Friday, August 1, 2014

Never change, Papelbon

I was so caught up with the trade deadline yesterday that I neglected to share one of my favorite anecdotes so far. It concerns perhaps the most quirky former Red Sox out there, a pitcher who once told Amalie Benjamin to "put the fact that he's a sheriff in Mississippi into a story."

Of course, I'm talking about former closer Jonathan Papelbon, Lord Cinco Ocho himself. The man Manny Delcarmen described as the strangest he's ever shared a bullpen with. Even though I knew the Phillies were in Washington for a four game set, it totally slipped my mind that Paps would be in town.

Which is why it took me a moment to realize that the player who poked fun at the camera setup Julianne and I were using yesterday on the field was the same man who once danced around Fenway Park with a beer box on his head.

We were shooting a pre-game standup regarding the Nationals trade deadline activity, and I wanted to frame up the shot with the field and the scoreboard in the background. Because neither Julianne nor I are particularly tall, we achieved this by having her stand on the camera case.

Halfway through the first take, we heard a voice drawl, "I've never seen anything like that before." I turned around, and out of the dugout behind me emerged Jonathan Papelbon, gesturing at the case under Jules' feet.

He chuckled and added that it might be easier if we were taller, and before we could formulate any kind of reasonable response, he was walking away for team stretching.

I've been able to mostly shed the baseball fan inside of me when I'm working, but after that interaction I indulged in a moment of reflection. If seventeen-year-old me had ever anticipated something like that, as casual as it was, I would have freaked out. 

Five weeks into covering every Nationals home game, the thrill of interacting with major league ballplayers has become all but mundane - but I spared a grin for Papelbon, if only for nostalgia's sake.