April 5, 2010
Circle of Trust, with Derrick Loop
In the eighth installment of this series, lefthander Derrick Loop returns to discuss his experience with a minor-league bonding ritual.
After playing one season in the Cleveland Indians organization, I was released. Not wanting my career to be over, I played in the Golden Baseball League, an independent league based mostly in California. After a strong start to my second season playing for the Chico Outlaws, my contract was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. I reported to the high-A Lancaster Jethawks at the start of the second half of their season [in 2008] and was welcomed warmly by many of my new teammates as I kept to myself until I figured out the dynamic of the team.
Being the start of a new half, several other guys were also new to the team, having been promoted there from the low-A team. I came to find out that, as a team initiation, each new player was brought into the “circle of trust.” This consisted of the team closely gathering around the new player, subjecting him to many forms of questioning. The only rules are that you must answer the question honestly and you must go into detail if requested -- i.e. provide a demonstration and/or a reenactment.
For some reason, my circle of trust evaded me for two weeks, which was much to my benefit. At this time, I had still been fairly quiet and aloof, trying to get a grip on what my role would be. However, the fateful day came when my manager finally realized I had not been properly initiated. While my outside demeanor was quiet and reserved, my heart was racing. After going through the typical questioning, giving rather short, bland answers, I was asked about my music preference. Being a rock/metal fan, I was asked to give a demonstration of one of my favorite songs.
Are you sure?” was my initial reaction to my teammate. This was the teammate notorious for asking the personal prodding questions that, from what I saw, made a few guys a little uncomfortable for a few seconds during their time in the center of the circle. After an arrogant nod from this guy, I decided to put it all out there. I began bellowing out one of my favorite metal songs, moshing into a few guys, then screaming the last two lines of the song right in his face! The entire team was laughing hysterically. I received handshakes from the entire coaching staff and was lauded for having one of the best circle- of-trust initiations of the season. If nothing else, I earned a lot of respect that day from a lot of teammates. To this day, the player whose face I screamed into still quotes the song lyrics I screamed.
I was actually introduced to Gary DiSarcina after my hitting coach from that team told him the story about my circle of trust. Having grown up an Angel’s fan, meeting “DiSar” was an honor, only augmented by the appreciation he had of my story.