Cleveland becomes first MLB team with numbers on back of jerseys

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On April 16, 1929, the Cleveland Indians open the season with numbers on the back of each player’s jersey, the first Major League Baseball team to do so. The numbers make it easier for scorekeepers, broadcasters and fans to identify players. Cleveland wins the game against the Detroit Tigers in 11 innings, 5-4.

The New York Yankees, who had won the World Series in 1927 and 1928, were supposed to debut jersey numbers the same day, but their opener was rained out. Thus fans waited another day to see two of baseball’s greatest players—Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig—sport their famous numbers 3 and 4. Those numbers corresponded with the sluggers’ spots in the batting order. 



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