Lucky Number Seven
Well, well, well …. Our first serious debate for who should be defined the best of a uniform number. We have three superb choices to choose from …
Our first nominee up for discussion, is Hal Trosky, the Tribe first baseman from 1934-1941 (he wore #25 in his 11 games in 1933). A career line of 313/379/551 while in Cleveland, he also finished with a career OPS+ of 135. In 1936 he led the league with 162 RBI and 405 TB. He received votes as a MVP in four seasons, his highest being 7th in 1934. For his career, he is fourth in SLG and RBI (911), fifth in HR (216), sixth in TB (2406), seventh in OPS (930), and ninth in 2B (287).
Next up, Al Rosen, the Tribe third baseman from 1948-1956 (he also wore #17 in his inaugural season of 7 games in 1947). He was an amateur free agent signing in 1942 from the University of Florida. Flip concluded his illustrious career with a 285/384/495 line and a 136 OPS+. He received MVP votes in four seasons, culminating as the MVP in 1953 as he finished first in the league with 115 RS, 43 HR, 145 RBI, .613 SLG, 1034 OPS, 179 OPS+ and 367 TB. He also appeared in four All-Star games from 1952-1955. For his career, Rosen finished eighth in HR (192) and tenth in WAR (33.0).
Our final candidate for this triumvirate is Kenny Lofton, the Tribe centerfielder from 1992-1996, 1998-2001 and a surprise return in 2007. Acquired from the Houston Astros with Dave Rohde for Willie Blair and Eddie Taubensee (thanks Eddie!!) in December 1991, Kenny became the sparkplug for most of our dominant 90s teams. He finished second as Rookie of the Year in 1992 (to the infamous Pat Listach-terrible voting!). He received MVP votes three times, with his high a fourth place finish in 1994.He also received four consecutive gold gloves and appeared in five All-Star games while with Cleveland. He led the league in triples with 13 in 1995 and also led the league five straight times in SB from 1992-1996. He finished his Indian career with lines of 300/375/426 and a 109 OPS+. For his career numbers he is first in SB, third in RS, fifth in WAR and tenth in PA.
So, who to choose? The guy with the best career numbers, Trosky? The dominant power hitter from the 50s juggernauts, Rosen? Our defensive/speed catalyst from the 90s steamrollers, Lofton? I think most on this site would pick Lofton because he is most recent and fresh in their minds, but the sheer career numbers and consistency of Trosky (only one season under 125 OPS+ as a starter) makes my decision for me.
A Brief History
The first player to wear #7, Charlie Jamieson, was a very good player in his own right. Unfortunately, they didn’t wear numbers during the majority of his career. In his only season of wearing the lucky 7, he had an unspectacular 291/378/357 and 88 OPS+ line.
Ed Montague (not that one) somehow wore #35 for the season (1931) in between wearing #7 (1930, 1932). His career OPS+ of 74 is not so pretty.
Harley Boss was not boss as the starting 1B in 1933; 269/310/347 for an OPS+ of 70.
After Trosky and before Rosen, the not so lucky 7 bounced around somewhat. Blas Monaco got into 12 games in 1946 strictly as a PH or PR with a beautiful 000/143/000 -57 OPS (yes, minus 57) line. After Monaco left the team in 1946, George Case assumed #7. As the starting LF, he put up a pathetic 225/280/295, 66 OPS+ line in 528 PA, earning him a one way ticket back to the Senators, for Roger Wolff.
After Rosen retired, again the #7 floated from part time player to part time player. One interesting year would be 1959, when Gene Leek and Granny Hamner shared it. According to the May 18 boxscore, they both appeared in that game, so I am not sure how they both wore #7. BRef does not have either wearing a different uniform that season. Then in 1960, Bubba Phillips wore #7 early in the season, but after Steve Demeter left the team, he switched to Demeter’s #5, opening #7 for the infamous Harvey Kuenn. Kuenn put up a respectable 308/379/416 118 OPS+ line. But that was not nearly enough to please the masses since he’d been acquired for Rocky Colavito the previous offseason. He was dealt to the Giants that offseason for Johnny Antonelli and Willie Kirkland.
From 1963 to 1971 (1970 was skipped), the unlucky #7 moved amongst the following catchers: Bob Lipski, Johnny Romano, Cam Carreon, Phil Roof, Del Crandall, Joe Azcue, and Ken Suarez. Romano (124 OPS+) and Joe Azcue (116 OPS+) actually started 80+ games in their single seasons.
Jack Brohamer broke the string of catchers in 1972, putting up a pitiful 233/271/294 66 OPS+ as the starting 2B before switching to #10 the following season. Our first DH, John Ellis wore #7 for three seasons, mainly as a 1B/DH, but a little bit of C as well, putting up a 266/318/396 102 OPS+ line before being dealt to the Rangers for Ron Pruitt and Stan Thomas. Pruitt waited a season before donning #7, but switched back to #13 after the Tribe purchased Bernie Carbo from the Red Sox.
Alan Bannister (arriving for the aforementioned Pruitt from the White Sox) wore #7 for 3+ seasons, putting up a nondescript 279/341/379 and 99 OPS+. Uniform #7 took a break until 1991 when Chris James wore it the year before Lofton arrived. When Lofton was dealt to the Braves before the 1997 season, Jeff Juden assumed it for part of that year. After Kenny left the second time, "He Who Shall Not Be Named" wore it for 3 seasons while bickering with Robot Wedge. Currently our very own Gator, Matt LaPorta is wearing this number. Somehow I doubt he’ll approach the top three here, but hopefully he can make himself fourth on this list.
The One Year Wonders
Charlie Jamieson, Carl Lind, Jonah Goldman, Odell Hale, Harley Boss, Buck Frierson, Ed Wheeler, Blas Monaco, George Case, Jack Conway, Harry Simpson, Fred Hatfield, Billy Hunter, Gene Leek, Granny Hamner, Bubba Phillips, Harvey Kuenn, Hal Jones, Jim Mahoney, Bob Lipski, Johnny Romano, Cam Carreon, Phil Roof , Del Crandall, Joe Azcue, Jack Brohamer , Ron Pruitt, Bernie Carbo, Chris James, Jeff Juden, Joe Inglett, Jamey Carroll and Mark DeRosa all wore uniform #7 for only one season.
The All-Time List
Charlie Jamieson LF (1929)
Carl Lind SS (1930)
Ed Montague SS, 3B (1930, 1932)
Jonah Goldman SS (1931)
Odell Hale 3B, 2B (1931)
Harley Boss 1B (1933)
Hal Trosky 1B (1934-1941)
Buck Frierson RF (1941)
Pete Center RP (1942-1943)
Ed Wheeler 3B, SS (1945)
Blas Monaco PH, PR (1946)
George Case LF (1946)
Jack Conway SS (1947)
Al Rosen 3B, 1B (1948-1956)
Harry Simpson PH (1955)
Fred Hatfield 3B (1958)
Billy Hunter SS (1958)
Gene Leek 3B (1959)
Granny Hamner IF (1959)
Bubba Phillips 3B, OF (1960)
Harvey Kuenn RF (1960)
Hal Jones 1B (1961)
Mike de la Hoz IF, PH (1961-1962)
Jim Mahoney SS, 2B (1962)
Bob Lipski C (1963)
Johnny Romano C (1964)
Cam Carreon C (1965)
Phil Roof C (1965)
Del Crandall C (1966)
Joe Azcue C (1967)
Ken Suarez C (1968-1969, 1971)
Jack Brohamer 2B (1972)
John Ellis C, 1B, DH (1973-1975)
Ron Pruitt C, LF (1978)
Bernie Carbo DH (1978)
Alan Bannister 2B, LF, RF (1980-1983)
Chris James LF, RF, 1B (1991)
Kenny Lofton CF (1992-1996, 1998-2001, 2007)
Jeff Juden SP, RP (1997)
Brandon Phillips 2B (2003-2005)
Joe Inglett 2B, OF (2006)
Jamey Carroll 3B, 2B (2008)
Mark DeRosa 3B, LF, RF, 1B (2009)
Matt LaPorta 1B, LF (2009-2011)
Statistics and such
Other #7 fun facts, the uniform #7 has been worn 83 times by 44 different players covering 69 seasons of a possible 83 seasons since 1929. Uniform #7 was shared in a season twelve times, 1930, 1931, 1941, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1978 and 2009. It has never been shared by three or more players in a season.
**BRef also has Mike Garcia wearing #7 in addition to #22 in 1948. However, he only appeared in one game and that one game was at the same time as Al Rosen. I suspect he wore it at an earlier part of the season (spring training??) but my guess is that he never appeared in a ML game with that number.