Friday, May 22, 2009

Ron Villone's First Day As A National

Chatting with Ron Villone this afternoon at Nationals Park during the Thank You!! Luncheon for all those volunteers that gave their free time this morning for The First Washington Nationals Dream Foundation NatsTown GreenUp, Our New Lefthanded Reliever told me a funny and terrific story about his very first day as a member of Our Washington Nationals.

A complete write with interviews coming this weekend on the GreenUp, but first it's worth telling Ron Villone's nice tale.

"We (The Syracuse Chiefs) are in Gwinnett County (Georgia) playing The Braves (Atlanta's AAA Affiliate). I get the call that I am being called up and need to meet the team in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. So I quickly pick up my things but I can't find a taxi!! Not one. And I am going to miss my flight. So, I just wave down some guy passing and ask him to take me to Hartsfield (Atlanta's) Airport. 'I'll pay ya.' He agrees. (Lawrenceville, Georgia is approximately 40 Miles away for Hartsfield). Thankfully."

"I finally get to the airport, it's packed as usual but I check in and the flight is slightly delayed. I am going to miss the start of that night's game against The Dodgers. Eventually, we land at LAX and I hightail it for a taxi. It's LA, every hour is Rush Hour. When we finally get to Dodger Stadium--it's already the 3rd inning. By the time I get dressed--it's the 4th--and I head out to the bullpen a bit later."

I remember seeing you on TV walk out to the bullpen and you are talking with Kip Wells for a bit. (SBF)

"Yeah, we've known each for a few years. But I really haven't even settled in, not even stretched and Randy Knorr (Bullpen Coach) comes over and says 'GET READY' you are going in!!"

"OK--so I warm up and they put me in--in the top of the 7th. The team ends up coming back to tie and take the lead against The Dodgers while I am on the mound. I end up getting a win in my very first game with Washington. The thanks? Two hours later I am on a bus heading back to LAX, taking another flight to Phoenix for a series against The Diamondbacks. By the end of a very long day--probably 3500 miles traveled, four cities, one win and a good night's sleep."

Typical Day In The Major Leagues, huh? (SBF)

"Yeah, I LOVE IT!! It's a part of the game and you better get use to it. And I've had plenty of experience with that!! (Ron has played Major League Baseball for 12 different franchises)"

Both of us busting out laughing--it's a good tale. Some of the volunteers listening intently at the picnic tables on the main concourse near The Kids Zone enjoying the give and take.

"But I support and play for the team who's jersey I am wearing (pinching The Nationals Logo on the front of his jersey). I come to win and I always give my best."

This was a terrific off the cuff conversation. Ron Villone is very personable and remembered my name from the very first introduction until he said goodbye at the end. His other best lines: "I love this ballpark!! (Nationals Park) I really do. Not just because it plays fair, but it's different, unique--has a completely different feel than any other ballpark in The Major Leagues. And I've played in most all of them. I really like that about this place--it's really well done. And of course--anything beats RFK!! (Ron played for both The Seattle Mariners in 2005 and The New York Yankees in 2006 at RFK Stadium when both his former teams visited The Nation's Capital to play Our Washington Nationals.

Good stuff and well worth repeating here.


paul said...

Ron sounds like he could be a real emotional leader in the bullpen.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Paul: Clearly not phased by change and able to adjust on the fly. He's confident and content in who he is and what he does. And that's something maybe missing among some in our bullpen.

jpkloster said...

Great story. I'm a Yankees fan, and Ron made a difference for our pen. Very reliable and a great leader.

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