Everyone has a favorite jersey number, and that includes professional athletes. Whether it’s a digit they were handed after signing their first contract or one they’ve been wearing since their tee-ball days, the number on the back of a jersey represents a player’s identity.
So, our question is, which number across the current Minnesota pro sports scene has the most prestige?
Buckle up. Top 10 list incoming.
54 – Eric Kendricks, Ervin Santana
We’re pairing up the trendiest hashtag in Minnesota sports (#SMELLBASEBALL) with arguably the best hair in the state (Kendricks) to kick off our list with No. 54. Santana, the veteran of the Twins pitching staff, is coming off an All-Star season. Kendricks has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but he’s arguably the best linebacker for an elite Vikings defense.
17 – Jarius Wright, Jose Berrios, Marcus Foligno
Seventeen is a strong number based off nicknames alone. Wright’s been dubbed “Mr. Clutch” by his teammates because of his tendency to come up with a big play on third down. (We broke it down here.) Berrios is called La Maquina (the Machine), and you’d know why if you watched his breaking ball fall off the table – and the face of the Earth – all summer long. And lastly, Foligno is nicknamed “Moose” from his time in Buffalo, which reminds us of the Minnesota Moose, a team that played in the IHL from 1994-96 and, in our opinion, owns a top-5 best logo in state history.
19 – Adam Thielen, Kennys Vargas, Luke Kunin
This digit has seen a big rise in the ranks the past year — and it could just keep getting better. Thielen, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,276 receiving yards, was named to his first career Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, Vargas supplies power off the Twins’ bench, and while he may not be the next coming of David Ortiz, he still knocked in 41 runs last season in 78 games and improved his batting average by over 20 points. Lastly, Kunin made his NHL debut this season with the Wild. The young star and natural leader is already a favorite to be a future captain of the Wild, as his steady presence and work ethic was shown during a 17-game stint in the fall.
34 – Andrew Sendejo, Sylvia Fowles
Only two numbers made it on this exclusive list with just two athletes that wear it. That’s what happens when you have a reigning MVP involved. Fowles, who averaged a double-double over the summer for the Lynx, won Player of the Month in May, June and July. She went on to be named to the All-Defensive Team, then League MVP, and when that wasn’t enough, Finals MVP. Match her up with Andrew Sendejo, the hard-hitting safety who’s done nothing but prove he belongs as a starter opposite Harrison Smith since 2013. And, although we’re only considering current athletes for this list, it’s hard not to think about No. 34 being a special number in the Twin Cities, thanks to Kirby Puckett.
First off, No. 11 would probably make this list with just Jamal Crawford, who’s taken Minnesota by storm with his durability, four-point plays and savvy media skills. But throw in Parise’s hustle, Polanco’s sudden power and Treadwell’s size? We have an elite athlete on our hands.
This might be the most beloved number in Minnesota sports. Bridgewater basically made over 66,000 of us Vikings fans cry happy tears at U.S. Bank Stadium when he returned from his gruesome knee injury. Escobar’s postgame antics with “Caballito” was one of our favorite moments from the Twins’ 2017 season. And who doesn’t love Gorgui?
7 – Case Keenum, Joe Mauer, Matt Cullen, Jia Perkins
These days, No. 7 has a bit extra of a Minnesota ring to it. Mauer’s worn the number since he debuted with the Twins as a 21-year-old hometown hero in 2004, and Cullen, a graduate of Moorhead High School, is back for his farewell tour at the X. And what more can we say about Keenum? At this point, we’ve adopted the Texas native as our own. (Although, he has a bit of work to do with the whole “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” debate.)
32 – Alex Stalock, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rebekkah Brunson
KAT and Brunson sharing the same number is a Sta-lock to make the top end of this list. Pun very much intended.
23 – Terence Newman, Gustav Olofsson, Jimmy Butler, Maya Moore
Arguably the two best basketball players in the state of Minnesota wear the same number -- 23. Moore added to her legacy in Game 5 of the 2017 Finals with her championship-clinching jumper that further confirmed she does indeed walk around with ice in her veins. And how fun is Butler to have in Minnesota? It’s only been six months since the Timberwolves traded for Jimmy Buckets, but we’ve already added him to our phone contacts after his opening press conference and watched him fall into a chilly lake in November with a hilarious high-pitched scream. And we think the 39-year-old Newman wears No. 23 because that’s the age he thinks he is. Sure plays like it, anyways.
22 – Harrison Smith, Miguel Sano, Nino Niederreiter, Andrew Wiggins, Plenette Pierson
I don’t know about you, but we’re feelin’ 22! Two Pro Bowl appearances (Smith), an All-Star sighting (Sano), Rookie of the Year recipient (Wiggins), and a series-winning goal (Niederreiter) is on this digit’s resume. Plus, Pierson brings championship aura to the conversation – she came off Minnesota’s bench and won the third championship of her career in October.