On May 13 of that year, in a game between the Yankees and Indians, major league baseball played its first game in which both teams wore numbers on the field at the same time. By 1933, all big-league players wore uniform numbers.
Ruth was a lock at No. 3 when we crunched the data for the best performers in baseball at each number. We based our decisions on a combination of statistics, impact on the game, and a team's success during the player's years. For research we culled through dozens and dozens of media guides, some
There was immeasurable help from one of the great books on the subject, "
For those players who switched numbers during their career, we based our decision on how they performed at that specific number. Thus, Padres closer
We decided to list only the numbers where a player had achieved a certain level of success. Thus, we omitted many numbers above 63. (Apologies to fans of Brewers pitcher
It's worth noting that no number over 54 has been retired, with the exception of
The toughest calls?
The easiest choices? Ruth (3),
The number worn by the most stars?
In our three photo galleries of the selections, we listed our runner-up choice and others who were worthy of consideration for the top spot. SI.com's
THE BEST BASEBALL PLAYERS EVER TO WEAR ...: Nos.