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I witnessed something I have never seen before, Friday night. For the first time, in my life, I saw someones jersey retired, without a jersey. Tampa Rays pitching phenom, Jeremy Hellickson, returned to have his Des Moines Hoover jersey retired after an amazing first season in the majors, only to be given a crumpled up sweatshirt at mid-court.
When I received word that ‘Hellboy’ would be in the gym for the ‘ceremony’, I was envisioning a baseball jersey being raised to the rafters in the spotlight, or at least a framed jersey for Jeremy to keep. I guess I’ve just been spoiled by other jersey retirings. Oh well…
Hellickson told us he was thrilled to be back in his old gym. The 23-year-old was actually a better basketball player, than baseball player, with the Huskies — at least according to his old baseball coach.
He told us that he hopes to remain on the Rays staff, as a starter, for the entire season. I’d sure hope so, too. The kid was 4-0 with a minuscule ERA, last season. His reward, a demotion to the minors at the end of the year.
I was also surprised by Hellickson’s casual attitude. Many big time athletes are too ‘bigtime’ for local sports interviews. Not Hellickson. He actually thanked us for the interview. He seems like a good kid. And if he stays healthy, he’s going to have a great career. Who knows, maybe we’ll see him keep warm in the dugout with his new Hoover sweatshirt. I hope he irons it first…