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Jason Heyward wanted No. 22 for a very personal reason

Picking a number can be an important thing for athletes. For some, it’s the number they grew up wearing, others have incorporated their number into a personal logo or brand.

For Jason Heyward, it’s all about honoring an old friend.

Heyward has worn No. 22 since entering Major League Baseball with the Braves in 2010. The number honors a high school friend who died in a car crash when Heyward was a senior.

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When the star outfielder signed with the Cubs, there was already a player wearing that jersey. Fortunately, not only was Addison Russell willing to give it up, he had a backup in mind already. Despite Heyward offering an “IOU” for the change, the Cubs shortstop freely gave up No. 22 to his new teammate.

This wasn’t the first time Heyward needed someone else to switch numbers after joining a team. When he was traded to the Cardinals, Heyward was able to get manager Mike Matheny to give up the number he wore for 12 seasons as a player.