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New ‘Best Player by Number’ Graphics for Cleveland, Toronto, and Boston

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A bunch of new “Best Player by Uni Number” graphics have been circulating over the past week or two, so let’s get caught up on that today, starting with Toronto (shown above). That one was created by Wade Thompson, who provides the following context:

  • Given that the Leafs, Blue Jays, and Argos all use a relatively similar shade of blue, there were some design challenges to avoid having one big “same”-looking graphic. To compensate for that, I used white “away” jerseys where needed, and avoided having any identically colored squares adjacent to each other.
  • I did my best to utilize different eras of uniform design and featured each player (as best as I could) in a jersey design they actually wore in their career. There are some exceptions – players who never wore a jersey with a NOB, for example – but I did my best to adhere to the spirit of what that uni may have looked like.
  • NOB and number fonts aren’t necessarily era-perfect, but again, I did as best I could with the resources I had.
  • I’m not the biggest CFL fan, so there was a lot of research involved to fill out some of the higher jersey numbers. I’m sure there will be some debate from hardcore Argos fans about players I left off.
  • There’s definitely some recency bias with my athlete picks, but I did try and utilize my best judgment when multiple players cropped up for different numbers.
  • I was happy there were some spaces to feature the likes of the Toronto Six and the TFC as well, as it’s hard for newer clubs to have impactful players when they’re surrounded by clubs with many decades’ worth of history.

Next up we have Brad Wolf’s graphic for Cleveland, which he recently posted on Twitter and Instagram:

Nice. While I’m not usually a fan of teams changing their colors willy-nilly, it’s fun to see the different Cavs designs represented in this graphic.

Finally, here’s Jordan Moore’s graphic for Boston, which he recently posted on Twitter. He initially neglected to include anyone for No. 00 and then realized he couldn’t leave out Robert Parish, so he kind of stuck Parish on at the end:

Lots of fun and food for thought here (look how he squeezed “Saltalamacchia” into that little square!). Note that while most of the Bosox players have red type outlined in navy, David Ortiz just has red without the outlining, reflecting the “Boston Strong” uniform — a nice touch.

Also: Dennis Eckersley appears on both the Cleveland and Boston graphics. He’d presumably make the cut for Oakland, too!

(And yes, Ray Bourque’s surname is misspelled. It happens.)

To see more graphics like these, look here.

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Comments (81)

    In addition to Bourque’s name being misspelled, the Red Sox don’t have names on the back of their home jerseys.

    Yeah, that’s really bothering me. The Red Sox didn’t have names even on the road jersey until 1990. “Yastrzemski” was never on the back of a jersey until his grandson made his debut.

    Also in addition to the misspelling, Bourque’s jersey is all wrong, and doesn’t look like the Pooh Bear jersey at all (which would be the only gold jersey he wore with the Bruins).

    I noticed that too. I am guessing it is a recency bias. Cowens was a great NBA player. Damon was a perhaps slightly above average MLB player.

    Cowens is a Hall of Famer. Damon is not. And 24 is a stacked number-Law beat out Sam Jones, Dwight Evans and Manny.

    Damon was far more than “slightly above average”; at 56 WAR he’s a borderline Hall of Famer.

    That said, Cowens is a clear Hall of Famer, not to mention that he played 10 seasons in Boston (all of his career except a one-season comeback) and Damon only played four, so Cowens clearly should have the spot.

    Francona could have been on the Cleveland list as well (as 77), but the Mule is probably the right answer.

    Jordan took some Artistic License by including Francona at #47…he was not a player when he wore that number with the Sox (and was #24 in his brief career as a Cleveland ballplayer)…but just imagine how tough it would have been for him to fit Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui´s NOB in that little square!

    As impressive as squeezing Salty’s full name in the square was, he could have avoided the whole problem by picking Mike Greenwell instead. Gator had a longer career with the Sox which offsets the World Series win that Salty had.

    The pre-Belichick Era Patriots have the wrong number font. John Hannah, Andre Tippett, Stanley Morgan and the like never wore the font that was used with Flying Elvis helmets. They used standard football Block Varsity.
    And Cleveland #99 should be Ricky Vaughn, I agree with kevin.

    The mid-90s Flying Elvis unis are also shown with the wrong NOB font – the names were italicized, similar to the numbers.

    Shaq Mason (69), though… is accurate if the square represents the Pats’ 2016-2019 Color Rash uni, but not so accurate if it represents their primary jersey that he wore for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, since they changed the fonts (though some players have had anomalous old-number jerseys pop up… including Mac Jones, who wasn’t even in the NFL until 2021!).

    Designer of the Toronto graphic here! I received some backlash on this when posting to Reddit as well, but Alomar’s recent sexual misconduct and subsequent ban from baseball were taken into account for #12. For me, he did something bad enough to be taken down from the Dome’s “Level of Excellence”, ergo, he’s no longer “the best”. Just my perspective!

    Care to explain how you arrived at Leo Komarov, a fourth line depth player nobody over Jack Morris for #47?

    Jack Morris went 21-6, was 5th in Cy Young voting and was part of the Blue Jays first ever World Series Champion.

    That choice is absolutely baffling.

    Mike Greenwell was far better wearing 39. for the Sox. And Reggie Lewis did it better in 35 for the Celtics.

    Jim Nance was the best running back in Pats history. I am barely old enough to remember him and actually met him once at a practice around 1969 or 70-not sure which year but the Pats weren’t yet in Foxboro.

    I don’t know anything about Toronto sports outside of the Leafs, so I can’t speak to who should be there overall. But Ed Belfour has to be one of the most overrated goalies of all time. His individual numbers were just not that good.

    Belfour won two Vezinas in the early 90s, almost a full decade before he joined the Leafs. Donaldson won AL MVP while playing on the Jays and was pivotal in their postseason campaigns. There’s really no contest.

    Belfour was a great player on other teams. Nobody thinks of Belfour as a Leaf. Might as well give 88 to Lindros.

    Looks like we are missing the number 0 in Toronto. Mr. Al Oliver. A player who played for both Canadian MLB teams.

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    Boston
    13: John Valentin
    18: Dave Cowens
    36: Lawyer Milloy
    39: Sam Cunningham
    52: Ted Johnson
    53: Chris Slade
    59: Vincent Brown
    61: Bronson Arroyo
    62: Joe Thuney
    64: Dave Wohlabaugh
    82: Vincent Brisby
    92: Ted Washington
    96: Adalius Thomas
    99: Alex Verdugo

    Fantastic job on all 3 efforts!

    For me the primary quibble on the Boston is that number 20 should be Gino Cappelletti, Patriots legend, not the great Ray Allen whose time with the Celtics was significant but relatively brief

    36: Lawyer Milloy

    Thank you.
    I was trying to think of someone… anyone… more deserving than flopping, nut-punching Marcus Smart.

    John Valentin was probably better as a red Sox especially given his longer career with them than Hanley Ramirez despite the 07 championship. Probably less egregious than cowens being left off. 24 is a win no matter who you go with between Ty, Sam Jones, manny, or dewey.

    I’m not a soccer guy, but #12 for Cleveland should be Kai Haaskivi instead of Lindor. And there should be a spot for #00 because Otto Orf needs to be on it. #1 should be Johnny Bower of the Cleveland Barons, not Daniel Gibson.

    One of the toughest choices was probably Larry Doby over Otto Graham. I would have picked Graham because he was a 5x MVP, 7x champion, and was a member of the NFL’s all-time team. Doby was a great player and an all-star, but not the top tier of his era like Graham.

    Not going to argue with Satchel Paige being Cleveland´s #29, but Andre Thornton would have been my choice.
    Had Austin Carr not worn #34, the honor may have gone to the player ¨responsible¨ for getting the tear-away jersey banned in the NFL…Greg Pruitt:
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    …But I will argue that Thom Darden is more deserving to be Cleveland´s #27 standard bearer over Herb Score.

    Mark Price got the shaft in Cleveland

    They can fit Saltalamacchia and Yastrzemski but it’s just Gronk?

    Asking too much, I know, for any NHL Barons in the Cleveland pantheon. Dennis Maruk, Al MacAdam, and Gilles Meloche, were about the only players who distinguished themselves.

    I’m late to the party here (wifi was down for six days), but No. 9 Freddie Glover was the Barons best player and led them to a league title in the ’60s. For me, he’s a clear choice over Baerga.

    For the Boston list, I don’t know if I would put James White (28) over fellow Pats RB Corey Dillon.

    Props to White for being a Patriots lifer, and I know he got the winning score in SBLI…but in ‘04 alone, Dillon rushed for around 400 more yards than White did for his entire career (in 15 games!!).

    No Kenny Lofton at #7 for Cleveland is a travesty. And there has to be someone other than Baker Mayfield for 6 (Ken Keltner wore it for the 48 tribe and was an all star)

    #5 for Boston has to be NOMAR GARCIAPARRA. Although he was great, KG is a Minnesota Timberwolves player first and I was confused as to why the Celtics retired #5 for a guy who was here for fewer than 6 seasons. Admittedly I have a strong baseball over basketball bias, but as a child growing up in New England in the 90’s I’ll put Nomar at his peak up against anyone to ever wear #5, both as a player and for cultural significance. Nomahhhhh!!!!!

    I was happy to see the Boston version surface this weekend. I have quite a few I would put in the “under discussion” (many of which RG81 already put out there in an earlier comment)
    I know this is not the how the game works, but I would like to propose the exception be made for Boston to include Frankenjersies at #8, #33 & #34. The 3 chosen by Jordan are the absolute correct call, but really tough to leave off Neely, Chara & Pierce as we are talking about first ballot HOF guys that are unfortunately up against all-time legends.

    I’m very aware that this is an “old man screams at cloud” moment, but for me, Cleveland #16 is clearly Zoran Karic.

    Indoor soccer isn’t a major sport, obvs, but he’s one of the greatest players of all time in his sport and Josh Cribbs was a kick returner. (A great kick returner, of course, but nevertheless a kick returner.)

    Josh Cribbs was the Browns’ star player… as the kick returner. He’s got a show on Cleveland TV, and it’s not even about football. Cribbs clears the field.

    Also, for Cleveland Jones out at #46, Groza from #76 to #46 (his original number), Marion Motely in at #76 (his original number) allowing Perry to stay at #36. Excluding Motely from any Cleveland list is just unthinkable.

    Toronto fan here – wouldve liked to see Wilf Paiement in at 99 instead of Ryu. Also agree with the Alomar over Marleau sentiment.

    I can only envision of a Cincinnati numbers chart.

    Would #14 be:
    Pete Rose (Leave it on the field, please.)
    Ken Anderson
    Oscar Robertson
    Dennis Sobchuk (WHA Stingers. Just had to.)

    No argument with Frank Robinson at number 20. I would suggest that a better graphic for him would have been the Cleveland red caveman

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    I’m amused to see 00 tacked on in that manner… but where’s LOSCY?

    And I do agree with several of the suggestions elsewhere in the comments: Garciaparra, Cowens, Cappelletti. I’d also lean Manny over Law, but won’t contest that point, having once upon a time pretended to be each of them in the backyard.

    The comments on this thread are as good as the graphics … very fun for me as a Boston guy to see what Cleveland and Toronto fans think about their players.

    I made my own Cleveland list after the first of these posts. Here are my disagreements:

    18 – Mel Harder
    26 – Brook Jacoby
    27 – Bryan Shaw
    30 – Joe Carter (and it’s not close here)
    31 – Cliff Lee (he won the Cy Young!)
    33 – Luis Tiant
    37 – Cody Allen
    38 – Rocky Colavito
    41 – Carlos Santana
    46 – Don Fleming
    47 – literally anyone else (like Orosco or Quantrill)
    48 – Travis Hafner
    62 – Nick Wittgren
    65 – John Demarie (Plesac only wore 65 for half a season)
    70 – Karinchak, so you can give 99 to Ricky Vaughn
    79 – Bob Golic
    80 – Jarvis Landry
    85 – David Njoku

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