By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
March 23, 2011: Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer and Roy Halladay are now considered the Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett of Major League Baseball — at least as far as jersey sales are concerned.
Entering the 2011 season Jeter, Mauer and Halladay have the three most popular jerseys among all MLB players, according to figures released by baseball and the MLB Players Assn. Numbers are based on sales figures from 2010 provided by Majestic Athletic, Bangor, PA, which since 2005 has been the exclusive jersey provider of MLB.
Bryant, James and Garnett have the top three best selling NBA jerseys, according to the most recent sales figures released by the NBA.
Sale figures also showed that the New York Yankees sell the most licensed merchandise among MLB clubs, followed by the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Although specific figures were not released, MLB said sales of officially licensed MLB merchandise "reached an all-time high in 2010, with total licensing revenues up 6% over the previous year."
For Cliff Lee, who is now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, the figure included sales of his Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers jerseys, both of whom he pitched for during the 2010 season.
Among the top 20 best-selling jerseys, four belonged players on the Yankees; three to the Phillies and Rangers; and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, Red Sox and Minnesota Twins had two each.
Ironically, through the season of 2010, the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants did not display their players' names on their official home uniforms, and the Yankees were the only team not to have names on official road jerseys. Names are placed on replica jerseys offered for sale.
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1929 both the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians became the first teams to put numbers on the back of player jerseys.
According to Baseball Almanac, the Yankees' numbers were handed out based on the order in the lineup, which in 1929 was: Earle Combs No. 1, Mark Koenig No. 2, Babe Ruth No. 3, Lou Gehrig No. 4, Bob Meusel No. 5, Tony Lazzeri No. 6, Leo Durocher No. 7, Johnny Grabowski No. 8, Benny Bengough No. 9 and Bill Dickey No. 10.
Among uniform numbers 1-10, the Yankees have since retired: No. 1 (Billy Martin), No. 3 (Ruth), No. 4 (Gehrig), No. 5 (Joe DiMaggio), No. 7 (Mickey Mantle), No. 8 (Yogi Berra and Dickey), No. 9 (Roger Maris) and No. 10 (Phil Rizzuto). Jeter wears No. 2, which appears destined for retirement once he retires.
In 1960, the Chicago White Sox became the first team to put names on the jersey backs along with numbers.
The Top 20 Best-Selling Jerseys 2010
1) Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)
2) Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins)
3) Roy Halliday (Philadelphia Phillies)
4) Chase Utley (Phillies)
5) Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners/Texas Rangers)
6) Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
7) Josh Hamilton (Rangers)
8) Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox)
9) Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)
10) Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants).
11) Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
12) Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves)
13) Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals)
14) Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
15) Justin Morneau (Twins)
16) Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox)
17) Ian Kinsler (Rangers)
18) Ryan Howard (Phillies)
19) Buster Posey (Giants)
20) Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays)
The Top 10 Clubs In Merchandise Sales 2010
1) New York Yankees
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
4) Philadelphia Phillies
5) Chicago Cubs
6) St. Louis Cardinals
7) Chicago White Sox
8) Atlanta Braves
9) Minnesota Twins
10) Detroit Tigers
Source: MLB/MLB Players Assn.