"Uhhhh, I was told to follow you." Some man told me that shit. Suit and tie. Very distinguished looking — kind of scary, actually. Everywhere I went in the city. We were walking around downtown and I told my wife, "We being followed." I knew this man was too close to me. I didn't lose him when I went to buy the cocaine; but they didn't want to bust me. I'm not a criminal. I'm a baseball player. Bottom line: I won 16 ballgames and missed a month. And the thing was, I won 16 games and half of them I don't even remember. Shit, and you're going to tell me I can't pitch?

These guys are out here healthy and winning 15 games, and I can throw my hat out on the field and win 15 games. Shit, I can throw a shoe out there and win 15 games. If I'm healthy, I'm winning 18, 19 games. I was never healthy and I won 78 games. I wasn't healthy my whole career and I'm still better than a .500 pitcher.

I was in the bullpen because I was told I was coming in. I was very ready — sitting on the bullpen bench, very anxious but upset. I know I should be out there and I know if I get out there I'm going to mow them down, because nobody beats me twice. That was my forte in the major leagues — if I faced a team back to back I never lost twice. I always made the adjustments.

I was in the bullpen, ready to pitch. I stayed there for five innings. Everybody was going in the game. I counted like five guys who pitched before me — even Al Nipper. I got so upset that I walked out of the bullpen into that tunnel in left field, lit a cigarette, started smoking it, and I started crying, walking back to the clubhouse. You had to go through the clubhouse before you got into the dugout. I came out into the dugout and watched us lose the World Series. I'm sitting there on the bench — and at the end of the game you can see me — and I'm crying.

If I'm crying how can people say I wasn't ready to pitch? If I cared that much, how can people say that?

For years I've been messed up about this — not taking anything away from my team because I thought we had the best team, but not without me pitching. We didn't put the best team on the field to beat the Mets in Game 7.

When we lost, I was crying in the clubhouse along with everyone else. Don Baylor came by me and rubbed me on the head. "I'm glad to see you grew up," he said to me. I wasn't sure how to take it at first, but eventually I took it as something about what he was seeing in me, that I was able to take the good with the bad, and I had done that.

Probably like most people, my entire life has been lived experiencing the good and the bad. What happened in New York in '86, when the fates and then my manager took me out of my start in Game 7 of the World Series, was part of learning to live with the bad. But there has been a lot of good, right up until today, when at age 52 I can still go out onto the baseball field and play this game.

And I'm going to keep playing this game.

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