Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quack, Quack, Quack Mr. Duckworth

I'm not sure if you heard, but the Philadelphia Phillies just signed Brandon Duckworth to a minor league contract, bringing back the pitcher they once upon a time traded to Houston for Billy Wagner.

Brandon Duckworth was nothing special and his contract doesn't even include a spring training invite, so the signing is really of little consequence. But, this does give me an excuse to pass along two very true, very real Brandon Duckworth experiences I encountered.

The first came in the infamous Harry Kalas/Richie Ashburn bobblehead game at Veterans Stadium.

For those of you who don't remember, this game took place on a hot afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first series in which Scott Rolen returned to Philadelphia since his departure to the Cardinals that netted the Phils one Placido Polanco (the first time). Anyway, this was a game me and my teenage buddies were all amped for. Not only was Harry Kalas being honored before the game for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame and a bobblehead with him and Whitey getting given out to commemorate it, but the Cardinals also had J.D. Drew and Scott Rolen, two players that Phillies fans were excited to jeer.

My friends and I got seats in the first row of the top deck over right field. In case you forgot, the Phillies' bullpen was in right field … and J.D. Drew played right field. This was no accident. We got those seats specifically to harass Drew, which we most definitely did. But getting to Duckworth … We were in the level right above the lower deck, so we were literally right above the Phillies bullpen. So much so that we could chat with the pitchers in the pen. Rheal Cormier even tossed us a baseball before the game started.

Since we got there extremely early so as to put up our sign: "We hate Drew and Rolen Too," we were hanging over the edge and chatting up some pitchers. The most engaging was without question Brandon Duckworth. We were pleading with bullpen pitchers to drill Drew if they got in the game and faced that no-good lefty. Most of the pitchers just ignored us or laughed. When we got Duckworth's attention and asked him if he'd hit Drew for us, he said, "Sure!" and gave us a thumbs-up. That was awesome.

Of course, the Phillies lost the game, thanks in large part to Travis Lee, who afterwards called the fans low-class for booing Scott Rolen when he came out to greet Harry. You see, Rolen was not in the lineup because he's a baby, so he wasn't out on the field much. But Harry Kalas came out in a pink convertible and drove around the field, stopping at home plate to give a thank-you speech on his induction. When the car stopped, Rolen came out of the Cardinals' dugout and opened the door for Harry. The fans booed. Travis Lee didn't like that. Travis Lee is a douche.

The only consolation we got was in harassing Drew in right field all game, seeing a sign that read, "Phuck Rolen," and eating Taco Bell afterward. And Brandon Duckworth telling us he'd hit Drew, which, unfortunately, he never got the chance to do.

The second story involves myself and The Charles, who was also at the bobblehead game with me along with silver fox and maybe Arkansas Fred — I don't remember if he was there. Anyway, The Charles and I decided to head to Camden Yards to take in a Phils-Orioles game in Baltimore. We geniuses somehow managed to get on 95 north at the north-south split on the blue route because we're idiots, but we still managed to right our course and get down there well before the game started. So early that we got to see virtually all of batting practice.

In said BP is when we encountered Duckworth again. As Travis Lee was hitting every single BP pitch out of the ballpark — and I'm not making this up, Travis Lee, who hit approximately three home runs as a Phillie, launched every single pitch he saw in BP way out of the ballpark, seriously, I'm not making this up — Duckworth was in the outfield shagging flies and throwing long toss. The Charles and I huddled in the outfield peering over, in very close proximity to Duckworth. Again, we were close enough that Duckworth could actually have a conversation with the fans all around us.

Well, during this time, a group of Mets fans came up behind us. This was during the time that the Phils weren't that good and the Mets had Mike Piazza — and the Piazza is gay rumors were abuzz. Well, this group of Mets fans yelled down to Duckworth, "HEY, DUCKWORTH! DUCKWORTH! IS PIAZZA GAY?" Without missing a beat, Duckworth walked over, looked up and said, "I don't know, and I don't want to know." Everyone started cracking up. It was classic. And a true story.

So welcome back to the Phillies organization, Mr. Duckworth.

BallHype: hype it up!

No comments:

Post a Comment