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Hyun-Jin Ryu and Shun Yamaguchi: Major League teammates wearing #1 and #99

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The Blue Jays’ Shun Yamaguchi (#1) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (#99) can become the first pair of pitchers to wear jersey numbers 1 and 99 on the same team.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s #99 white Blue Jays jersey hanging in the clubhouse.
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s #99 Blue Jays jersey hanging in the clubhouse.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

According to the 40-Man Roster page on the Blue Jays’ official website, pitcher Shun Yamaguchi will be wearing #1 for Toronto this season while fellow free agent pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will be wearing his familiar #99. The Athletic’s Andrew Stoeten had a gut feeling that this could be the first time a major league rotation featured a #1 and a #99 when they debut for the Jays in 2020.

Now of course, Yamaguchi may or may not figure into the starting rotation, but Stoeten’s hunch was nonetheless correct: there has never been a rotation with both a #1 and a #99 because there has never been a pitching staff with both a #1 and #99 in the major leagues. That shouldn’t be too shocking, as there has only been a handful of pitchers wearing either number in MLB history.

So, naturally, I went to Baseball-Reference.com and looked up every pair of teammates to have worn #1 and #99 together on the same team (thankfully there were just 10). Here are their stories.

1. 1952 Yankees: 2B Billy Martin (#1) and LF Charlie Keller (#99)

The first time a major league team featured both a #1 and a #99 came on September 13, 1952 when Charlie “King Kong” Keller made a farewell cameo with the Yankees while Billy Martin was New York’s second baseman. Keller had worn #9 in his first stint with the Yankees before the War, but Hank Bauer had that number in 1952. Because #1 would eventually be retired for Martin, later Yankees like Brian Bruney and Aaron Judge would never have #1 teammate while in pinstripes.

2. 1995 Angels: IF Damion Easley (#1) and RP Mitch Williams (#99)

Blue Jays fans are very familiar with Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams’ #99. A couple seasons after giving up the home run to Joe Carter, Williams found himself with the California Angels for a 20-game stint where he was a teammate of Damion Easily from April through June. Easley was playing second base behind Williams for his Angels debut which happened to be in Toronto; a game in which poor Williams blew a save in the eighth inning on a Lance Parrish RBI-single.

3. 2001 Cubs: IF Augie Ojeda (#1) and C Todd Hundley (#99)

Todd Hundley, who had worn #9 for most of his career, signed with the Cubs expecting that his old teammate from the Mets Damon Buford would hand over the #9 jersey. Buford did not, so Hundley was stuck with #99. Hundley played with Augie Ojeda the entire season, but the #1/#99 teammate situation only lasted until mid-May when Hundley finally got the coveted #9—when Buford was released.

4. 2007 Rockies: IF Jamey Carroll (#1) and RP Darren Clarke (#99)

Darren Clarke only had a cup of coffee in the major leagues. Jamey Carroll was wearing #1 behind Clarke’s #99 in his only two games in the major leagues.

5. 2009 Cubs: OF Kosuke Fukudome (#1) and OF So Taguchi (#99)

So Taguchi played his first seven seasons with the Cardinals and the Phillies, who had #1 retired for Ozzie Smith and Richie Ashburn, so although he had worn #99 throughout his career, he never had a #1 teammate until his short stint with the Cubs.

6. 2010 White Sox: OF Juan Pierre (#1) and DH Manny Ramirez (#99)

Like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Manny Ramirez wore #99 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a number of seasons without a teammate who wore #1 as it was retired for Pee Wee Reese. The White Sox picked up Manny on waivers just before the September 1 roster expansion and he DHed for most of that September while Pierre patrolled left field.

7. 2010 Nationals: OF Nyjer Morgan (#1) and RP Collin Balester (#99)

Collin Balester wore three different numbers with the Washington Nationals: #40 when he was first called up in 2008 and 2009 before switching to #99 in 2010 then switching again to #23 in 2011. Balester was a top prospect for the Expos/Nationals but seemed like an odd fellow. He requested #99 because in his words, “I got 99 problems but a pitch ain’t one.” Well, it turned out that his pitch was one of his problems because he was sent to Syracuse to start the season and when he was recalled he hit both Rickie Weeks and Mark Reynolds in the head in a span of a week and was sent back down to the minors soon after. His teammate Nyjer “Tony Plush” Morgan also had control issues: in 2010 he was suspended for hitting a Phillies fan with a baseball, ran over two catchers, and suspended again for starting a brawl.

8. 2011 Rockies: OF Eric Young Jr. (#1) and IF/OF Alfredo Amezaga (#99)

Eric Young Jr. and Alfredo Amezaga were teammates briefly, between Young’s callup to Colorado on May 26 and Amezaga being designated for assignment on May 29. They played in two games together, and in one of them, Young was on deck when Amezaga grounded out to end the game.

9. 2014 & 2015 Mariners: IF Chris Taylor (#1) and OF James Jones (#99)

Chris Taylor and James Jones were teammates on both the 2014 and 2015 Seattle Mariners. While they spent a lot of time together in 2014, the two never played in the same game in 2015. They were together on the 25-man roster on July 5 when James Jones was called up for a day.

10. 2018 & 2019 Diamondbacks: OF Jarrod Dyson (#1) and SP Taijuan Walker (#99)

Taijuan Walker’s favourite number growing up was #44 but he couldn’t wear that number with Seattle until 2016, after Lucas Luetge’s departure. When he was traded to Arizona after the 2016 season, Walker was forced again to choose a different number as Paul Goldschmidt was occupying #44. He chose #99 for no particular reason, just because it happened to be “the first number that popped into [his] head.” Jarrod Dyson played in two of Walker’s three game in 2018 as well as in the Diamondback’s 2019 season finale, Walker’s only appearance in 2019.


Close Calls

  • In 1997, the Cubs traded Turk Wendell (and others) to the Mets for Lance Johnson (and others). Johnson wore #1 and Turk Wendell wore #99 for the 1997 Mets, but of course they were never teammates.
  • Both Chris Taylor (#1) and Daniel Robertson (#99) played with the 2016 Mariners, but Robertson had not been called up from triple-A Tacoma until after Taylor was traded to the Dodgers.
  • In 2017, Robertson (#99) moved to the Cleveland organization and was promoted to the big leagues on May 14. In order to make room on the roster, Cleveland designated Michael Martinez (#1) for assignment.