Blogging About Baseball

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People who have taken me under their wing, Chuck Paiva edition.

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I need a career in baseball.

I don’t care if it’s cleaning urinals, peddling popcorn, or writing about it (although I would certainly prefer the latter). Right now, my professional life has no other direction.

As a result, I’ve gone out of my way to meet “baseball men.” One of the first was Newport Gull’s General Manager Chuck Paiva in 2007. The Gull’s are part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, oftentimes amateur players’ first experience with wooden bats.

As a recent graduate of Salve Regina University, I was living and working in Newport, Rhode Island. I was a busser at the Brick Alley Pub, making a lucrative payday in small bills at the most happening restaurant in town.

Chuck was a regular. He would stop in around 4 p.m., knock back a few drinks, and then leave. I’d seen him before, but never talked to him. At the urging of a colleague, I decided to one day. As I approached him, I remembered thinking it was odd seeing a man drinking a cosmopolitan.

I don’t remember what I said to him. He doesn’t remember what he said to me. All I know is that I left that day with a volunteer position at the team’s annual Hot Stove dinner and auction.

The Hot Stove dinner was eye-opening. I was a “noob” in the baseball world; I’d never been around a non-game, baseball event before. I was shocked as I unloaded signed baseball bats by Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton and a signed glove from Scott Kazmir. Since this was a fundraising event, I knew that Chuck hadn’t bought these bats and gloves, but that a) he knew these players or b) he knew someone who did. To be so close to someone who knew someone in the Show blew my mind.

Bill “Spaceman” Lee was there as keynote speaker. Before the event got going, he was just hanging out. He probably walked by me five times before it hit me: This guy won 17 games in the major leagues twice. He’s pitched in the World Series.

I still didn’t talk to Lee that day even though every bone in my body told me to. I was overwhelmed, nervous, and unconfident. It was a missed opportunity that I regret to this day.

Chuck took me on for the rest of the summer as “security” at Gull’s games. There was no need for me and Chuck knew it. He knew I needed an excuse to request a night off from my “real job” and he gave it to me.

I still keep in touch with Chuck. Today I found out that a player from the College of Charleston, Joey Bergmann, is actually going to be playing for the Gulls. This kid’s been tearing it up in the Southeast and will be an amazing addition to the team.

Next up: Ken Berger.

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