SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The San Francisco Giants are putting up zeroes.
They believe they are doing something rarely seen: using uniform numbers 0 and 00 in the same year.
When San Francisco added speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton with a minor league deal earlier this month, equipment manager Brad Grems called Major League Baseball to make sure there’s a difference between the two because new first base coach Antoan Richardson already had claimed 00.
“He’s good with stuff like that,” shortstop Brandon Crawford said Monday of Grems’ due diligence.
San Francisco has 72 players in camp. Given that the Giants have 11 retired numbers with their long list of Hall of Famers and there are 13 coaches and a pair of bullpen catchers also in uniform under new manager Gabe Kapler, Hamilton’s other choices were 96 or 98. He opted for 0.
The Giants already have made history by hiring baseball’s first female coach on a big league staff — Alyssa Nakken is wearing No. 92. Longtime equipment manager and current senior adviser Mike Murphy can’t remember a time with both 0 numbers, and neither can Grems as he begins his 21st season in baseball and sixth with San Francisco.
Grems said he called MLB “to see if there was a difference between zero and double-zero. The NBA does it.”
“That’s the fun thing about spring training, you have so many guys come in and it’s just kind of exciting to see who’s going to step up and who’s going to help the team out in the long run,” San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt said. “That’s kind of a cool thing we have so many people in here and we’re having to look for more numbers because you don’t really know exactly what you’re going to get from everybody.”
Former Giants left fielder Jeffrey Leonard wore No. 00 in 1987-88, having already changed from his original 26 to 20 before making another switch.
In fact, Richardson called Leonard after the team’s Fan Fest last weekend to get his blessing to wear 00. Richardson’s great-grandmother, Dame Albertha Isaacs, was born in 1900 in his native Bahamas. She was a renowned teacher, tennis player and women’s rights activist.
“I definitely have to mention HacMan Jeffrey Leonard because he’s the original double-zero, so getting his blessing was really important to this process,” Richardson said. “So very thankful for him. The reason why I’m 00 is simple, my great-grandmother was born in 1900 and I think it was going to be a great honor to pay tribute to her and just my journey in life.”
Outfielder Brennan Boesch was given 00 by the Angels during spring training in 2014 and wore it for a time, while teammate Collin Cowgill had 0 that spring. In all, 20 major league players have worn double-zero — with Bobby Bonds, Don Baylor and Jose Canseco on that list — and 21 have had No. 0.
Hamilton and Richardson are thrilled to be connected by their similar numbers after they once played winter ball together in Puerto Rico, not to mention the good-natured debate on who is the faster one. “He’s faster, for sure,” Hamilton said.
“That’s really cool. I’m zero and he’s double-zero,” Hamilton said before the Giants’ first full-squad workout. “He’s the one I’m working with every day.”
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