Saturday, March 18, 2006

March 18th, 2000

Mets Acquire Joe McEwing

Nicknamed "Super Joe" because of his early performances in St. Louis, the nickname would eventually take on something of a mocking tone as McEwing carried on with his career as a utility mediocrity, playing all around the field but not hitting anywhere. The Mets finally tired of his no-hit stylings after the 2004 season; he spent last year with Kansas City and is in camp there this year as a NRI.

Anyway, this is as good a time as any to tell my Joe McEwing story. I was walking home from school one day in the winter of 2001--this must've been after the World Series but before Thanksgiving--when I noticed a sign in the window of our local supermarket: "Today! Meet Joe McEwing!" or something to that effect. Figuring it wasn't every day I got to meet a Major League player, even a scrub, I decided to go in. This began one of the stranger experiences of my life.

For one thing, the supermarket had put McEwing waaaay in the back of the store, near the freezer cases, so Joe was sitting there wedged between the Red Baron Pizzas and Lean Cuisine Entrees. For another, although they had set up a table for Joe (upon which was a comically high stack of Joe McEwing photos waiting to be autographed; Joe McEwing hasn't signed that many photos in his entire life), he was sitting on what appeared to be cardboard boxes filled with, I suppose, more Red Baron Pizzas and Lean Cuisine Entrees. As you might imagine, Joe had a "I really need to fire my agent" kind of look on his face.

I approached Joe and in my most respectful tone asked if he could sign a photo for me. He asked my name, took the top photo off the stack and signed it. I was about to move away when it occurred to me that I wasn't exactly holding up a line here. In fact, besides some woman who looked like she was debating whether or not to ask Joe to get her a Lean Cuisine, he and I were alone. I asked McEwing if he would mind signing a photo for a friend of mine, a big Mets' fan, and he did. Signing the two photos had taken maybe forty-five seconds, but I felt compelled to stay, in part to bathe in Joe's glow but mostly because I wanted to see how long it would take for someone else to show up.

Joe and I made awkward chit-chat for almost ten minutes--during which time I learned that being a Major League player is fun, but being away from one's family is not--a boy of maybe ten started to nervously approach the table. McEwing, obviously desperate by now to have human contact with anyone who wasn't the weird high school kid talking to him, all but grabbed the kid and began to sign an autograph. I took the hint and made my exit, wishing Joe good luck in the coming season, and resumed my walk home.

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