Indians by the Numbers — #0, #00 & the Unknowns

The Zero Numbers and the Unknowns

As we wrap up this series in this format, I wanted to revisit the three players who did not get recognition on any post, the guys who wore number 0 or 00. They were briefly mentioned in the number 1 post way back when emd2k3 and I began this historical tour.

Interestingly enough, we have had three players wear 0 or 00, and two of them actually wore the double ought. The best was Lonnie Paul Dade. A former first round pick by the Angels in 1970, when he first arrived in Cleveland as a free agent, he wore #31. But some time that season, he decided to switch to the 00. He wasn’t terrible, but just below league average as he had very little pop and not quite enough speed to be a terror on the basepaths. He concluded his three year stint for the Tribe with a 277/331/350 90 OPS+ in 1044 PA before being traded to the Padres for the Human Rain Delay, Mike Hargrove.

Richard Allen White split between 00 and 24 during his sole season in Cleveland in 2004. That leaves only one player to wear the solo 0, Adalberto "Junior" Ortiz, a backup catcher from 1992-1993. He did get 532 PA those two seasons, but his hitting numbers were pretty awful, 235/281/276 55 OPS+. He was dealt to the Rangers for two PTBNL, Igor Oropeza and Andreaus Lewis, neither of whom made the majors.

And to be complete, the following numbers have never been worn in the majors as a uniform number by a Tribe player: 69, 70, 72, 74, 78 through 87, and 89 through 99.

So we are all done right? Finito, Kaput? …. Au contraire mon frere … just a few last items to clean up. As noted throughout these posts, the addition of numbers on the uniform became the norm in 1929. Unfortunately, the record keeping in the early years was not always that consistent. There are 14 players after 1929 that played for the Tribe that the uniform number from them has not been distinguished to date.

In 1929, the following players are undetermined: Clint Brown, Johnny Burnett, George Grant, Dan Jessee and Jim Moore. Burnett and Grant got into 19 and 12 games respectively, but the other three were in 3 games or less. In fact, Dan Jessee had the ultimate Moonlight Graham moment, he appeared in one game, on August 14, as a pinch runner, never getting an at bat nor playing in the field, and never appearing in another major league game for anybody. BRef doesn’t have him playing in the minors after that season either.

In 1930, Les Barnhart, George DeTore, Joe Vosmik and Ralph Winegarner all are undetermined. All had 5 games or less and Vosmik would go on to having the most productive career of the four.

All the uniform numbers are accounted for from 1931 to 1940, except Bill Perrin in 1934 and Charley Suche in 1938, when each had one appearance that slipped through. In 1941, Oris Hockett had two games unidentified. And the final season that has a glitch would be 1942, when Paul Calvert and Allie Reynolds bypassed the historians somehow.

The last note I will bring up is that the Indians were the first team to have ever worn uniform numbers. In 1916, they experimented with uniform numbers on their left sleeves, not the back. The numbers seemed to correspond with the numbers on the scorecard, but it is not clear if that meant by position or by batting order. This experiment was at a home game versus the White Sox on June 26 and Jack Graney became the first player to hit with a number on his uniform. They did not wear the numbers consistently throughout the rest of the season, but in 1917 they experimented with numbers on the right sleeves, but by 1918 the experiment had been scrapped altogether.

The Yankees are often identified as the pioneers of this practice, starting in 1929. But besides the Indians in 1916 and 1917, the St. Louis Cardinals briefly experimented with uniform numbers in 1923 as well. And even though the Yankees had planned on wearing uniform numbers on their back on opening day in 1929, that game was rained out, and they had to wait until April 18 to unveil them. The Indians opened their season on April 16 against the Tigers and thus makes Jackie Tavaner the official first player to wear a number, #1, on his back. When the Yankees and Indians played on May 13, this became the first official game that both teams had uniform numbers. It wasn’t until 1932 until all 16 major league teams had adopted the practice full time.

The One Year Wonders

Rick White is the only player to have worn uniform #0/00 for only one season.

The All-Time List - 00

Paul Dade RF, LF, CF, 3B, PH, DH, PR (1977-1979) 277/331/350 90 OPS+, 1044 PA; also #31 in 1977; traded to Padres for Mike Hargrove

Rick White RP (2004) 5-5, 59 G, 0 GS, 5.29 ERA, 78 IP, 83 ERA+; also #24 in 2004; traded by Dodgers for Trey Dyson

The All-Time List - 0

Junior Ortiz C (1992-1993) 235/281/276 55 OPS+, 532 PA; traded to Rangers for Igor Oropeza (PTBNL) and Andreaus Lewis (PTBNL)

The All-Time List - The Unknowns

Clint Brown RP, SP (1929) 0-2, 3 G, 1 GS, 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP, 136 ERA+; purchased from Harrisburg Senators (NY-Penn-B); switched to #16 in 1930

Dan Jessee PR (1929) ---/---/--- no OPS+, no PA, 1game

George Grant RP (1929) 0-2, 12 G, 0 GS, 10.50 ERA, 24 IP, 43 ERA+

Jim Moore RP (1929) 0-0, 2 G, 0 GS, 9.53 ERA, 5.2 IP, 49 ERA+; purchased from Little Rock Travelers (Southern Association-A)

Johnny Burnett SS, 2B (1929) 152/200/182 -2 OPS+, 35 PA; switched to #39 in 1930

George DeTore 3B (1930) 167/167/250 3 OPS+, 13 PA; switched to #32 in 1931

Joe Vosmik CF, PH, PR (1930) 231/259/308 41 OPS+, 28 PA; switched to #6 in 1931

Les Barnhart SP (1930) 1-0, 1 G, 1 GS, 6.48 ERA, 8.1 IP, 77 ERA+; traded with Ed Montague and Zeke Bonura to Indianapolis Indians (American Association-AA) for Oral Hildebrand

Ralph Winegarner 3B (1930) 455/478/500 145 OPS+, 24 PA; switched to #21 (and being a pitcher) in 1932

Bill Perrin SP (1934) 0-1, 1 G, 1 GS, 14.40 ERA, 5 IP, 33 ERA+; drafted by Baltimore Orioles (International-AA) in 1937 minor league draft

Charley Suche RP (1938) 0-0, 1 G, 0 GS, 27.00 ERA, 1.1 IP, 21 ERA+

Oris Hockett CF (1941) 333/500/333 129 OPS+, 8 PA +; acquired from Nashville Volunteers (Southern Association-A1) in conditional deal; switched to #34 in 1942

Paul Calvert RP (1942) 0-0, 1 G, 0 GS, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, no ERA+; switched to #47 in 1943

Allie Reynolds RP (1942) 0-0, 2 G, 0 GS, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, no ERA+; switched to #21 in 1943

Statistics and such

Uniform #0/00 has been worn 6 times by 3 different players covering 6 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #0/00 has never been shared in a season.

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