Friday, June 22, 2012

Bright Side Of The Moon

1988. Fitzgerald Field, Ridgefield, Connecticut. It's the bottom of the fifth in a six-inning Little League game between Rotary and Village Bank. Pitcher Jere Smith has yet to allow a base hit. Bank's light-hitting John McAuley grounds one slowly to second. Smith turns see a gaping hole in the infield, the second baseman way out of position. The ball scoots through to the outfield, and Smith would be forced to settle for a one-hit shutout.

That second baseman was the son of one of the coaches, put into the game for his mandatory three innings not in the outfield where it could be argued he belonged, but at second base. Where he proceeded to station himself right near the base, a common mistake which could be blamed on the position's misleading title.

That player's name? Mike "Moon" Mullen. (Only now do I see there was a major leaguer in the 1940s with this moniker. Mr. Mullen obviously had high hopes for his boy.)

I wouldn't go so far as to say "I've never forgiven" Moon Mullen. I was 12, preparing for high school; he was 10, fresh out of elementary. I doubt I ever saw him again after that summer, or if I did, I didn't recognize him. And I'm sure he's a stand-up guy who knows better than I do where to position one's self in life. But I was pissed. How often do you get a chance to throw a no-no?

Flash forward to this month. I wake up one morning to find a comment on my photo gallery-post of the Worcester Tornadoes game I went to. "Ha, somebody got my 'Virtual Insanity' reference, awesome," I thought. (I'd compared a Worcester pitcher's follow-through to the spastic dance moves seen in the cutting-edge 1996 video by Jamiroquai.) Then I read the comment more closely:

As a huge fan of Jamiroquai, I never really realized how much that music video may have influenced my follow-through until just now.

Wait a minute. His follow-through? This wasn't some random Jamiroquai fan, this was the pitcher himself! And though I neglected to mention his name in the original post (I've fixed that), I did include it in the description of the video I posted of him: Mike Mullen. I don't know if they call him Moon or not, but I'm just happy to have reclaimed the positive side of the name "Mike Mullen" in my life. And I'm honored to have finally, for the first time in eight-plus years of doing this blog, had an actual player write in with their thoughts. The RSFPT family will be rooting for ya, Moon-- er, Mike! Thanks again for your comment.

(I'm also wondering if he noticed the Rich Gedman collage at the top of this blog and let his teammate, Rich's son Mike Gedman, know that his dad has an obsessed fan....)

Bonus video from that day. Here's one I shot from on top of the parking garage--even from that far away, you can tell it's Mike Mullen on the mound:

Very nice work!! My mom is obviously one of my biggest fans and she somehow stumbled across the video you had of me throwing and sent me the link and said that you mentioned something about how quirky I throw (shockingly not an uncommon subject for me [lol]). I don't look at my delivery as a negative thing; I credit some of my success to my delivery, but it's always interesting to see how other people see it and hear about what people think of it. But the perfectly placed Jamiroquai reference made me comment. Brilliant!

I didn't notice the Rich Gedman collage at the top. Again, nice work, I'll definitely let Mike "Geddy" know about it tomorrow during warmups. And no, I've never had the nickname "Moon" before (unfortunately)... but I'll see what I can do to try to get that circulating around the clubhouse.

Again, thanks for the nice words. Always appreciated. And even though I may be the first player to comment on an article, I'm sure I'm not the first to read it. Keep up the good work!
Thanks, Mike. You've got a good mom. Good luck with the rest of the season!

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Location: Rhode Island, United States