Carlos Ruiz is coming back from his suspension for banned substances. He was allowed to play five games in the minors prior to his return to the Phillies. Wednesday was his second game with the Threshers on his way back to the big club.
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that I am a big time collector of autographed baseballs. It’s my favorite thing to collect and I have two mostly-filled bookcases to show for my effort. Anyone who’s “in the know” about collecting the Phillies’ autographs will know that Ruiz is one of the hardest to get. Until this spring, I honestly don’t know if I have EVER seen him sign in a public setting.
This spring was different. He actually signed a few times. Not much, but considering I’ve never seen him sign anything it was a vast improvement. Wednesday, Baseball Ross and I spent the day in Tampa (shopping, he, he, he) so that we would be sure of getting to the ball park early and not getting caught in the traffic crossing the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
We picked up our FREE tickets at the window (having Threshers’ season tickets has its perks) and headed down to the field. I elected to go down along the third base side, all alone. The other autograph hounds when next to the dugout on the side towards the plate. When Ruiz came into the dugout all the other hounds started hooting “Choooooch”. I, all alone on the other end, said nothing. When he exited the dugout I simply asked, “Carlos, would you please sign my ball??
He smiled slightly and asked, “Where’s your ball?”
I had JUST gotten to the rail when he came out so I was unprepared, which breaks one of my cardinal rules of autograph seeking–ALWAYS BE READY.
I dug quickly and produced the ball and he signed it. I thanked him for signing and welcomed him back to baseball.
Friends soon arrived and waited for him to return to the dugout after warmups, again after being POLITELY asked, Ruiz provided my friends with autographs of their items. The fans on the other end who yelled, “Chooch”…well they went home empty handed. Moral of the story: always be polite.
Ruiz was third in the line up and when he came to the plate there was two on base. It took a few swings, but he smacked one of the longest balls I’ve seen hit out of Steinbrenner field.
He hit a three run homer!
He was greeted at the dugout by his Threshers teammates with high-fives.
Now, while I do NOT condone what Ruiz did off the field to result in his suspension, I would NEVER in my life ever condone what happened during the rest of the game. I’m also afraid he will have more of this in his future.
From that point on, every time Ruiz came to the plate this obnoxious Yankee fan heckled Chooch. It was exceptionally loud with the small crowd in attendance. This fan’s voice bounced and was amplified by the stadium. This jerk yelled things like:
“Go back on steroids”
and a few other things I won’t dare to repeat in pleasant company.
Really? And Yankee fans wonder why no one likes them.
Like my mother always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”