superman and saves the world. In real life, Ali did save a man from suicide. In 1981, a man threatened to jump from the ninth story of a building in L.A.’s Miracle Mile neighborhood. Ali’s friend Howard Bingham witnessed the unfolding drama and called the boxer, who lived nearby. Ali rushed into the building and successfully talked the man down from the ledge.

5. Muhammad Ali starred in a Broadway show.

In Oscar Brown, Jr.'s 1969 musical adaptation of Joseph Dolan Tuotti's play Big Time Buck White, Ali played a militant black intellectual who speaks at a political meeting. The play ran for only five nights at the George Abbot Theatre in New York. His Playbill bio reported that Ali "is now appealing his five-year prison conviction and $10,000 fine for refusing to enter the armed services on religious grounds. The Big Time Buck White role that he has accepted is much like the life he lives off stage in reality.”

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