If athletes are anything, they’re superstitious. Wade Boggs always ate chicken before a game (well, that and visited his mistress). Brian Urlacher eats two chocolate chip cookies before injuring people every Sunday. During playoff drives guys grow Amish-like beards. And if they play long enough, athletes cling to their uniform numbers and the luck they supposed bring them, even if it costs them.
Huge Thanks to John Lackey for the incredible gift for changing my uni # pic.twitter.com/SFnuTh2d7x
— Pat Neshek (@PatNeshek) August 20, 2014
Cardinals’ reliever Pat Neshek tweeted that for the honor of giving up his number 41 jersey to starter John Lackey, he was given a Babe Ruth autographed baseball complete with letter of authenticity. That’s a good payday for a shrug. But this number thing is becoming big business.
According to the New York Times, pitcher Tom Glavine became quite attached to number 47in Atlanta, but when he arrived at the Mets late in his career, the number was taken by Joe McEwing. So Glavine paid for a baby nursery in McEwing’s house. When Kellen Winslow Jr. joined the Browns, he paid Aaron Shea about $30,000 in suits, food and a vacation for number 80. Atlanta Of Brian Jordan wanted number 33, so he bought third base coach Freddie Gonzalez a $40,000 motorcycle. Damn.
Since this has become a money thing, of course, it’s found its way to the courts. Well, almost. RB Clinton Portis agreed to pay teammate Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 to get number 26. However, Ohalete was released by the team before the season started, and Ohalete claimed Portis stopped paying after only shelling out half. The two reached a settlement before the case hit the courts, but during the process Portis challenged Ohalete to a boxing match to settle the matter. Sadly, the match never happened.
But all of these guys could have learned from former Phillies reliever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, who got number 28 from John “I ain’t an athlete, lady” Kruk for two cases of beer. The best part is Kruk gave Williams the number because the latter had given his wife all sorts of #28 jewelry and didn’t want to have to buy her new bling. However, shortly after the beer-for-jersey transaction, Williams and his wife split, and Williams changed jersey numbers.
He probably missed that beer.
Photo via Getty
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated, and is now one for SportsGrid.com. Follow him on Twitter @turkeysflying.