Famous Retired Numbers in Sports – From NBA to Formula 1

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Posted: January 25, 2024

Updated: January 25, 2024

  • What are some of the most notable retired numbers in popular sports?
  • From football to ice hockey, take a look at numbers you won't see on the field again

Retired numbers in sports are one of the ways for teams to honor and permanently recognize the contributions and achievements of a player. This practice has been common in various sports leagues around the world though it originated in North America and its signature sports – ice hockey, baseball, and basketball. Nowadays, retired numbers are also used in European sports, which makes it a good reason to check some most popular examples. 

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Retired Numbers in Sports Around the Globe

From MBL to NBA, from football to car racing – nearly every sport has its legends whose numbers are untouchable. Take a rest from online sportsbooks in the US and look at some competitions with notable retired numbers in sports.

MLB

MBL boasts an array of retired numbers in sports. One of the most recognizable teams in MLB, New York Yankees, have retired a lot of numbers. This includes 1 for Billy Martin and 3 worn by none other than Babe Ruth who was famous for calling his shots. They also removed 4 to honor Lou Gehrig, 5 for Joe DiMaggio, and 7 for Mickey Mantle. 

Another world widely famous team, Boston Red Sox, have a couple of numbers retired, which areTed Williams’ 9 and David Ortiz’s 34.

NBA

The same tradition is alive in basketball. For example, the Chicago Bulls retired 23 which is synonymous with Michael Jordan.

retired numbers in sports
Picture Source: Flickr

In fact, it is not just Bulls that retired this number but also North Carolina Tar Heels’s university team that did the same thing and one can witness the 23 jersey hanging above the university’s pitch. 

The Los Angeles Lakers retired 8 and 24 in memory of Kobe Bryant, and the Boston Celtics retired 33 for Larry Bird and 34 for Paul Pierce. By the way, you can find the latest odds for the Lakers at Bovada.

NHL

The most famous retired numbers in sports include NHL, where Toronto Maple Leafs’s Ace Bailey and his number 6 jersey takes the central spot. He was the first player to have his number retired. Wayne Gretzky, a former Edmonton Oilers and LA Kings star, had his number 99 retired in both teams. 

Montreal Canadiens have plenty of retired numbers, including the following: 1 for Jacques Plante, 9 for Maurice Richard, and 33 for Patrick Roy. The Detroit Red Wings also have retired 9 for Gordie Howe and 19 for Steve Yzerman.

European football

Meanwhile, in European sports like football, players used to wear team numbers rather than choose their own. Up until the 1990s, a player could not take a number for good since a number was also a way of identifying them based on their pitch position. For example, 1 was a traditional goalkeeper number, 2 to 5 were meant for defenders, 6 to 8 were midfielders, 9 to 11 – attackers, and the remaining 12 to 16 – substitutes. 

retired numbers in sports
Picture Source: Flickr

Still, this did not hinder football fans from associating some of the greatest players with particular numbers. For example, Johan Cruyff was associated by Ajax and the Netherlands with the number 14 or Paolo Maldini with number 3 by AC Milan fans. In fact, both of these numbers were retired in commemoration of the footballers’ impact on the clubs. A well-known example is Diego Maradona’s number 10, whose shirt was retired by Napoli, the current Serie A leader at Bovada

There are cases where tragic events have led to retired numbers in sports. For example, a Cameroonian International Marc-Vivien Foe died on a pitch in 2003 during a football game and several clubs retired the number he wore while performing for them – Lens retired number 17 and Manchester City did this with 23. You may also remember Emiliano Sala who was killed in a plane accident in 2019 so that Nantes retired number 9 in his memory.

Formula 1

What about another popular sport at online gambling sites in the US, Formula 1? Until 2014, F1 drivers were given a number in relation to their team’s constructor standing with an exception of a drivers’ champion team. This meant that the team whose driver won the last year’s title took 1 and 2 for their cars even if they did not win the Constructors’ title. 

In 2014, it was decided that drivers could choose their own number and both coincidentally and tragically the same year Jules Bianchi suffered a terrible crash at Suzuka and died a year later. FIA announced that they would retire number 17 from the sport commemorating Bianchi’s career and the effect that his crash did to the sport as the appearance of Halo was due to that crash.

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