August 29, 2005
My Greatest Baseball Day!
It was nice to read Bill Plaschke's article in the Sunday Times about Dodger pitching great, Don Newcombe. It reminded me of a day I experienced at Dodger Stadium a couple of years ago and one which I would like to share with you now.
I had business at the stadium and arrived about 4 hours before the game between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves was about to begin. As I was about an hour early for my meeting, I took the opportunity to go and sit in the seats in front of the windows of the Dodger front office. As I mentioned, it was quite a while before the game and there were only two or three people on the field; a catcher, a pitcher and, I assumed, a coach who was watching the pitcher throw with great interest. Sitting in the seats next to me was a familiar looking older gentleman who, after about 5 minutes of watching the 'action' down on the field, leaned over to me to ask if I knew who the pitcher was. Recognizing that it was Darren Driefort, I told the gentleman so, which led to a conversation about Dreifort, the Dodgers, their season and my favorite team; the Braves. Now as we sat there chatting, every so often a person would approach the gentleman to have him sign a ball, a picture, a cap or ask him to pose for a picture with them and always he excused himself from me and obliged the fan. After getting his baseball signed, one of the fans turned to me to ask if I knew who I was talking to, without missing a beat I leaned over, shook his hand and said "nice to meet you Mr. Newcombe" as I indeed knew who I was talking to and had not wanted to 'spoil' the moment asking for an autograph, or anything for that matter. As we had both gotten up out of our seats so Mr. Newcombe could sign various items or pose for pictures we had moved closer to the turnstile where an usher was by that time letting people come in and at that moment in came sportscaster Roy Firestone and his son. Seeing Mr. Newcombe, Mr. Firestone introduced him to his son, who got his baseball autographed, and began to speak to him about baseball and the Dodgers. Interrupting him, Mr. Newcombe introduced ME and then went back to the conversation. As we were all standing there talking who should come thru the turnstile but none other than Sandy Koufax. Seeing Mr. Newcombe, Koufax' face lit up with a huge smile and he came over to join us and once again Mr. Newcombe took the time to introduce me to Sandy Koufax. We all stood there for a while talking until Mr. Firestone and his son left to head to Stadium Club and as they were walking away who should be heading in our direction; Don Sutton, who was in Los Angeles as he is an analyst for the Braves on TBS. He joined our group and Mr. Newcombe once again took the time to introduce me and pointed out to Mr. Sutton that I was a huge Braves fan. We talked about the Braves, their pitchers, playoff chances, injured players and Mr. Sutton's bout with cancer and the fact that he had recently been given a clean bill of health. Unfortunately I looked at my watch, saw that my meeting was about to start, said my goodbyes, shook hands with Mr. Newcombe, Mr. Koufax and Mr. Sutton and went inside the Dodger offices. As I walked away from that magnificent trifecta of baseball greatness, I couldn't help but wonder how the stars had aligned for me to have encountered not one but three of baseball's greatest pitchers in one afternoon and, it needn't be said, I attended my meeting on Cloud 9.
Posted by Kevin O'Leary at 8:00 PM