As we continue the series in Louisville, it reminded me of my brush with Nomar Garciaparra during the 2004 season. Nomar was on a rehab assignment with the PawSox in Kentucky. One afternoon, we were sitting in the dugout. I was sandwiched in between Garciaparra and Earl Snyder. Snyder went on to have one of the best offensive seasons in PawSox history. He was, at the time my daughter Eva’s favorite player. Perhaps because he was always so nice to my girls, maybe because Snyder and Eva shared a birthday on May 6. Eva was 11 at the time and she made her after school call to me so we could chat. I told her about her two heroes flanking me and she immediately asked me if Mia Hamm, Nomar’s famous soccer-playing wife was there. I assured her that Hamm was not there. Persistent as ever, she demanded that I ask Nomar how she was. I laughed, told her I loved her and we hung up. A few minutes later, Nomar asked about the phone call. I told him it was my 11 year old, soccer playing daughter. He smiled and asked- “Did she ask about Mia?” I nodded and he replied “I get that a lot.” Nomar added- “Tell her that Nomar says hi and if Mia were here, she’d say hi, also.” Garciaparra asked how many kids I had. When I told him about my two daughters, he later produced a pair of autographed baseballs, each personalized. A day or so later as we again were in the dugout, a tornado started to sweep through Louisville. We watched in amazement as a funnel came barrelling towards the ballpark. Incredibly, several PawSox players climbed to the top of the metal bleachers in right field to “get a better look.” After manager Buddy Bailey had a near- heart attack trying to get the troops inside, we lingered in the dugout as long as we could to watch. As it got really close, we retreated to Bailey’s office in the bowels of Louisville Slugger Field. In a matter of minutes, we got word that it had passed and the coast was clear. The field had been drenched by a torrential downpour and was already beginning to dry as the sun was shining brightly. There was no delay and the game went on as scheduled. As the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, the only regret I had, was that Nomar was not around to enjoy it.
Charlie Zink seems to have turned the corner for the PawSox. After taking a shutout into the ninth 5 days ago against powerful Scranton, Zink followed it up with seven and a third shutout innings Wednesday in Louisville. ZInk improved to 4-4 as he lowered his ERA from 4.36 to 3.73 for the season. The reigning Pitcher of the Year in the I.L. is back to his 2008 form. Zink gave up one hit. Jose Vaquedano and Fernando Cabrera combined to finish off Pawtucket’s league-leading ninth shutout. It was the second time in three days the Bats were held scoreless on one hit.