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Monday, August 22, 2011

A hand-shake, a baseball and an interview

Brockton Rox manager Bill Buckner exchanges lineups with Pittsfield Colonials manager Jamie Keefe before the game Aug. 13, 2011 in Pittsfield.

Read the Ed Nottle interview: Ed Nottle, Stayed In Baseball

Perhaps my earliest baseball memory is of watching part of the 1986 World Series with my mother.

I vaguely remember watching that pivotal play involving Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner. I vaguely remember it because, well, I was 7 and I didn't really get into baseball until the next year, 1987.

Or I could be misremembering the whole thing about watching it live. I've meant to ask my mother if she remembers it the same way, but I haven't gotten around to it.

Either way, I didn't bring any of that up last weekend when I shook Buckner's hand.

The occasion for shaking Buckner's hand was my most recent interview, not with Buckner, but with minor league baseball legend Ed Nottle.

I caught up with Nottle last weekend in Pittsfield, Mass., where Nottle's Brockton Rox were playing the Pittsfield Colonials in a Can-Am League contest. Buckner is the Brockton manager for 2011, Nottle an assistant coach.

The Buckner handshake came as Nottle and I were about to sit down for our interview, Buckner came over to talk to Nottle briefly about a Rox player.

Nottle himself, was great. We talked for more than a half hour before that night's game, covering much of his 51 years in baseball, all but one of those years spent in the minors as a player, coach and manager.

Pittsfield's Wahconah Park

Nottle had some great stories. Nottle was the manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox in the CMC set. Like the Dave Machemer interview in July, Nottle was gracious enough to stick around long enough to move from his career to his thoughts on the careers of some of his former players and members of the CMC set.

The game itself was interesting. My wife was able to come with me, which is always great. We got to see a near brawl late in the game, triggered by a play at the plate where the Pittsfield catcher held on.

A Pittsfield player at the bat Aug. 13, 2011.

The coolest thing, though, was earlier, when a Pittsfield player tried to toss a baseball to a little girl. (My wife also missed the whole thing.)

The Pittsfield player tossed the ball to the girl, up a couple rows in the stands. She probably was hardly 5 years old, and she completely missed the ball. The ball bounced down and half a section away.

Before anyone could get the ball and give it to the girl, another kid, maybe 11, ran down and grabbed it.

He also kept it for himself. I could hear his friend, though, telling him the ball was meant for the girl. The kid came down the steps about halfway twice, apparently thinking about giving it back. But he couldn't seem to bring himself to do it.

Not too long after, though, another Pittsfield guy, maybe their manager, I wasn't sure. Came over, called the girl down to the rail and handed her another ball.

Everybody in the section had been following what had happened, and everyone reacted when the girl was handed the baseball, breaking out into applause.

Read the Ed Nottle interview: Ed Nottle, Stayed In Baseball

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