June 29, 1994
DEAR MOM AND DAD (AND TRISTA),
Well, I've been a member of a professional baseball team for 48 hours now, and I've already got a nickname—Pup. (I think it's because I'm the youngest on the team.) I didn't get to see Spokane at all. When I got off the red-eye from Anchorage, the guys from the Indians showed me my room at Gonzaga, put me through a workout and then, after the game against Bend, a Rockies' farm team, loaded us all on a bus to Boise. Would you believe a nine-hour bus trip? I slept most of the way, so I didn't get into Macbeth or the Pat Riley book, but I'll have plenty of time to read between workouts.
Anyway, I woke up at the Boise Ramada Inn. If Coach Krzyzewski calls, tell him not to worry, I'm doing my basketball workouts. There's a half-court down the street, and I've gone over there the last two mornings to work on my jump shot.
Doesn't look as if I'll get in a game for a few days, but I sure know I'm in the minor leagues. The P.A. announcer sounds like a game-show host, and last night they blindfolded a fan and gave him 60 seconds to crawl around in front of our dugout and grab five-dollar bills while the crowd yelled "Left!" and "Right!" It was pretty funny.
Oops, got to go—they're loading the bus to the ballpark.
June 29, 1994
What's happenin' back home, puke-head? Who cares? Buddy, I'm knockin' the cover off the ball, and if it were up to me, I'd be in a San Diego Padre uniform now, instead of spending another season in Spokane. My big disappointment is that we swung into Boise the week after the world's biggest bowl of mashed potatoes promotion, where someone got tossed into a vat of the stuff. But I've got Saturday to look forward to—the Flying Elvises are parachuting into the stadium.
Hey, I might be on This Week in Baseball next week. Not! This tall geek came in to interview Trajan Langdon, that basketball wiz from Alaska who's gonna play hoops at Duke this fall, and I asked him if he wouldn't rather do a story on a certain power-hitting outfielder we both know. He said sure, if I could whip Langdon one-on-one. No way. The kid was out this morning shooting baskets in his baggy red shorts, and he's just a tad quicker than yours truly, not to mention he's 6'4" and has muscles.
You won't believe how he got here. He and his dad, who's an anthropol...who's a college professor in Alaska, were playing catch last year in the parking lot of this Holiday Inn in North Carolina while they were visiting Duke, when a scout for the Pirates, who's now the Padres' scouting director, just happened to be looking out the window. Who is this guy? he wonders. So he goes down to find out, and it turns out it's Trajan Langdon, guard for the East Anchorage High Sled Dogs—or whatever they're called—the greatest basketball player in Alaska history. So this year, with Langdon headed for Duke and leading his high school team to its third state hoops title in a row, we draft him in the sixth round and swing a development deal in which Pup—that's what we call him—gets almost a quarter of a mil to play baseball for at least 30 days each summer for the next three years.
I asked Pup how he can be a pro in one sport and play college ball in another, and he starts bending my ear about how it's all O.K. as long as he doesn't pose for baseball cards or do any promotional stuff like getting his picture taken with blondes in bathing suits.