Second to none: Jeter makes No. 2 iconic

As rookie, Yankees star nearly lost number to Torre in 1996

Second to none: Jeter makes No. 2 iconic

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's uniform No. 2 has become as synonymous as his name through his storied career. Whenever he plays his last game, Jeter will take with him the last single-digit number to ever be worn by a member of the Yankees.

Mike Gallego, a former Major League infielder who played with the Yankees from 1992-94, carries the distinction of being the last player to wear that number in New York before Jeter. But before it became a part of his brand, No. 2 never carried any specific importance to Jeter before he was assigned it.

"I assume that was because it was the smallest jersey at the time," Jeter said. "I think Gallego had No. 2 before me. It was probably the only one that fit me."

Even though he debuted in 1995 with the No. 2, Jeter almost did not get the chance to keep it. When Joe Torre was hired as the manager in 1996, he had to pick a new number because the No. 9 he wore as a manager with the Braves and as a player with the Cardinals and Mets had already been retired by the Yankees.

Torre was deciding between Nos. 2 and 6 -- Jeter was a rookie at the time and not guaranteed to make the team -- when Torre's wife suggested that he just flip his No. 9 upside down. Torre's No. 6 was retired earlier this season during a ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies' All-Star shortstop, the Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts and the Angels' Erick Aybar are some of the several players in the Majors -- and there are countless others playing baseball at various other levels -- who decided to wear No. 2 because of Jeter.

The Yankees have retired 17 numbers -- and Nos. 8 and 42 twice -- in their club history, the most in baseball ahead of the Cardinals' 13. Only the NBA's Boston Celtics have taken more numbers, 20, out of circulation.

Across baseball, No. 2 has been retired four times: Nellie Fox (CWS), Charlie Gehringer (DET), Tommy Lasorda (LAD) and Red Schoendienst (STL).

The NBA has retired the number six times: Red Auerbach (BOS), Alex English (DEN), Chuck Daly (DET), Junior Bridgeman (MIL), Malik Sealy (MIN), Mitch Richmond (SAC) and Moses Malone (PHI).

No team in the NFL has ever retired No. 2.

Seven hockey players have had their No. 2 hung up: Doug Harvey (MON), Tim Horton (BUF), Mark Howe (PHI), Brian Leetch (NYR), Al MacInnis (STL), Eddie Shore (BOS) and Glen Wesley (CAR).

And now the case can be made that Jeter is the most famous player to wear No. 2 in any sport.

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.