Why No. 18 is so special for Dice-K

August, 25, 2010
8/25/10
1:26
PM ET
BOSTON -- Even though Johnny Damon is staying in Detroit after vetoing a chance to return to the Red Sox, here’s an interesting tidbit involving his old jersey number -- 18 -- which is currently worn by Daisuke Matsuzaka.

If Damon had decided to return to Boston, there was no way Matsuzaka would have surrendered his number. After talking with a few Red Sox players, the consensus is Damon wouldn’t even have asked for it.

Here’s why No. 18 is so important to Dice-K:

"During the Yomiuri Giants dynasty, when they won nine Japan Series in a row, the Giants gave the number 18 to their top starter,” Matsuzaka explained through a translator. “The number has been passed down as the ‘ace number’ ever since, and it's considered the top starter's number on teams across Japan.

“When I was growing up, I watched Masumi Kuwata wear 18 for the Giants, and it became my goal to wear 18 if I ever became a professional baseball player. That's why the number is so special to me. It might not be considered an ‘ace number’ here in the US, but it's a special number for pitchers in Japan."

Prior to Matsuzaka signing with Boston, wearing No. 18 was one of the stipulations in his contract.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?