By Phil Hecken
As you likely know by now, the new manager of the Baltimore Orioles is Buck Showalter, having been named a few days ago, but not officially taking the reigns until yesterday. Buck takes over for interim manager Juan Samuel (wearing number 11), who will not return to his third base coach role, but will remain with the team as an evaluator for the team’s Dominican Republic academy.
Number 11 had been Buck Showalter’s uniform number throughout his managerial career, which to this point included stops in New York, Arizona, and Texas. So, with #11 available, you’d think Showalter would select that as he begins a stint with the O’s. But he’s not — when the Orioles take the field tonight for Showalter’s first game as manager, he’ll be wearing a new number: 26.
As Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday, there’s more than a method behind Buck’s madness. He has chosen the number 26 to honor the late Johnny Oates, the former skip of the Orioles, who passed away in 2004 from a brain tumor. Oates was a close friend of Showalter’s, and the two shared an employer in the recently departed George Steinbernner — according to Rosenthal, “Showalter was a member of the first team that Oates managed, at Double A with the Yankees in 1982. He also played for Oates with the Yankees’ Triple A club in 1983.”
So, when Showalter hatched the idea of honoring Oates by wearing his number, Oates’ wife was given an ultimatum. “Listen, Gloria,” he said, “either you and the family are going to think it’s a great idea or nobody is going to wear the number while I’m there.” And thus, it was decided Buck would wear 26. Very nice gesture.
Until yesterday, I honestly didn’t know that 11 had been “Buck’s number.” More than a cursory search of google yielded exactly ZERO pictures of him wearing a jersey (as seen from behind). The closest I came was this picture, a side-on view, of Buck with the D-Backs (check out that teal cap). Buck was one of those managers who always wore a jacket, or a pullover or zip up or windbreaker over his jersey. Even when he appeared on Seinfeld, he was wearing a top over his uniform. But in one fell swoop, now everyone will know Buck is number 26.
As a manager, Buck has been successful, but not so as a player, at least if you count success as at least having a cup in the majors. Apparently, 11 hasn’t always been his number, however, as he’s clearly sporting something else (in a pic from his double-A days).
Although Showalter has yet to manage a world series winner, I believe he is the only manager ever to leave not one, but two, teams in the year before his former team won it all (1996 Yankees and 2001 Diamondbacks). Betting men were placing large sums of cash on the 2007 Texas Rangers (as Showalter’s last season with them was in 2006). Unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike thrice, but perhaps he can turn around a woeful O’s team that’s been adrift for the past several seasons.
Good luck, Buck! And wear that #26 with pride and honor.
This does bring up an interesting issue regarding manager uniform numbers. Joe Torre, for example, who had worn the number 9 with the Mets, Braves (although he wore #15 as a player), and Cardinals (as player and manager), upon being named Yankee Manager for the 1996 season, found the number 9 was unavailable (and the Yankees should have retired that number for Roger Maris before letting Graig Nettles have it — and which sometimes makes for an awkward sight — but that’s neither here nor there). Torre, so accustomed to wearing “9” as a manager, was forced to choose the number 6, a number so now ubiquitously associated with him it’s hard to imagine him ever choosing anything else.
I’m not a big numbers guy, especially for managers — I can barely tell you Jerry Manuel is #53, but Showalter’s choosing of #26 to honor Oates brings up an interesting topic of manager’s numbers.
I’m sure there are others besides Torre and Showalter changing numbers upon either finding them unavailable or to honor someone (Joe Girardi’s selection of #27 and now #28 is sort of related). But there have to be more. I am sure you readers will be happy to fill in the details.
Collector’s Corner, by Brinke Guthrie
Once upon a time “back in the day,” I made it my mission to get a decal and schedule from every pro sports team. Back then, postage wasn’t much, and there weren’t as many teams! I got quite a few responses, and a lot of the NHL and WHA stickers can be found here. Other gems from eBay include:
* And this would be..a New York Jet.
* Staying in New York with this one, a 1950’s football Giants pennant.
* Absolutely took this Cowboys binder to Withers Elementary School in Dallas in 1971.
* Gayle Sayers wore this jersey? I think not.
* Remember the 1970’s NHL Goal magazine?
* Commemorative medallions from the first dozen Super Bowls. Bring your wallet for this one.
* This says it’s a 1977 card. No way. Interesting point though — in the 70’s I bought baseball cards from “Renata Galasso” in Brooklyn, from an ad in the back of The Sporting News. Wonder if that name rings a bell with PL?
* Speaking of 1977 — Ranger Roy looks a lot like Jerry Springer.
* Is that a “33” on that Baltimore Oriole cap?
* From 1971, get your NFL posters, only $1, right here.
* Set of 1970’s NFL helmet cars.
* 70’s NFL mini-helmet goalpost kits! Loved these.
* More from the 70’s. Tasco binoculars with all the NFL logos on them.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Kicking off the ticker is Joe Skiba, New York Giants Equipment Manager, who asks, “Can you believe there’s a discussion about this?” … RS Williams reports that on July 31, in the Hickory Crawdads vs. Kannapolis Intimidators, game both teams wore black caps with red bills, red jerseys (HKY had black side panels & KAN had black sleeves) and for those who went high cuffed, had black socks. The only difference was white pants vs. grey pants. … Great find from James Huening, who notes this heritage sweater seen at Legends Day at Arlington Park. … Li’l Help? Reader Bill Scheft asks, “Why the University of Washington in the late 60s-early 70s had different players wearing solid gold and solid navy blue helmets at the same time? Offense-defense? Seniors-underclassmen? Dying to know.” Anyone? Anyone? … Chris Sisler is not sure if this has been noted before (and I’m not sure why it’s noteworthy, but I don’t know much), but he says, Edgar Renteria had his last name on the back of his helmet Sunday night vs Dodgers. Is this not something the Giants do? … UW’s Pacific Rim Correspondent, Jeremy Brahm was at the Seahawks practice facility, and noticed the Seahawks have bing in the end zone. … Steve Cook saw yesterday’s column on UFL unis, and wanted to make a correction (which is good), “I think all of the UFL uniforms/colors/logos are amateur-ish. Hartford is not bad, but the logo has absolutely NO “colonial” look to it AT ALL!!! and the pants stripes on Florida curling around to the front are just ridiculous-looking! Chris stated that he disliked the “teal” in the Florida unis (or ANY unis). Just for the record, that’s not “teal” it’s CYAN, or PROCESS BLUE. TEAL is a much more greenish-blue.” I’m glad he pointed that out, because I’d been referring to the Tuskers blue by that color as well. … Jonathon Binet notes that the “Jags are wearing teal shorts for practices instead of the black shorts they’ve worn in the past.” Oh shit — is that teal or cyan? … And we thought the Natinals had righted the ship: Frank Mercogliano notes In the photo of Miss Iowa and Miguel Batista, “if you look at the beveling of the zero on Miss Iowa’s jersey, you can see that the number is in fact upside down. Well done Washington.” … Self-described “long time reader” Ward Black thought we want to let us check out Roddy White’s “swagger socks.” Nice! … RJ Trowbridge believes he’s found a case of ‘logo jacking’ — he asks, “Doesn’t the nighthawks logo look eerily similar to the Kansas City Brigade’s of the AFL?” (is it really logo jacking when no one’s ever seen your logo? Or, more to the point — didn’t the Brigade kinda jack that image from the military?) … Reader Benjamin Braxton sent along a pretty good article on how close the UGA unis were to looking very different. … I’m not an eBay guy, but I know a lot of you are. Michael Stevens has found a pretty sweet rare zipper front jersey that may be of interest. … Dustin Hall shoots us a gallery of pics for the new Indiana State University hoops court. … Jonathan Ratshin and Jeremy both tipped us wise to a first: ads on D-League jerseys; I’d probably get upset with this development if I actually
gave a shit knew more about D-League hoops. … First we saw it on the merch — now, we see it on — well, a big aluminium frame: Vikings 50th Season banner (thanks to Jake Kurtz for the photo). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Really cool old Tigers media guides found on the Tigers website. … Interesting “player made it but equipment didn’t” article sent in by Adam Quaintance. … Remember a few discussions about ski jumping at Soldier Field? Erin Berggren was watching the “Cubs getting trounced by the Brewers and as Bob Brenly and Len Kasper were talking to Illinois football coach Ron Zook about the upcoming Northwestern/Illinois football game at Wrigley the camera in the booth showed the framed pictures of different sporting events held at Wrigley throughout the years. These hang just inside the broadcast booth (or so they said).” Erin got a great grab of the Wrigley ski jump. … And finally, Mike Etheridge says, “Looks like Tulane reverting back to white helmets this season.”
This team doesn’t know what’s going to hit them. He is going to demand that this club play the game the right way. — Jim Palmer, in reaction to Buck Showalter’s hiring as Orioles manager.