Summary List Placement
New Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker will not get to wear his preferred jersey number in New York, thanks to the team’s mascot.
Walker, who donned the seldom-used No. 00 in his most recent stint with the Toronto Blue Jays, has to concede the number to Mr. Met, who has worn No. 00 since 1962.
Walker, who signed a three-year $23 million contract with the Mets on Monday, will instead have to wear No. 99, according to the Associated Press.
For Walker, it’s the third time he’s had to concede a jersey number to a “teammate” of higher seniority.
Walker originally wore No. 44 during his high school career at Yupaica High School in Yucaipa, California. He claimed his lifelong number with his first MLB team, the Seattle Mariners. But then, when Walker was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2016 season, All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was already established as No. 44, and Walker was forced to make a change.
“I was 44 growing up, and I finally got it with the Mariners in 2016,” Walker told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “And then I ended up getting traded at the end of the year, and when I got traded to the Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt was No. 44. So I was, OK, I’m never going to get that again.”
To avoid going through future number changes, Walker favored an uncommon jersey number among the MLB ranks and chose No. 99.
“And I think the only way I don’t wear 99 is if I get traded to the Yankees,” Walker thought, as Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has claimed No. 99 in that borough of New York. “So I was, OK, 99 is a safe bet, and live with that.”
Walker kept No. 99 when he returned to Seattle for his second stint with the Mariners in 2020, but when a late-season trade sent him to Toronto, No. 99 was already claimed by Blue Jays pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu.
“And then, of course, last year I got traded to Toronto, and Ryu wears 99. So, I was like, OK, well, that didn’t work out. So I’m wearing 00. Something different, again,” Walker said, and so he chose 00.
Walker wore No. 00 for six appearances at the end of the 2020 season before hitting free agency.
His decision to sign with the Mets forced him to change his number again, as he will wear No. 99 for the second time.
“And, of course, this year, Mr. Met is 00. So I just went back to wearing 99,” Walker said.
The only previous Mets No. 99 was Turk Wendell from 1997-2001, according to Baseball-Reference.