Posted By: Miss October
Besides the roster of Mets that I see in the paper every day, the “big names” that everyone has heard of and ex-American Leaguers, I’ll admit I’m not familiar with many National League players. Of course inter-league play has expanded my horizons a bit, but I’m still not very well versed.
As the Yankees strengthened their team with two National League players right before the trade deadline, I found it ironic that 1) I knew who they were and 2) I had somewhat “personal” stories about each one of them.
June 2002, Baltimore – After watching the Yankees beat the Orioles 3-2 the night before at Camden Yards, we decided to go back to catch another game, Orioles vs. Phillies. We bought bleacher seats in centerfield, which isn’t really a bad view for only $13, and got a free hat out of the deal since it was “hat night.” After eating at Boog’s BBQ pit, we went out to our seats to go catch batting practice.
The Phillies were on the field shagging fly balls, and out in center was, you guessed it, Bobby Abreu. I of course didn’t know him from a hole in the wall, but he was catching just about everything hit to him and he was throwing most of the balls he caught to the kids near the centerfield railing. We watched this for awhile and when he had given balls to all of the kids, I guess I was the only “kid” left. He tossed one right to me. That’s when I found out that batting practice balls are labeled as such. Who knew? Anyway, after that day, I definitely knew who Bobby Abreu was…
March 2004, Tampa, Spring Training – A friend and I took the trip I had always wanted to take – to spring training! Since the Yankees are probably the only team in MLB who sell out their spring training tickets the first day they go on sale, I had my friend buy the tickets while I was on a business trip. We ended up with first row seats down the left field line – right next to the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. On his way to the bullpen, one of the Pirates’ pitching coaches asked my friend and I if we wanted some baseballs, which we of course accepted. Over the course of the game the pitching coach would come share insights and complaints (how can teams like us compete with a huge payroll like the Yankees?).. as well as some color commentary.
That day, a tall left fielder wearing # 36 with long blonde locks flowing out from under his baseball cap made a diving catch. The coach commented, “He’s a great player, can play almost everywhere – even catches. But why does he keep his hair so long?” Of course that was Craig Wilson, who had to clip some of his goldilocks before joining the Yanks. But with Gary Sheffield taking ground balls at first base, Craig might be able to grow his hair back over the winter. Only time will tell.
It will be interesting to see how these former NL stars perform "on the big stage" this weekend when they get their first taste of the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry in Fenway Park.......