Eighteen days til pitchers and catchers report. Sadly there’s neither a pitcher nor a catcher in today’s card post. First up is Keith Hernandez. I know what you are saying: Whoa, hold on a minute there, Mr. All Things Ed. Are we talking THE Keith Hernandez? The five time all star, two time world champion, one time NL MVP, and a member of the NY Mets hall of fame? Are we talking THIS Keith Hernandez?”
And you are about to say, “We all know that Keith Hernandez wore number 17!” Well, I’d say you are correct. BUT… (there’s always a but….) He wore number 18 for the Cardinals in the 74-75 seasons, then switched to number 37 in 1976. While I don’t have a photo of him with the Cards during those two years, I do have this gem from 1981:
Next up is Gene Tenace of the Oakland A’s. Like Hernandez, Tenace changed numbers a couple of times early in his career, starting with 24, then 38, and settling on 18 in 1973. Tenace played 15 seasons, mostly with the A’s and Padres, then a couple of years with both the Cardinals and the Pirates. As a player, he has four World Series rings (three with the A’s, one with Cardinals), and two more as a coach with the Blue Jays.
Last up is Willie Randolph. I know…. another trick one. Randolph did wear number 18 his first year in baseball with the Pirates. After that, he bounced around a few numbers. Randolph was best known as a Yankee, from 76-88, winning back to back World Series titles in 76 and 77. Later, as a coach, he was part of four more championships for New York. He was a six time all star, and is also a Monument Park honoree at Yankee Stadium.
Another nifty player that wore number 18 (that I do not have a card for) is Ted “Big Klu” Kluszewski. Kluszewski played 15 years in the bigs, 1947-61, with most of that tenure with the Reds. He was a four time All Star, and from 1953-56 he had home run totals of 40, 49, 47 and 35 while driving in over 100 baserunners in each, including a league-leading 141 RBIs in 1954. The Reds have since retired his number.