The No. 51 is rarely used by American sports stars. However, Seattle is not like most other American cities. When Ichiro signed with the Mariners in 2001, he was assigned No. 51, the digits that future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson wore from 1989-1998 with the team. Ichiro sent a personal note to Johnson, then with the Diamondbacks, promising not to bring shame to the number. He did not. Ichiro, now with the Marlins, tallied his 3,000th MLB hit Sunday afternoon.
Although not deep, the roster of No. 51s includes familiar faces. Here are the best with Brian Campbell (NHL) and Metta World Peace (NBA) getting honorable mentions for the NHL and NBA.
Ichiro Suzuki is the unquestioned best Japanese position player in MLB history, and at age 42, he is not done. He just reached the milestone of 3,000 hits, making him second all time among active players, behind Alex Rodriguez, who is scheduled to be released this week. Ichiro is a ten-time All-Star, ten-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time AL hits leader, three-time Silver Slugger, two-time MLB batting champion, MLB stolen base leader, AL MVP and AL Rookie of the Year. That all came after playing nine years in Japan.
The Big Unit is one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers baseball has ever seen. Johnson made ten All-Star Games, won five Cy Young Awards and claimed a World Series title in 2001, winning co-World Series MVP.
The only member of the 600-save club not named Mariano Rivera, Hoffman finished his career with 601 career saves, 1,133 strikeouts and a 2.87 ERA. The NL Relief Pitcher of the Year Award is named after Hoffman.
Being a star for the Yankees can be very rewarding. Williams won four World Series, made four All-Star Games, won four Gold Gloves, earned one Silver Slugger, and claimed an American League batting title in 1998.
McGee spent eight and a half years with the Cardinals from 1982-1990. While in St. Louis, McGee appeared in four All-Star Games, won a World Series, won an NL MVP, claimed three Gold Gloves, earned one Silver Slugger award winner and was a two-time NL batting champion (splitting the second year with Oakland). He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. McGee went on to play for three other teams before returning to St. Louis four four final seasons from 1996-1999.
Dick Butkus grew up rooting for the Bears. Born and raised in Chicago, Butkus played all nine years of his career with The Monsters Of Midway. Butkus was an eight-time Pro Bowler, six-time First-Team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He made the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team (in 1994) and the NFL 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Teams. Butkus' No. 51 is retired at Soldier Field.
Selected out of Syracuse in seventh round, Ringo's career was unexpected. Over his 15-year career Ringo was a ten-time Pro Bowler, two-time NFL champion and six-time AP First-Team All-Pro. The center made the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, and Ringo has been inducted into the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The linebacker played three years for the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL before playing 12 NFL seasons for the Saints and Panthers. Mills was a five-time Pro-Bowler, four-time All-Pro, three-time All-USFL player and two-time USFL champion. His No. 51 is retired in Carolina.
Spikes was selected No. 13 in the 1998 NFL draft by the Bengals out of Auburn. During his 15-year career, Spikes was selected to two Pro Bowls and earned a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2004. Both honors came during Spikes' 2003-2004 tenure with the Bills.
Although he did not wear No. 51 during his early years with the Jets, James Farrior makes this list for his career in Pittsburgh. Farrior was a two-time Pro Bowler, a First-Team All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl Champion. He also earned the Steelers MVP honor in 2004.
Selected No. 12 overall by the Jets, Vilma was a talented prospect, who proved he could produce at a high level in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl with the Saints, was a three-time Pro Bowler, won AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was the NFL leader in tackles in 2005.