Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interview Part 3: Alan Newman, Worked Out

Iowa taking on Las Vegas at former Sec Taylor Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2014. Alan Newman played for Las Vegas in 1998. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Got There | Part 2: For Himself
Part 3: Worked Out | Part 4: Didn't Rest

Alan Newman was already at the hotel when when the call came.

This was May 1999 and Newman's AAA Durham Bulls were in Columbus, Ohio, to play the Clippers.

"I was hanging out with my roommate," Newman recalled recently to The Greatest 21 Days. "They called and said they wanted to talk to me, so I went down to talked to them and I ended up leaving early the next morning. It was exciting."

It was exciting because Newman was going to the major leagues.

After 12 professional seasons, three spent in independent ball, the former Minnesota Twins second round draft pick was headed to join the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the major leagues.

After all that, among the first things Newman thought of? Getting all his stuff together.

"I like to be organized," Newman explained. "I've left too many things in my career that I never saw again."
The former Sec Taylor Stadium in 2014. Alan Newman played at Sec Taylor in 1998 with Las Vegas. (G21D Photo)
Newman spoke to The Greatest 21 Days recently by phone from his home in California. Newman covered his career from its start on the mounds of La Habra, Ca., to the pro fields of the Minnesota Twins system.

Along Newman's path to the majors, there were early frustrations, that three-season detour to independent ball and then a return to the minors that eventually got him that call to the bigs more than a decade after his pro career began.

By the time he threw his last professional pitch in 2006, Newman had appearances in two major league seasons, three seasons in Japan - one with a Japan Series title - all in a career that spanned nearly two decades.

After spending his first six seasons in the minors, Newman moved to independent ball and the Alexandria Aces for three seasons. For 1997, his 10th season as a pro, Newman decided it was time to resume his pursuit of the majors in affiliated ball.

To do that, Newman went to Florida and threw for a couple teams. In Sarasota, he threw for the White Sox. The White Sox signed him.
Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., in 2010. Alan Newman played at Rosenblatt in 1998 with Las Vegas. (G21D Photo)
"I always had good stuff, so it wasn't that hard," Newman recalled. "I knew I could go back to it. It was just a matter of would I be successful with it?"

The White Sox assigned Newman to AA Birmingham. He played the year there. He was also now a full-time reliever. In 44 outings, he picked up seven wins and a 2.49 ERA. He also saved 10 games.

"It felt good," Newman recalled. "I liked it. It was fun to be back. I was a little bit older obviously at that point. I was just getting my feet back under me."

He recalled pitching the first month of the season with an ERA of 9. But then he had a long streak of scoreless innings, he recalled it being 42.

That brought his ERA back down. It also brought him back again.

"It was encouraging," Newman said of that run. "I was thinking 'oh, it's time to retire and start something fresh.' But I ended up going a lot longer, actually."

Newman moved to the Padres and AAA Las Vegas for 1998. In 63 outings there, he had a 3.30 ERA.

Newman recalled there being rumors that he'd be called up to San Diego that year, even though he wasn't on the roster. The call up would have to wait.
The Diamond in Richmond, Va., in 2011. Alan Newman's Durham Bulls played at The Diamond in 1999. (G21D Photo)
Newman was close to going back to the Padres for 1999, but another team, Tampa Bay, really wanted him, he recalled. They also wanted to put him on the 40-man roster.

"That ended up working out," Newman said.

Called up that May, Newman quickly got his affairs in order and he was on a plane to Tampa. His final destination was the West Coast and Anaheim.

"I was kind of nervous," Newman recalled. "I wasn't sure what to think at that point."

Newman was headed to his major league debut in his 12th season as a pro.

Did he believe it would finally happen? Newman said he did.

"I figured it would eventually," Newman said. "I just wanted to keep putting up good numbers. If you can keep doing that, somebody is going to eventually want you because they want somebody that's going to be consistent."

When he finally arrived in Anaheim and at Angels Stadium, Newman got to make his major league debut not 15 miles from where he grew up. (Part 4)

Part 1: Got There | Part 2: For Himself
Part 3: Worked Out | Part 4: Didn't Rest

Go to Part 4: Alan Newman, Didn't Rest

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