Re: player encounters
I'll throw another one of mine in here, although this wasn't really a player. I went up to Wrigley with a friend a few years ago and we got into the park early and decided to go up to the upper deck to watch BP. When we got up there we were the only ones in that area and there was Harry Caray sitting there in one of the seats drinking a Coke (can you believe that?) and watching BP with a big grin on his face. The Cubs were playing the Dodgers that day, but my friend and I were wearing Reds caps. Harry seemed to be really enjoying himself just sitting there watching BP and I didn't know if I should disburb him, but my friend just walked right up and shook his hand. He saw our caps and started talking about the Reds, everything about the team. He was like a walking encyclopedia of baseball. We then sat down next to him and watched BP with him and just talked baseball, until some more people came up the ramp and wanted autographs. He signed a few autographs and then sat back down to watch BP, made some comment about the pop not tasting good after the ice melts, and then mentioned that he loved watching BP on nice days before he had to go in the booth. He looked incredibly old in person and his conversation was rambling and somewhat disjointed, flitting from one topic to another without any warning, but he really knew baseball and knew darn near everything about every team. Then someone stuck his head out of a door and said, "Harry, come on now, time to get ready for the broadcast." Harry got up slowly, shook our hands, and said, "It's been nice talking to you, but I have to go to work now." That was the last season he was in the booth. He died that offseason. I'll never forget those few minutes. He was the epitome of the kind old grandfather that day, frail but with a strength still there under the surface. As we were walking back down to the lower deck, I remarked to my friend, "I don't know if he can last much longer." My perception wasn't far off. That was six months before his death.