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Old 11-09-2004, 06:35 PM   #281 (permalink)
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Minor error: Roosevelt took over for McKinley as President, not Harding.
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Old 11-09-2004, 07:19 PM   #282 (permalink)
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I knew that, but for some reason I wrote Harding. No more tequila during writing sessions. Fixed.
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Old 11-12-2004, 03:33 AM   #283 (permalink)
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Wow. AWESOME WRITING! I just found this threat earlier tonight and have spent the last 3 hours simply engulfed by it. It is as if the characters you write about are real people, and I was geniounely sad when I heard that you were traded to the Kansas City organization.

Good luck in KC. Obviously my Saturdays will now never be the same.
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Old 11-13-2004, 10:55 AM   #284 (permalink)
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My morning edit became a rewriting session, so sorry for the small delay. Too many things to iron out, too many aspects to cover. Anyway, here is Chapter 23, newly polished and ready to go.

Also, is everyone liking the History of the CBA? Anyone confused about anything? It will ultimately dovetail with Dave's story and provide some context for some of the references in Short Hop.

One more thing: I'm going to do my best to continue posting through the Holidays. I'll be doing some traveling with the family and I'm hoping to have enough chapters "in the can" to avoid any postponements.
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Old 11-13-2004, 11:03 AM   #285 (permalink)
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CHAPTER 23:

The Squires


With us kids in the lineup the Knights ended that 8-game skid by sweeping Detroit. They still had a few games on us, but we didn’t care. We were young and talented and bursting with desire to shake the world. I was 22, Theron Richards and Joel Kral were 23, and Von Jones (who had been given the nickname “the Sorcerer” because of his magical catches in center field) was 24. Bobby Frisina was the old man of our group at 28. Baseball Insider named us the Best Kept Secret for June 2006. What nobody knew, however, was that we still had Florentino Carrera and Mike Moore waiting in Santa Fe. We were loaded. Perhaps all we needed now was someone who knew what to do with ammunition like that.

Not only did we mesh well on the field, but we liked each other. We hung out together, mostly at Frisina’s house in Independence. It was a beautiful white colonial decorated with love and skill by his wife Sandy. Sometimes we left Bobby to tend to his two children and the rest of us hit the town.

Theron Richards was a terrific character. 6’1” and “brown like fine chocolate”, as he used to say, Richards was a smooth talker and a smooth fielder who liked to show some flair at second every once in a while. “Doing the dazzle”, he called it. I called it showboating, but he was such an energetic, positive teammate it was hard to stay mad at him for it. He gave the impression that he was an artist in his element. And what a stroke. He possessed that rare gift of being right-handed but swinging like a lefty. He could turn on a breaking pitch and smack a hard bouncer down the left field line or he could take an outside sinker and slap it down the right field line for a double. With his speed, third was never out of the question.

Von (I never called him “Sorcerer”) was a ghetto kid from Cabrini Green in Chicago who was made for the diamond. His long powerful stride made him seem to glide in the outfield and his long sweeping swing could drive pitches deep no matter where in the zone they were. Von had some hard edges to him, no doubt, and we didn’t always get along, but he was a great teammate and a loyal friend. Once he decided you were “his boy”, that is, one of his trusted friends, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you. He was an intense player and an intense person. He was driven by his potential to give his family a life they had never known and by his fear that he may fail to provide it.

We used to kid big Joel Kral that he was built like a rhinocerous. Richards called him the “Slavic Slab” and the “White Rhino”. Kral had these immense round shoulders, like a linebacker. He had a huge thick neck and a big round head topped with a shock of hair so blonde it was almost white. At 6’4” he towered over everybody. When we went out, people thought he was Jones’ bodyguard. Joel was a good guy, very friendly. He had the potential to hit 50 homers, but would often make things harder on himself by getting down on his ability. He was a quiet guy, not given to big speeches like Richards. In fact, he didn’t speak much at all. His folks were Pennsylvania farm stock and getting attention was not a priority in life. Nonetheless, Joel Kral was a terrific player and a steady friend. When he answered questions, his thoughtful hesitancy was wrongly perceived as dim-wittedness by the press, which was a terrible injustice to him. Joel Kral may not have had Richards’ silver tongue, but he was always – always-- smarter than he was given credit for. Anybody who ever played with him can tell you that.

Bobby Frisina was our golden boy. Tall, yellow-haired and good-looking, Frisina had a wealth of both talent and baseball instinct. He was what they called a born ballplayer. Me, for example; people said I was made, that I worked hard and maximized my talent by increasing my skills. But Bobby Frisina, well, he had it all right there for everyone to see. It was like a glow he gave off, a halo of talent and promise that he seemed to want to share with everyone. Need a quote? Fans never got tired of Bobby’s homey “N’awlins” drawl. Need to put a Face on that victory? Get to Frisina’s locker; he’ll give you a shiny smile and a few polite words. To his credit, Bobby never let it get to his head. He thought it was all a game. Fun. I suppose growing up in a sleepy Delta backwater will do that to a young man –keep him grounded. His Marine Corps father also probably had something to do with it. Come to think of it, his two kids also helped. He once told me that even if he struck out four times in one game, when he got home he was still daddy.

How did I fit in? Pretty well, actually. I can’t tell you what a huge relief it is for a rookie to make a connection with his teammates—and for teammates to have a connection with one another. Among the four of them I was never Short Hop. I was the Professor: always thinking, always two moves ahead, always looking for the edge. I was the pitcher-reader. I was the sign-stealer. I was the planner of strategies. It reads more impressively than it ever was; at the time we really didn’t know what we were doing, we just wanted like hell to go out and do it. And perhaps the best part was that we didn’t wait to be taken under a veteran’s wing. We went out and got ourselves together.

The press called us the Squires. You know: Knights—Squires. Like that. Young heirs to the kingdom, so to speak. It was a great time, those first few months, marred only by the team’s inability to win consistently. But it was there, we could sense it, that smoldering feeling in our guts that told us we might just have something.

I took a loft apartment downtown with a spectacular view of Riverfront Park on the Missouri River. I contacted the Stampede and had my truck driven out to me. The new contract gave me some money, so I got with my dad and started to invest. Don’t worry; I had plenty of drinking money. I also had enough to buy an Ironhands MI-3. It’s a bad name for an infielder’s glove, but it was a good glove. I don’t know why they called it “Ironhands”. Maybe because Owen Ritchie owned the company and he was known as “Iron Hands” when he played back in the 40’s. Anyway, I bought it even though I was playing terrific defense: it never hurts to upgrade your equipment.

Gwen drove out in late June after the NCAA playoffs were over (UALR was eliminated at Regionals by Texas Southern). It was tough not seeing her very often, but with her internship at WTPK she didn’t really have time for me, either.

As the season ran on to the All-Star Break and the Independence Day hiatus, the Knights went on a 9-4 run, prompting many around the league to take some notice. We took 2 of 3 from the Oakland Mammoths, New York Admirals, and Cleveland Hammers. In fact, when we beat Cleveland 14-7 on national television I was called Short Hop for the first time since coming to KC. I don’t know how they got the name; I hadn’t been known as anything but Dave or Davey since Topeka, but they did. I have always secretly believed that Del, who was a young writer in the Kansas City Star’s sports department, made an anonymous call. I was also a conspicuous presence in Del’s column the next day. Could the two have been related? Probably. Whatever the reason, “Short Hop” was well on its way to fading quietly away forever until the bottom of the ninth when a diving pick and whirling throw made me Short Hop again and for good. So you see, another Short Hop myth has been busted. Eddie Martinelli did not invent Short Hop. Martinelli was an excellent announcer, but I’m convinced Del Harrison fed him that line just for television. Del was always sneaky that way. Of course, once Eddie got credit for it he couldn’t stop saying it.

Perhaps our inspired play woke Kellinger up, or perhaps he was trying to save his job, but whatever the reason, during the Break he made two big trades. One I liked, the other I didn’t. Coincidentally, one turned out well, the other was disastrous. The Knights acquired Alex Candelas from Houston. Candelas was 10-2 at the time and it really shook up the team. Finally, a top flight pitcher! Maybe Kellinger and Faraday were serious about winning after all. God knows, at 30-51 they had to do something. But then they announced another trade later that day.

I was at home going over my stats. I was hitting .242 vs. righties but .310 vs. lefties. Not too bad. In 40 games I’d made 3 errors. Not too bad again. My OBP was .326. Perhaps the most telling thing about my first 40 games in the Bigs was that I was hitting .247 at home and .319 on the road. Well, I always was a scrapper.

The phone rang. It was Theron Richards.
“They traded me,” he said.
“What?” I replied, shocked.
“The mother****ers traded me to Boston for Rudy Galindo,” said Theron.
“Well, we do need pitching…” I said.
“Damn it, Dave, this **** ain’t funny! I don’t want to play in Boston!”
“Look,” I answered seriously, “I don’t want to see you go, either, man. But it happens. I thought I’d be playing my whole career in Atlanta.”
“This is wrong, man. We had something going,” said Richards. “I could feel good things for us, you know? Why didn’t they trade Hernandez? He’s, like, twenty-eight or some ****. I’m telling you, Dave, I’m going to make KC hurt after this.”
“I know you will, but there’s a bright side here,” I said.
“Yeah? What?”
“You were sent to Boston for one of the best pitchers in the United League,” I explained.
“So?”
“So now everybody knows how good you are. You don’t have to play for a last place team anymore. You’re in Boston now, man. You’re on a contending team. When do you leave?”
“I’m already gone. I’m calling you from the phone on the plane.”

There was nothing wrong with Clemente Hernandez. He was a solid big leaguer and a veteran. But if I could have chosen whom to play with, it would have been Theron Richards. We could have done marvelous things together.

So KC added some much needed pitching and didn’t really give up that much. Theron was a first rounder but Galindo was a potential Golden Arm candidate. Add Candelas into the mix and KC had something brewing. What they needed now was for the Squires (now minus one) to step up and claim their place. That and someone who could hold a lead.

We went 15-9 in July. The departure of Theron Richards didn’t impact the team like it impacted the four remaining Squires. Richards was such a big presence. He left a big emptiness behind that we couldn’t fill. But the four of us, Kral, Frisina, Jones and myself soldiered on. After all, we still had a job to do and goals to accomplish.

The arrival of Galindo and Candelas really settled the team. Those two guys had an air about them that said “we will win”. They had the respect of opposing hitters and that rubbed off on the team. They loved McKinnon. McKinnon wasn’t a young player’s manager. He much preferred the vets. But to his credit he let us play. Clemente Hernandez also recognized that the Richards trade gave him a new opportunity to play every day and make some noise before he went on the free agent market. I actually learned a lot about opposing hitters by working with him in the field. I soaked up everything he told me because I knew when he was gone his knowledge went with him.

In Santa Fe the Shuffle continued. Kellinger didn’t touch the active roster, but he still played around with the farm system. At various times for the rest of the 2007 season I had Lorenzo Medina, Rico Godina, and Jimmy Hollars backing me up at short. But for once I stayed where I was, penciled in at #8 vs. righties and #2 vs. lefthanders. At the end of July Lorenzo Medina was traded to the Chicago Chiefs.

On August 6th, in the 4th inning of a 6-1 home loss to Oakland, I hit my first CBA home run. Mo-ri Takenao, the “Korean Submarean”, fed me a riser and I sent it rocketing a prodigious 350 feet down the left field line. Warnell Dobbs jumped and trapped it for a moment at the top of the wall. It trickled out of his mitt and fell for a homer. Hey, a homer is a homer. One thing was for sure: no one was going to change my nickname to Muscles.

We started August with a nine-game losing streak. The Squires played well, but for the most part the team suffered from what was to become a serious fracture: the age gap. The young guys wanted to play – burned for it. The veterans expected to play and made themselves understood to McKinnon. McKinnon didn’t know to which group he should entrust what remained of his career. The result was a strange mixture of batting orders that changed every night. McKinnon wanted to please everyone, and not every leader has everything, but the worst thing a leader can lack is a plan. No one was sure of their role any more. Believe it or not, I was used as a DH for some games! Godina played short while my new glove and I kept each other company on the bench. I had made 6 errors in 72 games (.984) and my leather was somehow unwanted. It was very difficult for me to take. I have always tried to be patient and professional, to respect my managers and coaches, but after about the second week of this (the team was 4-15 for the month) I started to come a little unraveled to the other Squires.

And this is why the Squires were so important to my career. I have always been lucky enough to have someone to go to when I needed help. From my dad to Cliff to Moose to Yoogie to Gwen, I knew I had a “pressure release valve”. Incidentally, this is something Jones never had. Even when the Squires were hanging out alone he never fully shared his deeper thoughts with us. He was always guarded that way. His surliness with people (especially the press) is in part a result of this self-protection mechanism. Regardless, I didn’t have any problem venting to my friends.

They stuck up for me. They went into McKinnon’s office one afternoon and told him they wanted me back. Kral told me they told McKinnon that if the vets can come in and talk about what they want, then they should be heard as well. It really meant a lot to me. I started the entire second half of the month and went on a 15-game hitting streak (.265).

When September started I became a DH again. Why? I don’t really know. I became a pinch hitter and late-game defensive sub. I pinch-ran at times. Who exactly did I piss off? I thought. I had performed well all through the Kellinger Shuffle. I had done all that was asked of me. Theo Garner even risked his job to get me a starting role. And now that the Shuffle was over I had caught “McKinnonitis”. I thought the moving around would stop. Now I was getting bounced around my own team. I tried very hard to understand why this was, but I couldn’t. I was also 22 years old and more than ready to take on the entire United Conference. I was ready for my career to begin – really begin. “Let’s go, already!” I wanted to yell. “I’m here! I’m ready!”

As the season plodded on to its conclusion and the Knights spiraled slowly downward to a dismal 66-96 record, I was becoming more and more frustrated. This time even the support of my fellow Squires couldn’t pull me out of the foul mood I was in. Ironically, it was a veteran who ultimately helped me get through.

Next week: Chapter 24: Doc

Last edited by Tib; 11-15-2004 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 11-13-2004, 12:33 PM   #286 (permalink)
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Genius. I love this chapter. I'm slightly confused about which positions the individual Squires play (specifically.. 2B), but the writing is solid and very entertaining.
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Mark Jazzington's Managerial Career - worth a read
Thanks to Tib for the inspiration to write it.

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Old 11-13-2004, 05:48 PM   #287 (permalink)
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Mistake fixed. That's what I get for writing on the fly. The Squires are Theron "Dazzle" Richards (2B), Joel "The White Rhino" Kral (LF), Bobby "Golden Boy" Frisina (CF), Dave "Short Hop" Driscoll (SS) and Von "Sorcerer" Jones (RF). Clemente Martinez is the veteran 2B who takes over for Richards after he's traded to BOS. In fact, the middle infield was a merry-go-round under Kellinger, but gets ironed out later.

There are more Squires coming...

Last edited by Tib; 11-14-2004 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:45 AM   #288 (permalink)
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To your previous question, I really love the history of the CBA also.

Another great chapter, and I definitely hope that the new Squires might be some guys from Davey's past....
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Old 11-15-2004, 11:03 AM   #289 (permalink)
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Hey, you changed the title of your next chapter to just Doc!
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Old 11-15-2004, 11:29 AM   #290 (permalink)
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I do that sometimes. In fact, the title of the book is now SHORT HOP: My Life in Baseball.

Everything is a work in progress so I change things once in a while. Sometimes when I re-read a chapter another title seems to reflect the tone better. I don't change the chapter titles after they've been posted, though. Incidentally, I'm going to be updating each chapter posting with centering and bold type. It won't really change anything, but it'll look nicer for those who cut, paste and print. I'm also working on another SHORT HOP photo album which should be ready in a couple of weeks.
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Old 11-17-2004, 01:28 PM   #291 (permalink)
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I forget at times that this forum is here, but then I remember to swing by to check out your story. Your most recent chapter is excellent as usual.
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Old 11-20-2004, 10:30 AM   #292 (permalink)
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Here's chapter 24. No fancy intro this time; my kids have early soccer playoffs today. I will say I think this is one of my best chapters. And to those who are wondering if there will ever be any baseball in this story again: yes, there will.

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Old 11-20-2004, 10:32 AM   #293 (permalink)
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CHAPTER 24

Doc


Gary Caswell was not that impressive when I first met him. He was not exceptionally tall or good looking. He was not particularly muscular or physically intimidating. He was not the fastest or quickest or richest or smartest. He was a bespectacled 35-year old second baseman the team grabbed for a draft pick from the Indianapolis Trackers’ AAA affiliate in Nashville. He was a gap-filler, a career backup with decent skills who never complained. He could play second, short, third, first, anywhere. Hell, he would’ve trotted out to catch if you had asked him. He apparently got his nickname for once giving a choking diner the Heimlich maneuver. It was fitting; he was always doing something to help somebody.

“Doc” Caswell was your average clean-shaven white guy. He wore khakis and a chambrais shirt to the filling station to put gas in his car. He looked more like a lawyer than a ballplayer. He acted more like an English teacher than an athlete. He was, to use a term from long ago, a preppy. He was also the one guy everyone came to when they needed advice. When he walked into our locker room for the first time I didn’t know who he was and I thought I knew every player on every roster in the CBA. But when Gilly and the other vets saw him they dropped what they were doing and came over to greet him, shaking his hand and patting him on the back. Doc looked embarrassed by the attention.
Who is this guy? I thought skeptically. And why are they so glad to see him? I knew a middle infielder when I saw one and I was having a hard enough time getting starts.

“Hop!” Gilly called to me. “Come on over and meet someone.”
So I walked over and shook Caswell’s hand.
“Davey, this is Doc Caswell. Doc, this is Dave Driscoll,” said Gilly.
“Short Hop. I know,” said Caswell. “I’ve heard about you.”
“You have?”
“Yeah,” said Doc. “The Squires, you know? You guys were in Baseball Insider.”
“Oh, right.”
“You may not know it, but Gilly was Best Kept Secret in, what, 1996?”
“This is true,” said Gills. “How do you remember all that stuff, man?”
“I don’t know,” said Doc, adjusting his glasses. “To embarrass you in front of rookies, I guess.”

Let me backtrack a little here and say Caswell came to the team in early August. We were on our way to a terrible record, but when he arrived there were still two months left in the season. The climate in the clubhouse was tense, to say the least. We were 20 games below .500. Many players were upset with McKinnon’s handling of assignments. Several of the veterans thought they should be playing more and most of the rookies thought it was time for a changing of the guard. There was business to be done on this team. Serious business. Everybody could smell the blood in the water and they were taking positions.

Into this quagmire came Doc Caswell with nothing more than a gear bag and a good attitude, but by the end of that season I’d have given up salary if he would’ve stayed. In all my years of professional baseball I have never seen a player have such an effect on a team as Doc did for those 60 days. And the odd thing about it was there was no hype, no fanfare, no credit given for what he did. How could you? By the time you realized how much he had helped you, it was over. People like to talk about turning points and when things started to go right or wrong, as if you could say it were any one thing. But if such a thing exists, then for the Knights it was when Doc came to town.

It was always something small. Doc never pulled anybody from a frozen lake, but he had a way of convincing you not to go out on the lake in the first place. He helped you help yourself. I guess you could say he gave the team a much needed Heimlich maneuver.

In mid-August I was 0-6 against the Comanches during a three game series. During game three I was sitting the bench watching uncomfortably as Rico Godina ruined two perfectly good ground balls. Doc sat down next to me.
“Hop.” He always called me Hop.
“Doc.”
“Tough to watch, huh?”
I didn’t respond.
“Rico’s a good kid.”
“Yeah.”
“You know, he thinks you don’t like him.”
At this I turned. “What do you mean?”
“He thinks you don’t think he’s any good,” said Doc. “He’s scared to death of you.”
“Of me? What for?”
“Because he knows you’re better than he is.”
“That’s stupid. I like him fine. It’s his glove position I don’t like.”
“Too much of an angle to the ball.”
“Exactly. He’s not getting the pocket square to the trajectory. That’s why he bobbles balls he has to pick on the shuffle.”
“Someone should tell him that.”
“You tell him, then.”
Doc was silent for a time.
“He won’t listen to my advice.”
“Why not?”
“Because he doesn’t respect my ability like he respects yours.”
“I’m not much for the team leader stuff, Doc.”
Doc paused again. “It makes you feel a little arrogant,” he said.
No one had said that to me before.
“Actually, it does,” I admitted. “Who am I to say my way is better?”
“You’re forgetting one important thing,” replied Doc. “You’re way is better. And you know it. It’s not a matter of arrogance, Davey.”
It’s not arrogance, I thought. It’s survival. Why should I help a rival?
“What is it, then?”
As matter-of-factly as can be, Doc said, “Teamwork.”

One morning we were on the road in Texas. Some of us went out to breakfast. Doc came along. Somehow the conversation turned to the playoffs. Everyone agreed that Chicago was the cream of the United League that year. Everyone except Doc. Lloyd Lanza said the Comanches were just monstrous and no one could touch them. Doc said he didn’t think so. Who did Doc think was better?
“The Sentinels.”
This was met with a cacophony of laughter, derision and challenges of Doc’s sanity.
“You’re kidding, right Doc?” said Lanza. “What are they, 63-54? They don’t have Chicago’s power or their pitching or their bullpen or speed.”
“They have something more valuable,” replied Doc quietly.
“What’s that?”
“They believe in one another.”
More laughter. Doc chuckled too, as if he was joking all along, but he was serious. He was chuckling at us.
“What do you mean, Doc?” I said. “Why is that more important than having two 20-game winners?”
“Because nobody does anything alone,” explained Doc. “Individual accomplishment is wonderful, but it’s limited. It’s --, it’s selfish. It’s far less satisfying than helping each other get better. Chicago is going to learn this the hard way. They may have big stars, but they don’t like each other. They aren’t interested in each other. That’s why they’ll break down. The Sentinels spent three awful years getting to know each other. Learning each other. Learning the game. It’s not enough to know how to play baseball. Everybody here knows how to play baseball. A team has to know how to play baseball together. They won’t collapse under pressure because they have each other to hold them up. You guys better take a lesson from them.”
“Why?”
“Because you are them. You are them three years ago.”
At this we fell silent. I think it took everyone a moment to grasp what he was saying. I think it was the first time anyone ever told us we could be good.

Steve Parris broke the silence. “I got news for you, Doc. You don’t have to like each other to succeed in this game, or to win championships. We get paid to produce. That’s it.”
“I sure hope not,” said Doc, “because if that’s true I’ve been stealing somebody’s money for fifteen years.”

That was Doc.

Personally, my life was not fantastic. It was a good life, as far as having a cool apartment and a view of the River goes, but I was far away from Gwen and that was tough. The fall session of her senior year had started and she was too busy to come to any games. I was not happy with my playing circumstances. I worried about all kinds of things I had no control over. Then I overheard Doc on his phone one night after a loss to Seattle. He was talking to his wife. At Doc’s request I’m not going to repeat the conversation, but I’ll say that it really shook me.

Doc’s wife had miscarried. It was not the first time, either. But it was the first time he had not been there with her. I was paralyzed. I just stood there, alone in the middle of the locker room carpet, not knowing if I should just turn and leave or stay and say – what? What could I possibly say? And how the hell does this stuff happen to me in locker rooms all the time? At one point Doc was listening intently. He looked up, saw me standing there, and held up his finger. Wait, he mouthed.

Doc finally hung up and took a deep breath. “Hop.”
I motioned to the empty locker room. “Sorry, Doc. I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay.”
“Is she all right?”
“She will be. She’s tough.”
“Is there something I can do?”
“Not right now. What did you need?”
“Nothing. I wanted to go over some film with you tomorrow but it can wait.”
“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to take some time and go home for a few days.”
“Of course.”
He sat on his gear bag, folded the phone and dropped it in his shirt pocket. He put his face in his hands. When he raised it his eyes were wet with tears. “You know the funny thing?” he said.
I was scared to say anything.
“She loves kids,” he said. “Loves them. I mean, wouldn’t it make sense that God would give children to people He knows will love them? It’s not fair. I mean, I know life isn’t fair and all that, but it’s not right. During the first pregnancy she did the whole nursery herself, right down to this big white stuffed bunny she put in this little child’s rocking chair. That was ten years ago and you know something? That damn bunny is still there, right where she left it. Do you believe some things are just meant to be, Hop?”
“No, Doc. If I did I would have taken my JV coach’s advice and dropped off the team.”
“He didn’t want you to play?”
“He said I was too small.”
“What made you stay? What made you keep going?”
I knew instinctively he wasn’t asking about baseball.
“I couldn’t imagine not swinging a bat, or wearing a glove, or running the bases. I couldn’t imagine my life without baseball. It would be like I wasn’t me anymore.”
He smiled. “That’s a good answer.”
“I’m good at quizzes.”
He gave a small chuckle and stood up. We began to walk to the door. “You want to go get a drink?”
“You drink. I’ll drive,” I said.
“That’s a deal. But I warn you: I sing when I’m drunk.”
“You don’t know the Wisconsin fight song, do you?”
“No, why?”
“Never mind.”

There are a lot of other instances of Doc’s wisdom and strength, of his insight and ability to get people to come together. What I want to say here is how I was inspired to change my thinking. I started to work with Rico on his fielding. To my surprise I actually felt better for helping him, not worse. I stopped thinking about playing time and what I thought I was owed. I started thinking about making us a better team.

The Squires all responded the same way. It was a mini revolution. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. It started with a small group of guys who just flat-out liked each other. Then came Doc, who gave us hope, who began to glue the pieces of the puzzle together. At first the veterans gave us the emotional equivalent of a pat on the head. Then a couple saw how tight we were becoming and jumped on. We went 12-16 for September and climbed out of the cellar. It felt good, not great, but better than our 7-19 August.

And at the center was Doc. He seemed to run things from the bench. When he played he didn’t play that well, but he helped us play better. Every day of my hitting streak we met for coffee in the video room at seven in the morning. His focus was on us, not himself. He may not have been the player we needed skill-wise, but he was definitely the leader we needed. He should get some recognition for the successes that followed.

As for me, it’s impossible to put a value on the things I learned from him. My matter-of-fact acceptance of the importance of the team grew into a strong conviction. My belief in the ability of people to bind their fortunes together and be stronger as a result came from him. The way he handled his personal sadness with strength and resolve in spite of his human misgivings and fears showed me there is more to a man than professional success and money and fame.

So again we come to people. Throughout this book I’ve pointed out how certain people have helped me become the player and man that I am, for good or ill. I felt it was absolutely necessary to devote a chapter to Doc Caswell. You won’t see him in any Hall of Fame. He’s not on anyone’s top ten list. He’s not a rich man. He lives in a nice house in Columbus, Ohio where he owns a realty company. He volunteers at his church. He and his wife have two beautiful adopted daughters, one of whom I have a picture of on my bookcase in my office. She is grown now, but in the photo she is sitting in a little rocking chair holding a big stuffed bunny. On the back of the photo it says, “Christina, age 2, and Hop, age 14.”


Next week: Chapter 25: Visits

Last edited by Tib; 05-01-2010 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 11-20-2004, 11:02 AM   #294 (permalink)
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Wow.
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Old 11-20-2004, 11:19 AM   #295 (permalink)
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A pleasure to read as usual. That is some talent you have.
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Old 11-20-2004, 11:36 AM   #296 (permalink)
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That... was beautiful. I know it's cliched, but I had a single tear fall. Seriously. I don't know how you do it, but what you have is magic.
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Old 11-20-2004, 08:55 PM   #297 (permalink)
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I was going to post something humorous about how you always say this next chapter is your best, but I'll be damned if it wasn't truer that time than ever before.
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Old 11-21-2004, 09:05 AM   #298 (permalink)
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Hop age 14? Can't wait to find out why.
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Old 11-21-2004, 03:27 PM   #299 (permalink)
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the bunny's name is Hop
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Old 11-22-2004, 10:45 AM   #300 (permalink)
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the bunny's name is Hop

I think he wanted to know why the Bunny was so much older than the girl.
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