"But he's a
notorious bigot!" howled Siegle. "You want to get us fired?" O
wavered, then finally caved when his own wife called him crazy.
Maybe it was safe,
at last--after those two surprising seasons in Canada--to make him a real G.M.,
a true member of the club. The Cincinnati Reds interviewed him, then the
Mariners for a second time. O for 9. The Mets, weary of eating their guy's
dust, had an idea. Make O a half member, a 50-50 split of their G.M. job with
Jim Duquette--you know, Jim being more an administrator and all.
O agonized. Big
salary jump. No more long separations from his wife, two sons and Jersey home,
which they hadn't sold because of the Expos' any-day-now demise. But what
message would it send about dark-skinned men from other lands? "You're
better than half a G.M.," his wife told him.
O twitched and
turned down the job. It took one more year of misery for Mets owner Fred
Wilpon--his team's clubhouse divided, its credibility with fans and free agents
shredded--to call back. "We've become irrelevant in New York City,"
Wilpon told O in September 2004. "You've got to come home."
job?" asked O, wary.
"Everything," said Wilpon. "I just want Omar to be Omar."
O's heart raced.
"Let's talk as soon as the season's over," he said.
Wilpon, "let's talk now."
What does it look
like when an uncommon man's deepest essence plays out on a major league meadow
in the country's largest city? When his inner world, his vast neural web of
pathways and connectors, is free to fan out across a franchise with revenues of
hundreds of millions of dollars?
It all begins in
darkness each day, the man tending first to the core of the circle. It begins
at five without an alarm clock, with gospel singer Shirley Caesar wailing
You're Next in Line for a Miracle from his iPod in the kitchen. He reads a few
pages of the Bible as he listens--but why read just one book? A few more pages,
on this day, from Elie Wiesel's Night, a few from Immacul�e Ilibagiza's Left to
Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust and a few from Joel Osteen's
Your Best Life Now. Then O's off to the gym at sunrise each day to run and lift
weights while his iPod finger whirls from merengue to blues to big band to rock
to country to mariachi. Love it, man! Mariachi on a treadmill.