Wings set to retire Bergey's No. 66

Jake Bergey played 10 years with the Wings.
Jake Bergey played 10 years with the Wings. (Wings Photo)
Posted: February 09, 2014

The jerseys of the Salisbury University lacrosse team only numbered from 1 to 44. So Jake Bergey did the next best thing and took No. 6.

As soon as he was drafted by the Wings in 1998, he added another six to his uniform number to make it 66, the same as his father, Bill, wore as a star linebacker for the Eagles in the 1970s.

"It was neat for the Philly fans to see 66 with a Bergey on the back of the jersey playing," Jake Bergey said.

Saturday night, it will be something more than neat for Bergey when he looks up into the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center and sees his No. 66 hanging with the likes of Julius Erving and Bobby Clarke.

The Wings will honor Bergey and retire his number in a ceremony before their 7:30 p.m. game against the Edmonton Rush.

Bergey's number may have been a nod to his father, but he soon established himself as a star in his own right. He played 10 years with the Wings, and is second in franchise history in goals, assists and points scored. Bergey won a championship as a rookie in 1998, and another in 2001.

He emulated his father not just as a success, but by quickly becoming a fan favorite. Bergey brought a linebacker's sensibility to the forward position.

"I certainly scored my share of goals, but it was banging people around and getting into some fights that really endeared me to the fans. Just the hard-nosed play, and my dad had that same attitude," Bergey said. "If they went after one of our top guys, I had no problems dropping the gloves and going after someone."

Unlike some outdoor lacrosse stars who struggle to adapt to the indoor game, the more physical and faster-paced style of the National Lacrosse League suited him well.

"I was a bigger guy that could move pretty quick and had good stick skills," Bergey said. "You put those three things together and that's perfect for the indoor game."

Bergey, 39, lives in Downingtown, and has taken up a second career in medical sales, selling hip and knee joint replacements. "I know I'm going to be my own client someday," he joked.

Bergey came to the Philadelphia area as a child, when his father was traded to the Eagles from the Cincinnati Bengals, and aside from college, he has never really left.

Now, the team he grew up with as a season-ticket holder will give him a permanent honor.

"I couldn't imagine having played anywhere else," Bergey said.


tmcmanus@philly.com

@ByTimMcManus

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