It’s no secret that I’m a fan of sports. I grew up supporting Essendon in the Australian Football League, and since then I’ve become a sport fanatic.
To be honest, there’s something a bit different about me.
I love memorizing the numbers that sports stars wear on their guernseys.
James Hird. Number 5. Joe Misiti. Number 24. Conor McKenna. Number 45.
But there are other sports stars from around the world that have interesting stories about the number they wore.
I decided to do a bit of research and share these stories with you.
Let’s get started.
Bill Russell – the Basketball Star
Bill Russell played basketball in the NBA in the United States between 1956 and 1959. He played for the Boston Celtics and wore the same number 6 at the University of San Francisco and for the 1956 USA Olympic Team.
He coached the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1959.
Bill Russell wore the number 6.
In 1959, Russell became the first NBA player to visit Africa.
Way to go, Bill Russell!
Jack Youngblood – the American footballer
Playing between 1971 and 1984, Jack Youngblood was a brilliant defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.
He was very popular when he played, and Jack Youngblood has retained a loyal following even to this day.
We rate Jack Youngblood the best player ever to wear the number 85 guernsey!
Jaromir Jagr – the hockey player
1968 was a special year. It was the year of the Prague Spring, after all. This paved the way for Czechoslovakia to open its borders to the west.
At Best by the Numbers, we love it when players choose the number on their guernsey based on something they deeply believe in.
So we love that Jaromir Jagr – the Czech player in the NHL in Canada – chose to wear the number 68 on his back.
Not only do you stand for your beliefs, Jaromir, but we would have to say that you are the greatest athlete to ever wear the number 68.
Good on you mate!
Willie Mays – the baseball player
In 1951, Willie Mays played for the New York Giants and wore the number 24.
Willie Mays is regarded as one of the greatest ever baseball players. Boy, could he bit the ball!
Not only did he hit the ball with power. He hit it with grace.
Willie Mays may be one of the greatest hitters of the ball in baseball.
Wearing the number 24, Willie Mays wore it well.
Gary Moorcroft – the Australian football player
For my international readers, I have a treat for you.
I’m going to show you one of the greatest marks of all time.
A mark is when the player catches the ball. Usually they’re a little humdrum.
But for this one, it’s truly spectacular.
Before I show you the mark, I know you’re probably wondering what number Gary Moorcroft wore.
And why it matters.
He was wearing 29 when he took the mark.
Gary Moorcroft was my favorite player, and I have loved the number 29 ever since.
Here’s the mark!
Gavin Wanganeen – Another Australian football player
They used to call him the rubber man.
He would throw himself into packs and bounce off them.
Gavin Wanganeen wasn’t the biggest player going around. But he had more courage than most.
He wore the number 4. And he wore it well!
Check out the highlights of Gavin Wanganeen below. Ignore the video when he’s in the Port Adelaide guernsey. I haven’t even bothered to let you know what number he was wearing. Because frankly it doesn’t matter.
Gavin Wanganeen’s glory days were with Essendon. He never should have left the club. But I forgive him, because he’s an Essendon champion.