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Dropping a Name or Two

December 14, 2009 - Al Stephenson
I never really liked people who were constantly talking about all the famous people they have met or seen. Despite that fact, I am about to do the same thing. Maybe the difference here is that I won't "constantly" do this. That is, unless you see me in person - then I will likely repeat much of the following.

I spent last week at baseball's winter meetings. My daughter was attending as a job seeker. After interning with the Charleston RiverDogs last summer, she has her sights set on working in professional baseball. I went along to add moral support. I also thought there would be a chance to rub elbows with some baseball brass. As it turned out I saw a number of personalities.

I entered the lobby of the Marriot Hotel knowing that the major league executives were staying there. I first spotted Tim Kirkjian from ESPN on his cell phone. I went to the second floor and watched briefly as Peter Gammons did a radio show. Later Buck Martinez took that seat talking about free agent pitcher Randy Wolf and his deal with the Brewers.

Back down in the lobby I spotted Tiger manager Jim Leyland. Then some former big leaguers appeared including Frank Robinson, Willie Horton and Al Kaline. Soon White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf came into view. This was getting good. I was like a kid in a candy store.

At one point a manager's meeting must have ended. Walking down the hallway towards the lobby came Terry Francona (Red Sox), Jerry Manuel (Mets), Dusty Baker (Reds), Bobby Cox, (Braves) and Cito Gaston (Blue Jays). I just stood and smiled.

The highlight of the day came while I was standing next to the escalator on the second floor. A man that I recognized was coming my way so I waited. He got to within a couple of feet of me and said hi. I returned the remark, not knowing what else to say. Perhaps former Dodger skipper Tommy LaSorda recognized me. More likely he was just being friendly. Either way, he made my day.

The view from my seat (wistfully recalling my baseball playing youth) suggests that if you want to see some key baseball figures, the winter meetings is the place to go.

Next December the meetings will be held in Orlando. Can you say family vacation?


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