More Than Just A Number
The reasoning behind the jersey number selection throughout my baseball career
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- For years, people have been asking me, "Rob, why do you wear number 11? What is the significance?" Well, the answer is Chad Hayes. The Centerville High School Alumni was an all-area player back in 2004 along with Mark Brown and my cousin Greg Rockhold. From my recollection, Hayes went on to play baseball at the University of Dayton -- but do not quote me on that; it is hard to remember exact circumstances from over 10 years ago.
Not only was Hayes a great ballplayer, but he was a great person as well. He was the first player I looked up to at the time. He was the one player that came to me with a smile and answered any questions I had that were baseball-related. I wanted to be the best player I could be because baseball was my escape from reality. I spent most of my childhood with my mother and her side of the family, but I always felt like I was missing something. Hayes helped me get through the trivial times and it was a bonus getting to watch my cousin Greg and him on the field on sunny evenings at the high school field in Centerville, Ohio.
As cheesy as it sounds, my favorite memory with Hayes was after an evening game where he signed a baseball for me and got everyone else to sign it as well. Not everyone wanted to sign it, but he eventually convinced the other players to sign it and he gave it to me with a smile on his face. As a kid, it meant the world to me and I have always been forever thankful for that interaction along with other memorable ones.
From that moment, I decided to wear number 11 to be like Chad Hayes. I wanted everyone to know who my role model was and I felt like I hade guided support on my back with that number. I wore that number every chance I got regardless of the sport. When I moved down to Ky., I continued to wear number 11 throughout little league, summer and high school; I could not wear number 11 in college due to seniority, unfortunately.
I look forward to telling my future kids about the stories and I can only hope that they will continue the tradition by wearing number 11. Why? Because the number is more than just a number. It is a foundation that helped push me through tribulations, grow as a person and ballplayer, and symbolizes that it is okay to recognize your role model regardless of your age. Thank you Chad.