Sports and the Number 13
A handful of athletes who dared to wear the infamous number
So is the number 13 really unlucky, or is it just a myth? Below are just a handful of the athletes who dared to wear the infamous number. Decide for yourself.
Ralph Branca - Baseball
Branca, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, wore no. 13 and, as legend has it, playfully posed with black cats before the 1951 playoffs began. He would become famous in the 1951 playoffs for surrendering Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" home run, one of the most famous home runs of all-time.
Wilt Chamberlain - Basketball
Wilt Chamberlain said the number 13 wasn't unlucky for him, but it was for his opponents. One of the greatest players in the game, he is the only player to score 100 points in a single game. He was named to 13 All-Star teams and his number 13 has been retired by five teams (University of Kansas, Golden State Warriors, Harlem Globetrotters, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers).
Roberto Clemente - Baseball
Though this Hall of Famer was best known for wearing the number 21, Roberto Clemente started his career with the Pirates in 1955 wearing the number 13. Both a powerful batter and a brilliant right fielder, Clemente garnered many awards during his career with the Pirates, including National League MVP in 1966, 12 consecutive Golden Glove awards, and World Series MVP in 1971. He was the first Hispanic American elected to the Hall of Fame.
Jeff Fassero - Baseball
Fassero wore no. 13 in 1999 for Seattle and Texas and compiled a 5-14 mark with a 7.20 ERA, the worst major league single-season ERA (for pitchers with 150 innings) since 1937.
Dan Marino - Football
This former Miami Dolphins quarterback and Hall of Famer holds all-time NFL records in passing touchdowns and passing yards. It's kind of tough to consider him "unlucky." But he never did win that Super Bowl ring, did he??
Buck Martinez - Baseball
Martinez wore no. 13 as a catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. He lasted 17 years in the big leagues but had a career batting average of just (gulp) .225. In 1985, he was bowled over by a player attempting to score and severely dislocated his ankle, effectively ending his playing career. He is now wearing 13 as manager of the Blue Jays.
Mats Sundin - Hockey
This captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in November, 2001, received an errant pass from teammate Bryan McCabe that caught him squarely in the face. He suffered a cut between his eyes and forehead that required 15 stitches. Actually, for a hockey player, this may just be all in a day's work. Sundin's response to McCabe the next day? "Nice pass."
John Valentin - Baseball
Valentin, who played third base for the Boston Red Sox for ten years, tore knee ligaments ten games into the 2000 season, missing the rest of the season.
Billy Wagner - Baseball
Flame-throwing relief pitcher for the Houston Astros who missed time in 1998 after a line drive struck him on the left side of the head. He made a successful return in 1999 but missed most of the 2000 season after elbow ligament surgery.