Skip to content

Scenes from Spring Training: Hall of Famers out the wazoo

Mar 11, 2012, 12:49 PM EDT

Willie Mays AP

The original plan was to head out for the Dodgers-Cubs tilt. But as I was considering it last night I decided that I just wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t want to go clear out to Glendale, I wanted to go to a park with character and not one of the new mega-complexes and I didn’t want to have to think too hard about McCourt stuff, because that’s just depressing. So I called the audible and decided to come to Scottsdale for the M’s-Giants.

It was a good call, because I got to meet Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays and Ernie Banks, all before 9AM. Holy Hall of Famers, Batman!

These legends were just sitting in the Giants clubhouse, reading newspapers and shooting the breeze. I talked to Perry for a while and then just listened to the others. You’ll note that Willie Mays had prime rib last night. It was “not bad.”

A few minutes later Giants announcer Jon Miller came in, and some actual baseball talk went down. Miller was a fountain of facts and figures, asking Perry and Mays if they remember such-and-such a game from 1960-something.  Perry was as sharp as a tack, remembering details like the 23-inning, seven-hour plus game in 1964 where Mays played three innings of shortstop against the Mets while Perry pitched ten innings of shutout ball in relief, getting the win.

I’m guessing that game stands out, so maybe remembering it wasn’t that big a deal. But standing right there while Perry talked about it, Mays added some details, and Ernie freakin’ Banks just nodded and enjoyed the story is one of the highlights of my baseball life.

Standing near me, also soaking it in, was Dave Dravecky. I walked over to him and joked about it just being another boring day in the clubhouse. He laughed, but then got serious and marveled at how awesome it is to have this sort of thing go down and how fortunate the younger players are to have resources like Mays and Perry just sitting there, drinking coffee and standing ready to talk baseball.

I’ll try to get a pic of those guys when they’re wandering around later, but I really wish there wasn’t a firm no-photos-in-the-clubhouse rule, because seeing them just sitting there was a sight to behold.  And one I’ll never, ever forget.

  1. Old Gator - Mar 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I hate you.

  2. lanzurrah - Mar 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Awesome day for you Craig… I’d be in awe.

  3. larryboodry - Mar 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Hate is such a strong word…Envy works for me!

    • Old Gator - Mar 11, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      Pussification of America redux. Phooey.

  4. trainman59 - Mar 11, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Freakin’ awesome!

  5. hodaghunter - Mar 11, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Baseball envy… total envy…

  6. Gamera the Brave - Mar 11, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I’ll go with envy, double helping please…

    The first baseball game I went to was on April 22, 1969, my sixth birthday – and all I wanted to do was see Willie Mays play. Brought my 8mm Brownie movie camera, still have the 3:30 of grainy Mays footage. Mays went 0 for 4, no putouts in the field – didn’t care a bit.
    Not the most interesting 8mm movie, however…

    Good for you, Craig!

  7. shawndc04 - Mar 11, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    As a kid I watched much of that game on television, having also watched the first game. I kept going away and coming back and the game just kept going on. I did see that last inning when the Giants finally got to Galen Cisco and I felt almost as drained when it was over as I’m sure the players were.

  8. IdahoMariner - Mar 11, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    I would hate you, a la Old Gator, but at least you are aware how fortunate you are. If you ever take it for granted and start acting like a tool, that’s when I will hate you. Until then, I appreciate that we have you to share this stuff with us. Living it vicariously through you isn’t the worst thing ever.

  9. yankeesfanlen - Mar 11, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Craig, you’re going to have a difficult time topping this anytime this season. I imagine meeting these 50s-60s players would put any fan into hyperspace!

  10. randygnyc - Mar 11, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    So wonderful for you Criag. A memory you’ll cherish forever. You’ll be surprised, as you get older, how few of them really matter.

    I’m not going to tell the story now, but I had a similar experience once. It was a Yankees old timers day, in the clubhouse. My only regret was that I wasn’t OLDER.

  11. Jason @ IIATMS - Mar 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    I’ve been able to meet Perry and several others, but never in such a setting where it’s THEIR turf, where they are totally comfortable and at-ease. That’s stellar.

    Craig, enjoy it pal. Live the dream.

  12. mgflolox - Mar 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    If I was that close to Willie Mays, I probably would have fainted.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Baez (2322)
  2. B. Crawford (2275)
  3. H. Pence (2223)
  4. A. Rodriguez (2165)
  5. B. Harper (2152)