There are certain numbers that in San Francisco will always be connected with Giants players. If you see 55 as the speed limit, perhaps you think of Tim Lincecum highlights. If you order 28 on a takeout menu, Buster Posey might come to mind. If someone mentions 40, you might get a bit sad thinking about how Madison Bumgarner now wears it elsewhere.
Hunter Pence's No. 8 is as recognizable as the rest of them, but he very nearly didn't get a chance to wear it. Could you imagine Pence being No. 1 for the Giants? On "Chalk Talk at Home," Pence told the team's broadcasters how that almost happened.
Pence's initial plan growing up was actually to wear No. 7, like his older brother, but his little league team didn't have it available. Young Hunter was a power tumbler at the time and could do backflips, so his father recommended that he grab No. 8, a number that would look the same even when upside down. Pence embraced it, but he never wore his favorite number until he got to San Francisco.
"I remember when I was flying over to San Francisco and they were like, 'We're going to make you No. 1,'" Pence said. "I was like, 'Is 8 possibly available?' They said yeah, it's available, and I was like, 'Do you mind, it would mean a lot to me to get to be 8. It was available and they gave it to me. The fact that I got to wear number 8 on a big league team with a history like the Giants in a (playoff) race, it just felt like my soul was aligned, and it was just really special."
Pence wore No. 9 in Houston because veteran Mark Loretta was already playing in his preferred number when he was called up to the big leagues. When he was traded to Philadelphia, Shane Victorino had No. 8 and Domonic Brown had No. 9, so Pence switched to No. 3. In Texas last year, Pence switched to No. 24, but he was back in his familiar No. 8 this spring, with Alex Dickerson having given it up when Pence re-signed.
Whenever the game resumes, that'll be a comforting image for Giants fans. As Dave Flemming asked the question on the YouTube show, he said it was from a six-year-old fan named William, whose favorite number is No. 8. It's not hard to figure out why.
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