Column: Wow, working with a press pass, part two

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jon Laging, Talking Sports

Last week I wrote about my pleasure in getting a Minnesota Twins’ press pass. Just receiving one was a highlight, let alone actually walking on the field.

The other day I was watching a two-part western saga starring academy award-winner Robert Duvall. The character Duvall played had to bury two loved ones. He blessed them, saying &8220;We travel from eternity to eternity.&8221; I guess he meant that before we are born there is eternity and after we die there is another eternity. It brought home that our lives are but a flicker of time. It seems to me that we should enjoy our brief special moments when they happen. One of those moments came to me after I walked through the double doors that led to the Twins’ field.

There wasn’t anybody nearby except for a fellow in street clothes. I wondered if he was security; we visited and I learned he was a sports talk show host on radio from New Ulm. A young guy showed up in a Twins uniform. He was the bat boy. At this time I was unsure if I would actually get to talk to the players. So I interviewed him. Found out he was in his third year with the Twins, but he wasn’t coming back next year. I asked him, &8220;Why not?&8221; He said he was going to college in the fall. I asked him, &8220;Where?&8221; It was my old school! I told him so and we shook hands. I asked him, &8220;Who is your favorite Twins player?&8221; He said that he really couldn’t answer that question. I replied, &8220;Well, give me one of your favorite players.&8221; &8220;Joe Mauer,&8221; he replied. He said Mauer was the same day after day, unfailingly nice and a pleasure to be around. I thanked him, looked up and there was Francisco Liriano headed toward the dugout.

I couldn’t think of what to ask. Finally came up with, &8220;Mr. Liriano, how’s your arm?&8221; &8220;Great, good,&8221; he replied. I had darn near exhausted my interview questions, but was able to ask him what he liked to do outside of baseball. He said, &8220;dominoes.&8221; I said, &8220;dominoes?&8221; &8220;dominoes.&8221; I asked him if his country, (unable to think of where exactly he was from) had dominoes&8217; tournaments? He said, &8220;No.&8221; I asked him if he liked checkers or chess. &8220; No, dominoes.” Liriano grinned at me, I grinned back, he left and I wished him good luck.

Kyle Lohse came walking up. Now, when watching him on TV, Lohse appears to be sullen and a grump. Not so in person. I asked him, “How is your arm?” He said, &8220;Good.&8221; &8220;Do you like to fish?&8221; I asked. Lohse replied, &8220;I like it some and it’s a good way to waste time.&8221; I thought I would get off fishing and asked, &8220;What’s your favorite activity?&8221; &8220;Golf,&8221; he said, &8220;I enjoy that.&8221;

I thanked him as Joe Nathan came up.

I asked him, &8220;How’s your arm?&8221; (I had that question down pat). He said, &8220;good&8221; and I asked him what he liked to do on his off time. He said, &8220;Golf.&8221; I finally came up with a follow-up question and asked him what his handicap was. He replied with a smile, &8220;I say 10, but my friends say 12.&8221;

It was time to quit. I thought I better leave before I did something dumb, like fall down the dugout steps. The three Twins I talked to seemed bright and articulate. My feelings may have been influenced by my awe at being where I was, but they had made themselves accessible and were very nice to an old guy.

It was a great experience and I have something very special to stuff in my brief time between eternities.