“Who’s that big-nosed (SOB)?” my dad asked the first time he saw Nomar Garciaparra play shortstop for the Red Sox.
The new call up from the minor league was about to take the starting shortstop job from John Valentin, and my dad didn’t approve.
Valentin was one of my dad’s favorite baseball players. Mine too. Valentin was a solid shortstop, a good bat and a great leader on the team.
Once we saw Nomar play a few times, however, we didn’t mind at all that “Johnny V” slid over to play third base for the Red Sox.
Garciaparra went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award for the Red Sox and “NO-mah” became a New England legend.
Even though the trade might have led to the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series, it was a sad, sad day when the Red Sox traded Garciaparra to the Cubs at the trade deadline that year.
Nomar is one of my all-time favorite athletes. I don’t think there’s ever been a player my dad loved and respected more than that shortstop with the unfortunate nose.
Some 16 years later, we still tease my dad about that “big-nosed (SOB)” line. It’s safe to say, he’d really like to have that comment back.
At least we all hope he’d like to take that one back.
We’ve all been there. We’d all love to have some words back or a do over or a mulligan in some facet of life.
Take Rick Reilly for instance. The ESPN columnist wrote a column in August declaring Notre Dame irrelevant in college football.
Today, the Irish are ranked No. 1 and the only undefeated major college football team that isn’t under NCAA sanctions.
“You flunked, Notre Dame,” Reilly wrote. “Go back a grade.”
I can only image how silly Reilly feels now that the Irish are a win over beat-up USC from a berth in the BCS national championship game.
He must feel about the same as the people who blasted Butte High athletic director Chuck Merrifield for hiring Arie Grey to coach the football team back in February of 2008.
“I hope we all get to find out who was on the interview committee,” one anonymous basher wrote back then on a certain cancerous chat site that has basically, and thankfully, become irrelevant. “If it is made public write them down and make sure they are notified when the wins are few and the losses are many. They will be as responsable (sic) for the failure to find success as the new coach.”
(At least one writer publicly backed the decision to hire the coach.)
Still, people on that website bashed Grey for everything from allegedly throwing a spear into the painted bulldog on the center of the field at Bulldog Memorial Stadium while working as an assistant coach at Kalispell Flathead to being part of the Butte “good ol’ boy” network — even though he’s from Deer Lodge and was living in Kalispell.
Grey was even blasted for, of all things, marrying Heidi McGree because marrying into a family best known for turning out triple jumpers at Butte Central somehow gave him an unfair advantage over the supposedly more qualified candidates for the job at Butte High.
Mostly, Grey and Merrifield were criticized because Grey wasn’t that old and he had no experience as a head coach. How could a guy be a head coach if he wasn’t already a head coach? By that logic, nobody could ever become a head coach.
“Grady Bennett and every other AA Coach in the State must be getting a good laugh over this decision!!!” wrote one “DogFan.”
I’m sure they did laughed themselves to sleep about Butte High selection.
It’s doubtful, though, that they laughed as hard as Grey and Merrifield did Friday night. That was a night filled with laughter, tears and a whole lot of hugs.
That coach who had no business leading the Bulldogs had just delivered the first state football title in 21 years.
That’s something that nobody can take back.
— Sportswriter Bill Foley, a member of the good ol’ boy network, writes a column that appears in ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. twitter.com/Foles74