Turk Wendell Sends Taijuan Walker An Awesome No. 99 Care Package

Turk Wendell Sends Taijuan Walker An Awesome No. 99 Care Package

by Tim Reilly February 22, 2021 0 Comments

Story update 

After becoming the first Met in 20 years to wear No. 99, Turk Wendell said he was sending a good luck package Taijuan Walker's way. On Thursday, that package arrived. Damn is it good! 

We've got black licorice, a tooth brush and a necklace featuring teeth from God knows what animals Turk hunted down. Frankly, I'd rather not know. For those unaware, part of Turk's countless superstitions included brushing his teeth and eating black licorice between innings. And the teeth, well, they were always bounce around when Turk was on the mound. 

You love to see it. Walker getting in on the fun and using the package as props during photo day made it even better. Give me one appearance wearing the necklace. That's all I ask... 

Original story

The Mets added the rotation depth over the weekend by signing Taijuan Walker. If you're eager to learn more about Walker, I encourage you to read Joe DeMayo's blog post on the impact he could make.

Unlike Joe, my biggest question about Walker was would he wear No. 99 or No. 00?! These are the important questions to be asking, folks. Stroman decided to change his number from 7 to 0 earlier in the offseason. In Walker's announcement tweet he's photoshopped wearing a 00 jersey.

I'm not sure why exactly, but having a 0 and 00 in the rotation sounds damn fun. You can't go wrong with 99 though. Two names immediately come to mind: Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn and Turk Wendell. Two of the wilder figures in baseball history. 

Turk, man. I loved that guy. As a refresher, these are a few of his superstitions:

  • The umpire had to roll the ball out to him
  • He would wave to the centerfielder and wait for them to wave back before starting an inning
  • Three crosses were drawn in the dirt before he threw his first pitch
  • If the catcher stood, Turk would squat down
  • He wore a necklace that had teeth from animals he hunted and killed when he pitched
  • After using a risin bag, he would slam it onto the back of the mound
  • He would always leap over the foul line
  • Chewing black licorice between innings
  • Brushing his teeth between innings 

This dude was DIFFERENT. It was perfect casting to have a guy like pitching in New York. In any other city, he would probably be considered an oddball. In New York, we shrugged our shoulders and never thought twice about his antics. 

A day after signing with the Mets, it appears Walker had a change of heart and decided to wear No. 99. Turk no longer holds that honor alone. How does someone that superstitious handle this news? Longtime Mets PR man Jay Horowitz found out. 

Lucky licorice is on the way! I love it. For a long time now there felt to be a disconnect between the past and present with the Mets. It never felt like those who paved the way in Queens were welcome to get involved with the current roster. Something as little as Turk reaching out to send Walker a few boxes of licorice is cool.

It's the little things that warm your baseball heart sometimes. This did it for me. I've long been on the fence about the black jerseys. After learning this, I think I need to see No. 99 in black once more.

20 years have past since Turk wore No. 99 and we're still talking about him – in a positive manner. That's a rarity for this franchise. If I'm feeling this same way about Walker in 20 years, I'll know something went right for the reincarnation of No. 99 in Queens.

Tim Reilly
Tim Reilly


T7L contributing blogger - Follow Tim on Twitter

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