Since my last column, I have had many opportunities to celebrate during this young season: Jeremy Jeffress is six for six in saves, and in his arb year no less; Steve Clevenger has finally found some stability, on the Mariners’ 25-man roster; Carlos Asuaje is hammering for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, and seems to be right on the verge of making it. It’s been a nice season thus far, beginning with an odd day I spent in Arizona.
This was the first spring I spent in Arizona since 2011. My life, and probably yours, too, has changed radically since then. The last time I was in Arizona, I was very sick; I was on the verge of selling my company. I had just started talking on the phone with a girl I met on eHarmony—now she’s my wife. It was a mixed period for me, and it’s nice to be on this side of it now.
So this spring I went to Peoria, AZ for 10 days, enough time to see every client I had out there. It’s a great feeling, seeing the work that’s being done, and feeling so productive when I can see three of my guys playing on the same day—and squeeze in meetings with club staff in between. (And, hey, that former GM who hasn’t ever remembered my name for the past 14 years finally did!) I had very little free time, but one day something very special happened.
My wife and I were staying near an antique store with a surprising amount of baseball history. At one booth I found a 1921 Washington Senators scorecard with the rosters printed in it. Then I spotted what might the greatest find of my life: a 10-inch-thick bound newspaper book from 1927 printed by the New York Daily News. The front page was open to a piece on Ruth and Gehrig. The book cost $50, and I assumed the person selling it knew its value. I figured it was a year’s worth of reprints, covering those ’27 Yanks, Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, etc.
But when I got the book home, I soon realized it was a Daily News archive book, and it only covered the week of July 24th to July 31st. It had eight editions of the same paper for each day. One article was a review of Babe Ruth’s first "Vocalfilm." There was a daily recap of the Ruth-Gehrig HR chase. There were stories on Ott, Horsby, rookie Bill Terry, along with some incredibly unfortunate racist headlines covering the Indians. Individual copies of all these papers exist separately out there in the world, but an editorial book like this is quite possibly close to one of a kind. The only reason it survived is that someone who worked there probably moved it to Arizona, where it stayed very dry.
I spoke to some reporters and asked them what I should do with it—it didn’t seem like something that should stay hidden in a drawer. One writer reached out to Babe Ruth’s historian, and another to ESPN. I called the Hall of Fame. The Paper Documents Department reached out to me, and we discussed ways to set up a loan situation and get the book seen. We’ll see.
The best article in the whole book was an interview with Miller Huggins asking him who the best player on the ‘27 Yankees was. His answer was Tony Lazzeri, over Ruth and Gehrig. I have no idea how that answer was formulated, nor do I believe it. Even 89 years ago, managers played games with their best players through the media. The more things change, I guess.
After finding the book, my wife and I ran over to the Angels field to watch Jeremy Jeffress throw his first outing of spring. He had forgotten to leave tickets, and when I tried to explain who I was at Will Call I was told to “call the guy who left the tickets.” I explained that he was pitching, in the game. They didn’t care. I wandered back to Jeremy’s car in the player’s lot, and met a parking attendance who brought up, out of nowhere, that he was the inspiration for the comic book Spawn. He’s a former minor leaguer and his name is Al Simmons (as in the comic), and he tells me his old roommate was Todd Macfarlane, he of buying Mark McGwire’s 70th home run fame. (Al’s book on being “Spawn” apparently led to a lawsuit.) He pulled out a signed card he had in his wallet and gave it to my wife, then asked if I had one. For the first time ever, I got to say yes! Topps printed a run of cards of myself with Carlos Asuaje, and I’ve been using them to raise funds for Bladd Exstrophy research. I gave one to maybe-Spawn.
I once told a player I would make him rich one day, and he responded that he was going to make himself rich—my job was just to not mess it up. He was right. Once I realized that, a lot of my job fell into place, and make it easier for me to just do it. That makes my life hectic, unscheduled and insane, but it also takes me to where totally unexpected thins happen. The job is a lot of work, but it makes days like this one possible. Res ipsa loquitor.
Thank you for reading
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