It didn't take Lester long to become the best to ever wear no. 31.

Opening Day is tomorrow — well, today if you’re a fan of about 12 teams — and before the season begins, there has to be a formal look at the 25 men who have made the roster for the Boston Red Sox.

But since I’m obsessed with uniform numbers, I also wanted to track who would be wearing what, and document a little bit of history — and in some cases, the lack thereof — that goes along with each number.

The Red Sox began wearing numbers on the backs of their jerseys in 1931, and it wasn’t long before certain numbers — Bobby Doerr’s 1, Ted Williams’ 9 — became iconic. Other numbers became less so, but still earned a certain reputation. 2 typically belongs to infielders, 7 to outfielders, 51 to relief pitchers, and so on. Some numbers have quite a legacy of talent behind them, and some, well, not many players have worn 59.

So, momentarily, we’ll look at every number in use by the 25 players on the roster, the best player to wear that number, and some other characters to don the number, each memorable in their own way. It’s just a way to connect the present with the past, and another excuse for me to our over the Red Sox.

And, as always, please take the word “best” with a grain of salt. Sometimes, the best will really be the best. But sometimes, it will just be a reflection of my glorious bias. It’ll should be clear which is which. (more…)