I was fortunate enough to spend last week in Sarasota taking in some Reds spring training games. On the day the Reds played the Pirates I happened to strike up a conversation with one of the many retired northern transplants that is now an usher at the stadium during spring training. He was a really nice old fellow and I enjoyed the conversation. He's been an usher for 20+ years and we had a nice talk about some the old Reds players and how they acted around "normal" people.

The cool thing that happened was apparently this usher has over the years struck a friendship with Chuck Tanner, the legendary manager of the Pirates. When he saw Chuck, or should I respectfully say Mr. Tanner, entering the stadium he asked if I would like to me him. Now, I'm not a big autograph hound, in fact I've only asked two players in my life for an autograph. I've always looked at athletes just as other men who happen to have really cool jobs; but in this case I jumped at the chance to meet Chuck. I was pleasantly surprised. He graciously spent at least 10 minutes talking with me about the old Pirate teams of the 70's (which was when I was in Jr High and High School). Lots of old names came up and he spoke very fondly of those older players and the kind of work ethic they had. You can tell just by talking with him how deep is love of the game goes. Down deep inside i think you might find some yarn tightly wound around a cork center. And, by the way, for an old guy, he still has a mighty firm hand shake!