Minor league baseball is a transient sport. Guys trying to make a big league team for the first time or trying to hang on for one last try. No matter what city we go to, there is some connection to the past for someone. Indianapolis is no exception. Both Manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Rich Sauveur are former Indianapolis players. There is a common bond. Long time Indy radio announcer Howard Kellman was at the mike when both played in the city and fondly recalled their place in Indy lore. “Both played on championship teams. RJ was on the 1984 club and even back then, he was a pleasure to be around. He was important to the club, playing first base and hitting around .300 for the Indians. Sauveur played in the late 1980’s with Randy Johnson. He also came back in 1994 for a championship run. He spanned a couple of eras. Sauveur was a good competitor with a good curve ball,” So you go from talking about a couple of guys who played a generation ago for Indy, to a man who played for the Indians last year, Carlos Maldonado. Kellman was fond of the burly Venezuelan catcher, a big fan. “Carlos was the Indians MVP in 2006. He transformed his body, losing a ton of weight. He worked very hard with our strength and conditioning coach, Mubarak Malik. Carlos is a terrific catcher and he’s great with a pitching staff. He will be very valuable to the PawSox.” With the exception of the 1975 and 1980 seasons, Kellman has been the voice of the Indians since 1974. Toledo’s Jim Webber has been at it in Ohio for 33 consecutive seasons. Makes my 9 years in the International League(6 with the PawSox) seem small by comparison.
Spotted in the stands at Victory Field. Fans wearing jerseys or t-shirts of no fewer than 3 men who at one time appeared at McCoy. David Otiz, Curt Schilling and Freddy Sanchez. The first two made rehab appearances for the PawSox in the last couple of years. Sanchez, now of the Pirates has won a National League batting title. He played for the PawSox in 2002 and 2003. The Indianapolis Indians are the Triple A affiliate of the Pirates.
I know my broadcast partner and fellow blogger, Dan Hoard has taken to calling Mark Kotsay, on a rehab assignment from Boston, “The Fonz”. That’s a tribute to the unabashed “cool” displayed by the 11 year M.L. veteran. More than that, I compare him to Jimmy Stewarts’ character in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey. Kotsay, like Bailey probably has no idea of the impact he has on people. I have watched him have kind words for everyone from the clubhouse attendant to David Ortiz. He provides a “pick-me-up” for a buinch of tired minor leaguers, who toil in relative obscurity, far from the bright lights of Fenway Park. I have felt his kindness as well and if there is any justice, he will have a tremendous season for the Red Sox.
Day game on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. We plan a staff field trip to a Brazilian Steak House for dinner, postgame. “Fogo de chao” has no idea what it’s in for. I will have a full report. And I do mean “full”.