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5.13.2005

The Loneliest Numbers 

Call it 1-upsmanship. Both the Wall St. Journal and The New York Times have articles today about athletes' numbers.

Stefan Fatsis of the Journal has a fun piece on pitchers' aversion to single-digit uniform numbers. Here's the link, though it's probably subscription-only. To prevent being sued, here are just a couple Giants-related excerpts:

Bill Monbouquette donned No. 8 when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants during the 1968 season. "I'm looking at this every day in my locker and saying, 'What the hell am I doing with No. 8?' " he says. Atlee Hammaker wore No. 7 with the Giants in 1985 after giving his No. 14 to a returning veteran, Vida Blue. He says he chose the single digit because "in God's eyes...seven is considered the perfect number." On the field, though, "it didn't do much for me," he says.

Ah, fond memories of the Giants' God Squad. What I remember most is Rob Andrews misplaying a ground ball for a decisive error then saying in the post-game interview it was God's will. Two decades later, there was Mark Dewey refusing to participate in the AIDS/Until There's a Cure Day.

Which makes me wonder, do Christian ballplayers shy away from playing in S.F. (or New York, or other big sinful blue-state cities)? Does that affect the ability of GMs to sign free agents?

Meanwhile the Times weighs in on athletes who pay teammates to surrender numbers.

This just in: Felix Rodriguez didn't slip in the shower and hurt his knee. He changed his name to Ezequiel and moved to Houston. (I promised a while back never to do "Separated at Birth" pieces, but I never said anything about "Never Seen in the Same Room As...")

One more question: Before you read the Journal piece, can you guess the last Giant pitcher to wear a single-digit number?

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