Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Changed Tom Shopay’s Life By Asking Two Questions

Cal Ripken Jr. collected
this card A LOT! I found
this specimen and some
great reading at
the Orioles Card website!

Judge a great leader by words and deeds. Tom Shopay saw the best of both from Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver.

“One thing Weaver said that I remember was…

You have two choices when you step on the field. You can win or lose. Why step on the field if you are going to lose?”

I saw that Shopay had worked twice as a reserve catcher in Baltimore. Sometimes, the smallest statistic can uncover the biggest tale.

“It was his [Weaver’s] idea. I was breaking in a catcher’s mitt during batting practice for weeks. Then, Andy Etchebarren was traded to the Angels and Earl always had three catchers. So he came up to me and asked if I ever caught before. At that point, I knew where he was going.

I said, ‘Hell, Yes!’

The only time I ever put on catcher’s equipment was when two catchers got hurt in college and they asked for a volunteer.

I ended up by catching two full big league games and extended my career two years.”

Shopay grew up in Bristol, Connecticut. See how his hometown honored him. Measure Shopay’s grin to see how much the honor must mean.

Yankee Slugger Tom Shopay Owns Souvenir, Courtesy of Fast-Acting Teammate Jim Bouton

Kudos to Jay Grossman and
http://www.sportscarddatabase.com/
for preserving this sad
specimen of hobby history:
AN AIRBRUSHED YANKEE!

Time to create a new statistic. Jim Bouton gets the first “historical” assist. Okay…save one for Tom House in the Atlanta bullpen when Hank Aaron set homer history (but that’s another story).

Tom Shopay began his baseball life as a New York Yankee. On Sept. 23, 1967, Shopay collected his first-ever home run, off Minnesota’s Dave Boswell at Metropolitan Stadium. Meanwhile, Bouton collected the artifact, negotiating with partisan Twins rooters. I’m guessing that the famous author-to-be served as a horse-trading Santa Claus for more than one rookie in his pitching career.

As Shopay saw it:

“The pitch was a fastball on the inner half of the plate. Jim Bouton traded a fan a couple of new balls for my ball. He was in the bullpen.”

(Thanks to www.retrosheet.org for the details!)

Shopay was a Rule 5 draft acquisition by the Orioles, ending his brief time in pinstripes. I asked him to compare the media attention he observed with each team.

“At the time I played, it seemed that you had more newspaper coverage. But New York is New York. The sports writers were always around, and plenty of them.

Baltimore was always doing a lot of radio and TV interviews. They also had the same beat writers that were with you all the time. They were good human beings, too.”

Tomorrow: Words of wisdom from Baltimore manager Earl Weaver.

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