SHAVING, MEL AND MONBO
A couple of nights ago the PawSox played a marathon game against Indianapolis. The clubs endured a rain delay of an hour and thirteen minutes between the ninth and tenth innings. I speculated on the air that the guys might have gotten a bite to eat, relaxed, played cards, the typical stuff. When the teams came out to resume the game, Dan noticed that Dusty Brown had shaven off his fu-manchu style mustache. The good-looking catcher had been growing the ‘stash and it gave him an Oakland A’s 1970’s type of look. I asked him about the timing of the cleanup. “It didn’t help. I had gone 0-4 so I shaved it off. I came back out and struck out twice.” Brown added “I just couldn’t stand looking at myyself in the mirror anymore.” I know the feeling.
A recurring theme in this blog is the “Circle of Life” nature of baseball. It took place again in Indy as I was reunited with catcher Adam Melhuse of the Indians. Mel and I were together in Syracuse in the late ’90s. He has gone on to a successful career, catching in the Majors for Oakland, Texas, Colorado and the Dodgers. We reminisced about the teams he caught in Syracuse when they were the affiliate of the Blue Jays. He caught a couple of future Cy Young winners there- Chris Carpenter of St. Louis and Roy Halladay of Toronto. “I can’t say I knew they’d be THAT good, but I knew they’d be special, front-line starters”. Melhuse continued- “Their attitude, their “stuff”. their competitiveness- those guys had something that not a lot of people have.” When asked about the best he’d ever caught, he thought a moment and said-“(Mark) Mulder, (Barry) Zito, and (Tim) Hudson. Rich Harden, too. Those guys were special.” After spending the better part of the last decade in the “Bigs”, I wondered what fueled the 37 year old switch hitter’s fire. “That’s a great question. I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately. I was home, ready to turn the chapter on my baseball career and move on. Then the Pirates called, so I decided to “fire it up” again. I love it. It’s just so much fun being around the guys.” As a veteran catcher in the minor leagues, I asked him if he shied away from the “Crash” Davis comparisons. (Davis, played brilliantly in the movie “Bull Durham” by Kevin Costner). “The Crash Davis analogy is inevitable, whether I like it or not. I’ve been on good teams in Oakland, Colorado and Texas and I’ve been around some good pitchers as well. If that means I’ve got vetetran leadership, so be it. I have SOME knowledge and I’m glad to pass it on.” We shared a hearty laugh when I told Melhuse about former Toronto farm director, Bobby Mattick, a real “old school” type of baseball guy, who back in 1997, confided to me, about Adam “He’ll never play a single day in the Major Leagues.”
There are certain things in baseball that “get my juices flowing”. One such event is a scheduled appearance at McCoy Stadium coming up on Monday June 8. Red Sox Hall of Famer, Bill Monboquette will be there for Cox Legends Night. The 11 year major leaguer was a 3 time American League All Star, threw a no-hitter and won 20 games for the Red Sox in 1963. The ace of the Sox staff in the early ’60s, “Monbo” epitomizes the ballplayer of yesteryear. I got to know him when I was with the Blue Jays organization (Melhuse era). He was an instructor in the minors, one of the best story tellers I’ve ever encountered. The native of Medford, Mass. has recently encountered health issues. A Boston Globe story from May 2008 detailed Monbo’s battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Reportedly, it’s currently in remission but Bill would need bone marrow or a stem cell transplant for a cure to be possible. I will definitely be asking, no begging PawSox team photographer Louriann Mardo-Zayat to snap a pic of Monbo and me.