NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As far as jersey numbers go, No. 99 is one that tends to grab our attention.
Perhaps it’s an optical illusion, but those two nines standing side by side appear to fill up a jersey more so than other digits. The highest number available to players, No. 99 has been worn by Warren Sapp, J.J. Watt and Manny Ramirez, just to name a few.
But it’s rare, which might be another reason we notice it more. For example, no Islander, Devil, Knick or Net has ever worn No. 99. Only 17 Major League Baseball players have ever donned it.
This season, a new No. 99 is dominating highlight reels — Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, who leads the majors with 30 homers.
Why No. 99?
“They gave it to me in spring training, and it just kind of stuck with me a little bit,” Judge told NJ.com last season.
Here’s a look at some other notable No. 99s in local sports history.
The Great One is also the Greatest 99. A nine-time Hart Trophy winner and four-time Stanley Cup champion, Gretzky spent the final three years of his legendary career with the Rangers. As a 16-year-old in the Ontario Hockey League, Gretzky wanted to wear No. 9, in honor of Gordie Howe, but the number was already taken, so he settled for No. 99 and kept on wearing it. The NHL retired his number in 2000.
This No. 99 was a beast. Gastineau played for the Jets from 1979-88, leading the NFL in sacks in 1983 and 1984. Officially, Gastineau has 74 career sacks, but that’s misleading because sacks did not become an official stat until his fourth year in the league.
A first-round draft pick by the Jets in 2002, Thomas never did reach a Pro Bowl, but he was good enough to hang around for 11 seasons. The defensive end’s best season came in 2006, when he had 8½ sacks. Thomas actually switched his number to 58 for the final three seasons of his career.
Canty was a three-year starter at defensive tackle for the Giants from 2010-12. He was a member of Big Blue’s Super Bowl XLVI championship team.
The heavily utilized, right-handed reliever pitched for the Mets from 1997-2001. He had a 3.34 ERA during his time with the Mets. Wendell might have the best reason for choosing No. 99: It was the number Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn wore in “Major League.”