FARGO — The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are set to retire Jake Laber’s number, the American Association baseball team announced Thursday, July 8.
Laber wore No. 19 for the RedHawks and his jersey will be retired during a pregame ceremony on July 19 at Newman Outdoor Field. The RedHawks play the Winnipeg Goldeyes at 7:02 p.m. that night.
Laber died unexpectedly in 2016 at 30 years old. The Fargo North graduate and North Dakota State standout spent six seasons with the RedHawks, earning 46 wins with the franchise. Laber also pitched for Fargo Post 2.
“Jake Laber embodied everything this organization stands for both on and off the field,” said RedHawks general manager Matt Rau. “It’s a great honor for the RedHawks to guarantee that the No. 19 and the memory of Jake will always have a presence at Newman Outdoor Field."
Rau was a baseball teammate of Laber's with Fargo North and Fargo Post 2. Rau also helped coach Laber for one summer with Post 2.
“If it had to do with baseball in Fargo, Jake was probably a part of it," Rau said. "It’s not necessarily what he did on the field, off the field the kind of person he was really fits to everything you want with a guy that you’re going to retire his jersey.”
Laber set the team career wins record on the final day of the 2014 season, when he pitched eight shutout innings against Sioux Falls at Newman Outdoor Field. The “Laber Day” game capped a career that saw him top the 10-win mark three times in five full seasons with F-M. He retired from pro baseball after the 2014 season.
Laber is the only pitcher in RedHawks history to start 100 games.
"He was just a good friend," Rau said of Laber.
Laber joins pitcher/coach Jeff Bittiger (35) and center fielder Joe Mathis (7) as the only RedHawks players to have their numbers retired. Jackie Robinson (42) and Roger Maris (8) also have numbers retired by the team.