Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monster Card of the Week - Elmira Pioneers Edition

Last night, Jeffrey Wolfe over at A Pack A Day busted a rack pack of 1992 Topps and made some disparaging comments about one of my favorite Red Sox players, Tim Naehring. Now I'll be the first to admit that Naehring wasn't an uber-prospect and was far from a star player during his 8 year career (cut short by injury), but I gotta stick up for him none the less. And what better way to do that than to make him the subject of this week's Monster Card?I grew up in a small town in North-central Pennsylvania, far away from even the closest major league city. Just over the border in New York however, was the small city of Elmira, home to the Pioneers, a class "A" affiliate of the Red Sox. I attended a lot of Pioneers games when I was younger. Although I enjoyed going to the games, very few of the players I saw in Elmira (including the players on the visiting teams) ever made it to the big leagues. Tim Naehring was one of the rare few that did. I don't honestly remember much about Tim from his playing days in Elmira. But he became one of my favorite Red Sox players as a result of one of those bizarre, cosmic coincidences that I just love.

When I was growing up my family would take a vaccation every summer to Massachusetts to visit extended family. Most of the vaccation was spent at various relatives' houses, but at least once a trip we would venture into Boston. Some summers we went to a museum, others the aquarium, and some we would go to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. Such was the case in the summer of 1990, when Tim Naehring made his major league debut. The Red Sox were playing the Twins with Tom Bolton and Scott Erickson battling to a 0-0 tie through 4 innings (my memories of this game have been supplemented by the old scorecard I kept during the game). In the bottom of the inning, Mike Greenwell reached base on an error. He advanced to third via a single by Tony Pena and a fielder's choice by Billy Joe Robidoux. Then, with two outs, up strides the rookie, Tim Naehring who, in only his second game since being called up does not have a ML hit. In that at bat, one of the only players I ever saw play both in Elmira and in Boston stroked a two out single for his first ML hit and his first ML RBI. It turned out to be the only run scored in the game. I remember the atmosphere in the stands being electric during that half inning, with all of the fans standing and cheering for a kid few of them had ever even heard of. To this day it is one of the few memories I retain out of all the Red Sox games I attended. So while Tim Naehring may not have been the best player ever to grace Fenway Park, he will always be one of my favorites.

16 comments:

Dave said...

I'm from Omaha, so I remember Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Jay Payton all playing for Georgia Tech in the College World Series about 14 or 15 years ago. Even at the time I was pretty aware of who they were, particularly Nomar and Payton. It's been rewarding to see them grow into big leaguers, so I know the feeling.

Other guys are like that too -- Mike Sweeney and Mike Aviles of the Royals come to mind. It's even cooler when the guy is kind of regarded as an organizational scrub and then turns out to be pretty decent in the end.

Dave - Fielder's Choice said...

Awesome story. Where abouts in North Central Pennsylvania did you grow up? My dad lived in the town of Sayre for a couple of years (and worked in Athens) in the early 1990s. It was very close to Elmira too, and I went to a few Pioneers games back then. I remember being very excited about getting an autograph of 1993 Yankees first round pick Matt Drew there.

Scott C. said...

Sometimes I'm amazed at how small the world really is. I grew up in Athens. Dunn Field was a great place to watch baseball. Its never really been the same since the Red Sox moved their "A" affiliate to Lowell.

Unknown said...

Whatever they say about Tim Naehring, negative or positive comments, he's still one of the best players out there. That's the price to pay of because he's famous and well-loved by many.

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