I wrote this post with the notion that Rizzo, Bryant, and Baez got together and all said they would wear 23 together. Then Rizzo found out that 23 wasn’t available, so he took the next available Cub number.
After publishing this post, it came to my attention that 23 was Bryant’s college number. Baez said, “23 and 10 are the two numbers that I always wore as a kid.”
Thus the following theory is pretty silly. Although I found it interesting at the time, maybe you might too.
Within just two short days, the championship trio of Cubs Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez were traded away.
Players tend to like to keep their jersey number, but all three of their numbers were not available on each team.
- Rizzo’s 44: retired for Yankee Reggie Jackson
- Bryant’s 17: worn by Giants Jake McGee
- Baez’s 9: worn by Mets Brandon Nimmo
Normally, if a player’s number is not available on their new team, they’ll pick a number that’s close. Rizzo went from 44 to 48, which seems close. But there’s actually a Cub history reason why he went with 48, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Bryant went from 17 to 23. Those are kinda close numbers, I guess?
Baez went from 9 to 23. Hrmmm. 9 is not remotely close to 23.
Wait—TWENTY-THREE? Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are wearing #23. For Cubs fans that number 23 shouts sooooo loudly RYNE SANDBERG. Really. Of all the retired numbers for the Cubs, 23 is for the most recent player. (Sorry, I’m not counting 31 for Maddux. We all know that 31 is really retired for Fergie Jenkins. Maddux wearing 31 was just a coincidence, so they threw him in with the honor).
23 23 23. Other than 14 of Ernie Banks, 23 is THE number that Cubs fans identify with. Any former Cub wearing 23 is immensely calling out the Cub all-time great.
Why not #14 of Mr. Cub Ernie Banks?
If you are really calling on the Cubs Universe, why not go with Mr. Cub’s number of 14?
- 14: worn by Giants Chadwich Tromp
- 14: retired by Mets Gil Hodges
- 14: worn by Yankees Tyler Wade
The fact that BOTH Baez and Bryant are wearing 23. It had to be intentional. They are calling on their Chicago roots.
But what about Rizzo? Why is he not wearing 23?
On the surface, it looks like Rizzo picked 48 because 48 is pretty close to 44. But closer inspection reveals a CUB reason why he’s wearing 48.
He couldn’t pick 23, because the Yankees retired 23 for Don Mattingly. In fact, ALL the Cubs retired numbers are currently not available on the Yankees.
- Ron Santo’s 10: retired for Phil Rizzuto
- Ernie Banks’ 14: worn by Tyler Wade
- Ryne Sandberg’s 23: retired for Don Mattingly
- Billy Williams’ 26: worn by DJ LeMahieu
- Fergie Jenkins’ 31: worn by Aaron Hicks
Why Anthony Rizzo is wearing #48 with the Yankees
All the Cubs big uniform numbers are not available! What do you do? Go down the list of Cubs with the most career WAR, and see whose number is available.
That would be Rick Reushel. And his number? 48.
- Ron Santo 72.1 (#10 is retired for Phil Rizzuto
- Ryne Sandberg 68.1 (#23 is retired for Don Mattingly
- Ernie Banks 67.7 (#14 worn by Tyler Wade
- Billy Williams 61.8 (#26 worn by DJ LeMahieu
- Sammy Sosa 58.8 (#21 available. But Sosa, really? PASS)
- Stan Hack 55.5 (#6 is retired for Joe Torre)
- Gabby Hartnett 55.0 (#2 is retired for Derek Jeter; #9 is retired for Roger Maris)
- Fergie Jenkins 52.9 (#31 worn by Aaron Hicks)
- Rick Reushel 48.3 (#48 is available)
Yup. Rizzo wearing number 48 is a connection to the Cubs. According to career WAR, Rick Reushel is the second-best Cubs pitcher ever.
Why aren’t Bryant and Baez wearing 48?
Rizzo was the first of the Rizzo-Bryant-Baez trio to be traded. He took 48. Why didn’t Bryant and Baez follow along with taking 48?
Because 48 was not available with the Mets and Giants.
- 48: worn by Mets Jacob deGrom
- 48: worn by Giants Jose Alvarez
Baez and Bryant wear 23 in honor of Cubs great Sandberg. Rizzo wears 48 in honor of Cubs great Rick Reushel.
Baez and Bryant take the most-famous Cubs number available, #23. Rizzo had to face the Yankees’ impressive list of twenty-two retired numbers. He went for the best Cub available, Rick Reushel and his #48.
Is it really possible that Baez, Bryant, and Rizzo all wanted to wear #23? I like to think so.