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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of American had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game and do it by watching first some high-school or small town teams.”
French-born American historian Jacques Barzun

It was a Muncy mash that ended the longest game in World Series history early this morning.  The drama of the baseball game climaxed when Max Muncy hit a solo home run in the 18th inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Everyone has a story.

Muncy played college ball at Baylor and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2012. He played his first professional game in Iowa with the Burlington Bees. He kicked around a few years with minor league teams in Stockton, Midland, Nashville on his way to making it to the big leagues in Oakland in 2015. But after an unspectacular start, he was released from the team after the 2017 spring training.

He was now 26 and unemployed. He went back to his hometown in Keller, Texas where his dad helped him take batting practice at his old high school. He was hoping to get a call from another team, but he was also thinking it might be time to go back to school and finish his business degree.

Dark night of the soul stuff that makes the reversal so rewarding at the end of the story.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, a whirlwind of talks, not knowing if I was ever going to play baseball again. Was a team going to give me a chance? Was I ever going to make it back to the major leagues?”
Max Muncy
How Max Muncy Rose from  .195-Hitting Castoff to MLB’s Hottest Slugger

Then he got the call. The Dodgers signed him in April of 2017 and he had a solid year playing for their minor league team in Oklahoma City. A year later they called him up to play in Los Angeles and here he is six months later—World Series hero.

It’s a real-life Field of Dreams/The Natural-type story. I was glad I stayed up past until 3:30 am (EST) to watch the drama unfold. First baseball game I’ve watched all year. Might be a decade before I see one as good.

P.S. If you’re into baseball stories and good writing, check out the Dan Barry book Bottom of the 33rd; Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game.  The booked centers around a game between the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox in the International League that was actually played over three days in 1981.  There were 1,740 in attendance in Pawtucket, Rhode Island when the game started on April 18th and just 19 when the game was postponed in the 32nd inning at 4:07 am (on April 19th). They finished the game on June 23 (the 33rd inning) making the total length of the game 8 hours and 25 minutes.

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Scott W. Smith

 

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“Every picture tells a story don’t it”
Lyrics by Rod Stewart and Ron Wood Tony C

My post yesterday stirred up an image in my mind of what I consider the most memorable Sports Illustrated cover ever. It’s of Tony Conigilaro photographed by the great Neil Leifer.  The photo screams drama and begs you to know what happened. Even more than 40 years after the cover first ran—and even if you’ve never heard the name Tony Conigilaro before—you want to know what happened to his eye.

Conigilaro—often simply referred to as Tony C— was an up and coming outfielder for the Boston Red Sox and hit his first home run at Fenway Park when he was just 19-years-old.  A few years later he was selected to play in the 1967 All Star Game. Later that season he was hit in the face by a pitch thrown by Jack Hamilton. It shattered his left cheekbone and damaged the retina in his left eye and not only ended his season, but essentially his career as various comebacks failed and he retired from baseball in 1971.

He later worked as a radio announcer but in 1982 suffered a heart attack, then followed by a stroke and stayed comatose for eight years until he died in 1990 at age 45. I can’t say that I learned everything about life from sports, but I sure learned at a young age that no one gets to live at the top of the mountain. Some athletes have good games, good seasons, and even great careers—but there are also of plenty of heartbreak stories along the way.

To learn more of Tony C’s story read the Sports Illustrated article Return From The Dark, Shaun L. Kelly’s article Tony Conigliaro Forty Years Later; A Remembrance, or the book Tony C, The Triumph and Tragedy of Tony Conigilaro by David Cataneo.

Each year the Tony Conigliaro Award goes to the Major League Baseball player “who have overcome adversity through spirit, determination and courage.”

P.S. It’s spring training time here in Florida and I’ve been working on a personal project—a micro documentary on Tinker Field in Orlando. The historical park where the Minnesota Twins used to train is schedule for demolition. If any readers have marketing connections to MLB, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Minnesota Twins, or Brand 47 (in Boston) please email me at info@scottwsmith.com. I’d like see if this micro doc can move beyond a personal project and hit an emotional cord with a larger audience.

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Scott W. Smith

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