It’s not often when all eyes were directed on me. I’m good with that.
And during my Cubs days, I usually made it a point to stay below the radar and steer clear of the cameras.
But 10 years ago, like it or not, I had a little live TV time. It was me – on ESPN2 – and all I had to do was look serious and print legibly. I don’t know if I’d list either as one of my strengths.
Back in 2007, Major League Baseball decided to televise the First-Year Player Draft live from Orlando, Fla. Although the actual drafting of players was technically done at each club’s “war room,” every team was asked to send representatives to the televised event.
For the first round of the draft, every club was instructed to call in its draft selection to the on-site club representative, who was using one of those old-fashioned helmet phones. The club rep wrote down the name of the pick on a piece of paper – which was then handed to an official MLB representative, who, in turn, delivered it to Commissioner Selig for announcement to the free world.
Like I said, all I had to do was look serious and print legibly.
For a few days before the draft, though, that didn’t seem easy to do. I figured I’d find a way to screw it up. Unless, of course, they purposely gave me the wrong name. The Cubs had the No. 3 overall selection, so I knew I was going to be on TV.
What was really terrifying was the company I was in. So help me, here are the first two paragraphs of the MLB press release that went out on May 27 – a week and a half before the draft:
Hall of Famers Robin Roberts, Tommy Lasorda, Jim Palmer and Dave Winfield are among the representatives who are scheduled to attend the 2007 First-Year Player Draft on behalf of their Major League Club, Major League Baseball announced today. The first day of the Draft, set for Thursday, June 7th at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will be carried live on ESPN2 from 2-6 p.m., marking the first time that the Draft will be telecast.
Others scheduled to attend include Felipe Alou; Steve Blass; Ellis Burks; Enos Cabell; Andre Dawson; Dwight Evans; Dallas Green; Ken Griffey, Sr.; Willie Horton; Frank Howard; Barry Larkin; Chet Lemon; Tony Oliva; Terry Steinbach; Darryl Strawberry; Walt Weiss; Frank White; and Don Zimmer. Each Club will have representatives on-site in Florida.
And then …
A complete listing of each organization's representatives and front office attendees, subject to change, follows:
Arizona: Rico Brogna, Luke Wren
Atlanta: Paul Snyder, Ralph Garr, Kurt Kemp
Baltimore: Jim Palmer, Scott Proefrock
Boston: Dwight Evans, Ray Fagnant
Chicago Cubs: Chuck Wasserstrom
Chicago White Sox: Roland Hemond, Chet Lemon
Cincinnati: Ken Griffey, Sr., Jim Thrift
Cleveland: Ellis Burks, Robby Thompson, Steve Frohwerk
Colorado: Walt Weiss, Clarence Johns
Detroit: Al Avila, Willie Horton, Tom Moore
Florida: Andre Dawson, Manny Colon, Brian Bridges
Houston: Enos Cabell, Jay Edmiston
Kansas City: Frank White, Art Stewart
LA Angels of Anaheim: Demetrius Figgins, Dan Radcliff
LA Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda, Ralph Avila, Brian Stephensen
Milwaukee: Gord Ash, Tony Diggs, Wil Inman
Minnesota: Jim Rantz, Tony Oliva
NY Mets: Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Morgan
NY Yankees: Frank Howard, Mike Thurman
Oakland: Terry Steinbach
Philadelphia: Robin Roberts, Lee McDaniel, Dallas Green
Pittsburgh: Steve Blass, Trevor Gooby
San Diego: Dave Winfield, Randy Smith
San Francisco: Felipe Alou, Jack Hiatt, Steve Decker
Seattle: Dan Evans
St. Louis: John Mozeliak, Alan Benes
Tampa: Bay Dave Martinez, Don Zimmer
Texas: Jim Sundberg, Steve Buechele, Mel Didier
Toronto: Rob Ducey
Washington: Barry Larkin, Tim Foli
How out of place does that Chicago Cubs entry look?
Thankfully, smarter heads prevailed – and Bob Dernier was tracked down so I wouldn’t be considered the club dignitary. But I still was tasked with answering a telephone and writing down the draftee’s name with a TV crew in my face. It was the ultimate in multi-tasking.
I’d like to think I nailed it. The phone rang, and I didn’t drop it. The player name I was given – Josh Vitters – made its way from ear to paper. Vitters and his family were in attendance, and the camera went from me to the guy carrying the card to the Commissioner to Mr. Selig – and then to the Vitters family. And before the heartbeat slowed down, the Pittsburgh Pirates were on the clock.
I spent the rest of the first round ducking whenever the camera crew made its way around the room. I already had enough broadcast time for the day.