Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nothing Says Baseball Like... a Munchkin?

So as I mentioned before, Monday morning we drove to Winter Haven to see the Indians practice. Correction: I went to see practice. Running, stretching, goofing off, baseball pants, batting practice, etc. Dean goes to watch practices but also to get autographs. Yes, I married a twelve year old. He brings stacks of cards and a couple baseballs and lurks with the kids and the retirees and waits for the players to sign. Anyway, because a good time to get autographs is right at the beginning of practice, Dean dragged me out of bed at 5 a.m. to get there early. We got there even before the players and for a full hour and a half Dean was the only one standing out there. Why was he alone? Because it was 43 degrees out (in Florida that's damn cold) and I was in the car, drinking coffee with the heat blasting listening to NPR's Morning Edition. I joined Dean when the players actually took to the fields.

After practice we drove down to Jupiter to see both the Cardinals and the Marlins. Of course practice was over by the time we got to Jupiter so we explored the town a little, ate at a sports bar and went to bed early. The next morning, we drove to the stadium (this time I slept in til six) and got there around seven. Dean didn't get one autograph before practice. I again hung out with the NPR crew for awhile before finding the local Starbucks. When the Cardinals practice was about to start, we were informed that the areas between the practice fields were closed because the clean-up crew hadn't finished tearing down from a street party welcoming the Cardinals back to Jupiter the night before. The only way for fans to get around the different practice fields was through the player parking lots, which the staff wasn't about to let happen. Instead a trolley had to cart us around the complex, removing all hope of wandering aimlessly and without plan. I was a little distraught.

We took the trolley to the first set of practice fields. When we got off the trolley Dean struck up a conversation with the guy selling programs as you walk into the practice field area. He discreetly showed Dean the schedule which revealed that Albert Pujols (the most coveted autograph signer and a pretty good player, HA!) was in fact practicing at a different set of fields. So we hung out with the program vendor shooting the shit and waiting for the trolley when here comes a Munchkin. Yes, you read correctly, a real live Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz. The Munchkin, named Mickey, is a St. Louis resident and can often be found at Cardinals events. The vendor and Mickey were on a friendly basis, so he stopped Mickey to introduce us to him. I was flabbergasted. Let's face it, of all the people I awoke that morning hoping to meet, a Munchkin was not even close to being on my radar. But Mickey greeted Dean with a handshake and me with a hug. He was more then happy to tell us some Wizard of Oz stories and interesting history. For instance, did you know that most of the Munchkins were German refugees fleeing Hitler's regime? I had no idea. He left us with some signed photos and some pictures:



This is actually the only picture I've gotten with a celebrity this spring training. Not that an actual Munchkin is a disappointment, I was thrilled. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Mickey is the one that plays the fiddle while leading a line of parading Munchkins around Munchkinland trailed by Dorothy in a horse-drawn carriage.

Cardinals practice was relatively uneventful. I snapped these photos for Lefty, just to make her jealous.





Pujols wouldn't turn around for a good picture, but the middle-aged woman next to me seemed plenty content taking pictures of his rear end. He was also characteristically poor about signing autographs. When he left the batting cages for the last time at the end of practice, everyone in the rather large crowd descended upon the fence separating him from us like ants on a dropped candy bar. I have never seen anything like it, and this is my fifth spring training. He signed for about 20 of the 200 people or so waiting. I just hope he did it for a lot of kids even though I couldn't see a thing.

I like that picture because Tony LaRussa is telling another coach something about somebody's swing.

I confess that Wednesday morning I punked out and slept in while Dean went to try to get Dontrelle Willis to sign a ball. He picked me up from the hotel in time for check out and we headed home. Tomorrow, it's Ft. Myers for two days to see my boys. I have missed them like crazy. My mission: get Baby Jesus to sign a copy of his Sports Illustrated. But like I indicated above, you never know what will happen.

15 comments:

mom said...

have you totally turned your back on your whole childhood? long before baseball, long before deano, long before florida, you watched the WIZARD OF OZ 27 times!!! the only other movie that came even close was ghostbusters! (25 times?) you should be thrilled at having your picture taken with a munchkin. and remember you never watched the WIZARD OF OZ alone. we all had to suffer thru it each and every time. payback is SWEEEEET.....

bubba 69 said...

Speaking of turning your back, why are you two patronizing a franchise like the Cardinals that has always had an advantage over other teams by getting players to sign from other teams for less money than they would elsewhere just to play in a self-proclaimed baseball town? Besides that, they should be known for the biggest steroid abuser in baseball (McGwire)and the biggest hotdog in baseball (Ozzie Smith). That munchkin was way cooler than any Cardinal and probably would hit bettter than Pujols anyway if given the chance!
Bubba 69

magnetbabe said...

I actually watched Ghostbusters (30+) more than the Wizard of Oz. Yeah the Munchkin was cool but if I ever got to meet Bill Murray I'd probably freak out.

magnetbabe said...

ps mom- you know me too well. I've been bugging deano lately to watch the Wizard of Oz with me ;)

gabrielle said...

I'll watch the Wizard of Oz with you any time any where any how.

gabrielle said...

wicked witch...or not wicked witch

gabrielle said...

second take: wicked witch or no wicked witch (you know what I mean}

lefty_grrrl said...

"Why are you two patronizing a franchise like the Cardinals that has always had an advantage over other teams by getting players to sign from other teams for less money than they would elsewhere just to play in a self-proclaimed baseball town?"

Hmm, bubba, maybe because the Cards have won more World Series than any other team except the Yankees. Maybe because they have a storied history. Maybe because the Cards attract good management. Maybe those players sign on the cheap for a reason, you tool. What are you, a Rangers fan?

Nice photos of Albert, Natalie. I hate you.

magnetbabe said...

No, he's a Twins fan, and likes to ruffle feathers. Hate me today lefty, but I'll be hating you from April to September when you can see your boys whenever you want.

And speaking of hot dogging, bubba, your boy Santana was back-handing bunt drills today!

Gabrielle- I think you mean "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Geez, is every one drunk blogging lately or what?

bubba 69 said...

Sorry lefty_grrrl, now that you mention it, I can see the similarities between the Cardinals and the Yankees. McGwire still used steroids and there isn't enough mustard in the world for Ozzie Smith. Tool is kind of harsh though, is that a NASCAR term?

lefty_grrrl said...

I wouldn't know, BUBBA. You tell me when you're done with your cousin.

Kirby Puckett is a pervert. Yeah, I said it.

Anonymous said...

BOY OH BOY THERE'S A CARDINAL FAN WITH NO SENSE OF HUMOR AND A NASTY MOUTH. LET'S GET BACK TO BASEBALL SHALL WE? REMEMBER THERE ARE MOMS AND GRANDMAS THAT READ THIS BLOG... A LITTLE RESPECT PLEASE.

minnesota blue said...

Just goes to show you bubba. When your dealing with the female genre you get no respect!

lefty_grrrl said...

Natalie had previously told me not to censor myself here, even though her family was reading. I was just taking the "joke" a step further. Sorry if I offended.

MINNESOTABLUE2 said...

Lefty_grrrl Most of us take our sports serious! I can tell you are a great fan of the Cardinals. I went to their ballpark twice in the last few years and it was so impressive. I will never forget my first impression when I walked through the gate and saw that beautiful park. We drove twice from Minnesota just to see it and it was awesome! I am a Twins fan through and through so I understand your passion!!