What’s in a number?
In the basic sense, the numbers on baseball players’ uniforms serve an organizational purpose, helping us keep track of stats and distinguish one player from another. But those digits often have a much deeper meaning for players.
A group of Major League Baseball players recently revealed those meanings, explaining the reasons why they chose their current jersey numbers in an article published Wednesday on ESPN.com. Four Boston Red Sox players made cameos in the article: shortstop Xander Bogaerts, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr.
So, how did this quartet of Red Sox select their uniform numbers? Here are their explanations, via ESPN.com:
Xander Bogaerts, No. 2
“I grew up following Derek Jeter. He was one of the prime examples of how you want any kid growing up to play the game, just to take the good habits that he had. That’s why I asked to see if I could get No. 2 after Jacoby (Ellsbury) went over to the (New York) Yankees.”
Sandy Leon, No. 3
“Three is the month when I (was) born — March. July 3 is my mother’s birthday. May 3 is my dad’s birthday, too. March 13 is the day I (was) born. There’s a lot of 3s in there, so I like that number.”
Andrew Benintendi, No. 16
Really, the only reason is my dad was 16 when he played (in college at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio). I’ve always worn it, pretty much. D-Mo (Deven Marrero) was wearing it last year, so I asked him and he was kind enough to give it to me. They didn’t give me a choice last year. They just gave me 40.”
Jackie Bradley Jr., No. 19
“This is the number that I’ve actually wanted since I got to pro ball. … I wore 19 in school (at the University of South Carolina). A lot of reasons why: born April 19, my mother was in labor with me for 19 hours; Jackie Robinson — can’t wear 42 anymore, but the year he was born was 1919, Jan. 31; and also, I wore No. 19 in college.”
Bogaerts taking the number of a Yankees legend might not sit well with some Red Sox fans, but these are all pretty compelling reasons. Good things also come to those who wait; Bogaerts (No. 72), Benintendi (No. 40) and Bradley (No. 44, No. 25) all were assigned different numbers before landing their desired digits.
Thumbnail photo via Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports Images
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