Wisconsin has quietly built up quite the history of great professional athletes. Between the Bucks, Brewers, and Packers, a plethora of high-profile athletes have spent any number of years in the great state of Wisconsin. In this series, we will take a look at the best players to wear each jersey number. In this edition, we are looking at the best players who wore numbers 16 through 20.
Number 16- Bob Lanier: Milwaukee Bucks (1980-1984)
The sure-fire way to get one’s number on this list is to have it retired by one’s organization. That is certainly true of Bob Lanier, the Hall of Fame center of the Milwaukee Bucks. Lanier’s number 16 was retired after he played the last four and a half seasons of his career with the Bucks.
Lanier spent the majority of his 14-year career with the Detroit Pistons. During his nine and a half seasons in Detroit, he averaged 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. In addition, the Hall of Fame center was named to seven All-Star teams as a Piston. He made four straight teams from 1971-1974, and then three straight from 1976-1978.
Lanier’s time in Milwaukee was not as statistically impressive, but he did provide Milwaukee with invaluable veteran leadership. This is not to say that Lanier was a slouch on the court with the Bucks. He made his final career All-Star team in 1981 as a member of the Bucks. He finished his time in Milwaukee with averages of 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Honorable Mention: Lou Brock (Green Bay Packers); Sixto Lezcano (Brewers)
Number 17- Jim Gantner: Milwaukee Brewers (1978-1992)
As stated earlier, having one’s number retired is a sure-fire way to end up on this list. While the Brewers have not officially retired Jim Ganter’s number 17, it should be noted that no Brewer has worn that number since Gumby retired in 1992. His number is considered to “unofficially retired” by the Brewers’ organization.
Number 17 played 17 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers, the only organization he ever knew. The Brewers drafted Ganter in the 12th round of the 1974 amateur draft. While he never made an All-Star team, Gumby was a model of consistency for the Brewers. He is often seen pictured with Robin Yount and Paul Molitor as the three core members of the team in 80’s. Ganter finished his long career with the Brewers with a slash line of .274/.319/.351 with 1,696 hits, 47 home runs, and 578 RBI. A stellar second baseman, Ganter remains the Brewers’ all-time leader in Defensive WAR with 9.9.
Honorable Mention: Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers)
Number 18- Randall Cobb: Green Bay Packers
A day may come when Keston Hiura will be listed here, but for today (and the foreseeable future) this spot belongs to Randall Cobb. Cobb was selected in the second round with the 64th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. While he was not a starting receiver right away, he did make an immediate impact on the Packers. During the 2011 season, Cobb was the Packers’ kick and punt returner. He returned 34 kicks for 941 yards, even returning one 108 yards for a touchdown. He also returned 26 punts for 295 yards and a score.
The following season, Cobb had 954 yards receiving and touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for a total of 132 rushing yards. In addition, he was still the Packers punt and kick returner. Cobb returned 31 punts for 292 yards and a touchdown, as well as 38 kicks for 964 yards. His 2,342 all-purpose yards led the NFL. As his role grew in the passing game, he stopped receiving punts and kicks. Cobb made the Pro Bowl in 2014 with a career-high 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Injuries caught up with Cobb in 2018, and he was limited to nine games that year. The Packers decided not to offer him another contract, a disappointing move in the eyes of many Packers’ faithful. After playing with the Dallas Cowboys last season, Cobb signed on with the Houston Texans for this upcoming year.
Honorable Mention: Darryl Hamilton (Milwaukee Brewers)
Number 19- Robin Yount: Milwaukee Brewers (1974-1993)
Whole books could be written on the greatness of Robin Yount and what he has meant to the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. He remains the Brewers’ all-time leader in most offensive categories, making it impossible to tell the story of the Milwaukee Brewers without him.
Robin Yount spent his entire 20-year career with Milwaukee, making him one of sixteen players to ever play that long with one team. He is also one of just four players to win a MVP Award at two different positions (short stop in 1982; center field in 1989). In addition to his two MVP’s, Yount also made three All-Star teams, won three Silver Sluggers, and won a Gold Glove at short stop in 1982. When Yount retired in 1993, he had a career slash line of .285/.342/.430 with 3,142 hits, 251 home runs, and 1,406 RBI. “The Kid” was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, his first year on the ballot.
Honorable Mention: Damon Jones (Milwaukee Bucks- 19 is not a very well-worn number in Wisconsin sports)
Number 20- Gorman Thomas: Milwaukee Brewers (1978-1986)
Here’s a fun fact for Brewers’ fans: Gorman Thomas is the only Brewers player to lead the league in home runs more than once. In fact, from 1979-1983, no one in the American League hit more home runs than Stormin’ Gorman, who jacked 179.
A fan favorite among Brewers fans, even today, Gorman Thomas is a Milwaukee legend. His physique was not typical of that of center fielders back then, but that made him all the more endearing to Milwaukee. Gorman hit a Brewers’ record 45 home runs in 1979. His record was matched twice by Richie Sexson and broken by Prince Fielder, who hit 50 in 2007. Stormin’ Gorman played 11 seasons with the Brewers. In that time, he compiled a slash line of .230/.325/.461 with 208 home runs and 605 RBI.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Lucroy (Milwaukee Brewers)
More in the Series
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