10 – Pat Tabler, 1983-87
No. 10 is one of the most difficult choices of them all. Max Alvis, Coco Crisp and Vic Power all have legitimate arguments, but Tabler had the most impressive combination of longevity and success. Crisp’s peak was better than anyone else, but only two full seasons hurts his case. And Alvis’ longevity works to has advantage, but even his best seasons don’t stack up to the others. On a different note, what’s up with catchers and the number 10? Luke Sewell, Jim Hegan, Ray Fosse, Pat Borders, Kelly Shoppach and now Yan Gomes.
Most commonly worn by: Max Alvis (eight seasons)
11 – Toby Harrah, 1979-83
Harrah provides No. 11 with at least one recognizable name, but the number has a rough history in Cleveland. Even the cameos (Joe Adcock, Matt Lawton) aren’t very impressive. Harrah edges out Johnny Romano, Doug Jones and Paul Sorrento for the title of greatest No. 11, based mostly on a 1982 campaign which still ranks among the most impressive for a third baseman in team history.
Most commonly worn by: Harrah and Frankie Pytlak (five seasons)
12 – Roberto Alomar, 1999-01
No. 12 has a brutal recent history in Cleveland with the exception one phenomenal three-year stretch. Alomar wins this race by a long shot, with Graig Nettles – another with a brief three-year Tribe career – finishing as the runner up. Alomar’s WAR of 20.3 ranked fifth in the majors during his three-year stay in Cleveland.
Most commonly worn by: Willis Hudlin (11 seasons)
13 – Omar Vizquel, 1994-2004
Apparently baseball players are a superstitious bunch, because No. 13 is one of the least commonly worn uniforms in Tribe history. In fact, only 13 men have donned the number. It’s been a stable of the Tribe lineup for the past 20 years, however, with future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel being the obvious winner of this distinction, followed by runner-up Asdrubal Cabrera.
Most commonly worn by: Vizquel (11 seasons)
14 – Larry Doby, 1947-55, ’58
It took almost 40 years for the Indians to retire Doby’s number (it was retired in 1994, last worn by Jesse Levis in 1992) but through all that time he remained the most notable No. 14 in Tribe history. Plenty of others had success with No. 14, including Wes Ferrell, who won 20 games three times in the jersey, and Chris Chambliss, winner of the 1971 Rookie of the Year award.
Most commonly worn by: Doby (10 seasons)
15 – Sandy Alomar Jr. 1990-2000
Sandy Alomar Jr.’s reign as No. 15 is one of the longest and most successful in Indians history – and it continues today as a member of the Tribe coaching staff. Alomar wore the number in six All-Star Games, joining Johnny Allen (1938) as the only No. 15 All-Stars in Tribe history. Since Alomar retired, the No. 15 behind the plate tradition has been carried on by Tim Laker and Wyatt Toregas.
Most commonly worn by: Alomar, 11 seasons
16 – Al Smith, 1955-57
This one is impossible. The candidates are Smith, Clint Brown, Larry Brown and Felix Fermin. Smith undoubtedly had the best career in Cleveland, but his time was split between No. 16 and No. 32. His career began in No. 32, which he wore during the 1954 World Series, but at some point during the ’55 season he decided to slice his number in half. Given the forgettable performances of the other candidates, I’ll give the nod to Smith, but this one is a lose-lose decision.
Most commonly worn by: Larry Brown (eight seasons)
17 – Shin-Soo Choo, 2007-12
My first instinct was to select Travis Fryman, but when comparing the numbers Choo was the clear winner. Not only was Choo’s career in No. 17 longer, but his WAR nearly triples Fryman total. In recent years, the number actually has a fairly impressive track record, or at least a strong name-recognition track record. Since 1990, it’s been passed from Keith Hernandez to Bob Ojeda to Tony Pena, Marquis Grissom, Fryman, Aaron Boone and Choo. A dishonorable mention also goes to Wayne Garland, who wore the number throughout his infamous Indians career.
Most commonly worn by: Choo (six seasons)
18 – Mel Harder, 1930-47
This is one of the two easiest decisions on the list. Despite the fact that Harder’s number wasn’t retired until 1990, Duane Kuiper was the only player to even approach Harder’s success in No. 18. While Harder is more memorable for his longevity than his very modest success in Cleveland, 18 years in one number is certainly worth this recognition.
Most commonly worn by: Harder (18 seasons)
19 – Bob Feller, 1939-41, ’45-56
And now for the easiest, and most famous, number in Tribe history. Feller’s career actually began in No. 9, and he won 17 games and appeared in his first All-Star Game while wearing No. 14 in 1938. But he achieved his Hall of Fame status during his 15 years in No. 19. The Tribe retired his number immediately upon his retirement, and it remained their only retired number until 1970.
Most commonly worn by: Feller (15 seasons)