While legend has it that uniform numbers were originally employed in the nineteenth century, the first documented instance of a team experimenting with numbering its players happened in 1907. Alfred Lawson, manager of the Reading (Pennsylvania) Red Roses of the Atlantic League, opted to number his team's clothes early that season. The Reading News reported at the time that "Lawson has given his players individual uniforms with armbands indicating the player's position on the field."
Uniform numbers were initially used by minor league and college teams as well as in the NFL. The NHL began using them in 1979-80 when it started assigning numbers to its players who were not defensemen. Today, all 30 National Hockey League teams use some form of uniform numbering.
Baseball has always been more concerned with appearance than any other sport when it comes to uniforms. From 1876 to 1975, baseball never wore anything other than white uniforms except during World War II when black uniforms were worn for morale building purposes. When they returned from war, the white uniforms once again became the standard attire.
In 1977, when the New York Yankees decided to change their uniform design, they hired Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers as their chief designer. Under Rodriguez's direction, the Yankees introduced a new look that was popular with fans and media: dark blue uniforms with pinstripes and a white logo on the chest. This is the style of uniform that most major league teams wear today.
On April 5, 1973, the National Football League introduced a jersey-numbering system. The system allocated certain number ranges to each player's position, from which the player may pick. Here are the original 1973 numbers. Since then, several players have changed their jerseys numbers for various reasons, most often because they have joined a new team. These revised numbers are shown in bold.
The original rule was that a player could not change his number without the permission of the commissioner. However, since the mid-1990s, a rule has been adopted by many teams that allows players to switch numbers if they move to a new city on an opening day roster or go into training camp with a new team and want to use a different number. The reason for this rule is that switching numbers is difficult when there are already other people using those numbers; thus, disrupting the continuity of the uniform. A player who changes numbers loses one year of service time, which can affect his salary if he is trying to secure a contract extension.
In addition to changing cities or franchises, a player can also change numbers if he joins a new position on a team. For example, if a player who is an offensive lineman moves to defense, he can take a number closer to the end of the range than at the beginning. This is because offensive linemen do not need as many digits to identify them individually.
Numbers on jerseys On June 26, 1916, the Cleveland Indians were the first to employ jersey numbers in Major League Baseball. The Indians were inspired by the use of numbers by football and hockey clubs. Before that date, players used to wear distinctive-looking clothes; for example, the uniform of the Chicago White Stockings in 1871 consisted of dark blue pants with a white stripe down the side and a dark blue jacket with white shoulders and sleeves. In 1917, the New York Yankees became the first team to require their players to wear numbers when they were allowed by the league.
Why do baseball teams wear numbers on their jerseys? It's a tradition that dates back to the early years of the game. When baseball started, there were no uniforms like there are today, so players wore whatever clothes they could find or make themselves. As time went on, the need for identification became apparent, so baseball rules were changed to allow numbers to be worn on the jersey. Today, all major league teams have adopted this practice.
In college basketball, men's basketball players wear numbers on their jerseys to identify them. This started in the 1940s, after the NBA (now called the NBA) began recruiting college players. To differentiate between them, the coaches gave each player a number on his jersey.
The uniform number first debuted on the jerseys of the Cuban Stars, an early 1900s traveling club, in 1909. Star pitcher Jose Mendez is pictured sporting the number 12 on his left sleeve in an edition of the Chicago Daily News. On June 26, 1916, the first major league club wore numbers. The New York Giants wore them on their left shoulders, with the exception of Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who wore number 5.
Modern-day uniform numbers were introduced in 1947 when the American League began using them on its uniforms. They were originally assigned by the Commissioner of Baseball and were worn sequentially by all players on a team's roster. In 1975, the AL began giving each player a choice of numbers to wear. In 1992, the National League followed suit.
In 2001, MLB implemented a new system called "numbering systems." Under this system, each team is given 10 sets of numbers (100-109) to assign to its players at any time during the season. Each number represents a particular position on the field. A player cannot wear the same number twice in a single game; if he does, he must permanently move to another number or be removed from the game.
Numbering systems were so popular that they have not been changed since they were introduced.