A Decade of Hum and Chuck: Bob Elliot on.....

....meeting people for the first time. Twice.

The older I get the more people I meet.


The more people I meet, the more people I forget whom they are when I meet them again.


The more people I forget reminds me how old I am.


Like October in 2011 waiting at a gate at Philadelphia International Airport.


Originally I had not planned on leaving Philadephia that morning.


Originally the plan was to sleep in.


Originally I figured to be in Philadelphia for a couple of off days and stay there as the Phillies hosted the first two games National League Championship Series.


I’d flown to Philadelphia from Milwaukee, where the Brewers were hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Division Series. The St. Louis Cardinals knocked off the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 to force a fifth and deciding game at Citizens Bank Park.


The game would feature a matchup of former Blue Jays No. 1 picks and former Cy Young award winners Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay. It was an easy off day story, the question of the day was easy: who will win? Halladay or Carpenter?


Let’s see, I asked former pitching coaches Galen Cisco, Bruce Walton, Rick Langford, former coaches Omar Malave, Garth Iorg, Dennis Holmberg, manager Cito Gaston, scouts Ted Lekus, Tim Wilken, Chris Buckley, Chris Bourjos and Ed Heather; executives Gord Ash, Dave Yoakum, Bob Engle, former players Devon White, Pat Tabler, current players Aaron Hill, John McDonald, Lyle Overbay, Ryan Roberts, plus Hall of Famer Pat Gillick who would win.

Gillick’s opinion should be discounted ““Halladay. Why? Because he’s a Phillie.”


Only Iorg, former Jays player, coach and minor league manager, a Brewers coach and Heatther the former scout picked Carpenter, while everyone else went political (“hope it’s 0-0 after nine and the bullpens settle it”) or picked Halladay. 


Halladay allowed a lead-off triple to Rafael Furcal and a double by Skip Schumaker and that was it: Halladay allowed six hits in eight innings, four after the first two batters, while Carpenter allowed three in 110-pitch complete-game 1-0 win.  


It was a wonderfully pitched game by both. A thing of beauty.


So St. Louis advanced, and to put things into perspective how this was not a good day: I was tading a hotel near the park with a good rate to fly to another time zone for a hotel with a bad late and a long way from the park, And now it was early morning and I was headed for Phoenix, and long rides to and from my hotel.


A youngster came up and plopped himself down a few seats away. I was pecking away at my keyboard when his phone rang.


“Yeah, yep, yes ... well I’m going too the park, but I am not doing anything ... just dropping off my stuff.”


A couple of minutes later it clicked ... this guy was going to the Arizona Fall League and he didn’t seem real pleased about it.


“You going to the fall league?”


“Yes sir.”


“Son, do you know how much a compliment it is to get an invite? Each origination only sends six players.”


“Yes sir.”


“You live here?


“No, not too far ... in New Jersey.”


“So what round did the Phillies take you?”


“Well, they didn’t have a chance.”


Sitting upright now: “What round were you selected?”


“First round sir, by the Angels.”


Putting laptop away and extending my hand “Hi, I’m from Toronto, what’s your name?”


“Mike Trout ... I met you in Toronto in the clubhouse last month ... I didn’t play much.”


Oh yeah ... Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register introduced me to Mark Trumbo when the Angels were in and Trout was there too. Trumbo was a big fan of Five Questions and apparently I was a west coast hit when Plunkett asked:


Q: How do you spell Marc Rzepczynski?


A: C-r-a-f-t-y l-e-f-t-y.


Trout played in one game a Sept. 20 10-6 Angels win as Vernon Wells homered off Brett Cecil,  and Trumbo took Kyle Drabek deep. He was hitless in four at-bats against Cecil (two at-bats), Drabek and Joel Carreno.  


I didn’t tell Trout how a scout that summer phoned from Arkansas. He had seen Trout, 19, at double-A and he had seen “the next Mickey Mantle.”


So the point of the long story is ... I met Mike Trout when I had already met him and did not recognize him ... mind you he was in street clothes. No number over his locker or name on the back of his uniform. 


Which reminds me of being at St. Mary's one day in July of 2013. (editor's note: it was actually June of 2015. Let's pretend Mr. Elliot did that on purpose.) 


Standing alongside Carlos Delgado a woman approached. Delgado said Hi, I said a hesitant hi.


When it was apparent I didn’t really know who the woman was, the woman said,


“Bob, I met you with Alexis Brudnicki at Pitch Talks.”


Before I could apologize, Delgado said “C’om Bobby, it’s Joanna from Hum and Chuck ... I thought you were better than that. Bear down.”


Apologies Joanna. 

The first time I met Bob Elliot was at Pitch Talks in the summer of 2014. I spoke on stage with Arden Zwelling and Melissa Couto interviewed Bob as the closing segment. 

He was standing at the back of the room and I walked back to shake his hand. He told me I did a great job, called me "kiddo" and I told him, among other things, Diet Coke (a substance he consumes in legendary quantities), was terrible for him and he told me he was well aware but thanked me for my concern. 

I like to imagine that I'm memorable. I'm very tall. I have a lot of hair. And I'm a woman who writes about baseball.

Bob Elliot had no recollection of this encounter.  And his vaguely blank stare made that obvious when I met him again in St. Mary's in the June of 2015. (Yes, it was 2015, not 2013. And it was June, not July.) And it did require Carlos Delgado, who only knew me from Twitter, ("You tweet.....a lot!" were words Carlos Delgado to me that June afternoon) to point out who I was. Bob Elliot did not recall. So Mike Trout shouldn't feel too bad. If Bob can't remember a big deal like me, what chance did Trout have? 

Most people admire Bob Elliot's HOF calibre writing and his dedication to baseball in Canada and both of those things are worthy of admiration. But I'm particularly thankful for Bob's support for  new writers, particularly the new female writers. Melissa Couto spoke about his support in her onstage interview at Pitch Talks, and Alexis Brudnicki has told me on numerous occasions how Bob has helped her out. It's not easy out there for any baseball writer, particularly female ones. Not every established HOF writer does what Bob Elliot does. 

And for that I salute him.