A SURREAL MOMENT
Imagine watching the first game of the World Series with two men who’ve combined to win 4 rings. One man was the MVP of the 1980 Fall Classic and the other was the manager of the team that tore the heart out of Red Sox Nation in 1986. Mike Schmidt and Davey Johnson were in Portsmouth R.I. on Wednesday night and I was asked to act as emcee for the gathering at the posh Carnegie Abbey Club. I introduced the men, asked some questions and the others gathered had a chance for Q & A, as well as autographs and photos. Johnson and Schmidt are former teammates (Philly in ’77 and ’78). Most recently Johnson was the manager and Schmidt was the third base coach for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. I asked Johnson his thoughts on a couple of his players, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. He was a big fan, noting their work ethic. “No one on that team worked harder or played harder than those two. I love ‘em both.” Johnson got a taste of the Pedroia confidence we’ve all come to expect. “Pedroia was taking batting practice and this group of little girls was screaming and begging him for an autograph. He just stepped out of the box, turned to the stands and said he’d be over just as soon as he finished hitting “more rockets all over the yard.” Well, these teenagers went crazy, and I just shook my head and laughed. I thought to myself…”Who is this guy?” He finished hitting his rockets and went over and signed.” I had to ask the 4 time All Star his thoughts from the other side when his Mets defeated Boston in 1986. “Hey, we were a pitch away from losing the whole thing. Everybody remembers Buckners’ error, but I’ll tell you what, (Bob) Stanleys’ wild pitch was really the key. When we won game 6, I knew they (Boston) had no chance in the seventh game. They were done.” Mike Schmidt is going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for game three on Saturday in Philly. On Wednesday, however, we talked baseball. Schmidt is simply, one of the best to EVER play the game. 3 time MVP, 12 time All Star, 548 homers, Hall of Fame, All-Century team, the list goes on and on. The third baseman offered his thoughts on steroids, and they were quite candid. “I can’t sit here and tell you that I wouldn’t have taken them if they were around in those days.” When asked if there should be an asterisk next to the names of the people who have been implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs, he said no, “It’s enough for me, that you people, baseball fans know who did things the right way. I don’t need anything more than that.” When the Phils won the Series in 1980, Schmidt and Pete Rose were teammates. Schmidt says that although he considers Rose a great player and a friend, he probably won’t ever get inside in Cooperstown. “Unfortunately, I think Petes’ time has come and gone. I don’t think they’ll ever let him in.” Both Schmidt and Johnson were very nice and accomodated all the requests for photos and autographs. They patiently answered all questions and analyzed the game for everyone betweeen innings. Johnson won two rings as a player with the Orioles and one as a manager with New York. Schmidt won his hardware (ring and MVP trophy) 29 years ago. For one night, though, these baseball heroes settled in in R.I. and we watched the Phillies beat the Yankees together.