6. In auto racing two car numbers are more famous than all others. Name them and the drivers who chose them.
7. The title of Hot Rod Hundley's autobiography contains what number?
8. What number did George Plimpton wear with the Detroit Lions in Paper Lion? What was Sidd Finch's number?
9. What unusual numbers did the Jones twins, Larry and Harry, wear as Kentucky football players in the 1950s? What numbers did the Van Arsdale twins wear? What jersey numbers were put on a recruiting poster sent to the basketball-playing Dozier twins at Baltimore's Dunbar High School?
10. Enough of the easy ones. Why would Todd Christensen's number make hardcore numerologists think of William Shakespeare and the Bible?
"The genesis of number is hidden behind the impenetrable veil of countless prehistoric ages."
—Dr. Tobias Dantzig, mathematician
In 1888 the Cincinnati Reds wore numbers on their sleeves as an experiment, but the players complained that this made them numbers instead of people. The numbers were removed. The Cleveland Indians (in 1916) and the St. Louis Cardinals (in 1924) also briefly tried numbers (fans of the former complained that the numbers made the players look like convicts), but a consistent number system as a basis of identifying players did not really catch on in baseball until the Yankees adopted the practice in 1929.
Jersey numbers came along in similarly slow fashion in other sports. Scour turn-of-the-century college football photos and you'll generally see only one player, the captain—a ruddy, good-looking chap with hair parted down the middle and a job waiting for him after graduation—wearing a jersey numbered on the front, usually a 0 or a 1. Some jerseys bore numbers on the back, some did not. College teams early in the century seemed unusually proud of their class year. Members of the 1917 freshman team at Yale, for example, wore a 1921 inscription on the front of their jerseys. What with redshirting and the failure of athletes to graduate, today's players would have to wear a question mark.
Allison Danzig, in his book The History of American Football, credits Pitt, in 1908, with being one of the first college teams to number its backs. That was apparently the work of publicist Karl Davis, who had the program concession and made sure that the numbers changed each week. The first mention of numbers in Spalding's Official Foot Ball Guide (edited by Walter Camp) was in 1915, when it was noted that the rules committee, whose secretary was Camp, had recommended that players be numbered. Some teams followed the recommendation; many did not. In 1937 the committee made numbers mandatory by enacting Rule 5, Section 3: "All players must wear minimum 6-inch Arabic numerals on front and minimum 8-inch Arabic numerals on back of jerseys, whose color must be in sharp contrast with the color of the jerseys." Players who didn't abide by the rule had two minutes to number up or be suspended.
O.K., then, what number was Babe Ruth wearing when he hit tater No. 60 on Sept. 30, 1927? If you said none, you're correct. The number 3 has become so associated with the Babe that we automatically place it on his big back in our every mental image of the man. But he never wore it regularly, nor did Lou Gehrig wear his famous 4 until Opening Day 1929, when the Yankees officially decided to wear numbers. The club had the numbers coincide with batting-order position. Thus, Earle Combs wore 1, Mark Koenig wore 2, Ruth 3, Gehrig 4 and Bob Meusel 5.