Today is Sept. 9, 2009. That's 9-9-09. So, naturally, we celebrate the No. 9 from Teddy Ballgame to the Golden Jet to Beethoven. Here's the best of the No. 9.
Teddy Ballgame. The Splendid Splinter. The Thumper. The Kid. He had plenty of nicknames, but we like this one: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. A lifetime .344 hitter and the last man to hit .400 (.406 in 1941).
Oldtimers call him the greatest and most complete hockey player of all time. He could win a game with goals, with assists or with a well-placed elbow to the jaw. The guy is 80 years old and we still would be scared to go into the corners with him.
The great baseball slugger is best known for wearing No. 44 with the Yankees, but he started out wearing No. 9 for the Oakland A's. He blasted 254 homers in nine seasons with the A's and no one will ever wear No. 9 for the A's again. The club retired his number in 2004.
The Beatles' 1968 classic that famously announced to some, if you played it backward, that Paul McCartney was dead. In addition, some, including Charles Manson and prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, believed Manson thought he was receiving messages from the Beatles through this song.
Even today, nearly 30 years after his last game, Bobby Hull still is considered to have one of the most feared slap shots the game of hockey has ever seen. Between the NHL and WHL, the Golden Jet amassed more than 900 goals and 1,700 points.
His 61 homers in 1961 were the most in one season in baseball history until that number was later passed by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. Knowing what we know now, you could say Maris remains the true single-season home run leader.
A few years ago, we chose an athlete to represent every number from 0 to 99. Despite tough competition, soccer star Mia Hamm was our choice for the best No. 9. We took a lot of heat, but we stand by our pick. Hamm is among the greatest soccer stars - men or women - of all time and perhaps the best female athlete ever. She's certainly on the short list.
Nine to Five
We're just going to fess up: we love this 1980 comedy. We love Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda. We love Dabney Coleman. We love Dolly Parton and her song. We even love that drunk lady who says "Atta girl'' every other scene. We love it so much that we started loving other 9-to-5 things such as that Sheena Easton Morning Train song.
The longtime star of the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, Modano is our pick as the best American-born hockey player ever. His 1,329 points (and counting) are the most by a U.S.-born player. Great guy, too.
Nine unexcused absences
That's how many Ferris Bueller racked up before taking his day off. So far this semester he has been absent nine times. Nine times? Niiiine times.
Maurice "Rocket'' Richard
In Montreal, hockey is a religion and all worship Maurice "Rocket'' Richard, whom fans of Les Habitants will argue is the true best hockey player who ever lived. That's debatable, but there is no argument that he was the NHL's first true super-scorer. He was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season and the first to score 500 for a career.
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
Technically, it's called Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral.'' Completed in 1824, it was Ludwig van's last complete symphony and his masterpiece. And, of course, it's the piece of music that incapacitated young Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
Technically, not a No. 9, but a No. 99. Chosen by the Great One in honor of Gordie Howe's No. 9. Trivia: did you know that former Lightning GM Rick Dudley once wore 99? But when he saw Gretzky play, he immediately changed his number.
Love Potion No. 9
The 1959 hit from the Clovers. I took my troubles down to Madame Rue/You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth/She's got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine/Sellin' little bottles of Love Potion Number Nine. Also, Love Potion No. 9 was the title of a dreadful 1992 movie with Sandra Bullock.
You could take Bill Elliott, who drove the No. 9 car on his way to the 1988 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship. Or you could take Kasey Kahne, who currently drives the No. 9 car and scored a big victory over the weekend in Atlanta.
Local No. 9
For all the great players who have worn No. 9, the Tampa Bay teams had slim pickings with the No. 9. The Bucs had a couple of decent punters - Tom Tupa, Josh Bidwell - wear the number. The Lightning had a guy who was over the hill (Denis Savard), a first-round pick who never really lived up to the hype (Jason Wiemer) and a little engine that could (Eric Perrin). Rays' No. 9s include Bobby Smith, Vinny Castilla, Al Martin and, for a couple of years, B.J. Upton, who now wears 2. Our pick out of all these guys? We'll go with a punter - Bidwell.
The Midwest farm boy with a bat named "Wonderboy.'' He was the hero in the 1984 movie The Natural who wears No. 9 for the New York Knights. But have you ever read Bernard Malamud's 1952 novella? It doesn't end with a guy who looks like Robert Redford playing catch, that's for sure.
Nine Inch Nails
The American industrial rock group founded by Trent Reznor in Cleveland in the late 1980s. Their 1994 classic album, The Downward Spiral, was ranked 200th on the Rolling Stones' list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Of course cats have nine lives. Everyone has a story about how they saw a cat get run over by a speeding tractor trailer and then watched it get up and run away.
The recent blockbuster sci-fi movie produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It's about a group alienated in their own area for their own safety. The sequel, featuring the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen, is in the works.
We could be referring to a fleeing suspect's worst nightmare, or the 1989 movie with Jim Belushi, Mel Harris and Ed O'Neill. We would tell you the plot, but we're not sure if we would be talking about K-9 or Turner & Hooch.
Of course, baseball has plenty of famous nines. Nine innings, nine players in the field at one time, the Mudville Nine. Why does a baseball game last nine innings? We have no idea.
Plan 9 from Outer Space
This 1959 science fiction flick has the distinction of being called "the worst movie ever made.'' But that has made this Ed Wood film starring Bela Lugosi (who had actually died three years before the movie was released) a cult classic.