“What number do you want?” A youth coach will ask on the first day of the season. It’s common for players to respond with the number of their favorite player. That got us thinking:bwhat is Boston’s most iconic jersey number in professional sports?

Sometimes uniform numbers are assigned at random. Other times, a star player can demand “their number.” Boston is such a rich market in terms of sports legacy. And some numbers are closely associated with iconic players.  In baseball for example, Ted Williams was a pioneer of the game. Even former NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who grew up in Texas before playing for the Chargers and Saints, referenced Ted Williams when asked why he wore #9.

Inside The Numbers

Boston has a plethora of Hall of Fame players in all sports. There’s certainly a great list of numbers to pick from in terms of those worthy of being labeled legendary. In compiling a list of just six selections, we specifically looked for numbers that were made historic in multiple professional sports. They were typically shared by great players. These athletes not only left a mark within their own franchise, but also across the sport in general. Each of these numbers is also directly tied to championships. The players who wore them often were part of teams that won it all.

Many of these numbers are now retired within their respective sports. Though new generations of professionals may not be able to select them, athletes across the world will continue to wear them proudly within their programs. These retired numbers are not shelved, as they can carry a deeper meaning here for those who aspire to be like the pros who made them famous.

Honorable Mention

Before we proceed with the list of Boston’s most iconic jersey number, we must give a nod to Bill Russell’s (and Johnny Pesky) #6. Carl Yastrzemski and Cam Neely’s #8, and Ray Bourque’s infamous #77.

  • #4

    Hall of Famer, Bobby Orr. A two-time Stanley Cup champion. In hockey, Orr is synonymous with the number four. And not just because it rhymes.

    For the Red Sox, Joe Cronnin has his #4 retired.
    (PS- Bailey Zappe)

    Bobby Orr - #4

  • #9

    “Teddy Ballgame.” Ted Williams. spent his entire 19-year career with the Red Sox and remains the last player to hit .400.

    For the Bruins, hall of famer Johnny Bucyk wore #9 for over 20 years. It, too, is retired by the Bruins.

    Ted Williams #9

  • #12

    The Goat’s entire brand contains his infamous number. TB12 had six rings in a Patriots uniform. At this point, its hard to imagine a football player in New England — or anywhere else — that will ever be more accomplished than Tom Brady.

    Ellis Burks sported #12 for the Red Sox.

    Brian Rolston was #12 during his stints with the Bruins. Regardless, it’s hard to find a supporting cast for Brady here. Then again, does he need one?

    Tom Brady #12

  • #24

    Manny Ramirez, Red Sox left fielder  2001-2008. Few things compared to a Manny bomb over the “Green Monster.” Ramirez was the 2004 World Series MVP.

    Ty Law, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots wore #24 as well. He is in the Patriots Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    The Bruins retired Terry O’Reilly’s #24. He was a fan-favorite who was widely known for his relentless effort.

    Manny Ramirez #24

  • #33

    Nobody in sports thinks of #33 without Larry Bird popping up. The Celtics 33 jersey is an iconic look that will forever represent the game of basketball. It was retired in 1993.

    Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek also wore #33. The team’s fourth captain, he was a crucial component to both the 2004 and 2007 World Series teams. He’s currently part of the coaching staff and still sporting #33.

    Zdeno Chára, wore #33 during his 14 seasons with the Bruins. This has the potential to be the next number the Bruins hang in the rafters.

    Larry Bird #33

  • #34

    David Ortiz rocked #34 for his entire Red Sox career. Ortiz had his number retired in 2017. A three-time world series champion and 10-time all-star, “Big Papi” is arguably the most loved player in the franchise’s history.

    #34 was raised in the TD Garden in honor of “The Truth.” Paul Peirce was #34 during his 15 seasons with the Celtics. He was the cornerstone of the big three that won the championship in 2008. Pierce was also the MVP of that NBA finals.

    #34 Paul Pierce

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