No. 13 reminded Davey Concepcion of his mom’s birth year, so he never had any superstition about it making him unlucky.
The Cincinnati Reds jerseys are making it special.
Concepcion, who was the Big Red Machine’s infield anchor and one of the best defensive players of his time, will have his No. 13 retired by the Reds jerseys during the season.
Concepcion played for the Reds jerseys from 1970 88, winning five Gold Gloves and nine All Star honors. He flourished on Riverfront Stadium’s all turf infield, perfecting the bounce throw to first base.
The willowy Venezuelan put on muscle, developed his hitting and was one of the game’s best all around shortstops later in his career. The Reds jerseys will formally retire his number before a July 28 game against the Chicago Cubs jerseys.
“By virtue of his 19 year career with the Reds jerseys, a claim to being the best shortstop of his era, and his overall place in Reds jerseys history, Dave Concepcion richly deserves this honor,” said Greg Rhodes, executive director of the team’s Hall of Fame.
The thing that really set him apart was his number. Hardly anybody wants to wear it.
No one has worn Concepcion’s number since he retired. Only three others have worn No. 13 for Cincinnati Eddie Miller in 1946, Eddie Pellagrini in 1952 53, and coach Ray Shore in 1966 67.
Baseball players tend to be superstitious. Concepcion did some unusual things during his career he once climbed into a dryer at the stadium during a batting slump so he could heat up but he had no qualms about numbers.
When he joined the Reds jerseys, he was given No. 57, which made him look more like a minor leaguer. He wanted No. 11, but Hal McRae had it.
Of course, No. 13 was free. Concepcion’s mother, Ernestina, was born in 1913, so he took it as a tribute to her.
“When I broke my leg in 1973, a lot of people started writing me letters saying to stop wearing that number, that they didn’t want me to be unlucky,” Concepcion said Monday, during a conference call. “I said I’m not worried about that. I like the number.”
His success with the number on his back became an inspiration to another Venezuelan. Giants jerseys shortstop Omar Vizquel has also worn 13 throughout his impressive career.
“You know how good he is, so it’s no unlucky number,” Concepcion said.
Concepcion is the ninth player or manager to have his number retired by the Reds jerseys. His No. 13 will be displayed behind home plate at Great American Ball Park along with the other retired numbers _ manager Fred Hutchinson’s No. 1, Johnny Bench’s No. 5, Joe Morgan’s No. 8, manager Sparky Anderson’s No. 10, Ted Kluszewski’s No. 18, Frank Robinson’s No. 20 and Tony Perez’s No. 24.
The Reds jerseys also display Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, which was retired by baseball on the 50th anniversary of him breaking the sport’s color barrier.
Having his number retired is the greatest honor yet for Concepcion, who is in the Reds jerseys’ Hall of Fame but not the one in Cooperstown.
“I think they (Hall of Fame voters) have been looking to the sluggers and the 300 game winning pitchers and batting title winners,” Concepcion said. “But if you have a good defensive shortstop and you have a good defensive player for many years, I think you deserve to be in there.”
The city has budgeted money to hire a public relations officer at the behest of some members of the commission. The rationale is that the city is inadequate in relaying information to the public because it has no one person dedicated to the job.
The new employee would update the city’s website, run the social media accounts, respond to inquiries from the general public and the media.
The employee’s salary may be about $35,000, and he or she would also receive benefits, including wholesale jerseys insurance. The City of Huntington has a communications director, as do others cities with comparable populations to Ashland.