By Mickey Dunaway
Do you believe in numerology? Of course, you do. At least sometimes. I bet you kind of believe that deaths happen in 3s. And that 666 signifies evil. And that 7 is the perfect number.
See, I told you so.
Let me tell a true story about when I began believing there was a relationship between numbers and events. It was a cold winter night when I became a believer…because I lived it.
It was 1964 and my senior high school basketball season. I was a decent, if short, starting guard on the Semmes High School Varsity Basketball team. I played JV after surviving Coach Leverett’s first practice as a sophomore. After shooting a few jump shots, layups, and free throws, Coach announced that he would let the 20 kids who showed up for the first practice choose the final players to make the team. We ran laps around the gym until there were twelve people left. There is another story about that JV team I will tell you another time.
I got better as a shooter in my junior year and started a few games at the end of that season. At Semmes HS, the basketball culture was that you started on the JV team as a sophomore. Came off the bench as a Varsity junior, and if you improved enough, you started as a senior. After that junior season, I knew where I stood and looked forward to hopefully starting full-time in my senior year. All went according to plan until one night in February 1964. It was a special night that I have remembered every year in early February for the last 58 years—a night when the numbers smiled on me.
We were playing McGill High School at home, and McGill, the Catholic Boys High School in Mobile, consistently had a good basketball team, and they were better than our team of country boys on this night. Even though my mother saved the Press-Register clipping from that night, I can’t remember the final score—just suffice it to say that we lost. My mother kept that clipping because I scored the most points of my high school career—22. Not bad for a 5’9″ guard who learned to shoot at a peach basket nailed to a post in the backyard.
However, my journey from backyard to starting guard is not the most intriguing thing about this story. The night I scored 22 was when I began seeing relationships in numbers. You see, I wore jersey number 22. Always had. Loved the symmetry of it. But even that was not enough. One more fact from that February night in 1964 cemented itself in my memory. It all occurred on February 2nd or 2-2.
Twenty-two. Twenty-two. Twenty-two.
When my mother passed away a few years ago, I inherited a box of photos. Among all the old blue-gray photos was the yellowed copy of The Press-Register clipping from 1964.
So, this afternoon I will pour myself a nice Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch and pause, as I do every year on February 2nd, and remember the night when I couldn’t miss.