How My Wife Helped Ken Griffey Jr.
I’m not the only member of my family blogging these days.
My wife Peg Rusconi, a news reporter for WBZ-TV in Boston, has been covering the fascinating Clark Rockerfeller kidnapping trial and is doing a daily blog for her TV station’s website. You can check it out here.
Peg is not only the talented one in the family – she played a part in baseball history by helping Ken Griffey Jr. have perhaps his best season in a Cincinnati Reds uniform.
In August of 2004, Junior suffered a complete tear of his right hamstring that required Dr. Tim Kremchek to surgically reattach the tendon back to the bone with three screws. Griffey was only able to play in 83 games that season.
The following year, Junior understandably got off to a slow start. In April of 2005, he batted .244 with 1 HR and 9 RBI.
I was hosting the Cincinnati Reds TV pre-game show at that time on Fox Sports Ohio while Peg was working in Boston, and Junior would occasionally ask me how our two-city marriage was going.
One day at the height of his early season slump he asked me about Peg and I mentioned that WBZ-TV had sent her to Rome for several weeks to cover the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the papal succession that saw Pope Benedict XVI installed.
Griffey thought about it for a moment and said, “I went to Catholic school at Moeller High School and need a good luck charm. Do you think your wife could bring me back a Pope T-shirt from Rome?”
I got the message to Peg and this is what she brought back.
For the rest of that season, Junior either wore the t-shirt under his uniform or had it proudly displayed in his locker. After big games he would find me in the clubhouse after the game with a huge grin on his face and simply say, “Pope t-shirt!”
Let the record show that from May 1st until the end of the ’05 season, Griffey hit .313 with 34 HR and 83 RBI in 85 games.
That year he was named the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year.
And in the words of Paul Harvey, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
* * * * *
Yesterday I blogged about Rick Sauveur’s relationship with future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. As it turns out, he’s not the only member of the PawSox with a connection to the “Big Unit.”
Chris Carter became friendly with Johnson when they were both in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
In fact, Carter earned Johnson’s respect when he was the only left-handed batter that was willing to face him in spring training.
Once after Carter hit a few line drives off of Johnson in BP, a teammate dared him to dish out a little trash talk.
Chris took the bait – he approached the “Big Unit” in the clubhouse and said, “Man, I really hit some rockets off of you today.”
Johnson gave him the death stare and said, “And you had better never do it again,” before breaking into a big grin.
As it turns out, Johnson appreciated the fact that Carter wasn’t intimidated by him in the batters box or the clubhouse.
* * * * *
It’s a “Clay Buchholz Night” at McCoy Stadium as the 24-year-old Texan faces the team he nearly threw a perfect game against 10 days ago, the Louisville Bats.
Buchholz is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week last week for the second time this season.
The Red Sox played this afternoon, so I hope you’ll get your nightly baseball fix by listening to the PawSox. Our coverage begins with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com