When I was a boy, I loved to sign my name with the #16 in the middle of my big, sweeping letter J, my first initial. 16 was the number of Dwight "Doc" Gooden, the 80's pitching prodigy on the NY Mets. I would fantasize about being a player on the Mets, like Doc, and of course, I needed to have a pretty cool autograph. I identified with it and what it represented - excellence, fame, heroism, and a blazing fastball. I wrote 16 on everything I owned - notebooks, shirts, my locker, the back of my algebra tests. That number signified something for me and I wanted the world to know about it.
This morning I noticed my son had placed #44 on his gym shorts. When he was four, we moved to Syracuse, where he was introduced to that number when I bought him a Syracuse football jersey. I remember him asking me, "why 44?" So I looked it up. In fact, it had an important history in S.U. athletics.