MLB Players

Who Was The First Major League Player To Have His Number Retired?

By Biraj Khanal / 11 April 2023 03:49 AM

Gehrig was the first person to get his number retired in MLB history
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Who Was The First Major League Player To Have His Number Retired? Lou Gehrig was the first Major League player to have his number retired. 

Lou was an American professional third baseman for the New York Yankees in MLB for 17 seasons. He was nicknamed the "Iron Horse" for his power-hitting and durability. He had his number 4 retired on 4th July 1939.

Gehrig was regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time. He was included in the All-Star seven consecutive times. His career achievements include twice being an American League Most Valuable Player, Six World Series Champions team member, and Triple Crown winner.

Throughout his career, Lou had struck 493 home runs and had 1995 runs batted in and still has the highest ratio of runs scored among Hall of Fame players.

His consecutive winning streak ended in 1939 when he amazed the fans by being out of the club's lineup after suffering from an incurable neuromuscular illness.

First Number Retired In MLB

The first number to be retired in MLB was No. 4. It was officially retired on July 4, 1939, by one of the greatest baseball players Lou Gehrig. 

The tradition of retirement of numbers was started when Lou in MLB history as his number was the first to be retired. It has been the famous way to honor a former player since then. After then, almost 200 digits have been retired in MLB history.

Lou and his first retired jersey number 4 in MLB history
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After the Yankees assigned the numbers to the players from 1 to 8 per their regular batting orders, Lou was designated No. 4, along with his teammate Babe Ruth with No.3. 

Due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, later named Lou Gehrig's Disease, he announced his retirement following his number to be retired in MLB. The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is given every year to the MLB player who shows Lou's integrity in the game in his honor.

Recently, MLB retired numbers 2023, including two pending retirements of digits 25 and 34, which are worn by Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves and Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers. 

Who Wore Number 42 In Baseball?

The African American professional baseball player Jackie Robinson wore number 42 in baseball. He was born on January 31, 1919.

Robinson had his first game on April 15, 1947, for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Major League Baseball. His signing to the Dodgers was crucial in professional baseball history.

Jackie won the Rookie of the Year in 1947 and was part of the MLB All stars team for six consecutive years. He has played in six World Series and helped the Dodgers win the 1995 World Series.

Jackie Robinson was the last to wear No. 42
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Before joining MLB, Robinson used to play for the Negro leagues and later moved to the Minor leagues. He joined the Dodgers in 1947.

Robinson's legacy continues today, and he is remembered as one of the most legendary players in MLB history ever played.

Is 42 The Only Number Retired In Baseball?

Yes. 42 is the only number of retired in baseball. His number 42 is now retired by every MLB team, making it the only number universally retired.

The proud moment in any professional sport is to have your number retired. The MLB has seen several legendary players having their numbers retired.


The retired number is taken out to honor the retired players who contribute significantly to the team.

Robinson's number is the first number to be retired across the league for all teams. 42 lists Dodger's retired numbers, including Duke Snider No. 4, Don Sutton No. 20, and Don Drysdale No. 53.

When Was Jackie Robinson Number Retired?

Jackie Robinson number retired on April 15, 1997. MLB announced April 15 as Jack Robinson Day since then.

In 1997, MLB retired his jersey No. 42 across all Major League teams as the first professional athlete to be honored in any sport.

Before the game between Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees at Shea Stadium, Selig announced the permanent retirement of No. 42 throughout Major League Baseball at Shea Stadium.

Robinson jersey was retired on April 15, 1997 celebrated as Robinson Day till now
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The Dodgers additionally honored him by building his monument at their home ballpark of his famous slide. His number is now among the Dodgers retired numbers list.

The teams across the leagues celebrate Robinson Day every year, in which every player on all teams wears No. 42 on their jersey, remembering his legacy throughout his career in Major League Baseball.

Why Was Mariano Rivera Allowed To Wear 42?

Mariano Rivera was allowed to wear 42 because Rivera was the only active player playing when MLB retired the number across the leagues. 

In 1997, all clubs agreed to retire the number 42 across all the leagues. But those players who were playing wearing the same number jersey were permitted to wear it until they retired from baseball.

Mariano wore Jersey 42 throughout his career
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He was sporting in the number when the MLB announced the retirement of the number.

He was close to Jackie's family and the New York team during his tenure. Having learned its importance, Mariano wore it till his retirement in 2013.

Last Player To Wear 42

The last player to wear 42 was Mariano Rivera. He was a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees.

Mariano wore the legendary number throughout his MLB career before announcing his retirement in 2013. He spent most of his career as a Yankee player. 

The baseball's first unanimous Hall of Famer wore the digits in every 1115 regular games he pitched. His longevity in his career made him understand the significance of No. 42, where he enjoyed a beautiful bond with Robinson's family.

Rivera said to MLB that he wanted to make Mr. Jackie Robinson proud of his legacy being the last No. 42 and was thankful to Robinson for passing down his legacy to the next generations. 

Rivera was a thirteen-time All-star player and five times World Series Champion. During his career, he has won five American League and Rolaids Relief Man Awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the class of 2019.

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