In honor of their great players, teams retire their numbers. But if that player has been one of the all time greats, then the league might consider retiring that number. As an example, Wayne Gretzky's number 99 has been retired across the NHL.

Is this the only example where a number is retired in an entire league? If not, please provide the player's name and number, as well as the teams he played for.

I'm looking for an answer for major leagues (i.e. MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL). But if there happens to be no retired numbers, then we can take a look at soccer leagues such as the EPL, LaLiga and Bundesliga.

  • How come North American sports are considered 'major' leagues compared to other Global sports ?
    – queeg
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 22:42
  • 2
    @queeg I live in Canada and here in North America we use the term "major leagues" to refer to the top 4 leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL) since they are the major professional league for Baseball, Football, Baseball and Hockey. Take a look at this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – alamoot
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 22:49
  • 2
    Do we really need a big4 tag? I understand they're considered the top 4 professional North American leagues, but that is the first time I ever heard it referred to as such. meta.sports.stackexchange.com/q/352
    – user527
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 14:30
  • That said, international-sports is intended to catch all sports, or specify that a multitude of sports is being asked about.
    – user527
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 14:32
  • 2
    I understand the 5-tag limit, but the question is not specific to the big 4, nor is it specific to any one particular sport. Also, like the football-soccer dichotomy that exists between the US and other countries, there's contention with respect to singling out the top North American leagues compared to international leagues. And how do sports in US/Canada not have an international reach? Let's continue any discussion in the linked meta question (see above).
    – user527
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


Jackie Robinson's number 42 was retired by the MLB. Those wearing 42 were allowed to continue, but players couldn't switch to it and new players couldn't have it. Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear 42 in the MLB.

Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers starting in 1947 and famously broke the color barrier in the MLB. He was a first ballot hall of famer.

The MLB retired his number in 1997 and currently all players wear 42 on "Jackie Robinson Day" (April 15th).

His number 42 was retired by UCLA in all sports on the 22nd November 2014. UCLA is where he went to college and lettered in 4 sports.

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