Flashback Friday: Turner Ward Sells His Number 24 to Rickey Henderson
There is a price for everything … even for future Hall of Famers.
At the 1993 trade deadline, the Blue Jays were elated to add Rickey Henderson to their roster. An already impressive starting lineup anchored by WAMCO got even stronger with the addition of Henderson.
But there was just one minor little issue; someone on the Toronto Blue Jays roster already had his famous number 24: Turner Ward.
Baseball players are notorious creatures of habit and can tend to be a bit superstitious, and so Rickey Henderson got to work on negotiating a deal with Turner Ward. Most players might be more than willing to hand the number over, but apparently Ward drove a hard bargain.
The official terms were never disclosed, but rumours were that Rickey Henderson paid Turner Ward somewhere in the neighbourhood of $25,000 for the rights to wear number 24 for the Blue Jays.
Perhaps Ward used the precedent set a few years prior in Oakland, when Rickey Henderson gave Ron Hassey a set of golf clubs and a new suit in exchange for the number 24 with the Athletics.
$25,000 may not have been a lot of money to Rickey Henderson (who was making $3.55 million dollars that year), it was probably a lot for Turner Ward (whose salary was $160,000; just barely above the league minimum in 1993).
That $25,000 dollar bonus from Rickey Henderson would’ve represented about 16% of Turner Ward’s pay in 1993.
After a few days of negotiations, Turner Ward relented and gave Rickey Henderson his esteemed number 24 while Ward changed his number to 16 for the duration of the season.
Henderson played his first nine games with the Blue Jays under the guise of number 14, but officially switched over to his favourite number 24 on August 13th, 1993.
Upon his arrival to the Blue Jays, Henderson claimed he wasn’t hitting well under the number 14, which prompted him to ask Ward for his old number back.
It really didn’t really turn Rickey Henderson’s season around as he only hit .211 down the stretch. However, he did reach base at a .363 clip and stole 20 bases in 35 games after the number change.