Some Brief Thoughts on Turning 58

Click to enlarge

Good morning! Today is my birthday — I’m turning 58. Not a particularly auspicious number from either a chronological or uni-numerical perspective, but I still thought it would be fun to create the graphic shown above, which features 58 No. 58 jerseys. My rules for the graphic were as follows:

• No purple.

• No Yankees.

• No repeating any player. (Update: As several commenters have pointed out, it turns out I repeated a couple of players without realizing it. Ah well, it happens!)

Here are a few of the things I learned while working on the graphic:

• No NBA player has ever worn No. 58. NBA referee Josh Tiven currently wears it, however, so I included him.

• Only one Big Four pro player has ever had his No. 58 retired: KC linebacker Derrick Thomas. (In addition, the Vegas Golden Knights have retired No. 58 as a way of memorializing the 58 victims of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.)

• Some players are very loyal to No. 58, like former MLB pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who wore 58 for three different teams. Ditto for current NHL defenseman David Savard. I guess that’s not surprising — players are superstitious about their numbers, after all. It just seems a bit weirder somehow for a “less sexy” number like 58.

As for reaching this advanced age: When I turned 50, I remember thinking, “I feel the same as when I was 35.” Now that I’m 58, I definitely still feel 40something, at least from a physical perspective. Having a career that I love certainly helps, so thanks to all of you for helping to make that possible. Being able to make a living by writing about things that interest me is the best birthday present!

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Feel the burn: This item was buried in yesterday’s Ticker, but it’s such an amazing visual that I think it’s worth showcasing here today. That’s White Sox third baseman Jake Burger’s head, and you can see what the new trucker-style spring caps have done to his scalp. Yowza!

I don’t wear trucker caps and I’m not bald, so it never really occurred to me before that those two things are not a good match. But there are plenty of ballplayers out there who are bald or head-shaved — are they all having this problem? Will they start wearing sunblock on their scalps?

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Photo by @heo_officiating; click to enlarge

More green: Meet Eric Beaudin (left) and Malcolm Ouellet, two of Hockey Eastern Ontario’s new officials. As you can see, they’re wearing green armbands, but it has nothing to do with St. Paddy’s Day. The green bands indicate that they’re under 18, which is part of an HEO initiative to eliminate abuse and harassment of officials. Interesting!

(My thanks to Wade Heidt for this one.)

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One of my favorite readers: I first met Marty Hick in 2007, when he attended a Uni Watch party in St. Louis (to which he wore a Cardinals helmet necktie and brought a bunch of notebooks filled with amazing uni-centric drawings). Since then, we’ve become good friends — I’ve stayed at his house, played in his croquet league, written about his jersey-themed cakes and Uni Watch-themed pinewood derby car, and more. He’s a total peach of a guy with an amazing creative mind, and one of the really special people I’ve gotten to know through Uni Watch.

Marty and his family are currently in NYC for a vacation, so I invited them to join us for a little pre-birthday party that I threw for myself last night. It was such a treat to see them! Thanks for coming out, Marty — you’re the best.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: SNY has a new scorebug (from Raúl Cedas). … In Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League, Rakuten Monkeys P Bradin Hagans has “Häagen-Dazs,” with an ice cream emoji, as his NOB for spring training (from Jeremy Brahm).

Football News: Yesterday’s episode of the TV show Killing Eve had one of the characters wearing what looked like a blank Steelers jersey (from L.J. Sparvero). … Ohio State has a new Ohio Stadium 100th-anniversary logo. It’s not yet clear if it will be worn as part of the team’s uniform.

Hockey News: Capitals C Nicklas Bäckström lost a helmet ad toward the end of yesterday’s game (from Jonathan Sluss). … The PHF’s Connecticut Whale wore pride jerseys over the weekend. … The next two are from Wade Heidt: The OHL’s Flint Firebirds dressed like Spider-Man on Saturday, but in their team colors of orange and blue. … The Junior A British Columbia Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies wore camouflage jerseys on Saturday. … Reader Brandon Weir sent us a 1928 picture of Indigenous Cree and Ojibwe teams.

Basketball News: Houston/Illinois in the men’s NCAA tournament yesterday was one of several color vs. color games so far (from Karl Greenfield). … You may have seen during viewing party shots for Saint Peter’s men’s team that the school’s arena is called “Run Baby Run Arena.” Why is it called that? The arena opened at the beginning of this season with a donation from a member of the 1967-68 men’s team. The name is a reference to that team, which achieved one of the school’s previous most famous victories, over Duke in the 1968 NIT quarterfinals (from @bryanwdc).

Soccer News: The NWSL’s OL Reign wore “Protect Trans Kids” warm-up shirts on Friday. … One of the NWSL’s new teams, the San Diego Wave, played its first game on Saturday. The team has not actually revealed any kits yet, but wore mono-white on Saturday and also wore this blue shirt in preseason. … NWSL teams are also wearing a 10th-anniversary patch at the bottom of the shirt on either side. … New shirts for Sweden’s BK Häcken. … Scottish club Heart of Midlothian’s men’s team wore their third kit at home on Saturday as part of a fundraiser for the club charity. … Elsewhere in Scotland, Rangers fans threw toilet paper and tennis balls onto the pitch yesterday during their men’s team’s game to protest a proposed Australian friendly tournament next season. … FC Barcelona and Real Madrid played in La Liga yesterday and neither wore their first kit, with Real wearing black and Barcelona wearing their occasional Catalan flag-themed shirts (from Justin Ganz). … Denmark’s men’s team is wearing a one-off white shirt March 29.

Ukraine News: Scottish soccer club Hibernian’s women’s team wore a yellow and blue kit at home yesterday and are to auction off the shirts to benefit the charity Dnipro Kids. Hibs fans founded the charity, which supports orphans in the Ukrainian city, after the men’s team visited Dnipro for European competition in 2005. Their opponents Heart of Midlothian wore “We Stand with Ukraine” warm-up shirts. … The Bundesliga game between 1. FC Köln and Borussia Dortmund yesterday turned the center circle into a peace sign, a few weeks after VfL Wolfsburg did the same (from @sheds88).

Grab Bag: “One of the things that Japanese men’s and women’s volleyball teams do after winning is highlight the player with the win number in the team shot,” says Jeremy Brahm. The women’s team JT Marvelous doesn’t have a No. 23 for win No. 23, so they improvised with Nos. 11 and 12.

71 comments to Some Brief Thoughts on Turning 58

  • Dan B | March 21, 2022 at 8:27 am |

    Is anyone else unable to see yesterday’s post?

    Happy Birthday Paul!

    • Brian | March 21, 2022 at 8:54 am |

      I never could all of yesterday and still cannot today. At the end of today’s post it just jumps to the Saturday post?

      • Paul Lukas | March 21, 2022 at 9:07 am |

        If you’re using an ad-blocker, turn it off and see if that helps. We think that’s what caused the problem for some people yesterday, because the headline had the word “ads,” so some blockers may have mistakenly interpreted the whole post as an ad.

        As an aside, it would be nice for you not to use an ad-blocker on our site, because that’s how the site survives.

  • John Chapman | March 21, 2022 at 8:30 am |

    Happy Birthday, Paul. Thanks for cultivating this interesting and encouraging community!

    • Eltee of DC | March 21, 2022 at 11:59 am |

      Happy Birthday PL!
      The Uni-Verse abides

  • Joel Frank | March 21, 2022 at 8:33 am |

    Happy Birthday, Paul. Have a great day.

  • Ken T. | March 21, 2022 at 8:35 am |

    Happy birthday, Paul. Having been born in 1958, I find your discussion of #58 jerseys very cool.

    Do fellow readers ever think about what uniform numbers they WOULD wear, not necessarily their absolute favorite number? E.g., I’d wear 58 for my birth year, 38 or 86 for my high school sports numbers, 17 for St. Patrick….

    Enjoy your special day, Paul. Party on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9-v12HyWEA

    • dchis | March 21, 2022 at 9:01 am |

      I’ve thought extensively about which numbers I’d wear.

      I would want to wear 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 19 (hockey only), 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 31, 34, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45 (baseball pitcher only), 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59.

      Numbers I can’t wear 1, 6, 13, 16, 28, 29, 30, 38, 47, 48, 50, 57, 58, 60.

      Any of the other numbers I’d have almost zero interest in wearing but also depends on the sport. With hockey I’m much more willing to wear higher numbers like 73, 91, 93 and so forth.

      Interestingly I’ve thought a lot about how I like the numbers 23 and 31 but I don’t like the numbers 13 and 32 very much. Something about the way they’re ordered matters.

      Most of these numbers are sport dependent as I wouldn’t want to wear a high number in baseball or basketball but wouldn’t want to wear a number lower than 7 in soccer but in hockey would take a high number in a heartbeat. Football is still position dependent to me even though that isn’t a thing anymore as I like my WR’s wearing 80’s, linebackers wearing 50’s and defensive lineman wearing 90’s.

    • Daniel E | March 21, 2022 at 9:46 am |

      I’ve always viewed 67 as “my” number because my favorite team growing up (and still) was the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their two big stars during my childhood were Mario Lemieux (#66) and Jaromir Jagr (#68), so it just made sense for me to be in the middle!

    • Joe Werner | March 21, 2022 at 9:48 am |

      So, #74 was my football number 4 of the 5 years I played football in jr. high and high school. Besides liking the way it looks, there is somewhat of a story to how I originally acquired it. In my first year, in 8th grade, coach handed out the numbers by calling over the different position groups, and tossing out position-appropriate numbers, and 74 was what I got. Next year, same procedure, but a different coach, and 74 landed in my hands again, so I figured it was meant to be. Unfortunately, in 10th grade when I got to the HS, a senior already had 74, so I was stuck with a different number (63, which I later found out was my dad’s number.). But the following year I was able to “reclaim” 74, and kept it for 11th & 12th grade.

      One year my softball team did numbers on our shirts, and I chose #74, even though it’s not a “traditional” baseball/softball number, and if I played hockey I would not hesitate to wear it on a hockey sweater.

      Other numbers I would consider (some for no particular reason) are 3, 4, 5, 9, 56 (football LB only), 76 (my birth year), 95 (my HS graduation year), 10, 44, 17, 78, 70, 19, 21, and 98.

    • Ron Ruelle | March 21, 2022 at 11:48 am |

      I think it would be fun to wear 34, since a lot of folks mispronounce my name as “Rule”.

      “RUELLE 34” would have a sort of dirty joke built into my uni.

    • Rob S | March 21, 2022 at 12:59 pm |

      96 – for roadgeek reasons, as I-96 is an intrastate Interstate route contained entirely in Michigan, and I’ve always lived no more than 4 miles away from that route.

      74 – for my birth year, and actually the number I have on my Uni Watch membership card.

    • MJ | March 21, 2022 at 11:19 pm |

      What I have worn at some point:
      1 – goalie; 3 – point guard; 10, 11, 12 – pitcher (pitchers can’t wear single digits, wanted 11 because Dwight Gooden and I (and Brinke) have the same birthday and he wore 16); 17 – hockey, football; 85 – wide receiver.

    • dilbert719 | March 23, 2022 at 2:00 pm |

      If given the chance to choose from any two-digit number, 55. That’s always been my number, since I was born on Cinco de Mayo; any custom jerseys I have, I get that number. Failing that, my fallbacks are 83 and 5.

      If somehow I couldn’t get any of those, I’d probably ask for a list of available numbers, load up a custom jersey site, and try them out to see which I liked the look of best.

  • Ron S. | March 21, 2022 at 8:37 am |

    Happy birthday Paul!

  • Marcus Ramsey | March 21, 2022 at 8:56 am |

    Best wishes on your special day!

  • david goodfriend | March 21, 2022 at 9:01 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul!!!

  • Jim | March 21, 2022 at 9:03 am |

    No NBA player has ever worn number 58? Why is that? Is it a banned number like 69?

    • Paul Lukas | March 21, 2022 at 9:09 am |

      As of 2015, the following numbers had never been worn in the NBA: 58, 59, 64, 69, 74, 75, 78, 79, 80, 82, 87 and 97. (I haven’t checked all of them to see their current status, but I do know that 58 still hasn’t been worn.)

      • Bob B | March 21, 2022 at 10:08 am |

        In the “olden days”, most amateur basketball leagues did not allow the use any numeral higher than 5 on a uniform. When fouls were called, this allowed the referee to indicate the number of the offending player to the scorer’s table with the use of one hand.

        Many HS leagues took it one step further by dictating that one team must have all even numbers and the other team odd. A player who wore 22 at home would wear 23 on the road. Again, this was done to make it simpler for the scorer’s table to follow.

        And Happy Birthday!

        • RICKAZ | March 21, 2022 at 3:35 pm |

          I remember this. John Havlicek was the exception with 17.

  • BSmile | March 21, 2022 at 9:12 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul! Cheers!

  • BvK | March 21, 2022 at 9:15 am |

    Happy birthday, Paul! Just in celebration of you, may every team wearing green win today and every team wearing purple lose! (I say this as a Rockies and Lakers fan, but considering how bad both teams have been lately, that’s not much of a sacrifice on my part if I’m being honest…)

  • Wade Heidt | March 21, 2022 at 9:22 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul!

  • Kevin B. | March 21, 2022 at 9:23 am |

    Happy birthday, Paul! I hope your 59th season is great!

  • Joe Werner | March 21, 2022 at 9:26 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul!!!!

    As a Pittsburgh sports fan, I’m a little disappointed that you left Jack Lambert off of your graphic. But you made up for it by including Kris Letang twice! ;-)

    Enjoy your special day!

    • Greg Lamm | March 21, 2022 at 10:45 am |

      Yes, and Lambert is/was my favorite player.

      Happy Birthday, Paul.

    • ChrisH | March 21, 2022 at 11:07 am |

      The last time a #58 competed in NASCAR Cup was 1999.
      The car owner was a Pittsburgh native who chose that number in honor of Jack Lambert and often ran a black-and-yellow paint scheme.

    • TIm | March 21, 2022 at 11:47 am |

      LOL. The “lack of Lambert” (say that three times fast) was actually the first thing I noticed. I’ve always associated that number with him.

      Happy Birthday Paul!!!

      • william dertinger | March 21, 2022 at 10:40 pm |

        Me too !!!

  • Morris Belleville | March 21, 2022 at 9:28 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul !!

    Many Happy Returns

  • Jerry Grefenstette | March 21, 2022 at 9:28 am |

    Happy Birthday!

    Ps- Two LeTang jerseys are also shown in your montage.

  • Greg | March 21, 2022 at 9:29 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul.
    That Berger picture is perhaps one of the best examples of “they didn’t really think about this” as it relates to merchandise now being what drives on field uniform design.

  • Tyler Moody | March 21, 2022 at 9:34 am |

    Happy Birthday, Paul! As an aside, you make a post about the # 58, mention the absolute greatest Derrick Thomas, but don’t have his jersey in the picture? Missed opportunity there. All in good fun here. Have a great day sir!

  • Joe | March 21, 2022 at 9:41 am |

    I assume Papelbon is in there twice as well, or perhaps Fernando Abad. Nobody else has worn 58 for the Red Sox in more than 25 games (< 100 total games between the other seven).

    Jose Iglesias is the player who wore it 25 times, and is the only one other than Abad since Papelbon wore it. But the player in the picture appears to have much broader shoulders than Iglesias.

    I spent way too much time researching this.

  • pedro | March 21, 2022 at 9:44 am |

    As a person with very little hair on my head (once voluntary but for a long time now – involuntary!) I can relate to Mr. Berger.

    When I was in college I was an assistant manager of a public beach spending hours in the bright summer sun. My boss ordered trucker-style mesh hats for our “uniforms” (really just t-shirts and hats) I opted to wear my local MLB hat instead. My boss protested my decision so I showed him my lack of hair and pale skin and told him he should have purchased regular hats. He didn’t bring it up again.

    I also spent a non-insignificant chunk of my salary on sunblock!

    Happy Birthday!

  • Oakville Celery Root | March 21, 2022 at 9:45 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul

    Great idea re: green arm bands for the young refs, also interesting to see the transparent boards in the background, reminiscent of 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics and the St Pauls Fighting Saints arena. As a kid back then – those clear boards were considered very cool.

  • Tom | March 21, 2022 at 9:47 am |

    Happy Birthday Paul

  • ChrisH | March 21, 2022 at 9:51 am |

    Happy Birthday, Paul!
    Cheers to 58 years!

    While the #58 is under-represented in NASCAR Cup, it has celebrated 58 Top-20’s and 1 victory (1962, driver Johnny Allen at a 200 lap event at Bowman-Gray Stadium…1st Place winnings: $580).

  • Wes M | March 21, 2022 at 10:04 am |

    From a fellow 3-21er to another, Happy Birthday Paul!

    • Paul Lukas | March 21, 2022 at 10:22 am |

      And to you, Wes!

  • AJ Kane | March 21, 2022 at 10:13 am |

    Happy birthday Paul!!

    That ticker item about the blank Steelers jersey on Killing Eve highlights a real pet peeve of mine–a football jersey with all the identifying markers removed is such an unrealistic clothing item in the real world, and a costuming choice like that subconsciously reminds the viewer that the clothes characters wear have to be cleared by the legal department. I find that super distracting.

  • Keith A. | March 21, 2022 at 10:23 am |

    Fernando Rodney wore #56 for 10 different teams. If it weren’t for 14 games with the Cubs in 2015 where he wore #57, he would have gone his whole MLB career (11 teams worth) with a single number.

  • Tim Shriver | March 21, 2022 at 10:50 am |

    Happy Birthday! Is rain in the forecast??

    • Paul Lukas | March 21, 2022 at 10:51 am |

      No, sadly. A very rare precipitation-free bday for me. Makes me nervous, but I’m gonna make the best of it by doing some outdoor activities, which I don’t usually get to do on this date!

  • Jay French | March 21, 2022 at 10:54 am |

    Happy Birthday

    While not officially retired, the Pittsburgh Steelers havent issued #58 to any player in the 38 years since Jack Lambert retired in 1984

  • Terry Mark | March 21, 2022 at 11:30 am |

    Wishing you the happiest of birthday, Paul.

  • Ingmar | March 21, 2022 at 11:36 am |

    Happy birthday, Paul, or as we say in Holland: hartelijk gefeliciteerd! I am currently 55, which I always liked as an uniform number (although I never wore it: 49, 53 and 66 were my basketball digits), but as a music collector my favorite ‘numbers’ are 33 (and 1/3), 45 and 78. Cheers and have a nice one today!

  • Alex Ridoré | March 21, 2022 at 11:40 am |

    Happy 58th Birthday Paul! It seems appropriate to capitalize ‘Birthday’ here.

    You mentioned retired numbers in your lede. Retiring numbers irritate me because its not a sustainable practice. I wish it wasn’t a thing. In the far off future one or maybe some teams, maybe not every team, who has a history of great players, lets say the Boston Celtics, will at some point run out of 1 and 2 digit numbers. Right now they’re at 22. I’m sure when they get to 40 or 50 numbers its gonna become a problem. I wonder what happens at that time? Does the NBA step in and stop the practice of retiring numbers? Do they go to 3-digit numbers? Unretire numbers? I guess they could keep doing it until they have 15-20 2-digit numbers available. Thoughts?

    Enjoy your birthday!

  • Patrick Homa | March 21, 2022 at 11:42 am |

    Happy birthday, Paul! If it’s not raining in New York today, I can report that it’s absolutely pouring in Dallas. Hope some of that rainy day good luck transfers up your way.

    • Paul Lukas | March 21, 2022 at 11:57 am |

      Ha! Good to know, Patrick. Thank you!

    • Ron Ruelle | March 21, 2022 at 11:57 am |

      And snowing here in Boulder, CO. Hopefully that brings you some sort of weird good birthday karma!

  • Joe | March 21, 2022 at 11:49 am |

    Spring training caps are such an atrocious example of form preceding function. Trucker hats are worn by truckers. Truckers spend their days… in a truck. Trucks have roofs. Trucker hats’ function is their visors, to protect the driver’s vision.

    Baseball players play outside. The function of a hat worn outside is not only to protect the eyes, but also the head. Even people with a full head of hair can get sunburn if they’re outside long enough, and the hat also serves the function of preventing heat stroke.

  • hcm | March 21, 2022 at 12:01 pm |

    Happy birthday, Paul! Hope you have a fantastic day & a magnificent next lap around the sun.

  • walter | March 21, 2022 at 12:24 pm |

    Happy Birthday, Paul! My 60th is coming in April.

  • Rydell | March 21, 2022 at 12:38 pm |

    Happy birthday Paul. Have a great day!

  • Phil Hecken | March 21, 2022 at 12:43 pm |

    Happy Birthday buddy!

  • rpm | March 21, 2022 at 12:51 pm |

    wells shuck my corn and call it mother, it’s you birthday. if you were a spring training ball club going into a season in the 70s or 80s, your slogan for the campaign could be… “looking great at 58!” happy birthday comrade Lukas, with many more to come

  • John H. | March 21, 2022 at 12:53 pm |

    Happy Birthday, Paul, from a guy born in ‘58. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  • RICKAZ | March 21, 2022 at 1:28 pm |

    Paul, your shirt is amazing. I had one very similar that I inherited from my dad when he passed away, but sadly it finally wore out.
    About the prospect of wearing sunscreen on the bald heads of baseball players, I’d be worried of the sunscreen sweating into my eyes. I’m not bald, but I don’t like putting sunscreen on my forehead for that reason. I wear sunscreen regularly living in Arizona, but I’d rather cover my forehead with a hat than wear sunscreen that could drip into my eyes.

    • RICKAZ | March 21, 2022 at 5:17 pm |

      Oh yeah, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • RobYaz | March 21, 2022 at 1:45 pm |

    Happy Birthday, Paul! Hope you have a great day.

  • Chris Diamond | March 21, 2022 at 2:57 pm |

    Happy Birthday, Paul!

  • R. Scott Rogers | March 21, 2022 at 3:01 pm |

    Happy birthday, Paul! May your next year be as joyful as that Blue Jays Redmond 58-clad jersey-back is beautiful!

  • Jerry | March 21, 2022 at 3:07 pm |

    Happy Day Paul. Long may you run.

  • Christopher Falvey | March 21, 2022 at 4:08 pm |

    Late to the party… but Happy B-Day Paul!

    You’ve been daily reading now for… sheesh… a decade? More? I remember visiting with you in New Orleans in what was a different lifetime for me, so… yep… the years roll on… best we can do is keep cranking…

  • Le Cracquere | March 21, 2022 at 4:49 pm |

    Happy birthday, Paul! Hope you have a great one.

  • Jerry Reuss | March 21, 2022 at 5:16 pm |

    Wishing you a Happy Birthday! How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Words from the immortal Satchel Paige.

  • Ted Mark | March 21, 2022 at 5:59 pm |

    Happy Birthday, sir. We share birthdays, today is my 70th. If you had asked me yesterday if I felt 69, I’d have said, “geez, I don’t know.” If you asked me today if I felt 70, my answer is a resounding “no freakin’ way.”

  • MJ | March 21, 2022 at 11:21 pm |

    Happy birthday! No rain down here, about 100 miles south of NYC. Hope you had clear skies.

  • Howard Bosworth | March 22, 2022 at 5:32 am |

    Happy belated birthday Paul