Tyler Skaggs wore the name “Swaggy” on the back of his jersey during MLB Players’ Weekend the past two years.
The Angels pitcher died at age 27 on July 1, so there will be no “Swaggy” on the field when the league honors its players this Friday-Sunday. Instead, every player will be wearing a uniform patch in memory of Skaggs this weekend.
But nine athletes wanted to do more to pay tribute to their friend, and their jersey nicknames seemed like the perfect way to do so.
According to MLB.com, Milwaukee Brewers outfielders Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich and third baseman Mike Moustakas, Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried, and Texas Rangers first baseman Scott Heineman will wear “LOVE YOU TY” on the backs of their jerseys, rather than their previously selected nicknames, during one of the three games.
In addition, Washington Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin and Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez will wear “FORTY FIVE,” Skaggs’ jersey number, as their nicknames one time this weekend.
“Players’ Weekend is all about expressing yourself, whether that be with style or those types of things,” Giolito told MLB.com. “We just want to express our love for him.”
Giolito, Fried and Flaherty all come from Santa Monica — as did Skaggs, who was a few years older than those players and served as a mentor to them during the offseason.
The three had recently started discussing the idea of using their Players’ Weekend nicknames to honor Skaggs.
“We just got to talking and reached out to the reps at the Players’ Assn. to see if they thought it could be doable,” Fried told MLB.com. “We had already put our names in, but just to be able to do this for one night to pay our respects and give him a nice tribute is something we wanted to do.”
Soon other players followed their lead. Angels players all wore Skaggs’ name and jersey number on their backs during their first home game after his death; now athletes from several other teams will pay tribute in a similar fashion.
“It’s amazing that he touched so many different lives on so many different teams, just because of who he is as a person,” said Chavez, who played with Skaggs in Anaheim two seasons ago. “MLB is allowing us to do this, and it’s awesome.”