The upcoming rehab appearance of John Smoltz at McCoy Stadium reminds me of my best story about Curt Schilling.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Schilling made three rehab starts for the PawSox in 2007, but didn’t spend any significant time with the team beyond his appearances on the mound. On his day to pitch, he would show up in the clubhouse a couple of hours before the game, pitch his innings, briefly address the media, and then take off before the game was even finished.
For reporters, it’s an unwritten rule that you never approach that day’s starting pitcher before a game, so I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself to Curt before his first two outings. Knowing that his third start was likely to be his last with the PawSox, I decided that I would at least briefly say hello and wish him good luck on his impending return to Boston.
The game was in Columbus, so I walked up to his locker in the visiting clubhouse before the game and said, “Curt, I’m Dan Hoard, one of the radio announcers here and I just want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed watching you pitch over the years and wish you the best of luck tonight and for the rest of the season.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t clarify that I was one of the PAWTUCKET radio announcers and based on what happened next, Schilling must have thought I worked for the Clippers.
That night, Columbus was having a fundraiser for the family of Mike Coolbaugh, a former member of the Clippers who had tragically died a month earlier when he was hit in the neck by a line drive while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers.
After I introduced myself to Schilling, Curt shook my hand and then asked me to do him a favor. He wanted to make a contribution to the Coolbaugh fund, so he handed me a massive wad of cash and asked me if I would deliver it to the appropriate person in the Clippers front office.
I never counted the money, but it’s the biggest stack of bills I’ve ever held – I’m guessing it was several thousand dollars.
And yes, I did hand it over (even though it would have made a nice start to the Sam Hoard College Fund).
* * * * *
Following Monday’s 4-2 win over Indianapolis, Hoard and Hyder had an amusing moment when we were approached by a fan who wanted us to autograph our picture from a McCoy Stadium game program.
The timing was perfect because as we were signing, Jeff Natale and Chip Ambres walked by.
Natale said, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” while Ambres said; “Now I’ve seen everything.”
I wonder what they would have said if they had seen me autograph the top of this dude’s head!
Yes, that actually happened after I was the Master of Ceremonies at a big University of Cincinnati pep rally at the Orange Bowl. I guess I did a good job.
* * * * *
Fernando Cabrera tossed a scoreless 9th inning on Monday to improve to 10-for-10 in save opportunities, but I was happy just to see him at the ballpark because that meant he isn’t going anywhere. Like many minor league free agents with major league experience, Cabrera signed a contract with Boston in December that included a June 1st “out” clause, meaning he was free to look into other offers on that date. Needless to say, he would have been tough to replace. In his last 18 appearances, Fernando has a 0.74 ERA (24.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 10 BB, 26 K).
* * * * *
Congratulations to producer Chris Ackerknecht, my broadcast partner Bob Montgomery, and all of my friends and co-workers at Cox Sports Television on winning a New England Emmy Award for “Best Live Sporting Event” for our coverage of PawSox baseball. This year, our coverage of the PawSox beat Comcast Sports Net’s coverage of the Boston Celtics to win the Emmy. In previous years, we’ve beaten NESN’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox.
Manager Ron Johnson deserves much of the credit as the winning entry featured one of his “Wired” segments, where he wears a live microphone and talks to us in the booth while coaching third base.
You can watch one of those segments here. Just scroll down to the screen with RJ’s picture on it and click play.
* * * * *
Do you have a friend who always comes through when you need him (or her)? I’m fortunate to have several, including the PawSox Director of Security Rick Medeiros.
Today when the PawSox traveled from Indianapolis to Providence, I was the only person in the traveling party who didn’t receive his luggage. For some reason, my bags went on a different flight and arrived about 45 minutes after the team landed.
Rick was at the airport to help transport the PawSox baseball equipment back to McCoy Stadium, and without being asked, waited until my stuff arrived to give me a lift back to the ballpark. He also persuaded the fine folks from Southwest Airlines to give me a nice travel voucher for my trouble.
Oh, and I almost forgot – he’s battling pneumonia!
Now that’s a true friend.
* * * * *
Tonight (Tuesday) the PawSox will have Michael Bowden on the mound as they open an 8-game homestand. I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.