Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal today makes note of the 13 ballplayers known to have worn No. 0 — and perhaps the 14th, Mets reserve shortstop Omar Quintanilla.
My first reaction upon seeing that article was to think there must have been more than 13 so far but it checks out at least according to Baseball-Reference.com. Amazinly, two players wore No. 0 as Mets — Terry McDaniel in 1991 and Rey Ordonez in 1996-97 — while Junior Ortiz went on to wear 0 in his post Mets career (Junior was a rare No. 34 position player in orange and blue). There’s actually been more 00s in baseball history than 0s — 19 overall. That group includes Tony Clark, who wore it for the Mets in 2003 — at least until it was pointed out that he was sharing a number that otherwise belonged to Mr. Met.
Clark initially took 00 upon joining the Mets as a late-arriving free agent during 2003’s spring training. With jerseys already assigned, the veteran said he preferred taking 00 to the selections in the 80s that were otherwise available then. Ironically, when Clark switched — to No. 52 — he became the first Met player to appear wearing that number too. Former Met reliever Rick White — a 51 in New York — wore 00 later in his career.
As for Quintanilla, he explains that like Clark he preferred a number more befitting to his stature and experience — modest as it may be — when he rejoined the team this winter on a minor league contract after seeing his most recent assignment, No. 3, issued to newly arrived free agent Curtis Granderson. What Diamond’s article fails to mention is that the uni switch was the second in as many deals for Quintanilla, who saw his 2012 assignment of No. 6 issued to Kelly Shoppach and then Marlon Byrd while he was away with Baltimore.