40 – Bartolo Colon, 1997-2002
Not only is Colon the greatest No. 40 in Indians history, he’s arguably the greatest in MLB history too. Only longtime reliever Rick Honeycutt wore the jersey for longer than Colon’s 14 seasons. Aside from Colon, the number has a pretty weak history, with only Bud Black having any sustained success in the jersey.
Most frequently worn by: Colon (six seasons)
41 – Charles Nagy, 1990-02
In the Jacobs Field era, no jersey has been as consistently successful as No. 41, as it’s only been worn by three players: Nagy, Victor Martinez and Carlos Santana. It’s a tough call between Martinez and Nagy, but Nagy’s peak (mainly the 1992 and ’96 seasons) was higher and his career significantly longer. Although in another few years, the honor may be handed off to Santana. The last Indian to wear the number who didn’t appear in at least one All-Star Game was Rich Thompson, back in 1985.
Most frequently worn by: Nagy (13 seasons)
42 – Sonny Siebert, 1964-68
Since it was retired for Jackie Robinson, Siebert gets to hang on to this honor for the rest of time. Mike Jackson, who is probably the runner-up for this honor, was the last Indian to wear the number. Siebert’s stats are inflated due to the era in which he played in Cleveland, but his 2.76 ERA ranks among the best in team history.
Most frequently worn by: Siebert (five seasons)
43 – Rick Sutcliffe, 1982-84
No. 43 had been out of commission for over a decade until Josh Tomlin picked it up in 2010. And Prior to Tomlin, no one had worn the number for more than one season since Scott Bailes in the late 1980s. Prior to that, the number had a strong run with Sid Monge and Sutcliffe. Both pitchers wore the jersey to an All-Star Game.
Most frequently worn by: Sid Monge (five seasons)
44 – Richie Sexson, 1997-00
No. 44 is a part of the Indians’ roster nearly every season, but rarely by anyone of significance. Those wearing the number for just one season over the past two decades include Dan Wheeler, Carl Pavano, Sal Fasano, Kevin Mitchell, Ken Hill and Ken Phelps. Sexson exclusively wore the number in Cleveland, hitting 58 home runs during parts of four seasons.
Most frequently worn by: Neal Heaton (five seasons)
45 – Paul Assenmacher, 1995-99
Only a handful of Indians have worn No. 45, most recently Luke Carlin in 2012. Assenmacher is the only viable option for this honor, as he ranks among the all-time great relievers in team history. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held the franchise record with 73 holds.
Most frequently worn by: Assenmacher (five seasons)
46 – Steve Dunning, 1970-73
Based on our three-year rule, Dunning earns this honor by default. Dating back to 1993, the number has been on the Indians roster in all but two seasons (1995, 2004) but never for more than two years with the same number. It peaked with Marty Cordova in 2001, and had some success with Bob Howry, Aaron Fultz and Tony Sipp, but has otherwise been handed to the latest call up (Cord Phelps, Ricardo Rodriguez, Bill Wertz, etc). Dunning was a middle of the rotation starter for the Tribe before being shipped to Texas for Dick Bosman.
Most frequently worn by: Dunning (four seasons)
47 – Jesse Orosco, 1989-91
Orosco wore No. 47 in 24 different seasons, three of them coming during his time with the Tribe. He edges out only two other qualifying players for this honor, Shelley Duncan and Ed Farmer. After a dominant run as the Mets closer in the ’80s, Orosco’s time in Cleveland was assumed to be the beginning of the end for his MLB career. He would go on to pitch in 11 more seasons.
Most frequently worn by: Orosco, Duncan, Farmer (three seasons each)
48 – Sam McDowell, 1964-71
Sudden Sam is arguably the greatest Indian not in the Hall of Fame, and among the best players in baseball history to play their high school ball in Cleveland. While Travis Hafner may be the fan favorite for this number, McDowell is really the obvious choice. He was selected to six All-Star games in eight season in No. 48, while winning 116 games with a 2.81 ERA.
Most frequently worn by: Travis Hafner (nine seasons)
49 – Tom Candiotti, 1986-91, ’99
This is a tough won to choose because of the emotions involved. Jose Mesa’s peak was significantly higher than Candiotti’s, but his low was the lowest of lows. Ultimately I decided to let numbers settle the debate, and turned to WAR for answer. Candiotti’s consistency easily trumps Mesa’s peaks and valleys by a score of 21.9 to 10.5.
Most frequently worn by: Candiotti and Jose Mesa (seven seasons)