Not too many players have worn the number 0 in their careers, and no one has done so with the Tampa Bay Rays. That is, until this year.
In the history of the Tampa Bay Rays, not one player has worn number 0. It is somewhat understandable; after all, it is not a number that immediately comes to mind when one is picking out their jerseys. And yet, it is a number that would make sense for certain players, particularly pitchers, to wear.
This year, for the first time, that number has been claimed on the Rays. And while it is not by a pitcher, it is from another player who could be instrumental in making sure that the opposition has that number on the scoreboard. According to Marc Topkin, Mallex Smith will don the number for the Rays this year.
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As an outfielder who should be prized for his defense, it is a fitting number. Paired with Kevin Kiermaier, Smith should be able to turn the left side of the Rays outfield into Death Valley. It may be the rare fly ball hit to that area of the park that finds grass.
Smith, by virtue of wearing the number 0, will automatically become the best player in Rays history with that number. Of course, by the same token, he is also the worst player to wear 0 for the Rays. But let us focus on the positives here.
Throughout baseball history, we see players who become synonymous with their numbers. We all know who 42 was, and how that number is the property of Jackie Robinson. Roberto Clemente is remembered as number 21, a number that has also received support to be retired throughout the game. 24 belonged to Willie Mays, 3 belongs to Babe Ruth, and 9 belongs to Ted Williams. A number can be a part of a player’s legacy.
That is not to say that Smith will join those legends at any point in time. However, if he develops into the exciting player that the Rays feel he will become, he can make 0 his own, cementing his place in Rays history with that number.
Mallex Smith is going to be the first player in Tampa Bay Rays history to wear the number 0. With that being the case, he has a chance to make it his own.