Friday, August 10, 2007

Fate Crosses My Path

Walking around the Gate Area this afternoon at Orlando International Airport (Still Trying To Get Home), this fellow catches my attention.

"Hey, are you a Big Nationals Fan?" the gentleman asked (You know I am wearing a Nats Cap & Tee). "Yeah," I replied. "Some would say I am out of control." This Retired Man laughed at my response. "I am very happy that Washington, DC has a baseball team again. Never should Major League Baseball have allowed The Senators to leave. And then leave the city helpless for so long," the fellow continued.

Now noticing he was wearing a white polo shirt embroidered "Major League Baseball Player Alumni Association", my interest was peaked. "Yeah, I missed My Washington Senators," I responded. "They left town when I was 12 years old. I cried all night long after attending their last game."

He continued: "Yes, it was a shame. I really enjoyed playing there. And, there was nothing like Frank Howard!!"

Frank Howard!! FRANK HOWARD!! This guy knows FRANK HOWARD!! My Favorite Player of All Time!!

You know I had to ask him: "You obviously played professionally. Should I know you?"

"Yes," he stated. "I am Sam McDowell."

Was I EVER IN HEAVEN!! "You were one of the hardest throwers to ever play the game. When you were with The Cleveland Indians in 1966, you were one of the most feared pitchers in the game. "Firing" Sam or "Sudden Sam" were a couple of your nicknames. I was just 7 years old then."

Mr. McDowell was PLEASED that I remembered him. "Oh, don't make me feel THAT OLD, we are closer than you think!!!" He was born in 1942, me--1959.

"Yeah, you got that right!!" I replied.

Sam McDowell was heading to Cleveland to participate this weekend in an Indians Hall of Fame Ceremony. McDowell is already a member. He was traveling with his daughter.

"So, you enjoyed playing at DC, then later called RFK Stadium?" I asked.

"Its funny. Looking back on that time. RFK was THE THING IN SPORT. State of the Art, Multipurpose Stadium. I remember walking in there the first time and saying: 'Wow, this place is HUGE!!' I liked playing there. The fans were good."

Many people say today that RFK is a pitcher park. Did you find that to be the case when you played there? (SBF)

"Well, when Frank Howard came to the plate, there was NO STADIUM TOO LARGE TO BE A PITCHER's PARK!!" (What a Laugh)
But, I always found DC Stadium to be a Fair Park for everyone."

(Laughing Mightily) Howard was pretty fearsome. "Hondo" was and still is My Idol. I just adore him. (SBF)

"Let me tell you. I threw hard. And, Frank Howard swung a Strong Bat. When he connected, it went a country mile. That man was PURE POWER!!! Always a challenge to face. Yeah, you could fool him, but if you didn't--watch out. He could flat out CRUSH THE BASEBALL. Mickey Mantle was a great slugger. "Yaz" (Carl Yazstremski) and Reggie Jackson, too. But NO ONE WAS MORE FEARFUL AT THE PLATE THAN 'HONDO'. He was a GAME CHANGER. And, a nice guy too. I always appreciated that man."

Sam McDowell and I went on to talk about a few other things. He was very interested in my Space Shuttle Coverage. And, I showed him some of my stills shot during the launch. We were having a really good time just chatting. But, as is always the case--his flight to Cleveland (Via Pittsburgh) was boarding. Our Conversation had to end. The Cleveland Indians were sending Mr. McDowell First Class.

We shook hands and nodded in appreciation of Our Love of The Game. Having mentioned I saw "HONDO" last week at The Pearson Wine Signing--Sam McDowell said to me before leaving: "When you see him again, tell Big Frank I said 'Hello'. People like him made my baseball career worthwhile."

With that, he smiled and Sam McDowell boarded his flight. And I just chuckled at Fate Once Again Crossing My Path.


paul said...

May I propose an SBF bobble head day for next year? I think he has earned it.

Tom said...

Do you wear asign on your shirt "Talk to me about my Nats"?

Jarrett Carter said...

The only way you could trump that is to meet Sam Maone in the airport.