By Anthony Caruso
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/6/14
Jake Bergey said having his No. 66 jersey retired by the Philadelphia Wings was an honor to share with his family – and beyond.
“It was not only family and friends,” said Bergey of the event held last month at the Wells Fargo center during the Wings’ NLL contest with the Edmonton Rush. “I had a huge group of former teammates with us, as well.
“These guys have supported my career, and we had nearly 200 people in the club box that night. The support was phenomenal. To see everyone in my life to come out to support me is unbelievable.”
Bergey joins Tom Marecheck and Dallas Eliuk as players to have their jerseys retired.
“In November of last year. I received a phone call from the Wings,” said Bergey. “I was not sure at first of what they would be calling me about, but once I got to talking to the gentlemen that called me, I knew that they wanted to honor me.”
Bergey’s No. 66 is retired next to Eliuk’s No. 35 and Marecheck’s No. 42. On Bergey’s special night, he had family and friends on the field before the game with him, as he was honored.
His wife and two kids stood by him throughout the entire ceremony. While Bergey was speaking to the crowd, they stood off to the side.
Bergey came to his adopted hometown when his father Bill Bergey signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1974. From 1995 to 1998, he played at Salisbury State University, known today as Salisbury University.
In 1998, he was drafted by the Wings and quickly became a fan favorite.
“I don’t know the real reason why the fans took a liking to me, but I think it had something to do with my blue collar work ethic,” said Bergey. “I also scored a lot of goals, and more importantly, I had no problem getting into a fight.
“I think the Philadelphia Wings fans appreciated all the little things that I did. The feeling was also mutual with the fans, as I loved playing in front of them.”
He was also a part of the Wings final two championship teams. These championships came in 1998 and 2001.
“The Wings certainly had a winning history when I got here,” said Bergey. “They had already had four championships before I had bed drafted by the team.
“We won in 1998 when I was a rookie. I remember that year, we beat the Baltimore (Thunder) team, and they had one of the best players to ever play in this league in Gary Gait, and some other very good players.
“Then, we went up to Toronto, Canada to face the Toronto Rock for the 2001 championship. We would defeat the Rock for the Wings second championship as a player. Obviously, winning a championship at any level is special, but to win a championship in Philadelphia is extra special. These were a special two championships for me.”
Before the 2007 season, he was picked up by the Boston Blazers in the 2007 expansion draft. Then, he got traded back to the Wings for two draft picks.
During the 2007 season, he became the Wings’ second all-time leading scorer. For the second straight off-season, the Blazers picked up Bergey in another expansion draft before being traded back to the Wings in February of 2009.
Bergey never played for the Blazers or another other team in the National Lacrosse League. He played his entire career with the Wings.
“It was towards the end of my career when Boston attempted to get me to play there,” said Bergey. “When they claimed me in the first expansion draft in 2007, I was already considering retirement, but I would play another year.
“That’s when I was picked up in the expansion draft by the Blazers, and at that time, I thought I was going to retire. Before I officially informed the Blazers, I got a call that Boston was suspending its operation for the season, so I ended up playing one more year in 2008 in Philadelphia.
“Then, that off-season, the Blazers attempted to convince me to play for them once again after being picked in the 2008 expansion draft. That was an easy way to go off into retirement, as they (the Blazers) made my decision official. I didn’t want to play anywhere else than Philadelphia.”