Researching tonight's post, it soon became clear to me that this would be as good of time as any to recount our 2007 trip to Ottawa to see the Ottawa Lynx host the second-to-last AAA baseball game ever to be played in Canada.
Tonight's post is to be on John Russell, member of the 1990 Oklahoma City 89ers and current manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before he was manager of the Pirates, Russell had a long career in the minors as a manager, including the job he had immediately prior to taking the Pittsburgh position, manager of the Ottawa Lynx in 2007.
Reading that Russell managed Ottawa, I instantly realized that my wife and I saw him there that September. (That's him to the right, No. 7, a fortunate zoomed-in shot from our pictures from the game.)
We traveled up to Ottawa for the game Sept. 2. We went up because we knew the Lynx were leaving. I had heard they were picking up and moving to Allentown, Pa., and I wanted to make sure we got up there before they left.
We actually almost didn't make it. Our cat Jimmy got sick right before the trip. We ended up leaving her in the care of the vet and he assured us that it was ok for us to go. So we went. And, don't worry, she ended up pulling through and she's still here.
Poor Scratch, he had no idea
So we got up there and I recall it obviously being sad. It was sad that they were losing their team. It was also sad that they couldn't fill the ballpark before they left. There was a decent crowd, but it still seemed sparse. There was also the Lynx mascot Scratch, the Lynx. He seemed so energetic. I remember joking to my wife that Scratch probably had no idea what was going to happen.
As far as the players go, there was one name at stood out at the time. There were also three others, looking back through the prism of this blog, that stand out now.
Sal Fasano (13) grooming the batters box
At the time, the player that stood out to me was from the visiting Syracuse Chiefs, Sal Fasano. Fasano was a player that I've actually seen at a couple points of his career. And from what I've read about him, he seems like a really good guy. He's easy to remember because he has a memorable name. Well, back in 1994, my dad and I went to a lot of Midwest League games in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I got a bunch of autographs. Fasano played in Rockford in 1994 and played Cedar Rapids in the playoffs. I'm sure I have his autograph in the attic.
Fast forward 11 years and I saw him again, in Baltimore. Fasano was in Baltimore, playing for the Orioles. The Red Sox were visiting, with Johnny Damon. Fasano was playing catcher and I remember spotting this moment when Damon was coming to bat. Damon kind of tapped Fasano on the shoulder, sort of like a hello. I pointed out to my wife that they were once teammates, playing together in the late 1990s with the Royals.
So now we were seeing Fasano again, with AAA Syracuse. We might even see him again in a couple weeks. Fasano is now managing the Lansing Lugnuts and one of their games at West Michigan is a possibility.
Looking back now, the coaching staffs, and one player on the roster, are as interesting. The roster player, it appears, wasn't there. Pat Mahomes, 1990 CMC member as a player for the Visalia Oaks, was on the roster, but appears to have been inactive.
But there were three members of the CMC set that were all there. There was Ottawa manager John Russell, whom I'm profiling this evening. There was also Sal Rende, a coach for Ottawa. I profiled him last month. There was also Doug Davis, manager of Syracuse, whom I profiled back in May. That's three CMC members at one September 2007 game.
I also take a good amount of pictures at games we go to. The pictures are of just about anything that catches my eye. There's standard game shots, crowd shots and mascot shots. Looking back at the pictures I took of the Ottawa game, I have clear shots of both Russell and Davis. I had to dig out my program roster to confirm my suspicions. (After digging through a couple boxes in the attic, I found it.) There was Ottawa No. 7 Russell and Syracuse No. 11 Davis.
The Russell picture was actually one of Scratch. But Russell was standing clearly in the background. The cropped picture of Russell is above. The zoomed out shot of him and Scratch is below.
Ottawa lost the game 8-6 in extras. Russell and the Lynx would soon both be Pennsylvania-bound. The Lynx would be on their way to Allentown, Russell, by November, would be on his way to Pittsburgh.
200 - Sal Rende, Us Guys, 7/20/10
495 - Doug Davis, Break Given, 5/19/10
Minor League Moves, Olympic Edition, 2/14/10
- Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 3, 2007: And then there was one for the Lynx
- Sports Illustrated, Sept. 25, 2009: Journeyman Sal Fasano tried to hang on one more year for son