Uniform numbers were used on a permanent basis by the Yankees and Indians in 1929, so that fans could tell who was who on the field. Those uniform numbers corresponded to the player's place in the lineup; those who batted leadoff wore number one, those who batted clean-up wore number four and so on.
This practice caught on and within a few years every team wore numbers. Shortly after it caught on, it began to change as numbers were retired by teams making the lineups impossible to complete thereby allowing players to wear other numbers not corresponding to the position in the lineup.
The following page is a comprehensive breakdown of every retired uniform number in the National League.
Every Number Retired by Every N.L. Team | A.L. Numbers
Hank Aaron , Sparky Anderson , Rod Carew , Rollie Fingers , Carlton Fisk , Reggie Jackson , Greg Maddux , Frank Robinson , Nolan Ryan , and Casey Stengel have each had their number retired by more than one major league team.
*** The Florida Marlins retired #5 for Carl Barger, the first team president, who died from an aneurysm during the 1992 Winter Meetings. On April 5, 1993 , the day the Marlins played their first-ever regular-season game, the team retired the number in his memory, as his favorite player was Joe DiMaggio (who wore #5 in his career). When the franchise was renamed the Miami Marlins in 2012, they reactived the number.
Jackie Robinson was the first and only player whose uniform number (42) was retired by Major League Baseball (April 15, 1997).
Did you know that the St. Louis Cardinals organization has retired more numbers than any other National League team in history?