What is the greatest uniform number in Cleveland sports history? A number significant to more than just one of the three pro franchises? Today the fourth part of the week long series…
The second best number in Cleveland sports history is #32. Much like yesterday and number 23, today’s number is primarily carried by one superstar. Cleveland’s Jim Brown was easily the best player of his generation. When he retired his name was on more records than Elvis. (I’ll be here all week…) Think about this- he averaged 5.2 yards per carry for his entire career. That is the best for any RB with more than 500 carries. He still ranks 8th in total rushing yards and is the only player in the top ten that averaged more than 100 yards per game.
He holds team records for every conceivable rushing category and ranks 4th (behind 3 kickers) in total scoring. Brown accounted for 126 touchdowns in his career. He was the anchor of the offense during the last Cleveland championship in 1964. There really is no question why his number is on this list, so let’s see what help he gets from the other teams.
From the Indians- #32 Dennis Martinez. Martinez only pitched in Cleveland for 3 seasons, but those were some amazing years. He came to the Tribe in 1994 as a free agent and quickly became the staff ace. Martinez didn’t have overwhelming stuff, but he knew how to pitch. He knew how to get batters out. He bought into what the Indians were doing by signing their young players to long term deals. He helped put Cleveland on the free agent map. His signing, the new stadium, and the success of the team in 1994 helped land Orel Hershiser in ’95 and Jack McDowell in ’96. Most Tribe fans remember that Martinez started the biggest game in Cleveland’s modern era in game 6 of the 1995 ALCS against Randy Johnson. He kept the Mariners scoreless, matching Johnson pitch for pitch. The win earned Cleveland it’s first opportunity to play for a championship in over 25 years.
Interesting to think about what could have been. #32 was also the number worn by Roger Maris his first year in Cleveland, before being traded to Oakland. Aaron Laffey wears the number for the current Tribe. He’d have to have some serious success before he knocks Martinez off the list of best Tribe #32s.
From the Cavaliers- #32 Tyrone Hill. Sorry Larry. You had your shot. You were supposed to be Robin. But you didn’t care enough. Tyrone Hill was a rebounding machine, but he had a decent offensive game to go with it. He averaged 10.8 points per game for the Cavs and pulled down over 9 boards a contest. tell me you wouldn’t love to have that kind of production from the 4 spot this season? He made the ’95 all-star team. A superstar? No, but a very solid role player. Combine his production with Dennis Martinez and you get the help Jim Brown needed to get #32 to second on our list.