The headline for today’s entry is a couplet from the lyrics of an old Meat Puppets song called “The Mighty Zero,” which is about that most intriguing of numerals. For some reason I’ve been thinking about zero lately, so I decided to compile a list players who’ve worn zero or double-zero in the major pro sports. Here’s what I have so far (those with asterisks wore double-zero; all others wore zero):
MLB: Don Baylor, A’s*; Bobby Bonds, Cardinals*; Jack Clark, Padres*; Tony Clark, Mets*; Paul Dade, Indians*; Oscar Gamble, White Sox; Curtis Goodwin, Reds*; Cliff Johnson, Blue Jays*; Jeffrey Leonard, Giants, Brewers, and Mariners*; Curtis Leskanic, Brewers*; Terry McDaniel, Mets; Oddibe McDowell, Rangers; Bobo Newsom, Senators*; Omar Olivares, Cardinals*; Al Oliver, multiple teams; Rey Ordoñez, Mets; Junior Ortiz, multiple teams; Joe Page, Pirates*; Franklin Stubbs, Brewers; Brandon Watson, Nats and Reds*; Rick White, Phillies and Reds*.
[There are also several other double-zero MLBers mentioned in Jack Looney's book, Now Batting, Number...: Jerry Hairston (at the end of his career with the White Sox), Rudy Seanez (for five games with Cleveland in 1991), and Jim Poole (a few games with Texas in ’91). But none of these are confirmed by baseball-reference.com, which lists uniform numbers for every MLB player. My experience over the years is that Looney's book has more errors than baseball-reference.com, but both are definitely fallible. For now, I'm treating these three players' double-zero status as unconfirmed.]
NBA/ABA: Pro basketball appears to be the mother lode for zero-clad players. According to basketball-reference.com, 46 players have worn 0, and another 26 have worn 00. Interestingly, three players appear on both lists, meaning they wore single-zero and double-zero: Benoit Benjamin (he reportedly wore single-zero with the 76ers in the mid-1990s, but I couldn’t find a photo of that), Mike Bibby, and Eric Montross. To my knowledge, these are the only players in any major sport with this unique distinction.
A few notes:
• I know that only one MLB team has had a 0 and 00 on the roster simultaneously: the 1985 Blue Jays, who had Al Oliver (0) and Cliff Johnson (00). No NHL or NFL team has ever managed the 0/00 trick. I haven’t yet tried to cross reference those NBA lists to see if single- and double-zero players have ever been teammates. Anyone know?
• Have there been zero-clad soccer players? If so, clue me in.
• As is my frequent habit, I’ve ignored college sports here. If anyone wants to try to document zero-clad NCAA players, in any sport(s), please feel free.
• If you have photos for any of the non-photo-linked names cited above, let’s have a look at ’em.
• I’m also interested in why players have chosen to go zero-clad. I know the stories behind many of the MLB examples, Teebz has filled me in on the hockey backstories, we all know about Gilbert Arenas, etc. If anyone knows more, I’m all ears.
• Although Benito Santiago never wore 0 or 00, I’m sure someone out there is dying to mention that he famously wore No. 09, because he didn’t like his 9 being bisected by the vertical strap of his chest protector. But here’s what’s never been clear to me: Did he not like the way it looked when the strap went over the 9, or did he not like the way it felt? If anyone knows, do tell.
That’s enough zero obsession for today. I’ll probably end up shaping all this info into an ESPN column at some point, so any insights or suggestions are welcome.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday I took part in an hour-long radio segment about Native American mascots in sports. You can listen to the full hour here; I join in at about the 20-minute mark, but there’s a lot of good discussion in those first 20 minutes, so I encourage you to listen to the whole thing. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Is the Rays’ fauxback design based on a 1970s soda pop brand? Judge for yourself. … The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are looking for a new team name (from Art Savokinas). … Dirt race driver Greg Walters is wearing an Oregon-style metallic helmet. … Todd Radom points out an MLB nickNOB that we haven’t mentioned in our recent discussions: Jason Isringhausen’s TATC jersey. … Some high school engineering students in Wisconsin made a really cool Miller Park-themed grill (from Ryan Connelly). … Brad Paisley wore a Colt McCoy jersey onstage the other day (from Tony Crespo). … Here’s something I didn’t know: R.A. Dickey wore No. 1 in the 1996 Olympics. “Single digits on pitchers always looks weird to me, but for some reason 1 seems less weird to me than 2 through 9,” says Bryan Molloy. “Maybe it’s because my mind has always linked pitchers and goalies, and there are a ton of goalies who wear 1.” … The Missoula Ospreys — the Rookie League affiliate of the D-backs — will wear Ronald Mcdonald House jerseys on June 28 (from Ben Matthias). … Check out the awesome vertical placket lettering and the cool chest insignia on this tremendous century-old photo (big thanks to Dan Cichalski). … Darren Rovell and I are colleagues again. … Just What the World Needs Dept.: “Look at me!” football gloves have spread to high school (from Dave Wilson). … Check this out: a U. of Kentucky cement truck (from Dylan Buell). … “In the first half of Wednesday night’s Sounders/Sporting KC match, Alex Caskey bonked heads with one of SKC’s defenders, ending up bloodied in two different places (plus on his jersey),” writes Markus Kamp. “After bandaging his head Revolutionary War-style on the sidelines, he returned wearing a numberless jersey. Interestingly, they even replaced his black armband that the team was wearing in honor of recently deceased former Sounder Steve Buttle.” … Jake Hurley, the guy who’s trying to get the Rockies to wear stirrups, is looking for help setting up a Kickstarter account. … The Nashville Sounds wear a different jersey for charity each month. Here’s clubbie Thomas Miller modeling the June jersey, for Habitat for Humanity. “The tool belt is a pretty sweet touch,” says Matthew Leon. … Disappointing development in Philly on Wednesday night, as Josh Outman pinch-ran and was wearing black socks instead of his usual stirrups (from Jake Hoeffel). … All of the NBA draft caps can be seen here (from Matthew Gerry Moon). … A’s catcher Derek Norris made his big league debut yesterday. Interestingly, his catcher’s helmet had a white logo, like the team’s 1993 road cap (from Mike Rowinski and Sam Lam). … I’ve never been a fan of Hillary Clinton’s fashion stylings, but it’s good to know that she has no purple pantsuits (from Matthew Algeo).