659302343

Graig Nettles wore No. 9. Hence, I think of him.

Graig Nettles wore No. 9. Hence, I think of him.

I randomly typed a number above. Most people probably see it as nine digits. This, off the top of my head, is what I envision …

Roy White

Kerry Collins

Marty Lyons

Al Oliver

Don Mattingly

Glenn Foley

Babe Ruth

It’s a disease. A beautiful, awful, weird, funky disease. The number 33 isn’t, for me, two threes. It’s Ken Griffey, Sr. as a Yankee—after his first season of wearing No. 6. The number 1244 isn’t 1244. It’s Roger Staubach, Reggie Jackson. Or Joe Namath, Lenny Dykstra, Lenny Dykstra. 9988 is Mark Gastineau, Al Toon. Or it could be Wayne Gretzky, Drew Pearson. Or Graig Nettles, Graig Nettles, Michael Irvin. A 7 is almost always Ken O’Brien, but it can be Mickey Mantle. A 0 is Al Oliver. Always Al Oliver. I can’t see 24 and not think Freeman McNeil, unless I see 24 and think Rickey Henderson with the Yankees. Or Ken Griffey, Jr. Or Paul Blair, Paul Molitor. Which is weird, because Derek Jeter has worn No. 2 for two decades. Yet, to me, he never figures in. Or figures.

A 41 is Tom Seaver. Always Tom Seaver. A 30 is Ken Griffey, Sr. in Cincinnati, an 85 Wesley Walker, a 3 Babe Ruth.

When I was a kid, the neighborhood idol was Dave Fleming, who wound up winning 17 games for the Seattle Mariners. Dave wore No. 16 in college, No. 35 in the Majors. Both work.

My house number in New Rochelle was 89—a nod to the great Mark Bavaro. Or Yogi Berra, Drew Brees. Now I’m at 28701, which oozes Jessie Barfield, Mantle, Billy Martin.

Or not if you’re talking Barfield’s Toronto years.

When he wore No. 29

1 thought on “659302343”

  1. I live at Michael Jordan/Billy Williams in Colorado. (Grew up a Cub fan before making the seamless transition to an endless June swoon with the Colorado Rockies in ’93.

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