The most random number retirements across all sports

Teams usually retire numbers to honor an iconic player. We get why nobody is wearing Babe Ruth’s number for the Yankees, or why “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe was the last Red Wing to don the number nine. A couple numbers, such as Jackie Robinson’s, have been retired by an entire league. However, not every retired number tracks entirely. They might make you pause for a second. We are, of course, not talking about players who had their numbers retired for tragic means. Those are justified, even when the player wasn’t a superstar or living legend. These number retirements, though, are a bit puzzling or a bit unusual.


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“Hang on,” you might be saying, “It makes total sense that the Bulls retired Michael Jordan’s number.” That’s true. However, we aren’t talking about the Bulls, or even the Wizards. The Miami Heat have retired Jordan’s number 23 as well. You may recall that Jordan never played for the Heat. They just wanted to honor His Airness. Maybe they love “Space Jam?”


Dan Marino

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The Heat are at it again! At least Marino is a Miami legend. He’s the greatest player in the history of the Dolphins, the city’s football team. Then the Heat, Miami’s basketball team, decided to retire his number 13 as well. Well, he did win the same about of titles with the Heat as the Dolphins.


The 12th Man

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The Seattle Seahawks fans are known for getting loud. To be fair, that’s true of a lot of football fan bases. However, only the Seahawks have retired a number for their fans. The people of Seattle are called the “12th Man,” because 11 players are on the field for a team at a time, and the Seahawks have retired the number 12 in their honor.


Wade Boggs

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Boggs had his number 26 retired by the Red Sox. That makes sense, as the Hall of Famer spent much of his career there and won five batting titles with Boston. His number 12 was also retired by the Tampa Bay Rays. He played two seasons there in his forties, the first team seasons in the franchise’s history, and barely made a blip. There were also rumors that the former owner of the Rays, then the Devil Rays, was going to pay Boggs a million dollars to wear a Tampa cap on his Hall of fame plague. Spoiler alert: He’s wearing a Red Sox cap.


Gene Autry

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Autry was an actor known as “The Singing Cowboy,” so how did he end up with a retired number for the Los Angeles Angels? Well, Autry is the founder of the franchise and was the owner for 36 years. To honor Autry, the team decided to retire the number 26, calling the crooner the team’s “26th man,” as rosters had 25 active members at the time. It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “12th man.”


August Busch Jr.

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Busch was the owner for the St. Louis Cardinals for many years. In the year 1984 he turned 85. For whatever reason, the team decided this was the perfect time to honor their owner. That year, they retired the number 85 in Busch’s honor. Sure, very few MLB players have ever worn 85, but it’s still an odd look for a franchise.


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Cleveland’s consecutive sellouts

Cleveland's consecutive sellouts

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Here’s a number that the team never had to worry about being worn. After the Cleveland Indians opened Jacobs Field in 1994, they went on quite the successful run. From 1995 through 2001 the Cleveland fans sold out the stadium for 455 consecutive games. That streak ended in 2001, but the team retired the number 455 anyway. It’s not even the record anymore. The Boston Red Sox beat it in 2008.


Kasim Reed

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Reed was the mayor of Atlanta from 2010 through 2018. He was the 59th mayor in the history of the city. Because of this fact, the Hawks decided to retire the number 59 in honor Reed. Why exactly he’s the only mayor ever honored in this way by a city we don’t know. It’s a weird choice, but we’re sure Reed appreciated it.


Bingo Smith

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Smith was an original Cavalier, taken by the team in the 1970 Expansion Draft. He played for the team for several seasons, but never made an All-Star Game. Granted, he still ranks third in games played in Cleveland history. That being said, it’s a bit odd that the Cavs retired his number seven. What makes it even more strange? They traded Smith to the Clippers for a third-round pick and then retired his number one month later, while he was still playing for the Clippers.


Doug Moe

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Moe coached an exciting brand of basketball. His Denver Nuggets team ran up and down the court and played in the highest-scoring game in NBA history. While coaching Denver he racked up 432 wins for the franchise, and as a result the team retired that number for him.


Chuck Daly

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Speaking of coaches getting numbers retired for them, Daly has gotten that honor as well. However, his number is one that a player could actually wear. Nobody is donning 432 anytime soon. Daly coached the Pistons to title wins in 1989 and 1990. For that, the Pistons retired the number two. They did not retire the number one for Larry Brown’s one title win.


Bobby Leonard

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Leonard had a losing record as an NBA coach, including in his four seasons he coached the Indiana Pacers in the NBA. However, he also coached the Pacers in the ABA. For eight years in the ABA, the man they called “Slick” led the Pacers to three ABA titles. Overall, he won 529 games as a Pacer. You can guess which number they retired for him.


Pete Maravich

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“Pistol” Pete is a New Orleans basketball legend. He played his college ball at LSU (not in New Orleans, but close enough) and then he played for the New Orleans Jazz. The New Orleans Pelicans have retired Mavavich’s number seven in honor of his basketball history in the state. Of course, he never played for the Pelicans. Maravich had actually already passed away before the Pelicans franchise existed. It’s the only number the franchise has retired.


Red Holzman

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The New York Knicks haven’t had a lot of success recently, so they are probably happy to remember the good old days of Red Holzman. The Hall of Fame coach won two titles with the Knicks, and has had the number 613 retired in honor of the number of wins he racked up for the franchise.


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Orlando Magic fans

Orlando Magic fans

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There was a bad comedy movie called “The 6th Man” about a ghost who helps a basketball team in an “Angels in the Outfield” fashion. In the non-ghost world, “the sixth man” is how they describe NBA fans sometimes. The Magic, not exactly an old franchise, quickly decided to retire the number six for their fans. Now they have actual player numbers to retire for their franchise.


Nick Collison

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The Thunder must have been itching to retire a number. Plus, with the way things have gone with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, it may be a little while before everything is cool enough for their numbers to be raised to the rafters (also they aren’t retiring anytime soon). So what did Oklahoma City do? They retired Nick Collison’s number four, even though he averaged 5.9 points per game in his career.


Jack Ramsey

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The Portland Trail Blazers have been pretty loose with number retirements. I mean, do you really recall guys like Dave Twardzik, Larry Steele, Bob Gross, and Lloyd Neal? What do they all have in common? They played for the 1977 team that won the NBA title. Their coach? Jack Ramsey. For Coach Ramsey, the team retired the number 77. You know, the year they won that title they love so much.


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Sacramento Kings fans

Sacramento Kings fans

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We’ve got another NBA team that has retired the number six for their fans. That makes the NBA the only of the major American sports leagues where two different teams have retired the same number for their fans. Do you think there is a rivalry between Magic fans and King fans because of this? It’s not like either franchise has a lot to be excited about these days.


Larry Miller

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No, not the actor. This Larry Miller (a very controversial and generally unlikeable guy, for what it’s worth) owned the Utah Jazz from 1985 until his death in 2009. His widow Gail still owns the team. After Miller’s death, the team retired the number nine for him in 2010. We are not exactly sure why the number nine was chosen.


Jerry Sloan

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You know all those coaches that have had their win totals retired by their teams? They don’t hold a candle to Sloan. He’s the only man we know who had had a four-digit number retired in his honor. Sloan was immensely successful for the Jazz, winning a whopping 1,223 games. No titles, but enough wins to get a really big number retired for him.


Frank Finnigan

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Finnigan played for the Ottawa Senators…the Ottawa Senators that existed from 1883 to 1954. After that, the franchise folded. Finnigan played for the 1927 Stanley Cup-winning Senators team, but he also lived for quite some time. However, when the city of Ottawa was trying to get an expansion team in the city Finnigan was part of the campaign. The drive was a success, as the Senators did indeed return for the 1992-93 season. Unfortunately, Finnigan had passed away by then at the age of 90. His son Frank Jr. dropped the ceremonial puck at the first game and the new Senators retired Finnigan’s number eight a whopping 55 years after he retired.


Wayne Huizenga

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Huizenga owned the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) for a period of time, but neither team retired a number for him. However, Huizenga was also the initial owner of the Florida Panthers. The Panthers did retire a number for their owner, though, the number 37. That is the year Huizenga was born, and also apparently was his lucky number.


Bill Torrey

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And yet Huizenga was only the second non-player to have a number retired for him by the Panthers. Torrey is primarily remembered as being the General Manager of the New York Islanders when they won four Stanley Cups in a row. Later in his career, he signed on to be the GM of the expansion Panthers. It was under his tenure that the Panthers made the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals. Since he joined the team in 1993, they retired the number 93 for him.


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Minnesota Wild Fans

Minnesota Wild Fans

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Ah, you’re thinking the Wild retired the number six for their fans. They are the “sixth man” after all, right? Not so fast! The Wild have retired exactly one number as a franchise, and it’s the number one. They retired the number on October 11, 2000, which was the day of the first home game in franchise history.


Yvon Labre

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The Washington Capitals have retired four numbers, and three of them (Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, and Dale Hunter) make sense. Then, there’s Labre. Labre scored 14 career NHL goals. The defenseman never had more than 27 points in a season for the capitals. However, he was an original Capital, having been taken from the Penguins in the expansion draft. Washington was a brutal team in those early years, but Labre was there, scoring the first home goal in franchise history and being active in the community. He spent seven seasons with the Capitals and honestly barely played after the first three, when the franchise started to get some momentum going. And yet, the franchise retired his number seven, because he was a beloved figure at a time when Capitals fans had little to get excited for. Labre is basically a cult hero who got his number retired. Not too shabby.

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