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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Big Apple's Greatest No. 12s

By Mark Simon | ESPN Stats & Information

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It won't happen again this century, so in honor of today's numerically significant date -- 12/12/12 -- we break down the Big Apple's best-ever No. 12s.
With it being 12/12/12 on our calendar, our thoughts turned to the question: Who were the best players to wear No. 12 in New York professional sports history?

We came up with the best choice, one for each team, below. A tip of the cap to the following sources: Mets by the Numbers, by Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman, and the websites YankeesNumbers.com and Sports-Reference.com.

Mets' Best No. 12: Ron Darling

Darling wore No. 12 for most of his Mets career, with Springer and Silverman pinpointing his stats during that time at a 68-38 record and 3.38 ERA (Darling was 31-32 with his other numbers).

Darling had his best Mets moments wearing that number -- his pitcher’s duel with John Tudor in St. Louis in October 1985, and his postseason appearances in 1986. He edges out hard-nosed catcher John Stearns and 1969 second baseman Ken Boswell as best of the 12s.


Yankees' Best No. 12: Gil McDougald

McDougald was a key member of the Yankees' dynasty of the 1950s, as an everyday player at second base, shortstop and third base at various points in his 10-season career.

McDougald won five World Series rings with those Yankees, won American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1951, hit a grand slam in that year’s Fall Classic, hit a game-winning home run against Hall of Famer Warren Sphan in Game 6 of the 1958 World Series, and made the All-Star team five times.

If you're looking for a more recent Yankees infielder, both Wade Boggs and Alfonso Soriano wore No. 12 for the Bombers.


Jets' Best No. 12: Joe Namath

The best of the No. 12s in New York sports history led the Jets to the upset win over the Colts in Super Bowl III that made “Broadway Joe” an all-time New York sports legend.

Coincidentally, Namath played 12 seasons with the Jets (he passed on the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals, who drafted him with the 12th pick in the 1965 NFL draft), finishing with 27,057 yards, 170 touchdown throws and 60 victories. Those team records all still stand today.

Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.


Giants' Best No. 12: Steve Smith

Smith, formerly a star receiver at USC, had 220 receptions in four seasons with the Giants and was a rookie on the team that beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He had five catches, including four that turned third downs into first downs, in that contest.

Smith’s best season came in 2009 when he had 107 receptions, by far the most in a single season in Giants history. He edges out former Giants quarterback Scott Brunner for top honors with this jersey number.


Knicks' Best No. 12: Dick Barnett

Barnett was the starting backcourt mate of Walt Frazier on the 1969-1970 champion Knicks and a reserve on the 1972-1973 championship squad behind Earl Monroe.

Barnett was best known for his odd-looking jump shot, one in which he’d kick his legs back behind him.

Like others on those Knicks' championship teams, Barnett had a successful post-basketball career, earning a doctorate in education at Fordham. He finished his basketball career ranked eighth in team history in points scored, just ahead of Bill Bradley.


Nets' Best No. 12: Lucious Harris

The pickings are a little slim for the Nets, so we’ll go with Harris, who wore No. 12 in seven seasons with the Nets, from 1997-98 to 2003-04. He averaged 7.8 points per game as a backup guard.

Harris was a member of the Nets' teams that went to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. His NBA career spanned 12 seasons, also with the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.


Islanders' Best No. 12: Duane Sutter

One of the six Sutter brothers, Duane won four Stanley Cups in his eight seasons on Long Island, from 1979-80 to 1986-87. Sutter’s best postseason came in 1982-1983, when he scored nine goals and had 12 assists in 20 games, which culminated with the Islanders sweeping the Edmonton Oilers for the Stanley Cup.

Sutter was a modest scorer throughout his career, topping out at 20 goals in 1985-86. He finished his Islanders career with 121 goals.


Rangers' Best No. 12: Don Maloney

Hall of Famer Andy Bathgate wore No. 12 for his first three seasons, but he’s much better remembered for No. 9, which hangs from the Madison Square Garden rafters. In his stead, we’ll go with Maloney, who represented the number well for 11 seasons.

Maloney was a good player, but never a superstar. He is best remembered for his outburst in his rookie season, when he had seven goals and 13 assists in 18 games in helping the Rangers make the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals (they would lose to the Montreal Canadiens).

Maloney also had the game-tying goal in the final seconds of the decisive game of the 1983-1984 Patrick Division semifinals against the Islanders, a game the Islanders would win on Ken Morrow's goal in overtime.

He finished his Rangers career and played with the Hartford Whalers and New York Islanders before retiring and becoming an NHL executive (after stints with the Rangers and Islanders, he is currently the Phoenix Coyotes' general manager). He currently ranks 11th all-time in career points for the Rangers with 502.


Devils' Best No. 12: Bill Guerin

Guerin enjoyed a prominent run in the NHL from 1991 to 2010 -- and it's one that started with him wearing No. 12 for the Devils. In seven seasons with the team, Guerin scored 108 goals and 214 points and was a member of the 1995 Stanley Cup champions.

Guerin would go on to win another Cup with the Penguins, serve as captain during a two-season stint with the Islanders and represent the United States three times in the Olympics. He retired at the end of the 2009-2010 season, finishing with 429 career goals.