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Phun Week: I Met A Ballplayer

A preview of the 2008 Phillies will come shortly, but I’d like to continue on with Phun Week, which was derailed by the Santana/Feliz moves and the Super Bowl.

“I met a ballplayer.”

It’s one of the coolest moments in a person’s life — you’re at the stadium and you get to shake hands or get an autograph from a real baseball player. Sometimes, though, you go to an event and meet a player, or you see one at a restaurant or store. Yes, we celebrate the ballplayer maybe a bit too much, but why not? They get to play baseball for a living.

I’ve met a few players in my life, but no meeting was better than when I spoke with Ozzie Smith. Long regarded as one of the good guys in baseball, the Hall of Fame shortstop came off as such when I met him.

It was the Philadelphia Sportswriters dinner, one of the city’s best traditions — and an event I attended three or four times in my preteen years. After getting quick glimpses of Eric Lindros, Scott Rolen and Co., my family and I sat down and enjoyed a night of ribbing, storytelling and good food.

At the end of the event, writers, guests and attendees were allowed to mingle a bit with the honored guests. Oz was on stage, and I was primed for an autograph. I came up and held out my program and a marker.

He asked for my name.

“Tim.”

“Well nice to meet you, Tim.”

“Hey Ozzie, could you show me how you do those backflips you do all the time?”

Ozzie laughs. “Oh I’m too old for that now, kid.”

Everyone laughed and he smiled. And that was it. Just a quick moment where he shared a joke with me. At about 13, that was a cool opportunity. Smith retired the year before, and he was receiving an achievement award for his career. He deserved it.

Have you met a baseball player? What was it like?

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