Royals Uniform History: 5
Hall of Famer George Brett is celebrating a birthday – the third baseman was born in West Virginia on this day in 1953. Brett’s number is one of four retired by the Royals, including Jackie Robinson’s 42. Today, we take a look at the history of number 5:
The first person to wear number 5 was Owen “Red” Friend (pictured at right), a coach under manager Joe Gordon on the inaugural 1969 Royals. Number 5 stayed in the coaching fraternity at the start of 1970 with Dan Carnevale, a member of Charlie Metro’s staff. Coach George Strickland was added to the staff when his former Cleveland teammate, Bob Lemon, replaced Metro as manager on June 9. Strickland wore 5 for part of 1970. (According to Baseball-Reference.com, Strickland’s final three numbers as a player were, fittingly: 2, 3 and 4.)
Strickland continued to wear “cinco” in 1971, though outfielder Ted Savage became the first player to don the number during a short 19-game stint with the club.
In 1972, the Royals had an All-Star wearing number 5 for the first time as Richie Scheinblum (left) represented the club in Atlanta. Scheinblum was traded to Cincinnati in the offseason as part of a four-player trade that brought Hal McRae to Kansas City (we’ll save the history of number 11 for another day). The number became available, so Tom Poquette wore 5 for a short time in 1973. Scheinblum wore the number again after being reacquired from California in 1974.
As for Brett, he debuted on August 2, 1973 wearing number 25. He would wear 25 for the remainder of 1973 and through 1974. In 1975, Brett switched to number 5, and the rest is history.
One additional note…veteran George Scott played part of 1979 with the Royals (he began the year with Boston and went on to finish the season with the Yankees). Scott was acquired from Boston on June 13, 1979 for the aforementioned Tom Poquette. The Royals and Red Sox were in the middle of a three-game set at Royals Stadium, so the players simply went to the other clubhouse. Scott, a former Gold Glove winner and All-Star, had donned number 5 for most of his Major League career. The number was Brett’s in Kansas City, so Scott became the only player (to date) in franchise history to wear…0.