For some, jersey numbers are just that—numbers. No special meaning, no significance. Just a number.
But for certain players, that number on their back holds true meaning. For instance, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki wears No. 2 to emulate Derek Jeter. Former Mets outfielder Benny Agbayani wore No. 50 to represent his home state of Hawaii, the 50th state to join the Union.
The following is a list of the greatest players (in my opinion) to wear each jersey number, from 1-57 (with a few extras just for fun). I chose players based on their individual statistics, postseason performances (if applicable), league awards and accolades and overall impact on the player's team and the sport as a whole. All players listed have either retired or are active and have played at least 10 seasons.
Certain players who wore many jersey numbers were excluded. For instance, Vida Blue wore five different numbers during his nine seasons in Oakland. Thus, he is not on this list.
Included with each pick (where applicable) are: "close calls" for other players that very well could be the best at that particular number, "honorable mentions" representing additional solid players at that number and "the younger crowd," showing the top active players at that number who have played fewer than 10 seasons.
Some of these choices were no-brainers, and some are indeed argument-starters. Players may have been left out, and some may not actually belong in this list. Thus, I encourage all readers to comment who they feel are the best at each jersey number. I look forward to seeing your picks. Enjoy, and let the debating begin!