The great number debate: Who wore No. 20 best in Philadelphia?


When starting your athletic journey, the number you choose to wear and represent your city with becomes a part of your identity. It’s forever embedded into the career and legacy that is left behind. Oftentimes, upon hearing a certain number, one athlete associated with it comes to mind. 

Philadelphia has had a fair amount of star players that have shared the same number throughout history. 

And I bet you already had No. 20 in your head — didn’t you? 

Dave Poulin, Mike Schmidt and Brian Dawkins are some of the biggest names for their respective sports that have worn this number. 

But which of these athletes is ultimately the best to wear No. 20? Let’s take a look: 

Dave Poulin 

The Flyers have had quite a list of well-respected captains. While it’s hard to beat the legendary Bobby Clarke, and Claude Giroux is certainly leaving his mark, no other captain has made an impact like Poulin. 

After a crazy route to get to the NHL, Poulin took the franchise by storm once he arrived on April 2, 1983. In his first shift as a Flyer against the Maple Leafs, he scored the first goal of the game and of his professional career.

While the Flyers came up short that season, the emergence of Poulin became a silver lining. He had a strong foundation as a player, but some of the top athletes to ever represent the club noticed the potential in him. Clarke, Bill Barber, Brad Marsh and Mark Howe were all factors in molding his game.

Poulin quickly became one of the best players on the team. With just about one year of experience in the NHL, Poulin was the next in line to add the coveted “C” on his sweater. 

Poulin was a captain for the players. He advocated for his teammates and supported them as a way to make the locker room a more comfortable environment. 

The combination of his leadership and skill made for one of the strongest players the organization had ever seen. With two All-Star appearances (1986 and 1988) and a Selke Trophy in 1986-87, Poulin was eventually named to the Flyers Hall of Fame. 

Mike Schmidt

In the history of the Phillies, no player is more universally known and loved than Schmidt. 

A rocky rookie season was quickly buried among some of the best baseball the city would ever see. Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight different times throughout his career and officially entered the 500 home run club on April 18, 1987, becoming the 14th member. 

Schmidt holds a handful of records within the organization, including most games played (2,404), runs (1,506), home runs (548) and runs batted in (1,595). 

The third baseman had 12 All-Star appearances, collected 10 Gold Glove Awards and six Silver Slugger Awards, was the National League’s MVP three times (1980, 1981 and 1986) and, of course, led the Phillies to their first World Series win in 1980 — also being named MVP of that series. 

No. 20 was retired by the Phillies on May 26, 1990 and within the same season, he was inducted as a member of the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. These accolades earned him a permanent place in MLB history as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. 

Brian Dawkins

For an athlete that finished his career outside of Philadelphia, Dawkins was permanently etched on the short list of players to never be booed. It was impossible, considering the legacy he created with the Eagles. 

As a member of the organization for 13 seasons, No. 20 is known to be one of the greatest safeties of all time. He was a natural born leader on defense and among the entire squad, an athlete that other teams feared playing against. 

During his time in Philadelphia, the Eagles won five NFC East titles, went to four NFC Championship games consecutively and appeared in Super Bowl XXXIX. 

With the Eagles, Dawkins made the Pro Bowl seven times, was a four-time First-team All-Pro and made the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team. His success landed him in the Eagles Hall of Fame and the team officially retired his number on Sept. 30, 2012. 

Years passed and he remained one of the top athletes in the city to never receive a glorious Super Bowl ring — but thanks to the special 2017 run and his time in the Eagles front office, Weapon X was finally able to cross that off his list. This was a moment that both he and fans were waiting years for. 

Just a few months after earning his ring, Dawkins was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, 2018. 

Really? Did you think we were actually going to pin these incredible athletes against one another? That’s comparing apples to oranges and makes absolutely no sense. Philadelphia has been one lucky city when it comes to having generational players — they just so happen to have worn the same number. 

But, if you feel inclined to personally select one, you can do so below: 

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