In the annals of sports, many players who joined a new team have gone to great lengths to get the jersey number they had with their previous teams.
There have been instances of cash changing hands, as well as a motorcycle, an autographed Babe Ruth ball, a Rolex watch and even a baby nursery for another player’s house.
Billy Butler, who signed with Oakland last month, got his No. 16 with the A’s by giving the previous owner, Josh Reddick, a winch.
Yep, a winch.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Reddick later explained that he liked mud-bogging, which is basically driving through a patch of mud. That would explain why it’s nice to have a winch to get out of the mud if you get stuck.
Butler got off cheap. Last year, the Cardinals acquired pitcher John Lackey, who wanted the No. 41. Pat Neshek gladly gave it up when Lackey gave him this:
Outfielder Brian Jordan once gave Braves teammate Fredi Gonzalez a Harley-Davidson motorcyle for the No. 33, and Tom Glavine was so grateful that he got his No. 47 upon joining the Mets that Glavine and his wife financed a baby nursery in Joe McEwing’s home.
“If you play long enough,” Glavine said, “that number becomes your identity.”
In the NFL, Washington running back Clinton Portis agreed to pay safety Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for No. 26. Ohalete was later released by the team and sued Portis for not paying the whole amount. The two settled before the court case began.
Here are two of my favorite examples of a player naming his price for a number.
John Kruk gave his number No. 28 to new Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams for a couple cases of beer.
And Vikings punter Chris Kluwe agreed to give up No. 5 to quarterback Donovan McNabb under three conditions, according to Pro Football Talk: McNabb had to write a check for $5,000 to the charity of Kluwe’s choice; mention Kluwe’s band (Tripping Icarus) in five news conferences; and buy Kluwe an ice cream cone.
To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/pgrathoff