Tuesday was a big day for a couple of former MLB players, but apparently still a rather casual occasion.
Derek Jeter was a sure bet for the baseball Hall of Fame. When the inevitable announcement came Tuesday afternoon, the New York Yankees legend was wearing a dark blue T-shirt. Nice and simple, no big deal.
Larry Walker, on the other hand, was in his final year of eligibility and convinced he was not going to get the required 70% of votes to be immortalized in Cooperstown.
Maybe that’s why the likable Canadian slugger was wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants, NASCAR-style shirt when he found out he would be joining Jeter as a 2020 inductee.
You can get a closer look at the shirt on the Walmart website (but don’t get too excited — it is currently out of stock). Listed at $18.48, the button-down garment features a smirking SpongeBob with the slogan “Ain’t No Ordinary Sponge” on the front and a scowling SpongeBob with “Keep It Real!” on the back.
That’s quite a fashion statement to make on one of the biggest days of one’s life. But maybe it’s to be expected from a guy whose parents, Larry and Mary, named his older brothers Gary, Carey and Barry. And a guy who as a player was strangely obsessed with the number 3, according to a 1993 Sports Illustrated article.
“He wears number 33 and he was married on Nov. 3 at 3:33 and his phone number has as many threes in it as he can get the phone company to give him, and he takes three swings in the batter’s box before he hits, six if he feels tight, or nine or 12, any multiple of three,” Leigh Montville wrote of Walker, who had recently signed a $3-million (naturally) contract with the Montreal Expos.
Also a former member of the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, Walker was a five-time All Star, seven-time Gold Glove recipient, three-time batting champion and the 1997 National League MVP. Still, he knows where he stands among the 2020 inductees.
“As great as Derek is, I’m kind of gonna be like that — remember those old 45s we used to listen to and they had the song on the A side, then the song on the B side you really didn’t know about?” Walker said on MLB Network, still wearing the SpongeBob shirt. “I’m the B side.”