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Devon White switched from #19 to #25 out of respect for Fred McGriff

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Outfielder Devon White #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays heads to second base during Game Four of the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves 
Outfielder Devon White #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays heads to second base during Game 4 of the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Photo by MLB via Getty Images

Remember a few years ago when the Blue Jays fanbase became incensed when Toronto traded for Alen Hanson who then asked for, and received, #19? *Places fingers up to ears* Ah, I am being told that this happened just one year ago.

Of course, we remember that Hanson drew the ire of Blue Jays fans when he first trotted out on April 4, 2019 wearing the old uniform number of Jose Bautista, who had left Toronto after the 2017 season. The wound was still fresh. It so irked fans that Hanson only lasted one day wearing #19, switching to #1 the next day.

Unfortunately that—and not being a very good major league baseball player—did not buy him any fans in Toronto. He would only end up playing 18 games before he was sent down to Buffalo.

Poor Hanson wasn’t even the first player to wear the sacred digits since Bautista had left: Freddy Galvis asked for that that number in spring training (to honour Marco Scutaro) before the pressure got him to change to something else, which was #16. No Blue Jay has been assigned that number since.

But back in spring training 1991, the then-newly acquired Devon White was smart enough to sidestep numerical controversy. Arriving in Dunedin, he discovered that he had been assigned #19. Knowing that the number was worn by fan favourite Fred McGriff, who had just been shipped out with Tony Fernandez for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, White started shopping for other numbers pretty early on in camp.

Jose Bautista stands with Devon White
Two Blue Jays who wore #19 in spring training.
Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

“I think Canadians are always gonna look at 19 as Fred McGriff,” White told Toronto Star’s Allan Ryan. That prediction was not 100% as Paul Molitor would comfortably wear that number when he arrived in 1993, but White’s heart was in the right place.

White wore #30 for six years with the California Angels (which was retied by the Angels for Nolan Ryan), but he didn’t want to target that number because it was already being worn by Todd Stottlemyre. Stottlemyre chose that number as a tribute to his father Mel, who wore #30 for 11 seasons with the Yankees. Joe Carter, as another new Blue Jay, was assigned #29 despite having worn #30 in his Cleveland years. Carter was happy with his number but Stottlemyre told Allan Ryan that he would be happy to give up his number if Carter brings him a world championship.

The number White was eyeing was first base coach Mike Squires’ #25. Squires had worn #25 for seven seasons in his playing career with the White Sox after switching from, incidentally, #19. Squires finally gave his #25 to White at the end of spring training, switching to #6.

Speaking of Fred McGriff, our partners at BreakingT has released a Crime Dog raglan shirt courtesy of the MLB Players Alumni Association license. Get yours here!

Fred McGriff t-shirt BreakingT

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