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Crazy eights

In honor of the eight days of Chanukah, taking a look at some of the Phillies who have worn the number eight over the years.

Chuck Klein Cubs
Number eight was one of nine numbers worn by Chuck Klein with the Phillies

The festival of Chanukah began last night. As you may know, the holiday celebrates (among other things) that one day’s supply of oil lasted eight days. In honor of this celebration, I will take a look at some of the players in Phillies history who have worn the number eight.

Harry McCurdy

The National League didn’t allow players to wear numbers until 1932. I’m not sure how numbers were assigned that first season, but catcher Harry McCurdy ended up with the eight.

McCurdy had been with the team since 1930, mostly serving as the backup catcher. He put up generally good offensive numbers (.758 OPS) during his time on the Phillies, even if the team itself wasn’t especially good while he was on it.

But his reign as number eight only lasted one season. I’m not sure if there was some clubhouse drama over numbers, but in 1933, McCurdy switched to nine, and the man he backed up took the eight.

Virgil “Spud” Davis

Davis came over from the Cardinals in a 1928 trade, and after beginning his tenure as a backup catcher, he soon claimed the starting job. Davis was regarded as one of the best offensive catchers in the league, regularly hitting over .300. In 1933, perhaps feeling empowered by the number eight on his uniform, Davis finished second in the league in on-base percentage and earned MVP votes.

Anyone else feel it’s time that we get another prominent athlete with the nickname of “Spud.” Have we had anyone since Spud Webb? Can we make Garrett “Spud” Stubbs a thing?

Despite his success, one season as number eight is all Davis would get as he was traded to the Cardinals after 1933. The number eight went unclaimed for a few seasons, and then spent a few more years getting passed around to players unremarkable except for their names (Max Butcher? Hilly Flitcraft?)

Finally, in 1943, a future Hall of Famer would add some much-needed luster to the number, even if his days of Hall of Fame-like performance were behind him..

Chuck Klein

It’s not shocking that Klein wore the number eight with the Phillies, because he seemed to change his number almost on an annual basis. He wore nine different numbers throughout his fifteen seasons with the Phillies, which is why his “retired number” banner simply has a P logo on it.

Klein had three different stints with the Phillies, and it was in 1943, during the third stint that he adorned the eight for a year. Unfortunately, Klein was reduced to a bench player by that point, appearing in just 20 games.

Klein wouldn’t be the last future Hall of Famer to wear the number eight with the Phillies, but I’ll write about him, as well as some other guys you’ve probably heard of next time.