A closer look behind the uniform numbers of the KC Royals

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Uniform numbers are as American as apple pie.  We will take a look at popular, unpopular, and other number oddities in KC Royals’ history.

The most popular jersey to don is the No. 31 for the KC Royals.  A total of 32 players have worn that uniform since 1969.  The only years that it was not used were from 1970-1975 and 1994.  Ian Kennedy currently has that number and he is also the longest to wear that particular jersey, breaking a tie he had with Royals great Bret Saberhagen.

Saberhagen wore No. 31 from 1984-1986 and then switched to 18 during the 1987 campaign until he left the team following the 1991 season.  His reason for switching was a tough year in 1986 and he believed reverting to his high school number would change his luck.

George Brett was, appropriately, the fifth KC player to put the #5 on his back.  Fifth and final as that number is retired.  Three players (!!!) wore that number in 1971 and then Richie Scheinblum took it over in 1972. Did you know that Brett actually started out wearing No. 25 in his first two seasons?

"When Brett first came up, he wore 25, and he would continue to through his first full season in 1974. He made the switch for good at the start of the 1975 campaign and never looked back — save for a 1978 episode of “Fantasy Island,” in which Brett for some reason appeared not in the number he’d made famous but in the number he hadn’t worn for a good four years. – MLB.com"

There are a few numbers that have only had one Royals’ player slip it on over the 50 years of the franchise.  Remember Hideo Nomo?  He made three poor appearances for the team in 2008 at age 39 after being out of majors for two seasons.  No. 91 is not very popular it turns out. Erik Skoglund donned No. 69 in 2017, his rookie year, and has since switched to 53.  We are used to seeing Hunter Dozier in the No.17, but he debuted in 2016 wearing 60.

The No. 0 would have joined the only worn once category as George Scott had it for one season in 1979 however, Terrance Gore chose it from 2014 after a 25-year absence.  Gore enjoys making history as his matchup against pitcher Adam Ottavino of the New York Yankees in 2019 was the first time in MLB history zero was both on the mound and at the plate.

dark. Next. 15 years of Royals futility

Most importantly, there are the retired numbers of the KC Royals.  No. 5 of course, No. 10 of the late, great manager Dick Howser, No. 20 belonging to the homegrown talent Frank White, and the universally retired No. 42 of the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson.  It has been a while since the team has retired a jersey – maybe a player will come along and not only produce at a high level but have a long career in the powder blue unis.