SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
  July 28, 2001



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

Raw in Chicago


Titans in Toronto VI


WWE Night of Champions


Legends of the Ring fan fest


Heroes & Legends IV fan fest


NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way


ROH All Star Extravaganza VI







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT




READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

NOTE: SLAM! Sports has the exclusive rights to publish this column on the Internet. You may link to this column, but a copy cannot exist on any other Web site. It also CANNOT be posted on newsgroups or newsboards.
Feel free to use the this button on your site to link to Bret's column.
Link to:
http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestling/hitman_home.html.
Check out our Bret Hart photo gallery!.

Baseball thrills galore


By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day. The score stood 4-2 with but one inning more to play. And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same, a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 ***

 And so it was last Monday that I found myself standing on home plate at Billy Herbert Field (opened 1927), having been invited to batting practice by the Mudville Nine.

 There's something about the crack of hitting a baseball that makes you feel 10 years old again.

 My friend, Dave Oliver, manages the Mudville Nines -- former class-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and this year the Cincinnati Reds -- established in 1941.

 I met Dave a few years ago in Boston when he was third-base coach for the Red Sox. Me and my son Blade went out to Stockton, Calif., to pay him a visit and take in some baseball.

 It was great to go on holiday with no particular itinerary.

 On the plane, I told Blade about the Mudville Nine and the old Ernest Thayer poem. When we checked into the hotel, we smiled when we saw someone wearing a cap with the team's logo of an old-time player, complete with handlebar mustache. Not only did Dave pitch to me on Monday afternoon but they got Blade a uniform and made him ballboy for the practice.

 The whole thing started on Sunday evening when they announced that I was in the stands. I spent the rest of the game signing autographs and didn't get to see much of how Mudville won. So the team invited me and Blade to sit in the dugout on Monday to watch them play the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. We ended up chasing their mascot, Casey, around the bases. It's this thing they do after the fourth inning where Casey's on second and they pick someone to start on first and chase Casey around the bases with the object being to catch him before he gets home. With no advance warning, Blade and I were elected, they introduced us to the crowd and I was amused to see that Blade felt quite at home taking a bow. We ran as hard and fast as we could and it was Blade who tripped the mighty Casey up as he was rounding third, brought tumbling to his knees by an 11-year-old arrow! Dad came out of retirement just long enough to put 'im in the sharpshooter!

 ***

 Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell

 It rumbled through the valley, it rattled through the dell ...

 ***

 We waved from the dugout at the roaring throng of a few hundred fans baking in the heat of a red and gold California sunset.

 Mudville lost when a Quake made an amazing outfield catch in the ninth.

 Earlier that afternoon, ex-Montreal Expo Tim Wallach, now manager of the Quakes, invited me into his office for a chat. He said he'd feel awful if Montreal loses its baseball team ... he has so many great memories there, the great fans, the park. I told him how I could relate to that because of how Germany has lost wrestling and it used to be that some of my biggest fans and best memories were when I wrestled there. Now it's all gone -- and Tim was saying how he hopes the same thing doesn't happen with the Expos. Then I sat in the outfield for about 45 minutes and enjoyed an impromptu question-and-answer session about wrestling initiated by the players. It was interesting that so many of the them were, or had been, wrestling fans -- but the biggest surprise along those lines came the next night in the Oakland A's locker room when I saw pitcher Eric Hiljus' collection of old collectable wrestling figures on display in his changing area!

 Dave had suddenly rounded up some tickets to the A's-Minnesota Twins game for Tuesday and the next thing you know, the team invited us down to the locker room. It was great to see Jason Giambi again. We'd met and hung out in Boston not long after Owen was killed. I sensed then he had an understanding of the closeness that Owen and I shared that not many people have experienced first hand because his younger brother, Jeremy, is a ball player like he is.

 This time, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy, too, and seeing the two brothers together really brought back to me big-time the feeling of what it was like to be in the locker room with Owen.

 Jason was genuinely nice to Blade and took the time to sign everything under the sun for him. In fact, he and Jeremy both signed a ball and gave it to Blade. Then Jason looked Blade right in the eye and told him he was gonna try and hit a homer for him. When we took our seats in the stands, I remarked to Blade that a promise like that from last year's MVP is something he would never forget. Early in the game, Jason hit a single and I said to Blade, "Well, there's your hit."

 "No, Dad," he replied confidently, "he said a homer."

 And by golly, he did it!

 He popped one right over the fence and Blade stood up proudly throwing his fist in the air, "Yeah! All right!"

 When Jason got back to the dugout, I could see him looking around for us lost in the cheering sea of faces while a batboy pointed at us and gave the thumbs up. We looked at each other -- wow!

 As if that wasn't enough, it was a great game, tied 4-4 in the ninth -- and the A's won!

 Somewhere along the way, we stopped at a sports bar/restaurant and Blade ran inside before Dave and I had a chance to get out of the car. When we walked in, Blade was perched a little too comfortably on a stool at the bar sipping a frothy (root) beer. He looked so grown up so fast. I think even he understood the joke and, as I pulled the brim of his baseball cap down over his face, we laughed. I couldn't help thinking he'll grow up sooner than I think.

 I can just imagine the adventures we'll have then!

 See ya at the Cannons games.

More on Bret Hart