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Last Year Up the Hill: Some Brief Thoughts on the Number 59

Good morning! Today is my 59th birthday. To mark the occasion, I made this graphic showing 59 different No. 59 jerseys (well, 57 jerseys and two NASCAR cars). The players aren’t shown in any particular order, and they don’t necessarily represent the “best” or most notable 59ers — they’re just the photos I happened to come up with. I did my best not to repeat any players or teams, and of course I avoided any teams that wear purple.

A few things I learned along the way:

  • Only one player in NBA history has worn No. 59: Rayjon Tucker of the Bucks. (When making the graphic, however, I did include a player from the NBA Summer League, along with NBA referee Gary Zielinski.)
  • No. 59 is a little more common in the NHL, where 54 players have worn it, although quite a few of them were end-of-the-bench guys who played only a few games in the league.
  • Former NHLer Tim Schaller was unusually loyal to No. 59, having worn it for four different teams in six seasons. It is the only number he ever wore in the league.
  • Several MLB pitchers have been habitual 59ers, including Todd Jones (who wore it for seven different teams), Guillermo Mota (five teams), Oliver Pérez (four teams), Zac Rosscup (four teams), and Ismael Valdéz (four teams).
  • Not a single Big Four pro team has officially retired No. 59 (although some NFL teams have de facto retired it by taking it out of circulation, as the Steelers have done for Jack Ham, for example).

As for turning 59: I certainly don’t feel that old. My sense of myself is more along the lines of being 43, 44, somewhere in that range. (Then again, when I was 44, I thought of myself as 32.) As it turns out, feeling younger than you really are is a fairly common thing, as I recently learned from this faaascinating article about the gap between our actual ages and our self-perceived ages. Recommended reading!

My friend Jules sent me this really nice vintage card, which arrived yesterday:

How perfect is that? Uni-rific!

As some of you know, it almost always rains on my birthday, which is something I look forward to every year because my father once told me that it’s a sign of good luck in the year to come (a very sweet lie that he made up on the spot when one of my childhood birthday parties was rained out). Today, unfortunately, will be one of the rare non-rainy exceptions, but at least it’ll be a really nice day! I can live with that.


Comments (58)

    The first 59 I thought of was Matt Blair of the Vikings but, of course, he didn’t make the cut.
    Happy Birthday, young fella!

    Happy Birthday Paul! Hope you have a great day doing all the things you love. Perhaps you will discover a new uniform anomaly that will send you down a birthday rabbit hole of uniform delight! Keep up the great work!

    Happy birthday.

    My #55 is tomorrow and rain is in the forecast for Milwaukee.

    I’ve had some health issues in the last year and a half, so I will take all the good luck I can find!

    You’re younger than I thought, Paul, but only by a year. Can’t wait until you join the Sixties Club! Eat a can of fudge icing and have a Happy Birthday.

    Happy Birthday, Paul! Wishing you a great day and congratulations on another successful trip around the sun.

    A very happy birthday to you, Paul. I’m just a few months behind you but agree with the sentiment of feeling quite a bit younger.

    Happy birthday Paul! If it’s any consolation, it’s raining pretty heavily here in the UK – I’d be happy to send it over!

    Happy birthday Paul! Hope you have a great one!

    Just being curious.

    What do you like to do on a rainy birthday usually? Any plans for today (given you’ve had a gathering already)?

    Happy Birthday Paul!!!
    You were born the same day as Ayrton Senna, another sports legend.
    Enjoy your day!!

    Cheers to 59 years, Paul!
    That’s gotta be Jimmie Johnson’s 2-race deal from his lower-tier series career on the top right corner.
    #59 hasn’t been all that successful in NASCAR Cup (3 victories, all before you were born), but is apparently a legendary number in IMSA:
    Hope your birthday is a winner!

    My son is turning ONE today!!! (and named Luka )
    Y’all are brothers in birthdays!!!
    Happy Birthday Paul
    Keep up the amazing work

    The first 59 I thought of was Seth Joyner for the Eagles.
    Hope it is a good one, my brother-in-law is 59 and looking at 60 in a few months. Cheers!

    59 is a fantastic golf score that pros dream of! Once saw a funny commercial with two golfers in the elevator, they started pushing buttons to all the floors as if to say “I’m actually gonna score this low,” and then they got to 59 and neither of them dared to push that button.
    HBD Paul!

    Happy birthday, Paul! Not sure if you heard, but you had a brief appearance on NSQ a couple of weeks ago. I heard it, and in the first sentence thought “I know that voice!” Have a great day, even if it’s not raining!

    Happy birthday Paul!

    My favourite birthdays are the prime numbers. 59 is awesome.

    Happy Birthday Paul!!! Hope it’s a good one.

    Also, Hal the Hot Dog Guy has officially retired from hot dog vending! He’s coming back for one night with the Oakland Roots soccer team. Would love to see a post-career interview with him.


    I have never met you, but from pictures and the way you interact with us all, you def seem to have the spirit of someone younger – not to knock your actual age or anyone of that age.

    I guess my point is Happy Birthday and we all thank you for providing us something fun to look at each day.


    Happy birthday, Paul! I hope this year brings you as much joy and satisfaction as Uni Watch has brought me over the years. Cheers!

    Happy birthday!

    Not surprised at the lack of a #59 hall of fame selection. In both our Hastings High School and overall Nebraska high school best-by-number search, 58-59 were the toughest numbers outside of the 90s.

    Have a great day!

    Happy Birthday Paul.
    From what you share about your life on the blog, you certainly have a more youthful lifestyle than what we stereotypically think of for 59. I’d assume you were 5 to 10 years younger if I didn’t already have an idea from reading all these years.

    Happy birthday Paul! I hope you realize how much fun and joy you bring to so many of us via UniWatch. It’s one of my must-reads every single day, and I can’t imagine how much effort it takes to keep churning out content, but you do a masterful job of keeping the Uni-Verse spinning! All the best to you!

    Happy birthday, Paul! My 49th was a couple of days ago, and the thing that I find odd is that the gap between my self-perception and my actual age feels more significant the older I get, whereas in lived experience any given age gap becomes less significant. Like, the gap between 25 and 35 is in practice more significant than the gape between 35 and 45. I have way more effortlessly in common with an average stranger 10 years older or younger than me now than I did a decade ago. At 35, you look at a 25 year old (or your 25-year-old self) and you think, “just you wait, kid.” At 45, a 35-year-old stranger feels like someone just a little younger; a 55-year-old stranger also seems just a smidge older. But the internal feeling of a difference between my self-image and my actual age feels more significant every year, even though the actual gap of 10ish years has remained pretty constant for a while now. Nothing profound here, and purely personal/anecdotal, but it’s an odd thing to me.

    Have a festive and fabulous birthday Paul.
    59er is a good as number as any.

    Many happy returns, Paul! I also feel young for my age—I turned 37 in the fall and feel 30-ish. I do have my moments of feeling older, mostly because having an infant daughter has done my back no favors!

    Happy Birthday Paul: hope your day is a great one!
    My birthday comes up on Friday am just hoping for decent weather and good food!

    Happy Birthday from one 59 year old to another. The Atlantic article was a great read.
    Wishing you (and me) the best on the road to 60!

    Happy birthday Paul; you’re just 357 days older than me! I hope it has been a wonderful day.

    It says something about you that you post your age on your birthday every year, and every year I think “wow, I thought he was younger”. Even though we know how old you are, we still don’t believe it.

    The number 1 album on the day of your birth was Meet The Beatles, the album it knocked out of the top spot was an interesting footnote in music history :The Singing Nun! Have an awesome day!! link

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