Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mighty Moose

As I was finally going through my RSS feed tonight I came across this piece of news that nearly took my breath away. Mike Musssina announced his retirement today. The Moose is no longer on the loose.

Sweet lord was that not the most cliched, overused, sports line or what?

Seeing the headline took me back, oh quite a few years (can it really have been eight already?!), to my days in the sports department at the newspaper. Back when I was still under the impression that I could make it as a writer somewhere. I had been getting my feet wet as a correspondent, covering local high school sports and baseball. The guys (and girl) I worked with were very supportive, helping me understand the ways of a sports writer, giving me advice and reworking awkward sentences or grafs.

It was a path I was sure I was going to continue down on a permanent basis, so when the beat writer for the Orioles gave me the opportunity to join him in the pressbox at Camden Yards, I jumped at the chance. I mean, for a Birds fan, what could be better?! Me. Behind the scenes. At my favorite team's stadium. On a game day.

I was giddy as a little girl in a candy store with a $20 bill.

While the game was going on I kept score (still have the scorebook page from that day too) and hung out with the beat writer. He wrote his story as the game was in progress so when it came down to the end all he would need were a few quotes plugged in here and there. When the last out was made our way to the clubhouse (totally hot being the only female in there, I might add). Rumors had been swirling the previous week or two about Mussina leaving the O's. And not just leaving the O's, but leaving for the hated Yankees. A sin so unforgiveable that some O's fans still can't find it in their hearts to talk about it.

But I digress.

The beat writer was getting close to deadline when it happened. He had to go do something else for the story and told me to just hang with the rest of the gaggle of sports writers and write down everything Mike Mussina said. Everything. So being the good little learner I was, I did what he said. I hung out near the back. I listened closely. I wrote down everything that incredibly nice man said. Then he saw me in the back and stopped in the middle of answering whatever question he was answering, and told me to come up closer so I could see and hear better.

Mike Mussina...spoke...directly to me.

If I had not had to get my notebook back to the pressbox I probably would have fainted right there. It was bad enough I could hardly think straight after that. The questions ended quickly enough and the story got filed. And now that I think about it, I don't think the beat writer even used anything I gave him. Which was probably a good idea considering the state I was in by the time I made it back to the pressbox. Mike Mussina was traded to the New York Yankees some days later, won a few World Series rings and I do believe a trip to the Hall of Fame when he's eligible.

So there it is, my connection to maybe one of the best pitchers ever to come through Camden Yards. While I do wish he would have stayed in Baltimore, I understand why he asked to be traded. And you can be assured that when he goes to Coopersville, I'll be cheering right along with all of the Yankees fans and remembering the time I actually spoke to The Moose.

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