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.
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"I didn't know if I'd make it back," he admits. "I know I can play, I wanna do this till I'm 40. I won't know what to do after that, and was certainly not ready to figure that out, but for now, I can put off thinking about life after baseball."
A parting of friends
As if on cue, Carl Everett, the former big-leaguer and present designated hitter for the Bears, walks by my interview with Redman.
"You gonna miss him?" I ask Tike, nodding in the direction of Everett.
"Of course he gonna miss me," Everett yells over his shoulder. "That's a dumb question!"
An imposing presence by reputation alone, Everett is the archetype of the cocky superstar athlete, known as much for his controversial behavior off the field as for his production on it. But aside from his opening salvo, Everett seems to have mellowed since his time with the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, when "MVP" chants were replaced with catcalls of "Jurassic Carl," after the slugger declared to a reporter that dinosaurs never existed.
"Carl, you gonna miss Tike?"
"Hell no!" answers Everett. "Only thing I'll miss about him is [messing] with him."
A big smile spreads across Everett's face, with gleaming white teeth clenched around what appears to be a very expensive cigar. The stogie, along with his paunch and postgame attire of jeans and a T-shirt, make Everett look more like a rap mogul than a professional athlete.
"That's it," replies Redman. "He ain't gonna have nobody to mess with no more."
The two exchange playful punches to the kidneys before saying their final goodbyes.
"A-ight, big man!" says Redman.
"A-ight, be easy, bro," says Everett.
"You know one thing that you can't do there that you do here."
"A-ight," says Redman, knowingly.
"Any parting advice, Carl?" I ask.
"I just gave it to him," says Everett, with the weight of 14 major league seasons behind him. "But that's an inside thing. He can't tell you."
And to expect anything approaching clarity from a man known for messing with writers would be foolish.
Life after prime time
Down the hall, outside the clubhouse door, then-team spokesperson and media relations director Jesse Suskin is seated in a plastic folding chair, holding a clipboard that keeps track of who has and who hasn't paid his clubhouse dues. Dues are $7 a day during homestands and, for the most part, pay for laundry and general upkeep of the clubhouse and are collected from each player at the end of every home series.
Suskin cuts a starker contrast against the players than most front-office guys. A whip-smart 26-year-old in a polo shirt and khakis, his appearance is more suited to a Connecticut country club than a minor league ball club in Newark. Collecting clubhouse dues is not part of Suskin's job description, but having recently lost their interns, the front-office staff has lately needed to chip in with such unpleasant tasks.