Who Wore It Best? The Top Yankees by Uniform Number

We all know the best Yankee ever to wear number two and number seven. But what about number 22? 48? 56? We dove into the wacky history of uniform digits to count up the best player to wear each pinstriped integer, with some fun uniform-number facts (mostly courtesy of Baseball-Reference) thrown in.

1 – Earle Combs

Sorry Billy Martin, managers don’t count. Combs, the first Yankee to ever wear number one, just beats out Bobby Murcer, who owned the number for most of his first stint in pinstripes.

2 – Derek Jeter

Now batting, num-bah two. Derek Jetah, numb-bah two.

3 – Babe Ruth

Babe was the first Yankee to wear number three, and it’s safe to say no one better has donned the jersey since.

4 – Lou Gehrig

This is the easiest one on the list because Gehrig is literally the only player in Yankee history to wear number four.

5 – Joe DiMaggio

Let’s pause and consider Frankie Crosetti, who wore number five, then switched to number one when DiMaggio came along, then ended up with number two. He’s one of two players in history to have worn three different single-digit numbers for the Yankees. That does not earn him a spot on this list, but it’s still cool.

6 – Tony Lazzeri 

Here’s the other guy to wear three different single-digit numbers for the Yankees. Lazzeri wore numbers five through seven in his Yankee career but spent the most time in number six. He gets the nod here over another great New York second baseman, Joe Gordon, who wore the number right after Lazzeri.

7 – Mickey Mantle

First person to wear number seven for the Yankees? Future Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher. Last person to wear number seven for the Yankees? The Mick, of course.

8 – Yogi Berra 

Number eight was worn by a Yankee player in 35 seasons. It was worn by Berra or Bill Dickey in 31 of those seasons.

9 – Graig Nettles

Number nine is retired in honor of Roger Maris, even though four players wore it after he did, including Nettles, who had a better career, a more valuable Yankees tenure, and a longer stint in this jersey than Maris did.

10 – Phil Rizzuto

Seven players wore number 10 after Rizzuto, but no one in Yankee history donned it as long or as prosperously as the Hall of Fame shortstop.

11 – Lefty Gomez 

Gomez wore pinstriped number 11 in 11 seasons, most of any Yankee. If Brett Gardner is still on the Yankees roster come Opening Day, he’ll move past Fred Stanley and Hector Lopez for second place in that category.

12 – Gil McDougald

Number 12 has been worn by 49 Yankees, including some pretty good players. McDougald donned the number longest (10 season) and most productively (37.9 WARP), beating out Wade Boggs, Alfonso Soriano, and Ron Blomberg.

13 – Alex Rodriguez

A-Rod has made the most of a cursed number, winning two MVPs with 13 on his back. Apologies to Jim Leyritz, but no one else comes close.

14 – Moose Skowron

A real revolving-door number, 14 has been worn by an army of role players and only the occasional contributor. Lou Piniella had it longer than Skowron, but Moose provided more value in it.

15 – Thurman Munson 

Red Ruffing did the number proud back in the ’30s, but 15 will always belong to Munson.

16 – Whitey Ford 

The Chairman of the Board does not have much competition for ownership of number 16.

17 – Mickey Rivers 

Most of the 53 Yankees to wear number 17 are utterly forgettable, but Rivers, Vic Raschi, and Oscar Gamble put in some good time in this jersey.

18 – Johnny Damon 

This is probably the least impressive under-20 number in Yankee history. Damon only hung around the Bronx for four seasons, but that was long enough to beat out Don Larsen, Randy Velarde, and 51 other wearers for most valuable number 18.

19 – Dave Righetti 

The Yankees hope Masahiro Tanaka can make number 19 memorable, but for now it belongs to Rags.

20 – Jorge Posada

Before Posada, number 20 was short on history (though it was on Bucky Dent’s back that fateful day in 1978), but now it’s rightfully retired in honor of the five-time All-Star catcher.

21 – Paul O’Neill

When the Yankees tried to give away number 21 in 2008, seven years after O’Neill’s retirement, fans rebelled, booing poor Morgan Ensberg and LaTroy Hawkins. No one has worn it since.

22 – Allie Reynolds 

Even though Roger Clemens probably pitched a little better in number 22 than Reynolds did, it feels right to give this one to the ace of six World Series championship teams.

23 – Don Mattingly 

Donnie Baseball has no serious rivals for number 23.

24 – Robinson Cano 

Given how unceremoniously Cano skipped town, it will be interesting to see if he eventually gets respect as an all-time great Yankee. Regardless, he’s far and away the best to ever wear number 24 in pinstripes.

25 – Mark Teixeira 

Teixeira gets the slight edge over his 25-wearing predecessor Jason Giambi for contributing to a championship team, becoming the fourth member of the 2009 Yankees infield to crack this list.

26 – Orlando Hernandez

Here’s the list of uniform numbers worn by the most Yankees players:

Number 26 – 69 players

Number 38 – 62 players

Number 39 – 60 players

Number 22 – 60 players

Number 29 – 57 players

No one has ever held onto number 26 for very long, but El Duque, who wore it in six seasons, is a worthy representative.

27 – Elliot Maddux

This is a painfully unimpressive bunch. Maddux gets the nod because someone had to and because Bob Wickman was his closest competition.

28 – Sparky Lyle

Another underwhelming crew is saved by the 1977 Cy Young winner.

29 – Mike Stanton

Stanton wins a toss-up over Jesse Barfield because he played for the Yankees longer. After those two it’s Francisco Cervelli. Seriously.

30 – Willie Randolph

Number 30 is pretty distinguished in Yankee history, from Eddie Lopat to Mel Stottlemyre to Dave Robertson, but Randolph tops them all.

31 – Dave Winfield

Here’s an odd quirk: Number 31 for the Yankees was worn exclusively by coaches between 1930 and 1975. Winfield came along soon after and owned the digits for a decade.

32 – Elston Howard

The Yankees first black player was also the last to wear number 32.

33 – David Wells 

No one has ever consumed more hot dogs (or thrown more perfect games) while wearing number 33 for the Yankees than Wells.

34 – Brian McCann

With a respectable year in 2016, McCann can firmly grab number 34 from A.J. Burnett and Clete Boyer, who both wore it for three seasons.

35 – Mike Mussina 

The Moose may not have that spot in Cooperstown quite yet, but he does have a spot on this list!

36 – David Cone 

Cone is the only Yankee to wear number 36 for more than five seasons. His primary competition is late-career Johnny Mize and perpetually injured Nick Johnson.

37 – Gus Niarhos 

Ok, number 37 is weird. It’s retired in honor of Casey Stengel, but since we’re not counting managers here we have to choose between the only two Yankees players to ever wear it: the thoroughly irrelevant Niarhos and someone named Herb Karpel who pitched in two games in his career.

38 – Matt Nokes 

A lot of players have worn number 38 for the Yankees, and none have been any good. Hence Nokes.

39 – Roberto Kelly 

Kelly actually reached the 1992 All-Star game while wearing number 39 for the Yankees, despite a lukewarm .272/.322/.384 slash line that season.

40 – Chien-Ming Wang

Wang was a pretty good pitcher for a minute there, wearing number 40 through his rise and fall.

41 – Randy Johnson 

The pickings are pretty slim down here, so the Big Unit’s solid 2005 campaign alone earns him this spot.

42 – Mariano Rivera

Too easy.

43 – Jeff Nelson

Adam Warren was about one good year from seizing number 43, but now he’s a Cub and Nelson’s spot here is safe.

44 – Reggie Jackson 

Reggie only wore number 44 for five seasons, but that’s two more than any other Yankee has ever held onto it.

45- Danny Tartabull 

Since 2011, a whopping 13 Yankees have worn number 45, including four in 2014 alone. With that in mind, Tartabull’s claim to the number appears safe for now.

46 – Andy Pettitte 

Did you know Don Mattingly wore number 46 at the beginning of his career? His decision to cut the figure in half paved the way for Pettitte.

47 – Ivan Nova 

Believe it or not, Nova is the best Yankee to ever wear number 47. Shane Spencer leads a weak crowd of runners-up.

48 – Roy White

White wore number 48 only at the beginning of his career (he switched to number 6), just long enough to beat out Boone Logan.

49 – Ron Guidry 

Guidry is actually the only Yankee ever to don number 49 in multiple seasons. He wore it in 14.

50 – Jay Howell

It’s no exaggeration to say no one good has ever worn number 50 for the Yankees. Howell did have a 2.69 ERA in 103.2 innings (mostly out of the bullpen) in 1984 though.

51 – Bernie Williams 

Can you name the last guy to wear number 51 for the Yankees before Williams? It was pitcher Chuck Cary.

52 – CC Sabathia

Sabathia is the easy pick at number 52.

53 – Bobby Abreu 

In recent years, number 53 has become a favorite for transient Yankee bench players. But from 2006-08, Abreu wore it pretty well.

54 – Goose Gossage

Impressively, Gossage wore number 54 for nine different MLB teams and never took the field in another number. Unrelated: Only coaches have worn number 54 for the Yankees since the turn of the 21st century.

55 – Hideki Matsui 

Godzilla reigns at number 55. Ramiro Mendoza’s Yankee career would earn him the nod at a lot of these higher numbers but not here.

56 – Jim Bouton

Bouton also wins the award for best book written by someone who wore number 56 for the Yankees.

57 – Steve Howe 

Of the 31 players to wear number 57 for the Yankees, Howe is the only one to stick with it for more than one season, at least until Branden Pinder suits up in 2016.

58 – Dooley Womack 

We’re getting a little desperate down here. Womack wore number 58 from 1966-68, pitching 233.2 innings in that time.

59 – Juan Rivera

Rivera batted 276 times while wearing number 59 for the Yankees and hit .266/.307/.434 with eight home runs. He gets this spot for lack of better options.

60 – Stan Bahnsen

Not a single player in Yankee history has worn number 60 in multiple seasons, which makes this one almost impossible to choose. Bahnsen was the first Yankee to wear number 60, and though he didn’t do much while using that number in 1966, he did have a nice season two years later with 45 on his back.

61 – Shane Greene 

Another number never worn for more than a full season, 61 has hosted a motley crew of mediocre 21st-century pitchers. Greene did more with the number than the rest, however.

62 – Joba Chamberlain

Joba had his ups and downs in pinstripes, but he’ll probably own number 62 for a while.

63 – Jonathan Albaladejo

Albaladejo wore number 63 during three seasons, which is three times as many seasons as any other Yankee ever has.

64 – Rob Refsnyder

Entering 2015, eight players had worn number 64 for the Yankees. In 2015 alone, five more joined the club. Despite only 47 plate appearances, Refsnyder is already the best to have used this jersey, narrowly beating Hector Noesi.

65 – Phil Hughes

Four players wore number 65 for the Yankees in 2015, matching the number of guys who had donned those digits in all of previous franchise history. Hughes is undisputed king of the number, having worn it for almost his entire Yankee career.

66 – John Ryan Murphy

Sincere apologies to Steve Balboni.

67 – James Pazos

Number 67 went unworn by all Yankees from 1988 to 2011 but has been used by exactly one player each year since then, most recently Pazos.

68 – Dellin Betances

Two players in Yankees history have worn number 68, and sorry Dioner Navarro, but Betances has this one locked up.

68-99 – Alfredo Aceves

In Yankee history, 16 players have worn numbers higher than 68. Most of them have played in the last five years, and most of them didn’t stick around long. The best-of-the-rest award goes to Aceves, who donned number 91 in four different season spread over two stints in New York and pitched well enough to make his number proud.

Lead photo courtesy of Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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10 comments on “Who Wore It Best? The Top Yankees by Uniform Number”


Didn’t Rickey Henderson wear 24 as well? Just curious about how he compared to Cano in his Yankee years.

Alex Putterman

Rickey did wear 24 for the Yankees, but while he had some awesome years for the Yankees, but I’ll still take Cano’s eight seasons in number 24.

For comparison:

Rickey for the Yankees – 27.1 WARP
Cano wearing number 24 for the Yankees – 32 WARP

Cano has the slight edge and Cano also gets some bonus points for being on the team so long. Definitely close, but I’ll take Cano.

Eric Hoover

While Matt Nokes had a good tenure with the Yankees, he couldn’t hold a candle to Johnny Blanchard who also wore #38. Blanchard played catcher, first base and the outfield and hit for power for the Yankees during the late fifties to the mid sixties.

Alex Putterman

Eric, thanks for reading. I thought if I would get called out on any of these it would be that one.

I considered Blanchard, and he did play for the Yankees longer than Nokes, but he just wasn’t very productive outside of one big year. He hit .245/.325/.461 and was not know for his defense either. Maybe that’s enough to lift him over Nokes at a weak uniform number, but I went the other way. For what it’s worth (and I don’t mean this as an end all), Blanchard was worth 5.1 WARP compared to 5.7 WARP for Nokes. Definitely a close one!


This is fantastic, thanks for compiling, but I feel you missed a great one. Number 24, Rickey Henderson, he had some awesome fun years to watch.

Alex Putterman

Thanks for reading! I’ll re-post my comment from above about Rickey vs. Cano:

While Rickey had some awesome years for the Yankees, but I’ll still take Cano’s eight seasons in number 24.

For comparison:

Rickey for the Yankees – 27.1 WARP
Cano wearing number 24 for the Yankees – 32 WARP

Cano has the slight edge and Cano also gets some bonus points for being on the team so long. Definitely close, but I’ll take Cano.


You really should read “Yankees By the Numbers. It’s a great book, and much more in depth than this trivial, subjective tripe.

Alex Putterman

You really should read Pride and Prejudice. It’s a great book and much more in depth than this trivial, subjective comment.

Tommy lynch

This was a great peace how about at number 41 big cliff Johnson a big part of the 77 and 78 world champion teams

“Womack wore number 58 from 1966-68, pitching 233.2 innings in that time”
I disagree. Read that
Best regards, Chrystal

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