April 23, 2014

Cleveland Sports: By The Numbers – #21


The hottest selling jersey in Cleveland right now is a Cavs #33. Shaq hasn’t worn the jersey for much more than a photo shoot, but already may be the best #33 in Cavalier history. I started thinking about Cleveland jersey numbers and wondered what the greatest number was in Cleveland sports? It would have to be a number that reaches across the three major sports in my mind to be the top. So I did a little digging and decided to give you the top 5. You’ll get one a day this week. Today we start with the fifth best number in Cleveland sports- #21.

There are better individual players out there, but few jersey numbers might actually represent Cleveland  sports history quite like the #21. It all starts with the Indians’ Hall of Famer from years gone by- Bob Lemon.

boblemon-copyLook at Lemon’s stats. If he hadn’t played with Bob Feller, he might be remembered as the best pitcher in team history. Lemon won 2 games for the Indians in the 1948 World Series. The last time the Indians won the series in case you had forgotten. 7 times he won 20+ games. In that championship season, he had 10 shutouts. Teams don’t have that many shutouts now. Lemon would certainly be enough, but there are more Indians that made #21 ours. How about the Human Rain Delay himself Mike Hargrove? He wore it as a player and manager. He may not have had a HOF career as a player, but he did help guide the Tribe to their glory days of the ’90s. You also have Greg Swindell and Rocky Colavito, both #21 for the Indians.

metcalfbig-copyFrom the Browns- Eric Metcalf. There are a few Browns vs Steelers games more memorable than the 1993 tilt known simply as “The Metcalf Game”. The Browns were outplayed, and yet beat the Steelers on the strength of 2 Metcalf punt returns. The first one covered 91 yards, and the second went for 75. Both were touchdowns. The Browns won 28-23. When you remember Eric Metcalf, do remember that it was not his idea to run the ball up the middle on third and long. That was Belichick’s.

From the Cavaliers you get an all time great name- World B. Free. Free averaged over 22 points a game for the Cavs, and was the only reason to watch the team during a terrible stretch in which they were the laughingstock of the league. Gerald Wilkins wore #21 for the Cavs, and was brought in to be the defensive specialist the Cavs needed to get past Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Perhaps if Wilkins was able to accomplish that feat he could have bumped #21 closer to the top of the list.

So there you have it- the fifth best uniform number in Cleveland sports history #21.

Honorable Mentions: These numbers just missed the top 5-

#24 Manny Ramirez/Grady Sizemore and Andre Miller.

#13 Omar Vizquel, Frank Ryan and Delonte West.

#14 Otto Graham and Larry Doby.

#25 Mark Price, Charles White and Jim Thome.


  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Wow…even the biggest Price fan leaves him out of the top five?

    Looking forward to the rest…

  • http://www.NoLogoNeeded.com Don_NoLogoNeeded.com

    Damn, #14 is a pretty solid duo.

  • Chris M

    Campy Russell also wore #21 for a couple years.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    Agreed Don…that was the last cut. Now if Danny Green can come through for the Cavs, maybe 14 gets a second look in a few years!

  • Josh

    You gotta bump #25 up a few spots, Andy Marte just changed his number to 25

  • MrCleaveland

    Earnest Byner wore 21 his second time here. I’ll never forget him circling the old Stadium after the Browns last game there before the move. We won that game, of course, and EB got a 100 yards.

  • AMC

    Great idea for a feature. Looking forward to the rest as the week progresses.

  • Painesville

    I wonder who will be #1? Hmmmmm….

    /rubs chin

  • Chris M

    @ P-ville – Obviously #26, for Brook Jacoby.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig

    I know one person who approves of this feature by Rick. (ah ah ah)

  • Brendon

    How does JJ Hickson not make this list? lol

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    Damn, 25 doesn’t make it? There better be some doozies in the list if that number can’t make it.

  • Sean

    I’m thinking #19 ….for obvious reasons…. Damon Jones. Along with those other bums Lenny Wilkens, Bob Feller and some QB for the Browns. His name slips my mind right now.

  • Lebron3eb

    @ Brendon- i was wondering the same thing. silly Rick.

  • The Other Tim

    Does Charles White help or hurt #25?

  • The Other Tim

    And what number was Keith Hernandez?

  • JD

    Thome and Price – Gotta give #25 more love!!

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    I’m sad that nobody realized what we’re missing here.


    D. Miles. This picture taken of him in Arbutus, MD about two weeks ago.

  • MrCleaveland

    You can cut Charles White and replace him with Frank Pitts, who was a pretty good wideout in the early 70s. I can still hear Gib saying, “Phipps to Pitts.” I believe Frank scored a TD on a Monday night game and got Howuhd all excited.

  • MrCleaveland

    Also, didn’t Buddy Bell wear #25?

  • Dave D

    I just found an Eric Metcalf jersey on ebay and bought it. Cant wait to wear it this season. Hoping it will bring us some luck vs Pittsburgh…cant hurt, right?

  • JP

    Gerald Wilkins. This is why I love Dan Gilbert. Old Cavs bring in Gerald Wilkins to stop their nemesis. New Cavs bring in SHAQ. I don’t mean to knock Wilkins…he had a solid career and if he was healthy at crunch time, he would have made a difference against MJ. Pumped about Jamario Moon, too. After the addition of Shaq & Parker, he was the missing piece. Props to Ferry…he basically stole Moon from the Heat & they probably didn’t see it coming.

  • Mark

    The only 21 missing from this list is the greatest NPSL (National Professional Soccer League) player in Cleveland Crunch history: Hector Marinaro. Not only was he dirty on the turf but he had a pretty dirty perm, too.

  • WorldBFat

    Nice love for World B. Free. Obviously I am a fan.

  • Anthony

    Nice addition, Mark! I certainly didn’t forget Marinaro. I’ve still got a team poster from the ’96-’97 season (which I received during a camp organized by the Crunch) signed by him and a few others, including Karic.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Needs more #00 for Otto Orf!

  • saggy

    call me crazy, but i think Hector also wore #5 in his first stint with the Force as a teenage phenom.

    anyone else wear 5? ok, maybe that was a waste of a comment.

  • Mark

    A spry Jeff Phelps claiming the first championship in Cleveland since the 64 Brownies…


  • Tsunami


  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ Mark – holy cow, I forgot how edgy ESPN2 used to be.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    Wow, that link is mullet-mania.

  • Jay

    I’ll never forget my father jumping up and down screaming like a kid when Metcalf ran back punt #2. One of my favorite memories from chilhood.

    I’m shocked, as others have said, about #25 NOT making the cut. Price & Thome! I’m officially intrigued by the remaining four.

    Didn’t Trajan Langdon wear #21? (-1 for busted draft pick now playing in Russia.)

    Any chance of #17 making it on Browns history alone (Sipe yes…Braylon no :()

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