Mickey Mantle wore number 7 throughout most of his Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees.
But, although Mantle’s #7 uniform is one of the most famous in all of sports, and though the Yankees retired his number in 1969, Mantle didn’t always wear number 6 in the Bronx.
When Mantle broke camp with the Yankees as a 19-year-old rookie in 1951, clubhouse manager Pete Sheehy gave him number 6, which had previously been worn by third baseman Bobby Brown.
Brown was pursuing his medical career by then, but he returned to the team in May, settling for number 9 since Mantle had 6.
But The Mick struggled in the first half, and the Yankees sent him down to the minors in July. When they did, Brown reclaimed his old number and started hitting well.
New York recalled Mantle in late August, but Brown held onto his number 6.
So, Mantle took the next best option — number 7.
Over the course of the next two decades, Mantle developed into one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, turning his uniform into a proper noun known the world over — Number 7.