Photo by Brian Canniff – Ultiphotos.com
In sports, numbers are big. Statistics are used to justify who are the league’s best players. Win-loss records determine which teams make the playoffs. Records are made to signify greatness and then toppled to make way for new records.
But what about jersey numbers?
Easily overlooked, jersey numbers are sometimes the biggest number in the sports world. It is the single identifier from the player on the field to the fans in the stands or watching at home. Often the number is recognized before the name. Don’t believe it to be the biggest number in sports? What was Jackie’s Robinson batting average or home run total? What was Jackie Robinson’s number? One of those numbers would require most people to use Google search, the other is simple; 42.
Not trying to compare any ultimate player to Robinson, but the same premise applies to the Washington D.C. Current athletes on the field.
The decision to come up with a jersey number, is easier said than done. Some players want to wear their favorite number, some want to wear the same number as their favorite childhood athlete. Each reason can be different, so here are the reasons for some of the Current:
#4 Delrico Johnson:
To many, Johnson is the most recognizable player on the field for D.C. He has been playing with the Current for all four seasons and continually makes athletic plays to amaze the crowd. In addition, he has been featured on Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays numerous times.
As far as his number is concerned, he wears #4.
“The number actually goes back to my freshman year at Towson (2007) and my username there was djohns4; so when it came time to choose a frisbee number it was easy because my username was needed everywhere and that was the first number I thought of.”
Throughout his playing career, he has tried to keep his number or somewhat close to it. While playing for the club team Medicine Men, Johnson wore the number 22 because the team ‘retired’ the number four. His reasoning: 2+2=4.
His first year with the Current though was not with a #4 on his jersey. That number was taken by former player, Nathan Slade, and his second choice (#22) was taken by Brian Marshall, both due to seniority. He ended up wearing #55 for that season, the same number of one of famous defensive blocking machine, Dikembe Mutombo.
Famous Athletes to wear the #4: Lou Gehrig, Brett Favre, Bobby Orr, Jerry Sloan
#61 Erik Salmi:
Salmi is another player to have been on the team for all four seasons. For his entire career he was primarily a handler on the defensive side of the disc until this season had him as a handler on the O-line.
Throughout his sports career, Salmi embraced the number 13. He wanted to be anti-superstitious by wearing the most superstitious number possible. When he went to play for his first club team, Wiretap (a defunct D.C. area team), he was put fourth in line for that number due to seniority.
“When it came for me to pick a number I just picked 61. I wanted a number no one else would want”
During one of his first tournaments he got into a heated discussion with another player about a call Salmi made out on the field. Upset with the call, his opponent went to the internet and called Salmi out on a system similar to today’s ultimate sub-Reddit. His opponent’s justification came with incriminating pictures captioned asking if #61 on Wiretap still believed his call.
Salmi still stand by his call, but acknowledges how bad the photos make it look. The good news is he knew what his number was going to be from then on.
Famous Athletes to wear the #61: Josh Beckett, Bill George (NFL-Bears), Rick Nash
#43 Joe Freund:
From practice squad in 2015 to starting on the O-line this season, Freund is primed to become on the Current’s future stars. He is on Team USA’s Junior National team, only 19-years-old but has been playing ultimate for longer than some of his teammates.
Like many others, when Freund was younger his lucky number was seven. However, just like Johnson and Salmi, when Freund first started playing, someone else had that number.
“That was my first choice, but when i started playing that had already been taken, so I chose a number that added up to 7. It happened to be 43!”
Since, Freund has worn the #43 for Yorktown High School, the youth club team Swing Vote, and Virginia Tech ultimate.
Famous Athletes to wear the #43: Richard Petty, Dennis Eckersley, Troy Polamalu
#3 Mikey Moses:
Another rookie for the Current, Moses did not have three as his first choice.
Moses’ original number, #17, just so happened to be one of the most popular numbers for the Current this season. As many as five players had it as one of their top three choices to wear for 2016. Too bad four-year veteran Eric Miner has worn that number every season. Moses had stuck with that number throughout his sports career and needed new inspiration for another option.
“I took #3, which was my older brother’s [David Moses] throughout his soccer career. He’s been super supportive of my frisbee shenanigans, so it was the natural choice when my first preference wasn’t available.”
Famous Athletes to wear the #3: Babe Ruth, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson
Want to find out how another player ended up with his Current number? Let us know who in the comment section and they could be featured in the next series!