The first MLB player to have his uniform number retired by a team was Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees. Gehrig wore uniform number 4 throughout his career with the Yankees, from 1923 to 1939.
Gehrig was one of the greatest players in baseball history, known for his durability, consistency, and power hitting. He played in a then-record 2,130 consecutive games before being forced to retire due to a degenerative disease that would later become known as “Lou Gehrig‘s Disease.
After Gehrig’s retirement, the Yankees retired his uniform number 4 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. It was the first time a team had ever retired a player’s uniform number, and it set a precedent that many other teams have since followed in MLB and other sports.
Since Gehrig’s number was retired, the Yankees have gone on to retire the numbers of many other great players, including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter. However, Gehrig was the first, and his legacy as one of the greatest players in baseball history is still remembered and celebrated today.