Today's prompts were a tornado of ants and a player bitten by a shark. I was asking myself if I was going to have to write a spring training story when I decided to google baseball player bitten by a shark and found out that Chad Rogers, a pitching prospect for the Cincinnati Reds was bitten by a 5' bull shark when surfing off the shores of Galveston. The Reds put him on the Dayton Dragons for the 2011 season (the Lowell Spinners of the Reds system) where he did well.
Then I decided to see if there were other odd baseball injuries and discovered a bunch of them. So I thought about it. You know that weird kid in the room that always retains odd bits and pieces of information? I know I was one of them... like why do I remember astronmer Tycho Brahe had a prosthetic nose after he lost a chunk of his in a duel? I don't know, but I do. So what happens when that kid and a friend go to the game knowing Sean Rodriquez of the Tampa Bay Rays got stung by a ray in Florida?
Hey, we weird kids are out there and sometimes we need to be recognized.
Tony and Aaron poked at the ants with a stick while they waited for the train that would take them into Fenway Park. Nearby their parents sat on a bench in the little shelter the MBTA had at stops for people who wanted to escape from the weather when waiting for trains.
“Did you ever notice how ants tend to swirl around like a tornado?” Tony asked as the he poked at them. The ants would change their spiral a bit to avoid the stick.”
Aaron dug a shallow trench with his stick to watch the ants scurry around and through things too.
“Kind of. Hey, did I tell you about the baseball player in Texas that got bit by a shark?”
“No way! Dude, are you’re lying.”
“Yeah way. You can look it up on line.”
“Dude, you mean to tell me a pitcher got bit by a shark. How’d that happen and to who?”
“Some prospect named Chad Rogers was surfing in Galveston and a bull shark bit his foot. It took like 60 stitches to close it up but they say he’ll be able to pitch next year.”
“You know what’s weirder? You know how we’re going to the Rays game today? Well Sean Rodriquez got stung by a real Ray at the beach.”
“That’s crazy talk,” Tony said to his friend.
“I know!” Aaron held up his free hand as if taking an oath.
“Why do you know these things?”
“I don’t know. I guess I remember things that are weird.”
“Boys,” Aaron’s father called, “the train’s coming.”
They dropped their sticks and joined their parents for the ride on the sleek green line train from Brookline to the Fenway Park stop. At the park, the boys pushed their way through the crowd to watch batting practice before the game.
This was the best part of the game for Aaron. He loved being up against the wall, a black sharpie in his pocket and a baseball in his hand hoping for a player to sign his ball for him.
“Hey, do you think we can get Sean Rodriquez to sign something?” Tony asked his friend.
“I don’t know, the other team doesn’t usually sign stuff. Maybe if we can convince your dad to go over to the third base side near the Rays dugout we can.”
“Do you think he’d draw a ray or something on there?”
“Now you’re being kind of a jerk. I mean,” Aaron took his matter of fact tone, “would you ask Chad Rogers to draw a shark on something?”
“Probably,” Tony said before he started yelling, “Pedey! Pedey over here!! Can I have a ball please?” as Dustin Pedroia shagged some balls near by with a couple of other players. The other kids began yelling to him and Kevin Youkilis as they tried to focus on the batter at the plate surrounded by a net cage as they took practice pitches from a guy behind a screen on pitches mound. Pedroia focused on the players on the field, but after the boys yelled some more he gave them an absent minded wave and went back to his practicing.
Aaron picked up the conversation again.
“How would you like it if like you got hit the face or something and someone asked you to sign something and draw a broken nose?”
“I’d think it was kind of funny.”
“I think you’re weird.”
Tony shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe I’d want to do something to make people notice me like wear two different shoes or something like that. You know, be that weird guy people watch.”
“Hey,” Aaron elbowed Tony and nodded. The gate to the field was left slightly open. “Do you have something with you?” he whispered, “we can get some Fenway dirt.”
“Wicked!” Tony said as Aaron shushed him. Tony dug through his pockets and found a small tube with a cork at the top.
Both boys grinned.
“Perfect!” Tony declared. “I totally forget I was going to get some ants on the way home to see if they’d get along with the ants in my yard.”
“This is so much better.”
“I know,” he grinned. “You be lookout and I’ll try to fill it up. We’ll split it later.”
The two edged their way towards the slightly ajar gate. Tony dropped down on his knees and crawled through the gate. He didn’t go out far, but enough to scoop up some of the reddish dirt that lined the warning track and base paths into the tube before shimmying back and standing up. He held up the tube and the two boys grinned.
A member of the ground crew noticed the open gate and came over and closed it.
The boys high fived each other.
“Just in the nick of time baby!” Tony declared as he slipped the precious tube into his pocket.
“The only thing cooler, if we can get our baseballs signed today by someone cool.”
“Is shark bait here?”
Aaron punched his friend in the shoulder. “I told you, his a pitching prospect so he’s not really playing yet.
The players were starting to pack up their stuff. As they headed toward the dugout, Dustin Pedroia approached the wall as the kids yelled for an autograph. Aaron pushed through to the front holding out his ball and sharpie yelling, “Would you sign my ball please Mr. Pedroia sir?”
The player laughed.
“Sure kid, this is for not for eBay right?”
“Yeah!!!” Aaron and Tony yelled together holding out the baseballs from their pockets.
He took the balls, one at a time, and signed them with the Sharpie Aaron had held out. They moved away from the wall and the crowd, examining the baseballs as they headed towards their parents a couple of rows back.
“Dad look!” Aaron yelled, showing his father his prize.
“Do you boys want me to hold those in my bag?” asked Tony’s dad. They handed their prized possession to him to keep them safe.
“Not bad,” Aaron’s dad said, “infield dirt and signed balls. You two scored quite a haul so far.”
The boys looked at each other.
“You… um, saw that?” Tony said.
His father fiddled with his camera a bit and then showed the boys the pictures of Tony crawling onto the field to scoop up the dirt.
“Tony my boy, there’s not much parents miss. Remember that even if we’re not looking, we’re always looking.”
The boys looked at each other.
“What do you two say we get to our seats and settle in. Maybe pick up some hot dogs or something on the way?”
“Nah,” said Tony, “the hot dogs always taste better when they come the guy selling them in the stands.”
His father laughed, “I agree. But we still need to get to our seats.”
“Hey dad,” Tony asked, “do you think we can get Sean Rodriquez’s autograph?”
“Why would you want that?”
“Because,” Aaron said, “he got stung by a real ray at the beach in Florida. Don’t you think that’s funny? A member of the
Tampa Bay Rays got stung by a sting ray?”
“That is pretty funny,” his dad said, “but not today pal. It’s time to settle into our seats and get ready to enjoy the game. Your moms are waiting for us over there and I think they’re getting a bit lonely.”
The boys reluctantly let their dads steer them back towards the concourse so they could head out towards the right field box seats. As they pushed their way through the growing crowd.
“Hey Tony, did I tell you about the time Wade Boggs missed a week of play because he was putting on his cowboy boots, fell off the couch and strained his back? Not only that, one time Sammy Sosa sneezed wicked hard in the club house and ended up having back spasms and couldn’t play for the Cubs that day.”
“Why do you know this stuff?”
Aaron shrugged, “I don’t know but it’s kind of cool don’t you think?”
Tony grinned, “Yeah, I guess it is. Any more weird baseball injuries I should know about before today’s game starts?”
“I’m sure I’ll remember something.”
“I’m sure you will too.”