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Minor-league baseball: New Jersey players swing for the bigs

One-time major-league stars now playing in minor-league baseball look for a shot at redemption with New Jersey's Newark Bears.

(Page 2 of 4)

Three outs, inning over, and Mendoza's two-run lead is safe for now.

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A call to the dugout

Meanwhile, Mark Skeels, then-general manager of the Newark Bears, is awaiting Redman in the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse, clutching a cellphone and a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it.

Moments earlier Skeels had been on the phone with Joe Klein, the commissioner of the Atlantic League, for which the Bears play. The Milwaukee Brewers organization wants Redman to join their Triple-A squad ASAP, with a chance to be a September call-up with the major league team. When a major league organization says ASAP, that means Redman will need to call the Brewers to hash out the details between innings. During the game he will then run through a mental checklist of what he needs to do – basically, throw his clothes, bats, and gloves in a suitcase before hopping the next plane for redemption.

Skeels had passed the news on to Tim "Rock" Raines, the manager of the Bears who's better known for being one of the greatest base stealers in major league history. Now, as Redman trots in from center field, Raines hangs his beefy arms over the dugout fence and stares down his leadoff hitter with a devilish smile.

"Yo, Tike," he calls out. "Milwaukee wants you, man."

Redman wipes the sweat from his brow and rolls his eyes dismissively as he skips down the dugout steps, grateful for the half inning's respite from the blazing sun.

Raines is known for teasing his players – "especially … the guys who've been there before," Raines later admits – but Redman's not in the mood today. Quarter to noon is early in the day for a professional baseball player, and 95-degree weather will knock the sense of humor right out of you. And besides, Aug. 19 is late in the season for the bigs to come calling.

"I'm serious, Tike," says Raines. "Skeels is in the tunnel right now with a phone number. Milwaukee wants you to call immediately and give 'em an answer."

Redman looks up and, realizing the news is no joke, is overcome with a sense of relief. This is why he's been toiling in Newark all summer for a meager $2,000 a month, minus clubhouse dues (the fact that he has to pay them is a humiliation in and of itself). This is what he's been waiting for.

"It's just being in the big league stadium, seeing the fans, and that sense of achievement," Redman confides after the game (a 10-8 victory over the River Sharks), when asked what excites him most about the prospect of being back in a major league uniform. Redman is standing outside the showers of the Bears clubhouse now, wearing a pair of sandals and black Under Armour shorts, anxious about making his plane. "And then, you get in the batter's box and just lock in...."

Where they are now

  • TIKE REDMAN is at Milwaukee Brewers spring training, fighting for a spot on the big league team.
  • CARL EVERETT and RAMIRO MENDOZA are returning to the Newark Bears for the 2010 season.
  • SCOTT WILLIAMSON is weighing his options, and considering retiring from professional baseball.