Rambling on About My Glory Days – Joe, You are Remembered
Curt Flood took a stance to help players and teammates and made his mark on baseball history. Some guys make their mark with great statistics, whereas others are remembered for other things. Players often take stances day in and day out for their teammates that are not as momentous or reported, but they are never the less remembered by those involved.Â A former teammate of mine took a stance for me and our team that made a mark on my life. In some small way, this is my way of repaying him.
Many die hard baseball fans will remember the ballplayer, Joe Desa, who played in the 1980′s. Joe had a couple of short stints in the big leagues and tragically died in a car accident in 1986. I was a teammate of Joe’s that season. I cannot say that we were good friends or even close as teammates, but he did something for me that brings a tear to my eye, even to this day. Here is how it went down.
Playing second base one night, I was taken out on a double play by a cheap-shot, cross-body block which caused a knee injury that kept me out of action for quite some time. The following evening while playing the same team, Joe came up for his first at-bat. Joe was batting fourth in the line-up and was leading off the 2nd inning of the game. To everyone’s surprise, Joe squares around to bunt with, as mentioned, nobody on base. Joe bunts the ball to the first baseman, who easily fields the ball, turns and flips the ball to the second baseman who is covering first.
Lo and behold, the second baseman happens to be the guy who had messed up my knee the previous night. Joe ”arrives” at the bag and levels the guy with a thunderous forearm to the chest. As you would expect, benches clear in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, being on crutches and not on the field, I could not be a part of the festivities.
Often, there are defining moments for professional baseball teams that draw them together and this certainly was one for our team. As intimated earlier, Joe had no reason to stand up for me. I was a newcomer to that team and the organization. Yet, Joe knew what “team” is all about and he stood up for me. If it hadn’t been for Joe, one of our pitchers may have taken care of it by the traditional “sending a statement” via a knock down pitch, but Joe beat them to it in his own way.
“Just remembered” was the humble response of legendary coach John Wooden to the interview question “How do you want to be remembered?” When it comes down to it that is all any of us can hope for. Joe did not get the chance to continue following his dream and making more “marks” but I would like to say 24 years later, “Joe , you are remembered.”
Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter (http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport