What's in a number? For Aaron Harang, quite a bit


Aaron Harang switched numbers from 44 to 41 this season for the Dodgers, thanks to an old friendship with Reds legend Joe Nuxhall in Cincinnati.

Aaron Harang gets the start for the Dodgers on Wednesday in Surprise against the Royals. He was one of a few Dodgers to change his uniform number this season, switching from 44 to 41. Since it was highly unlikely that non-roster invitee Dallas McPherson (who has been released by the Dodgers) forced the change, I decided to ask Harang the reason for the number switch. What was found was a personal relationship dating back to his days in Cincinnati.

Joe Nuxhall was the youngest pitcher ever to appear in a major league game, at just 15 when he pitched one game for the Reds in 1944. Nuxhall found his way back to the Reds at age 23, and won 135 games in a 16-year career, all but about a year and a half in Cincinnati.

Nuxhall moved to the broadcast booth in 1967 and called Reds games for 38 years, including Harang's first two seasons in Cincinnati, in 2003-2004. The two struck up a friendship that lasted until Nuxhall's death in 2007. Harang has donated to Nuxhall's charity foundation, the Miracle Fields in and around Cincinnati, and still keeps in touch with his son to this day.

"He was just a special guy in general," Harang said. "Everybody who came in contact with him thought the world of him."

In 2008, Harang won the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award from the Cincinnati chapter of the BBWAA, an award that has special to him.

"It was just cool that I can have something to tie to such a special person," Harang said. "He meant so much to Cincinnati in general, but baseball as well. It's an honor to be tied to someone like that."

Harang wore number 39 during his time in Cincinnati, the same number Nuxhall wore in 1944 and from 1952-1960.

"At the time I didn't think anything of it when I got the number and then I remember him telling me it was his number when he first came up," Harang said. "Then I found out later on that he had 41 as well."

When Harang moved to the Padres he picked number 41, the number Nuxhall wore from 1962-1966. When he came to the Dodgers in 2012, number 39 was not an option since it was retired for Roy Campanella. Harang tried to bribe Rubby De La Rosa to switch from number 41, but De La Rosa wouldn't budge. Harang settled for number 44.

But with De La Rosa now with the Red Sox after last August's nine-player blockbuster trade, Harang seized the opportunity to honor his friend.


Game info

Time: 1:05 p.m. PT

TV: none

Radio: MLB.com (Royals broadcast)

MLB Gameday

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