It still boggles the mind to think that in the 91 seasons Major League Baseball players have regularly worn numbers on the backs of their uniforms, none to wield a bat or pound a glove have yet taken the field wearing 86, 89, or 92. If limiting that pool to any one team, the list of unworn numbers obviously grows.
Through the Minnesota Twins’ history, there have been 24 numbers that no Twin has worn, and — despite the team residing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for nearly 60 years — seven numbers that have only been worn by one player.
Who are these players? Have they been impactful Twins, or one-game wonders? Let’s learn. But we start with a non-Twin:
00: Bobo Newsom (1943, ‘46-47)
While Newsom never pitched in Minnesota, his career ending before Metropolitan Stadium hosted a big-league team, Ol’ Bobo spent five stints of his well-traveled career with the Washington Senators. While Newsom wore #12 in stints one, two, and five, he wore #00 during parts of three seasons in the 1940s, the only player in franchise history to wear that number. Through his eight seasons (most of any team) and two numbers as a Senator, Newsom went 61-66 with a 4.28 ERA. He finished his career with a 211-222 record, an impactful eccentric personality, and a stanza in the Ogden Nash poem “Line-Up for Yesterday.”
Now, on to Minnesotans:
0: Junior Ortiz (1990-91)
For the last six years of his career, two of which were spent as a Twin, Junior Ortiz wore 0, matching the first letter of his name. As Minnesota’s backup catcher, Ortiz slashed .280/.343/.332 with no home runs and was gifted a shirt reading “I Can’t Hit, I Can’t Run, I Can’t Throw, What Am I Doing Here?” But Ortiz started Games 3 and 6 in the 1991 World Series, earning a ring to conclude his time as a Twin.
65: Trevor May (2014-Present)
In his five seasons in Minnesota (excluding his missed 2017), May has transitioned from an inconsistent starter to one of the Twins’ most reliable relievers. Coming out of the bullpen, May has put up a 3.44 ERA, allowing an opposing batting average of .212 and an OBP of .286. Last season was May’s best to date, posting a 2.94 ERA, 156 ERA+, and 1.073 WHIP. And through all of his mound (and gaming) accomplishments, May has remained the first and only Twin to wear #65. Of the players on this list, May has by far spent the longest in Minnesota.
72: Pat Neshek (2006)
Though Neshek pitched for the Twins through 2010 (3.05 ERA over four seasons, sub-3.00 in both ‘06 and ‘07), he briefly wore #72 during his rookie year before switching to his more familiar #17. And it must have been very brief: every image I could find of Neshek in 2006, outside of spring training, shows him wearing #17. But Baseball Reference and The Baseball Cube list his #72 during the season (along with Glen Perkins wearing #60!), so my best guess is this: Neshek debuted wearing #72 on July 7, but before his next appearance on July 17, he changed digits. Was there a transaction in between? I’m not sure; I can’t find a record of callups and demotions. (Editor’s note: Juan Castro wore #17 for the 2006 Twins, but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on July 15th.) But Neshek, if only briefly, is still the only Twin to wear #72. His more notable uniform number feat came when joining the Phillies in 2018, as Neshek became the first player in league history to wear #93.
74: Ronald Torreyes (2019)
Added to the Twins’ 40-man roster before last season, Torreyes wore #19 in spring training, far from the #74 he’d worn in New York. But after Ryne Harper made the active roster out of camp, the curveball specialist switched from #70 (never worn by any Twin) to #19. So when Torreyes was called up in September, he ended up with his old Yankees number, also a Twins first. Torreyes’ Twins stats: .188/.235/.188, no extra-base hits, one stolen base, and one walkoff hit by pitch.
76: Felix Jorge (2017)
Jorge was called up to start two games in July 2017, gave up 14 hits and nine runs (including four dingers) over 7.2 innings, and has not appeared in the majors since. But in those two games, Jorge became the first (and so far only) Twin to wear #76. (Coach Cibney Bello wore #76 last year during the postseason, but this article only considers players.)
80: Ryan Eades (2019)
Not only did Eades become the Twins’ first #80 when called up last June, he became the majors’ first, wearing a number that had never been worn before. Eades pitched in two games, allowing, four hits and two walks (but no runs) in 3.2 innings, before returning to the minors. The Orioles acquired Eades later in the season, and when they called him up in late August, Eades wore #36. Boring.
99: Logan Morrison (2018)
A late addition to the 2018 roster, signed three weeks into training camp, Morrison selected #99 over #00, #40, and #68 because he was the last player in camp. Unfortunately, Morrison’s campaign has become Minnesota lexicon for crashed expectations, as the former Rays slugger slashed .186/.276/.368 with 15 home runs and 80 strikeouts. At minimum (and this really is a minimum), he did become the Twins’ first #99, always a satisfying number to write on a scorecard.
As more and more numbers are retired, teams will branch out into assigning numbers long considered unusual — just look at the Yankees — and the unworn numbers will find their way onto jerseys. If there is baseball in 2020, Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera is in position to become the league’s first #92. As for the Twins, we can only wait to see who the team’s next first number will be.