The number three is a somewhat unfriendly number in sports. It’s a bronze medal. Nobody really wants to win a bronze medal. It’s pretty cool to win something but at the same time it’s equal to second loser. I think of it as the “thanks for participating, drive home safely” award. Nobody can remember who won the third place game in the World Cup or who won third place in the Olympic medal count. Three isn’t a great number in sports. However, there are some great athletes who wore the number three.
Let’s start with the greatest athlete to wear the number 3 and that’s former pitcher turned slugger, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Ruth finished his illustrious career with a then record 714 home runs. He is regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time and is the center of what was once called the “Curse of the Bambino.” Ruth was once a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox until he was sold to the Yankees for $100,000 (or $1,183,680 in 2015 money). The Red Sox went on to win zero World Series’ from that point until 2004. The Yankees would win 26 in that same time frame.
For me when I think NBA and the number 3, I think Allen Iverson. One of the greatest guards to play and game and he single handedly turned the crossover into his own personal move, Iverson is one of those players who turned the NBA into the game it is today. Iverson is most known for his time as a 76er (1996-2006, 2009-2010) where he appeared in an NBA Finals and won an MVP in his time.
The number 3 in NASCAR has its own legacy. It was the number car of Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt was one of the greatest racers in NASCAR from 1982-2001. He won 76 races, had 428 top tens, and won 22 poles in his NASCAR Sprint Series career. He passed away on February 18th, 2001 when he crashed into the wall on turn 4 on the final lap of the Daytona 500. His number 3 car has only been used a handful of times since his death.
These are some of the greatest athletes to wear the number three in history. There are other notable number 3’s in sports such as Jim Thorpe and Russell Wilson. However, all three of these number 3’s are athlete’s who made their sport what it is and helped it reach the popularity it is today.
Andrew is a DJ at Sacramento State’s Student Run Radio Station KSSU