KISSIMMEE, Fla. - It's not uncommon for players to wear unusually high numbers at spring camp, and no one has a higher jersey number than Rudy Owens' No. 99. But Owens is totally fine with the number and hopes to be able to wear it in the Major Leagues.
Owens, a left-handed starting pitcher acquired by the Astros from Pittsburgh in the Wandy Rodriguez trade, wanted to wear No. 9 with the Pirates, but the number is retired in honor of Bill Mazeroski.
"I thought if I couldn't have No. 9, I want 99, which is even better," Owens said. "I just started getting it every Spring Training and made it a thing when I get to the big leagues, I'm going to get No. 99. It gives me something to look forward to, I guess. I pick my own number."
Owens wouldn't be the first Astros player to wear No. 99 in a Major League game. Mitch Williams wore the number in 1994, and the number was brought back into prominence in the Majors recently when Manny Ramirez wore it with the Dodgers.
Owens has worn No. 48 in the Minor Leagues so far.