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Why No Player Names on Yankee Uniforms?
email this pageprint this pageemail usLois Lane - PVNN
October 23, 2010

Have you ever wondered why the New York Yankees are the only baseball team without the names of the players on the back of their jerseys? (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Why do the New York Yankees players not have their names on their uniforms and are they the only baseball players who have only their numbers?

One opinion is that the Yankees realize that baseball is a team sport and value the importance of teamwork and unity. The club believes that by putting the names on the shirts you are placing unnecessary attention on individuals rather than the team as a whole.

In 1929, the New York Yankees became the first team to make numbers a permanent part of the uniform. Numbers were handed out based on the order in the lineup. In 1929, Earle Combs wore #1, Mark Koenig #2, Babe Ruth #3, Lou Gehrig #4, Bob Meusel #5, Tony Lazzeri #6, Leo Durocher #7, Johnny Grabowski #8, Benny Bengough #9, and Bill Dickey #10.

It was adopted by other teams and eventually became more of a way of identifying the players on the field more easily. Putting names on the back of jerseys kind of defeats the purpose of a number at this point. Most teams wear their names all the time. The Yankees never wear their names. The Red Sox only have their number (not name) at home only, on the road they have their name on their jersey. There might be another team or 2 that does not wear names at home, but it's very rare.

Also, by having only numbers on the backs of the jerseys, fans were forced to pay for programs to know who was batting when... it was a way for the stadiums to make money.

Yankee fans may claim that they are staying true to a "long-standing tradition" since they were the first team to break tradition and add numbers to their uniform backs or they might offer some idealistic hogwash about how "the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back." Yankee haters, on the other hand, think the no-name approach is born of arrogance: The Yankees, admittedly the most successful franchise in MLB history, think their players are so famous and recognizable worldwide that names would be superfluous.

While other teams began putting names on the backs of jerseys in the 1960s, the Yankees did not follow the trend, but chose to stick with tradition. Many companies create jerseys with Yankee names sewn on the back for fans to purchase, but no official Yankee uniform has ever had names on the back. They are also one of the few teams in Major League Baseball to shun the trend of creating a "third jersey." The team has never issued #0 or #00.

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