Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Number

My Lehigh Valley IronPigs jersey.
I've told this story before, so feel free to tune me out. For you newbies, how exactly did we get to this 55 thing? And the exit, and so on?

I agonized over naming the blog back in 2006, before I found a way to combine two things: roads and my number.

I've been a passionate road nut since I was a baby, when my parents would beg me to go sleep on our long road trips. The rhythm of the road, combined with the fascination of what I was seeing out the window, just sucked me into something I still enjoy. Some think this is nuts, others shrug, others like it.

What thrilled me was when I discovered a culture of fellow road peeps in the late 1990s. Some of them are friends, even if only via social media.

That, of course, is where the "Exit" comes from. Now, I felt I needed a number. I thought about Exit 59, which when I was a kid, was what we used to leave Interstate 75 in Florida to drive across the upper reaches of Pasco County to reach my grandparents' house in Holiday.

That exit is now Exit 285, part of a great renumbering to mileage-based exits. So the poem/song I wrote in 1986 (give or take) is now irrelevant.

Don't ask.

I've always been a numerologist, and the roads have given me 95 (too many trips between Maine and Florida to count), 6 (have lived near it my entire life), and 19 (again, back to my grandparents' place in Florida).

Sports is where most of numbers come from, of course. I'll memorize something off of who wore it ( a license plate might include 5473, but that's DiMaggio/Gehrig/Mantle/Ruth to me, or two non-World Series years for the Yankees).

Yep. Me.

My first favorite number was four. Why? I was four years old. So when I turned five, I switched to that. (Yes, a bandwagon number-jumper. I'm sure I'll catch flack for that)

Alas, I felt compelled to stick with the smiley-looking nickle. It was also around that time that I knew - just knew - that I was destined to be a New York Yankee. Hey, I couldn't field and I couldn't hit. So I was perfect!

I was at a neighbor's house one day and he had one of those numbers that used to get put on ones varsity jacket to recognize the year they graduated. He gave it to me - a five, for 1975. We would put it on the back of a little Yankees jersey that I owned (and still have it). I told him of my plan to wear the number on the Yankees. The number had been retired in honor of Joe DiMaggio in 1952.

Now my memory is foggy about the next part, but either he suggested 55 or I came up with it myself. Either way, the legend of 55 was born.

Funny thing: I almost never wore five after that, either getting whatever number was handed to me, or picking two due to a certain Yankees outfielder named Murcer, who wore that from 1979-1983. As I got older, it was always 55 whenever I could pick it.

This blog had to be called Exit 55. It stuck.

The number has been so identified with me that HAN Radio's call-in number has 55 in it.

And if you don't know, now you know.*

*When I'm quoting Biggie, you know it's a sign of the Apocalypse.

No comments: