January 4, 2014
Well, there is snow outside, and I am dreaming of summer activities. As a Ballhawk, you know that I am thinking of baseball. I have the TV on, watching the MLB Channels Red Hot Stove show, then all of a sudden I hear a knock on the door. I go outside, and I see a box on my doorstep. I examine the box, and see that it says SFX Sports on it. Yes, finnally the box I've been waiting for, for three years has arrived!
It all started back a few years ago while I was ballhawking at Great American Ball Park (G.A.B.P.). I saw this cool Astros pitcher tossing balls to everybody, and playing catch with little kids! I couldn't believe that a pitcher was playing catch with the kids, not just one kid, a bunch of kids. I immediately walked over to see who this pitcher was, and I noticed that he had a glove with a weird logo on it. I recognized that the logo was from the Akadema company, so I wanted to ask this pitcher about his glove, because I knew they were American made gloves, and I was curious about them.
So I get the pitcher's attention, and he came over to talk to me. I checked out his name on my lineup card, and knew that he was Mark Melancon as he got closer to me. We then struck up a conversation, and I found this guy to be very "down to earth", and humble, which was a shock to me, because all the Cincinnati Reds pitchers for the most part are arrogant!. Mark answered my questions about the glove, and and he eventually tossed me a ball that day, I believe. Being an Astro pitcher, and the team being in our division (REDS) at the time, I was likely to see him again.
Over the next few years, I would see Mark a bunch of times, and we kind of made friends, like Zack Hample and Heath Bell. I was web surfing on Ebay one day, and was looking at game used baseball gloves on the site, and I saw Mark Melancon's game used glove on there for aound $189.00. I immediately put a bid on it. I watched the bidding for a few days, but the bidding went off in the middle of the night, so I didn't win the glove...rats! So anyway, the next time I saw Mark at the ball park, I told him about his glove on Ebay. He was surpised to hear about it, and asked if I had won it. Of course I told him NO, and explained to him how it all went down. He didn't know how his glove wound up on Ebay, and he asked me how much it went for. I told him about $200.00. He then asked me If I wanted one of his gloves? I said, yeah! Of course, you're one of the coolest pitchers in the league, I like the glove you use, and it would be an honor to have one of your game used items. He told me to meet him down by the dugout after batting practice, and that he would give me his agent's phone number. I thought to myself, yeah right...I'm going to get so blown off!
After BP, my wife and I made it down to the visitor's dugout right before the game, and I saw Mark signing autographs on the 3rd base line before he was going to head off to the bullpen. He saw me, he stopped signing autographs, and told me to wait there, he then ran back inside the clubhouse to get his agent's phone number. I was shocked to see a major leaguer stop what he was doing, and go through the trouble, and take the time to hook a fan up like this! He came back with his agents number on a piece of paper, handed it to me, then looked me right in the eye, and asked me if I was going to for sure call his agent (like I was going to be scared, or something), and I said yes, I'm an Ex-Drill Sergeant & Ex-Cop, I'm not afraid to call a sports agent; he said OK. I thanked him, and he told me that he was going to check back with me the next time he saw me to see how things were going with the glove. I thought to myself...wow, cool!
So, I called the agent, and told him about the glove, and he knew the score, as Mark had called him and told him that I was going to call about it. So, I arranged for the agent to pick me out one of Mark's glove's, but I would have to wait until after the season was over to procure one. The agent told me that Mark needed to keep his extra gloves until the end of the season just in case he needed them. He then keeps one for himself, then breaks one in for next year, then the rest of them get auctioned off for charity. So, I had to stay in touch with the agent for awhile. Well, as things would shake out, Mark got traded to the Boston Red Sox from the Astros, he had to move there, and had a baby...why am I telling you all this, because I figured that I was going to get lost in the shuffle, and was going to be an after thought, and that I would NEVER get my glove. Oh well, it was a nice thought anyway by Mark.
So, I kept contacting Mark's agent for approximately a year or so, and he kept telling me that it was hard to catch up with Mark, because he wanted him to sign the glove for me before he sent it. He also stated that Mark was busy in the off season with the new baby and all, and for me to keep checking back with him. So for a year or so, I was getting the "run-a-round", and playing "phone-tag"! After awhile, I didn't hear from the sports agent anymore. So I figured that this was never going to happen. I rooted for Mark from afar, as he spent all of 2012 in Boston. Then, Mark got traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates! Yea...he's back in my division I thought! So, this year while the Pirates were back at G.A.B.P., I saw Mark again. He immediately remembered me, said hi, and *HE* asked me if I ever received my glove from him? Of course I said NO, and told him that his agent "flaked out" on me!
I told Mark what his agent had told me, that there was a hold up with him signing the glove, and all that, and that he (the agent) broke contact with me. Mark was truly upset about all this, and told me to meet him again by the dugout, and gave me his NEW sports agent's number. Mark told me that he would get me a glove this time (this happened early 2013). So, same drill...call the agent...get Mark to sign a glove...yada...yada! But this time his new agent tells me that I would have to pay for the glove! I said pay for the glove (?), I thought Mark was going to just give me a glove? Was I being naive, or was he taking advantage of me now? I told the new agent, who was also an Italian-American now (I tried to hit him with that angle too, sorry), that Mark knows that I am retired Military, and I thought that he was going to hook me up with a glove because of this.
The new agent said that Mark's Game Used items are in demand now, because he was a premier "Closer" in the league, and that I would have to pay for the glove. I told him that this whole thing started over a conversation about me bidding on Mark's glove on Ebay, and that the glove originally went for $200.00, and that I would pay that. He wanted me to pay $300.00, but let me pay him the $200.00 for the glove, because I was a Vet. Actually, $300.00 is a very good price for a game used glove for any MLB player, considering that all MLB players use top of the line gloves & equipment to start with! I have seen game used signed gloves on Ebay before, going for around $500.00 to $900.00, and they weren't personalized to a specific person either!
So, I cut a check for the glove to SFX Sports, and hoped that this would actually happen, and that my money wasn't going into a "Black-Hole"!!! I kept in contact with Mark's new agent all throughout the 2013 season, and he kept telling me that he was waiting for Mark to sign the glove...UH-OH... same thing, right?! Well, take a look at what showed up on my doorstep after the season was over! Not only did I receive a personalized ...GAME USED..."Mark Melancon Glove", it was from his Red Sox season! The original glove that I was supposed to get, was just going to be one of his "spare" gloves (NOT game used). I also got a signed baseball card, and a Boston Red Sox game used (MUD RUBBED), and signed 100 Year Fenway Park Commemorative baseball from 2012!!! How cool was that?! To say that I was tickled, was an understatement! I wanted one of those Red Sox Comm. balls from last year too.
This guy is a Class Act all the way! Considering that most major league players are jerks on average, unless they have to do something for their foundations, or charity events, this was insanely cool!!! This player did this out of the goodness of his heart, and for an "old guy" too...not a little kid. Anyway, this just goes to show you that sometimes good things happen at the ball park if you get there early, and you are a nice guy! This isn't the first time I got hooked up by a major leaguer by the way, Brandon Phillips gave me one of his NEW & signed baseball bats on the field at G.A.B.P. during batting practice, because he knows me & my wife are his #1 fans! We rock a Big #4 sign for him when he comes up to bat every game, or when he makes a great play on the field. But, Mark Melancon had the decency to follow through on a promise of getting me one of his gloves. That was awesome, and I can't wait to see him this season, and tell him about it! I will always be a big fan of his!
So, when you see Mark Melancon at the ball park, remember that he is a very cool guy! Show him some love. And when you are at the ball park, remember to be on your best behavior, and treat people with respect...kids, old people, the players, and even that jerk drunk fan. When you throw that "Boomerang of Love & Kindness" out there, it might just come back to you with something special...remember that! I hope you enjoyed my story. Have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, and I hope to see you all at the ball park next year. As always, have a "ball"...I will!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.