When he first got to the Major Leagues with Houston in 2016, Grossmont High School alum Joe Musgrove was given number 59. At the time he didn’t think much about it because … well, he was just happy to be there.
“My dad and I always talked about how cool it would be just to have a big league uniform and be in a big league clubhouse and have a locker. I’m just super grateful to even be in the big leagues and have a number,” says Musgrove, who decided to try and put 59 on the map.
“When I came up there weren’t many 59’s around the league that were well-known so I kind of saw it as my chance to make the number something special,” says Musgrove.
Joe was traded to the Pirates and he kept the 59. But this off-season he was dealt to the Padres, where Chris Paddack was already wearing it. That turned out to a blessing in disguise because another number was available: 44, and Musgrove jumped at the chance.
“Coming to San Diego and getting the chance to wear 44 is a little nod to Jake Peavy, who was my favorite pitcher growing up.”
Peavy is the most beloved of the 26 players to wear 44 in San Diego. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2007 and remains to this day a fan favorite for his bulldog mentality on the mound.
As it turns out, Peavy’s fiery demeanor helped mold a young kid from East County.
“Not only the way he pitched and performed but, just who he was and the way he carried himself on the field. I was a very emotional and energetic player as a kid. My dad really instilled in me to be respectful and not show up your opponents,” says Musgrove. “I wanted to let a little more out. Going to Padres games and seeing Peavy with snot flying, grunting, fist-pumping, that was who I felt I was as a player and seeing a big leaguer at that time doing the same thing kind of gave me the confidence to go out there and be myself and play the game the way I wanted to.”
The way he wants to play is the way the game SHOULD be played (and yes, Joe loves the fact Fernando Tatis Jr., the poster-model for abolishing baseball’s “unwritten rules,” is on his team now). And Joe knows that when you make a choice like this there is a level of extra pressure that comes with it.
“It’s pretty special to wear 44 and I know there are a lot of expectations with it and I have to do the number right.”
Since Jake was traded to Chicago in 2009, six players have worn 44. None of them have the connection to it that Musgrove has so doing the double digits justice will certainly not be a problem.