Cards’ Lackey trades Ruth-signed ball for uniform number

When athletes join new teams, they will often pay a steep price to get the number they want if it’s already taken.

This was the case with ace pitcher John Lackey.

The right-hander, who has worn No. 41 for most of his career, was forced to pry that number from Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek when Boston traded him to St. Louis at the end of July.

Lackey, though, did not cough up cash. Instead, he bought Neshek a Babe Ruth autographed baseball, which Neshek received on Wednesday.

A quick look at shows that signed Ruth baseballs sell for anywhere between $2,300 and $46,000.