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Who is Bobby Dickerson?
He’s the coach at third base who just made the bad send that got an Orioles’ runner thrown out at home plate, right?
That’s probably the only time you see him, the only time you hear Dickerson’s name.
The truth is “Bobby D.” is a really good third base coach and infield instructor. His split-second decisions are usually right on; he’s up there with Sam Perlozzo, Cal Ripken Sr., and Billy Hunter in the group of Orioles’ third base coaches that made it look easy.
Dickerson is a baseball lifer, a guy who actually played for Buck Showalter in the late 1980s in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Albany, N.Y., in the New York Yankees organization. He’s been a minor league player, manager and coach in various organizations.
He returned to the Orioles in 2010 as a minor league infield coordinator, and that’s when he first met a skinny teen-ager from Curacao named Jonathan Schoop. They’ve worked together since, and when Schoop was named to his first All-Star team this month, nobody was happier than Dickerson – though no one looked as sad.
Dickerson cried when Schoop was told he made the All-Star team (Showalter allowed Dickerson to break the news to Schoop, but he deferred to Showalter because “Buck is the best at that.”).
Dickerson cried a few hours later when he talked to reporters about Schoop’s journey. And, who knows, maybe Dickerson cried Tuesday night when Schoop was introduced to the Marlins Park crowd as an AL All-Star – Dickerson didn’t attend in person, his brother got married this week.
As Schoop says about Dickerson, “he’s an emotional guy.”
Those emotions come from an honest place; Dickerson never made it to the majors as a player, but he did as a coach. And now he lives for those moments with his players, especially someone who has battled like Schoop.
“I think what’s missed in what we do for a living. I’m in the major leagues now, but I was in the minor leagues 25 years, (I’ve worked with) all the coaches in the Dominican academy,” Dickerson said. “We talk about where are the Orioles players that have been developed through the years? We get a player with makeup, aptitude, work ethic, some abilities, he gets developed. And Jonathan is the epitome of that. His work ethic is incredible.”
Probably the coolest moment I’ve witnessed this season was when Dickerson was waiting to be interviewed about Schoop in the players’ tunnel at Camden Yards. Schoop’s dad walked past with a few other relatives and Dickerson stopped him. The two men embraced and exchanged congratulations.
Their boy was an All-Star.
Remembering Juan C.
Since I’m in the emotional mood apparently, I wanted to share a weird – maybe profound — moment I had this week.
While running around doing errands Monday, my phone butt-dialed two numbers. It’s not really that uncommon. Admittedly, I’m a habitual inadvertent dialer. It happens once every month or so, but I can’t remember doing it twice in rapid-fire.
Anyway, the first was a friend, who texted me to chide me about my mess-up.
I didn’t recognize the second number, and was afraid it was a tangential baseball source. So I looked at my call log, and was stopped in my tracks. My phone had inadvertently called the cell phone of Juan C. Rodriguez, the former Miami Marlins beat reporter for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Juan died in January 2016 after a valiant, three-year battle with brain cancer.
I guess I never took Juan’s phone number out of my contact list after he passed away. It’s just one of those things; it never crossed my mind to remove it.
The timing on this misdial was particularly striking. The All-Star Game was played Tuesday in Miami, Juan’s home turf. I’ve always referred to the Monday of All-Star Week as “Baseball Solstice,” the longest day in the baseball writing season. We begin interviews in the morning and don’t leave the park until after midnight, when the Home Run Derby contest stories are filed. As a group, we enjoy the experience, but we also complain about the never-ending day.
And, right in the middle of Baseball Solstice, my phone called Juan’s cell.
I haven’t been to the All-Star Game in a few years, but I guarantee Juan would have been there this week if he could have, busting his butt, as always, and looking for a unique angle.
A few hours after my misdial, I saw a piece on Twitter about how the late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez would have been in his glory during this week’s festivities in Miami and how his absence was felt by his teammates and friends.
The same goes for Juan C., even for those of us that didn’t cover this year’s game.
Schoop’s All-Star night, and a tribute to Monica
Schoop entered in the bottom of the fourth Tuesday night to play defense and made a tag at second base on a great throw by AL center fielder Mookie Betts to complete an 8-4 double play.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Schoop, in his first All-Star at-bat, doubled down the left field line against Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Alex Wood. Schoop then scored the first run of the game on a bloop single to right by Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.
Schoop also handled ground balls in the bottom of the fifth and sixth without incident. He was removed in the top of the seventh for pinch-hitter Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano stayed in to play second base and ultimately hit the game-deciding homer in the 10th to give the AL a 2-1 victory and capture the MVP award.
During the now annual and poignant “Stand Up to Cancer” portion of the All-Star Game, when those in the stadium hold placards to remember someone who has dealt with or is dealing with cancer, Schoop honored Monica Barlow, the Orioles’ former PR director who died in February 2014 from lung cancer. Very cool to see Schoop remembering Monica three years later. She made a tremendous impact on many.
Nomo’s no-hitters no joke
I wanted to share a factoid with you all – I promise no more heart-tugging – because it really struck me as strange, and pretty incredible.
On Sunday afternoon, Colorado rookie lefty Kyle Freeland came within two outs of recording only the second no-hitter in the history of Coors Field before allowing a single to Melky Cabrera.
The only no-hitter thrown in homer-happy Coors was in 1996 by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo.
That fact blew my mind. Because Nomo is also the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in batter-friendly Camden Yards in the stadium’s 25-year history. Nomo shut down the Orioles in April 2001, which was his debut as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The Japanese right-hander spent parts of 13 seasons in the majors and threw just two no-hitters in his career – at Coors Field and Camden Yards. Go figure.
By the way, Freeland would have been just the second Colorado Rockie to register a no-hitter. The first? Yep, Ubaldo Jimenez at Atlanta in April, 2010.
I want to make sure you have an on-line opportunity to listen to my weekly radio show on WOYK 1350 in York, Pa. This week’s show – we’re on every Monday starting at 6 p.m. – featured my take on the first half of the Orioles season.
My guest was MASN’s Mel Antonen, who shared his thoughts on the Orioles, Nationals and MLB’s first half.
Check it out here: