An Illinois high school made the surprising but touching decision to forever retire the number of a player who never even suited up for the school.
As reported by the Geneva Patch and the Oswego Ledger-Sentinel, the Oswego (N.Y.) High Panthers retired the number 2 before a game against the Oswego East (N.Y.) High Wolves in a nod of respect to 12-year-old Eric Lederman, who was wearing the number when he died following a freak accident when he was hit in the neck by a pitch during an April baseball game.
While Lederman never got close to attending Oswego High, he was known throughout the city, which rapidly rallied behind the Lederman family after their son's tragic passing. The Kane County Cougars, one of the nation's most successful minor-league baseball teams which is based in Geneva, led a fundraising drive to help the family, just one of a number of civic measures that have popped up to honor Lederman since his death.
Still, Oswego High's decision to retire the number 2 may be even the most touching gesture of all, with a group which Lederman was never a part of honoring him as one of its own forever.
"From this moment on, the Oswego Panthers baseball team will dedicate the No. 2 in Eric's memory, and the number will not be used," a Panthers announcer at the ceremony honoring the departed middle schooler. "The No. 2 will represent Eric, and thus he will forever be a Panther."
Lederman's jersey will always hang in the Geneva press box. He won't be there to see it himself, but his family always will, as will all the future generations of Geneva students, fans and anyone else who plays at the high school field, a fitting honor for a sixth-grader who was tragically lost far too soon.