There was always more than one great baseball-playing Giambi. There were two, and now both of their jersey numbers are up on the wall at South Hills High in West Covina, Calif.
The school held a ceremony to honor both Giambi brothers — multiple MLB All-Star first baseman Jason and fellow former MLB first baseman Jeremy — and longtime South Hills baseball coach Jim Bastion on Tuesday night in Southern California. All three had their number retired, though only two digits will actually now be off limits; both Giambi brothers sported number 7 while at the school.
As noted by the Pasadena Star News, the three retired jerseys will be placed on the wall of the school’s gym, alongside two previously retired numbers: former MLB infielder Shawn Wooten and the late former MLB pitcher Cory Lidle.
Both Giambis were touched by the honor, telling those at the ceremony that they were proud of their time in the school’s program and its recent upsurge.
“It’s a tremendous honor to have my jersey retired,” Jason Giambi told the Star-News and those in attendance at the ceremony. “I’m so glad (South Hills) Coach (Darren) Murphy has brought back that pride. That was the one great thing about being a New York Yankee, they always brought back the older players, because there is such tradition. There were tremendous times (at South Hills) and it’s definitely an honor to stand up here.”
Added Jeremy Giambi: “This is a special moment for my family. I appreciate everything that’s going on at South Hills. I want to thank everyone here for making this a special evening.”
The Giambis were literal bash brothers at South Hills, following one after the other to push Huskies reach new heights. The elder Giambi (Jason) hit .394 in three varsity seasons at the school. Jeremy Giambi batted .383, though he did have one career hallmark over his brother: Jeremy Giambi won a CIF Southern Section title with the Huskies, while Jason did not.
The Giambis are hardly the only successful baseball alums from South Hills, as the gym wall is testament to. Lidle’s tragic passing (he died in a plane crash in New York in 2006) has stolen some of the memories of a quite successful professional career, but the pitcher was still a major league stalwart. The same can be said of Shawn Wooten, who was a first baseman and catcher for the Angels, Phillies and Red Sox.
Of course, none of those could compare to the success that Jason Giambi earned as a member of the A’s, Yankees and, later, the Rockies and Indians. His professional legacy remains tainted with allegations of steroid use, but the slugger was an undeniable talent regardless, and may yet have some pop left in his bat, should a Major League Baseball team come calling. After finishing the 2014 season with the Cleveland Indians, Giambi has remained a free agent, but has yet to retire, holding out hope that he may have a few trips to the plate left in his career.