Tuesday, March 20, 2007


So, it used to be that, way back in the day, before blogging, computers, the inter-web or dinosaurs, there was a player on the Red Sox named "Trot Nixon." Whenever ol' Trot would come to bat, or run out onto the field, or indeed show is face on television, I would be prompted, to the dismay of my fiancé, to shout out "My man TROT!" as loudly as possible with special emphasis on the "trot" part (thus the caps). When slurred together correctly, the phrase sounds more like "MamanTROT!"

Well, as some of you may have noticed by now, Trot no longer resides with the Red Sox. I hold no malice towards ol' Trot. Indeed, I remain a devoted fan. There will come a time, cursed though it may be, that ol' Trot actually takes up bat and glove against the Red Sox. I have yet to invest the emotional energy necessary to fully comprehend this moment, and as such, I can say confidently that I have no idea what I'll do.

My more pressing concern is finding another Red Sox (Red Sock?) to fulfill this tradition. I can't very well call out the name of an opposing player, which Trot very much is now (at least until his triumphant return). So, I need someone else's name to obsessively yell. Who will it be? Who will be the next poster-child for moronic Red Sox-based over-decibeled repetitive blather?

Well, it was two weeks ago when the answer struck me in the form of an actual baseball. I was standing on the railing down the right field line of Brighthouse Networks Field in Clearwater, Florida watching the Red Sox take batting practice. It was a balmy 75 degrees out on a partly cloudy day and I was wearing my old beat up replica 1946 Red Sox hat - the one with the huge crease in it from being squozen when Mienky caught the ball underhanded to him by Foulke. One of the Red Sox players was covering right field at the time, gathering up the batted balls and tossing them into a white bucket. Someone was in the batters box hitting line drives. One of the balls was hit in the air between where I was in the stands and where the player was. He loped over to catch it, and while he was waiting for the ball to drop, I noticed who it was. It was Manny! No, not that Manny. Manny Delcarmen, the relief pitcher. The guy who grew up a Red Sox fan and dreamed of playing for the Sox. The guy who was burning up the minors when he blew his arm out and had to have Tommy John surgery. The guy who came back from that surgery to make it up to majors and fulfill his dream.

So, long story slightly shortened, Manny caught the ball and I yelled, "Hey, Manny!" and held out my glove. Yes, I'm that old guy who brings his glove to games. Deal with it. So, Manny looks at me, smiles, and throws the ball to me. I can still see it coming at me. Manny can throw upper nineties if he wants to, but this was a lazy Sunday toss. Now, I played a lot of ball in high school and a very little bit in college, so I can catch a ball when someone throws it to me (hitting it is another matter and I'd rather not talk about it). That said, sometimes the hardest plays are the ones you have time to think about, and this ball was moving in slow motion.

Fortunately, I did manage to catch it, at which point I made a weak-sounding very un-manly noise, something from deep within. Maybe it was glee, maybe I had to use the restroom.

I may have been able to play catch, but I was never cut out to be a major leaguer. Still, that moment when Manny threw me the ball was a memory that will last as long as I live, and likely longer than the ball (now where did I put it again?).

So, thanks, Manny, and how do you like the sound of MamanMANNY!

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