Cleat Geeks

The Numbers of the Cardinals

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wore jersey number 22 for the majority of his playing career, including when he played for the Cardinals from 2000-2004 and as their manager from 2012 to the present. A couple of weeks ago, the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a trade that sent right-fielder Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. Since his debut in the big leagues, Heyward has always wore jersey #22.


Right fielder Jason Heyward embracing Tammii Ruston.

Andy Wilmont was a back-up catcher on the same team with Heyward that won the state championship in 2005, they were close friends. “Andy was not the greatest player in the world,” began Eugene Hayward, Jason’s Father,”but Andy worked, and because of that, he and Jason became good friends.” Andy graduated 1 year before Jason, but they remained close. It also helped that Andy’s mom, Tammii Ruston was one of Heyward’s teachers his senior year.

In October of 2006 Andy went to his 1st semester of college and while driving he lost control of his car and swerved into on-coming traffic. He died from the injuries, he was only 18 years old. Tammii lost her only child, but stayed committed to her students. Heyward then made a commitment to taking care of her.

10 months later he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves, he flew threw their farm system, and when he received the news that he had made the Brave’s club out of spring training in 2010, one of his first calls was to Tammii. “I have a surprise for you,” Heyward told her on the phone, “I will show you when I get back.” She tried unsuccessfully to get the surprise out of him on the phone, he insisted that he would tell her when the Braves returned home for a day off before opening the 2010 season the next day. As he promised, he stopped by her home and he brought her one of his Braves jerseys displaying his new number. It was 22, the same number that his best friend Andy Wilmont wore. Heyward told his best friends mom that he wanted to do something that would stick forever. “Every time you see this 22 on a t-shirt or a jersey or whatever, you will know that it is your 22.” Heyward concluded.

oscar tavThen came his first at bat wearing #22. The first two pitches he saw were both taken inside for balls. Then on the third pitch he saw in the big leagues, Jason deposited it over the right field wall and into the seats. Not far from where the ball landed, a woman was jumping up and down with excitement wearing a #22 Jersey she was given the day before, it was Tammii Ruston.

Although there has been no official announcement from the team, Heyward did say on twitter that he thanked Matheny for allowing him to continue to wear the #22 jersey. It is also rumored that Matheny is actually going to wear Carlos Martinez’s old #44. He is going to do that so Martinez can wear a new number, the #18 which was worn by his best friend who passed away in an October car accident in 2014, Oscar Taveras.



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