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Blue Jay Jersey Countdown - #43

Chris Watson wore the "famed 43" from 2002-05. During that time he started 61 straight games (55 of which were wins) and helped JHU to the 2005 NCAA Championship.

Dec. 27, 2012

 Blue Jay Jersey Countdown - #43 

As we countdown to ’13, a season Blue Jay faithful hope will end with a 10 on the 27th, offers its own countdown … by jersey number … to the season-opener against Siena on February 8.

Today - #43

Did You Know: The greatest Johns Hopkins player to wear #43, Dave Pietramala, also guided Johns Hopkins to its 43rd national championship when he coached the undefeated 2005 team to the NCAA title.

Player Spotlight – Dave Pietramala
Probably not much of a surprise that the player many consider one of the best defensive players in lacrosse history is our featured #43 player. Pietramala brought a rare combination of size and athleticism to the defensive end of the field and coupled that with an intensity matched by few.

Pietramala earned First Team All-America honors in 1987, 1988 and 1989 and helped the Blue Jays to the 1987 NCAA Championship. The next title Johns Hopkins would win (2005) would come with Pietramala roaming the sidelines as the Blue Jays’ head coach.

Pietramala earned the William C. Schmeisser Award as the nation’s top defenseman in 1988 and 1989, grabbed the Enners Award as the nation’s top player as a senior, was named to the NCAA Silver Anniversary Team in 1995, the All-Time Johns Hopkins Team and Lacrosse Magazine's All-Century Team. He was also inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2004.

Pietramala returned to Johns Hopkins after the 2001 season to become the Blue Jays’ head coach and has guided JHU to a pair of national championships (2005, 2007). He is the only person in college lacrosse history to win an NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse title as a player and a head coach.



Other Notable “43s” in JHU Lacrosse History
John Gagliardi – Many have worn the “famed 43” after Dave Pietramala, but none has excelled the way John Gagliardi did. “Gags” played two years at Johns Hopkins after transferring to Homewood and earned Third Team All-America honors as a junior in 1996 and first team honors as a senior in 1997. He scooped up more than 125 ground balls in his two years at JHU and was a threat in transition as well with five goals and two assists from his defensive position.

One of the top takeaway defenders in the nation during his collegiate career, Gagliardi’s skill set translated easily to the professional game, where he excelled in both the NLL and MLL. He is one of the most accomplished Johns Hopkins players in professional lacrosse history.

Gagliardi has one other claim to fame: his namesake, John Gagliardi, is the all-time winningest coach in college football history.

Chris Watson – A starter in a school-record 61 consecutive games during his career, Chris Watson ran the Blue Jay defense like few others in head coach Dave Pietramala’s tenure Homewood. A 1590 on the SAT (when it was scored out of 1600) will do that.

Watson was handed #43 and the keys to Pietramala’s defense on his first day on campus and ran with both. The brains behind the collective top defensive unit in the nation from 2002-05, Watson helped the Blue Jays to a 55-6 record, four trips to the final four, two appearances in the national championship game and the 2005 NCAA title. He captained the 2004 and 2005 teams and was a member of a class that never lost a game on Homewood Field.

While matching Pietramala’s combination of speed, strength, athleticism and intensity will be tough for any future Blue Jay defenseman, matching Watson’s intelligence and grasp of JHU’s sophisticated defensive system will be virtually impossible.

Click here to read a great piece by Gary Lambrecht in the Baltimore Sun during Watson's final week at Homewood in May, 2005.

Famous “43s” in Other Sports
Dennis Eckersley – Several Teams (MLB)
One of just two players in MLB history to record both a 20-win and 50-save season, Dennis Eckersley pitched in the majors for 24 years and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004. The six-time All-Star and 1989 World Champion won 197 games, accumulated just over 2,400 strikeouts and totaled 390 saves in a career that saw him transform from All-Star starter to Hall of Fame reliever.

Troy Polamalu – Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)
Not likely a popular pick in Baltimore, but Polamalu has helped the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowl titles while earning seven Pro Bowl nods and five selections as an All-Pro at safety. The 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has more than 600 tackles and nearly 30 interceptions to his credit.

Note: Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse rosters are generally available back to 1950. In many years after 1950, only an alphabetical list is available. The Blue Jay Jersey Countdown is intended to be an enjoyable way to count down to the 2013 season. It is not intended to rank in any way the players who wore a particular number.