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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview: Chance Pans Out

From the outside, Rick Lancellotti's Buffalo School of Baseball at New Era Park in Depew, NY

My wife and I went to Buffalo this past weekend. It was for my wife's sister's wedding. And, while I was up for the wedding, I was definitely up for the prospect of what it meant.

This wedding meant there was a chance at my fourth Greatest 21 Days interview. (It also meant congrats to my sister-in-law and her new husband.)

That interview chance panned out.

Former major leaguer Rick Lancellotti was kind enough Sunday to sit down for an interview, covering his 17-season professional career, and his post-playing days as an instructor.

Lancellotti has run his own baseball school, Rick Lancellotti's Buffalo School of Baseball, outside Buffalo since 1993.

I first learned of Lancellotti's existence in July, when the randomizer selected card No. 270. He also ended up being one of the more interesting players I've featured.

He played in Japan. He played in Italy. He once had the minor league home run record and didn't even know it. He also played in replacement ball, taking a stand for career minor leaguers.

He seemed like a really interesting guy, and someone who would have a lot of stories to tell.

I had actually tried to meet up with him back in October, when my wife and I were in Buffalo for a roller derby game. But Lancellotti was out of town. He did say to check back when we were back in town.

That opportunity came with the wedding. It was a tight timetable. The wedding was Saturday, the festivities and merriment taking all day. The weather was awful, too. It was cold and the wind made it tough to even walk outside. (My humor for the day was 'wasn't this supposed to be an outdoor wedding?')

But it was Saturday when Lancellotti and I finally connected. We met up the next day.

Talking to him on the phone, he asked how long I would need. I thought 20 minutes, maybe 30 tops. We ended up talking for an hour, relaying story after story from his playing days.

And the stories were great. My wife, who came in with me even enjoyed them.

Also, full disclosure: Along with the cool stories, I got a free hat out of the deal. Lancellotti had hats and T-shirts with his school logo on them for sale. I've been watching for CMC set member stuff, and I thought a hat would be cool.

When we were done, I asked if I could buy a hat. But he wouldn't hear of it. He wanted to give it to me. I tried to give him a check, but he wouldn't take it. Really cool.

So, with an hour's worth of stuff, cool stuff, I think I'm going to break it up into multiple posts then maybe put it all together later. The first installment should come tomorrow: Lancellotti's first call-up in 1982 and his first major league hit.

For now, you can check out my July feature on Lancellotti, Rick Lancellotti, Worth It

Or any of my three previous interviews:
-Jim Pankovits, 7/19/10
Roger LaFrancois, 7/5/10
-Dann Bilardello, 7/2/10

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