Toronto Sports Stars Sefirat Ha’Omer counter

As the readers of this blog probably know, there’s a period during between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot called the Omer. The 49-day period is considered a time of reflection and during it we count up the days in ascending order until Shavuot.

One of things about counting these days is that you’re actually not allowed to say “today is the X day” or “tonight we count X day” until you’ve formally counted the day by preceding it with a blessing and by doing so at the prior evening. For example, if I’m counting the 17th day, I can’t verbalize this when it’s actually time to count it. Then after doing so I can say it’s the 17th day etc.

Typically we say, “yesterday we counted X” and that should tell you what to count when it’s time to do so.

I’ve decided to make a list – a list that should make things easier to perhaps remember these days or just to have fun with it, specifically for Toronto sports fans. This list will have a player’s jersey number correspond with the day of the Omer. And these players have been chosen as in my opinion, the best players to ever wear the number while playing in this city. This way you can say, for example, “Today/tonight we count/counted Wendel Clark” – if doing do for #17.

I’ve included players from all big four pro-leagues: Maple Leafs (hockey), Blue Jays (baseball), Raptors (basketball) and the Argonauts (CFL football).

Here are the selection factors:

Contribution to the team
Ranking in best players in team history
Fan love

If you’re a dedicated T.O. sports fan, you should know most of these players. If not, look ’em up. I’d like to include reasons, but that’s too much for this kind of blog.

They’re all from different eras so that might determine whether you know them or not.

Maple Leafs
Blue Jays

1 – Turk Broda & Johnny Bower, Tony Fernandez
2 – Doug Flutie
3 – Dion Phaneuf
4 – Chris Bosh, Red Kelly
5 – Bill Barilko
6 – Ace Bailey & Ron Ellis
7 – Tim Horton, Kyle Lowry
8 – Jose Calderon
9 – Ted Kennedy & Charlie Conacher, John Olerud
10 – George Armstrong, Demar Derozan
11 – George Bell
12 – Roberto Alomar
13 – Mats Sundin
14 – Dave Keon
15 – Vince Carter
16 – Darcy Tucker
17 – Wendel Clark
18 – Jim Clancy
19 – Jose Bautista & Paul Molitor, Damon Allen
20 – Josh DonaldsonAlvin Williams
21 – Borje Salming
22 – Rick Vaive
23 – Eddie Shack
24 – Morris Peterson
25 – Carlos Delgado
26 – Willie Upshaw
27 – Darryl Sittler & Frank Mahovlich
28 – Tie Domi
29 – Joe Carter
30 – Terry Sawchuk
31 – Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons
32 – Roy Halladay
33 – Antonio Davis, Ed Sprague
34 – Charles Oakley
35 – Lyle Overbay
36 – *David Wells
37 – Dave Stieb
38 – Mark Eichorn (86-88)
39 – William Nylander
40 – Mike Timlin
41 – Pat Hentgen
42 – Kevin Willis
43 – Cito Gaston
44 – Morgan Reilly
45 – Travis Snider
46 – Mike Flanagan
47 – Jack Morris
48 – Mark Eichorn (92-93)
49 – None insignificant ie Mediocre Blue Jays (Jeremy Accardo, Dave Bush, Tom Candiotti, Tony Castillo)
50 – Tom Henke

**Henke is quite appropriate as 50 as the best Jays closer ever**

*David Wells also wore 33 for two seasons (1999-2000)

* Mark Eichorn also wore 28 (1982), 34 (1992) and 48 (1992-93)

Honourable Mention

1 – Tracy McGrady
2 – Ian Turnbull
3 – Wade Belak
6 – Cory Joseph, Marcus Stroman
7 – Gary Roberts (Andrea Bargnani… not)
10 – Vernon Wells, Edwin Encarnacion
11 – Gary Leeman, Zach Hyman (CHAT grad!), Kevin Pillar (Jewish boy!)
15 – Tomas Kablerle, Shawn Green
17 – Jonas Valanciunas
18 – Anthony Parker
20 – Ed Belfour, Bob Pulford, Damon Stoudamire
21 – Bob Baun, Marcus Camby, Roger Clemens
22 – Jimmy Key
29 – Felix Potvin
30 – Oliver Miller (Not)
31 – Curtis Joseph, Duane Ward
32 – Steve Thomas
35 – Mediocre goalies (Jeff Reese, Vesa Toskala, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Corey Schwab)
36 – Dmitry Yushkevich
39- Matt Frattin & Travis Green (Leafs third liners)
42 – Tyler Bozak
43- Nazem Kadri
44 – Casey Janssen, Yanic Perreault
47 – Leo Komarov
48 – Paul Quantrill
50 – Mike O’Shea

For many numbers,very few players with any significance have worn them. For example, only one Leaf has worn 49 (Dmitry Yakushin… who?) and none as a Raptor (only two players have ever worn the number in NBA history). 35, 39, 44 are also good examples.

I chose players not only based on their merits but also their contribution to the team. Toronto Raptors players are perfect examples for some of these choices. For example, with 24 you could make an argument for Bryan McCabe or Brian Glennie (both Leafs), instead I chose Morris Peterson because he’s played the most games as a Raptor. Kevin Willis (42) as a Raptor may not have been as talented as Tyler Bozak as a Leaf but Willis’ addition (see Oakley) gave the franchise credibility for the first time in history. Alvin Williams (20) is the best point guard the Raptors ever and was crucial to that 2001 playoff team.

For some I honestly couldn’t decide who was better, so I included them both.

Another factor accounted for is the fan’s appreciation for the player. Charles Oakley (34) might not have been as talented as A.J. Burnett (Jays) but Toronto loved Oakley because you don’t mess with Oakley. Toronto loves hard working players who give it their all.

There are instances where the contributions and fan love are measured against one another and one must rule out. Case in point: Vince Carter. Everyone hates Vince but no one can doubt his place as the best Raptor of all time. He put the team on the map and gave you a reason to watch and care.

If you disagree with my choices, please comment.



Posted on April 12, 2013, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Absolutely missing James Reimer at number 34. One of the city’s favourites of the past decade.


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