What's in a number?
What is so special about the numbers on the back of a player's uniform that getting the right one has become a bit of an obsession? Just over the offseason, new Philadelphia Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had the number 58 worked into his contract, bought Antonio Bastardo a Rolex just to wear number 58.
Now, a guy that calls his alter ego "Cinco Ocho" wanting to wear number 58 is understandable, but players are rarely comfortable with their assigned uniform numbers.
Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and a slew of other Phillies have worn several different numbers throughout their careers.
There are no magical powers in a uniform number. You can believe in luck all you want, but at the end of the day, I think we all accept that baseball is a game of talent and skill.
But all of this talk about uniform numbers—switching them, paying other players off to get them—got me to thinking: Which players in Phillies history have worn each uniform number best?
In this slideshow, we'll break down the history of Phillies' uniform Nos. 1 through 25, trying to determine the best player to ever wear that uniform number. For the sake of accuracy, any player that wore the number for at least one game was eligible.
*Note: All statistics refer to the player's tenure with the Phillies alone, unless otherwise stated.
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The Line: .311 / .394 / .388, 22 HR
There seems to be somewhat of an unwritten rule in baseball history that No. 1 be reserved for the prototypical "scrappy" player, and Richie Ashburn certainly fits that bill.
One of the greatest Phillies of all time, Ashburn made a living by finding his way onto the basepaths. He collected 2,217 hits for his career, drew 946 walks and swiped 199 bases.
A four-time All-Star, Ashburn spent all but three years of his 15-season career as a member of the Phillies before returning to the club as a member of the team's broadcast crew.
The Line: .263 / .305 / .385, 103 HR
Few players in Phillies history have donned No. 2 and none have worn it longer than former shortstop Granny Hamner.
Hamner joined the club at the age of 17 and became an everyday player just a few seasons later. He may not have been the most exciting player, but Hamner was certainly technically sound and that is a feature to be respected of a shortstop in and of itself.
Though his game was quiet, Hamner's consistency earned him three All-Star appearances. The success of the 1950 Phillies helped him finish sixth in the league's MVP voting, one of six Phillies to finish in the top 20.
The Line: .326 / .382 / .553, 243 HR
The history of No. 3 has been rather bland in Phillies history, and I almost gave the nod to half a season of Hunter Pence...
That is, until I realized that Chuck Klein wore the number in 1932—the first season the Phillies uniforms included numbered jerseys.
Klein was one of the greatest hitters in club history, posting an OPS of .935 in his Phillies career. No. 3 must have been lucky for him, for in the first season he wore it in '32, he won the MVP Award. He finished second in the years before and after.
The Line: .289 / .388 / .422, 51 HR
Not many players have worn No. 4 in Phillies history, but very few were going to top Lenny Dykstra anyway.
After coming over in a trade from the New York Mets, Dykstra may have embraced an everyday role and the hard-nosed style of play in Philly better than any player they ever acquired, earning him the endearing nickname of "Nails."
A three-time All-Star, Dykstra also finished second in the league's MVP voting in 1993 to Barry Bonds, captured a Silver Slugger Award and led the charge towards the World Series in '93.
The Line: .257 / .367 / .485, 251 HR
Man or machine?
At different points during Pat Burrell's career, it was hard to distinguish. Though his transition from third base to left field wasn't exactly a smooth one, Burrell's right-handed bat gave the Phillies lineup a bit of thunder.
A former first overall selection in the amateur draft, "Pat the Bat" was a mainstay in the Phillies lineup for nine seasons. His Phillies career ended with a strong .852 OPS, and though he never appeared in an All-Star Game, he finished in the top 15 for the league's MVP voting twice.
The Line: .271 / .338 / .457, 185 HR
The Phillies weren't a good baseball team during the 1960s, sans most of the 1964 season, but the face of the franchise was one of the lone bright spots, and that man was none other than Johnny Callison.
Well-mannered, handsome and extremely talented, he was just the type of player that teams want to be a star, and he was for the Phillies.
Callison's well-balanced skill set helped him to an OPS of .795. Powerful, skilled and a good defender, fans paid to see him play and couldn't care less about the rest of the team.
He was named to three All-Star Games and finished second to Ken Boyer for the MVP Award in 1964.
The Line: .321 / .374 / .449, 53 HR
No. 7 hasn't been a popular one in the history of the Phillies, and in order to find the best player to wear it we'll have to travel all the way back to 1932, where former catcher Spud Davis used it as his first number.
Davis was one of the best offensive catchers in the history of the organization, posting an OPS of .823, proving that he was no slouch at the plate.
Defensive metrics also indicate that Davis was a sound backstop, and given the fact that the alternative was Ross Gload, he was an easy choice.
The Line: .259 / .325 / .370, 65 HR
The greatest player in Phillies history to wear No. 8 is Bob Boone, but with a couple more seasons like 2011, Shane Victorino could certainly sneak his way into this conversation.
Boone was an absolute beast behind the plate, playing the position like a linebacker trying to take down a running back when someone was bold enough to challenge him at the plate.
A key member of the 1980 World Series team, Boone posted an OPS of .695 during his career. He appeared in four All-Star Games during his career and won an outstanding seven Gold Gloves, though more than half came with an organization other than the Phillies.
The Line: .272 / .363 / .427, 124 HR
He may not have been everything the Phillies had dreamed of when they sent five players to the Cleveland Indians for his services, but Von Hayes was certainly one hell of a ball player and the greatest Phillie to ever don No. 9.
Hayes posted an OPS of .789 during his nine-year tenure with the Phillies, appearing in one All-Star Game and finishing in the top 10 for MVP voting during the 1986 season.
When the Phillies had finally decided to trade him before the 1992 season, they only received two players, but one of them was their future general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. (wearer of Nos. 33 and 37).
The Line: .245 / .357 / .327, 134 HR
Few players have ever grabbed a clubhouse by the horns like Darren Daulton did with the Phillies, and that certainly wasn't an easy clubhouse to represent. But he was the leader of the Phillies, not just on the field as the club's catcher, but its voice off the field as well.
He was a great all-around player. A solid defender, he was no slouch at the plate either, posting a .783 OPS during his 14-year career with the Phillies.
Twice a top-10 vote-getter for the MVP Award, including during that storybook 1993 season, Daulton was also a three-time All-Star, but perhaps more importantly, an all-time fan favorite.
The Line: .272 / .329 / .432, 170 HR
In 12 seasons (and counting) as the Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins has become one of the greatest players in the history of one of baseball's oldest franchises, and though he came up wearing No. 6 (and 29 for a while), Rollins has made No. 11 all his own.
Owner of a .761 career OPS, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Rollins has done it all. He won the NL MVP Award in 2007. A three-time All-Star, Rollins has also won three Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger as well.
Of course, his greatest accomplishment was his role on the 2008 World Champion Phillies.
The Line: .258 / .343 / .413, 180 HR
No. 12 is one of those numbers that wasn't very well represented in Phillies history, but it was worn by former third baseman Willie Jones, who wore three different numbers during his lengthy 13-year career with the Phillies.
Jones manned the hot corner for that famous "Whiz Kids" club in 1950, but achieved a lot more during his tenure in Philly as well. Twice an All-Star, Jones posted a solid OPS of .756 during his Phillies career, receiving votes for the league's MVP Award in two different seasons.
The Line: 8-3, 1.86 ERA, 59 SV
He may not be a popular man in the city of Philadelphia, but numbers don't choose sides, and the numbers say that Billy Wagner was good during his short stint with the Phillies—really good.
The Phillies acquired Wagner and his electric fastball from the Houston Astros prior to the 2004 season and the National League East just couldn't figure him out. Then again, that was consistent across the MLB.
Wagner had an incredible season in 2005, where he made an appearance in the All-Star Game en route to finishing a league-leading 70 games on the year.
The Line: 89-73, 2.89 ERA
This is one of the few numbers on the list that was good ground for a debate. Let me preface the following couple of paragraphs by saying this: I wasn't going to give the nod to Jim Bunning.
I figure that is a bold statement for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the Phillies retired No. 14 in the former right-handed starter's honor. As far as the organization is concerned, it's his number.
Bunning spent four seasons with the Phillies during the 1960s, compiling a .546 winning percentage and an ERA+ of 122—his best during his tenure with any team. Of course, he also pitched the first perfect game in franchise history and appeared in two All-Star Games with the club.
Honorable Mention: Del Ennis
I almost went with Del Ennis.
Ennis was really the first legitimate "power hitter," by today's standards, in franchise history before guys like Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard came along. Ennis slugged 259 home runs and finished within the top 25 of the National League's MVP voting seven different times.
You really can't go wrong with either man, but my preference would be Ennis.
The Line: .290 / .371 / .530, 204 HR
Dick Allen may have been one of the most controversial players in the history of the Phillies franchise, but there is no doubt that no man wore No. 15 better than the "Wampum Walloper."
Allen wore that number in two different tours of duty with the Phillies, each equally as impressive. In total, he spent nine seasons in Philly, posting an OPS of .902 and hitting as many doubles (204) as he did home runs. 472 of his 1,143 hits with the Phillies were for extra bases.
A three-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year Award winner as a member of the Phillies, Allen would later win an MVP Award as a member of the Chicago White Sox as well.
The Line: .263 / .310 / .439, 100 HR
Slim pickings for No. 16.
Juan Samuel kind of gets the nod by default, but he isn't a terrible pick to represent the organization. Of course, he also only wore No. 16 very briefly during his rookie season in 1983 before switching to his more popular No. 8, so I'm cheating a bit here.
But that should tell you how bad the rest of the choices were.
Samuel posted an OPS of .749 during his seven-year Phillies career. He made two trips to the All-Star Game, finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Dwight Gooden and also captured a Silver Slugger Award.
The Line: .282 / .373 / .504, 150 HR
For some reason, I find it amusing that two of the most hated players in the history of the Phillies organization were also two of the players to best wear their respective numbers. Just goes to show you that you have to be more than good to succeed in Philadelphia.
Joining Billy Wagner on this list is Scott Rolen, the man who was supposed to be the next Mike Schmidt, but wanted to play elsewhere.
In seven seasons with the Phillies, Rolen posted an OPS of .877. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1997, giving fans a sign of what was to come. Though he would appear in just one All-Star Game for the Phillies, Rolen won four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger during his stint.
The Line: 132-127, 3.38 ERA, 16 SV
One of the most versatile pitchers in the history of the organization, Chris Short was also the best player to wear No. 18.
Signed as an amateur free agent in 1957, Short would pitch in every role under the sun for the Phillies, from starting pitcher, to long reliever, to middle reliever, to set-up man to closer, and he was good at each and every one of them.
Twice an All-Star, he posted a winning percentage of .510 for his career with a solid ERA+ of 105.
The Line: .281 / .363 / .489, 223 HR
Pitchers used to tremble on the mound when they saw No. 19 stepping to the plate.
That number was worn by former Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski, whose strength at the plate (and perhaps the way he played left field) earned him the nickname of "The Bull."
Luzinski posted an OPS of .852 in 11 seasons with the Phillies and anchored the middle of the order. He made four trips to the All-Star Game and finished within the top 10 for MVP voting four different times, including two second-place finishes to a pair of Cincinnati Reds, Joe Morgan and George Foster, respectively.
The Line: .267 / .380 / .527, 548 HR
Doesn't need much of an explanation, does he?
The Phillies have retired just five numbers (along with Jackie Robinson's No. 42 and honorary plaques for Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein), but just three of them are on this list. Alongside of Richie Ashburn and Jim Bunning is the greatest Phillie of all time, Mike Schmidt.
Schmidt spent each and every one of his 18 seasons as a member of the Phillies. He posted an OPS of .908 during that time and joined the 500-home run club.
The list of awards and accolades is long, but here's a sample.
Schmidt is a three-time MVP Award winner. He made 12 trips to the All-Star Game. Just because he felt like it, Schmidt also won 10 Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers.
The Line: .244 / .351 / .419, 123 HR
Andy Seminick was only 29 years old in 1950, but the Phillies were such a young team that he was one of the club's oldest players, earning him the nickname of "Grandpa Whiz."
He was the catcher for the "Whiz Kids," but in total, he spent 12 seasons as a member of the Phillies. Though he made just one appearance in the All-Star Game, Seminick was a vital part of the club.
He was a solid defender, but a good offensive player as well, posting an OPS of .770 with the club.
The Line: .295 / .359 / .433, 77 HR
Not many options for No. 22, so we'll go with the fan favorite and vastly underrated Tony Gonzalez.
Gonzalez joined the Phillies during the 1960 season and would serve as somewhat of a utility outfielder for the club, with the ability to play all three outfield positions.
More of a complementary player than a star, he was a great weapon to have. Gonzalez posted an OPS of .792 with the Phillies—his best number with any club—in nine seasons. Though he didn't have much power, he made up for it with above-average contact skills.
The Line: .293 / .346 / .407, 49 HR
There were so few choices for No. 23 that I almost went with Michael Jordan and I'm sure that a lot of you wouldn't have cared.
Instead, I'll go with Placido Polanco, who wore the number briefly during his first tour of duty with the Phillies before switching to his familiar No. 27 in his second season in Philly.
An excellent defender at two positions, Polanco has made a name for himself by being one of the best contact hitters in the game. In six seasons and counting, he has posted an OPS of just .753, low for a corner infielder, but has hit .293 as well.
Over that span of time, Polanco has appeared in one All-Star Game and received one Gold Glove, both during the 2011 season.
The Line: .275 / .338 / .450, 150 HR
Between their postseason appearances in 1993 and 2007, the Phillies weren't a very good team. One of the club's only constants also happened to be one of the fans' favorite players, Mike Lieberthal.
Of course, Lieberthal made a name for himself by being one of the game's better offensive catchers. He posted an OPS of .788 during his 13-year career in Philly and was a decent power threat.
Twice an All-Star, Lieberthal also won a rather controversial Gold Glove in 1999 after posting a dWAR of just 0.1. Of course, he also hit 31 home runs as a catcher, and that probably had a lot of sway in the voting.
It's a shame that he never got to experience the postseason with the Phillies.
The Line: .260 / .386 / .543, 96 HR
A sure-fire Hall of Fame player when his career is over, picking Jim Thome to represent No. 25 was easy.
The Phillies pursued the slugger aggressively prior to the 2003 season, and after helping to close Veterans Stadium and open Citizens Bank Park, the fanbase credits Thome with helping to turn the organization around.
Though 2012 will be just his fourth season as a member of the Phillies, Thome has been stellar in Philadelphia, posting an OPS of .928 and slugging 96 home runs. For his career, he has launched 604 home runs and posted an OPS of .959.
After making two trips to the All-Star Game as the Phillies' everyday first baseman years ago, Thome will have a reduced role in '12, but it sure would be nice to get that man a ring.