This is the time of year where you start hearing trade rumors. And that brings back memories…some good, and some not so good. I got traded twice in my career, once from the Rockies to the Royals and once from the Diamondbacks to the Dodgers.
Any player who’s been around for a couple minutes is very familiar with the process. Guys come and go all the time. But until you’re one of those guys, it’s hard to relate. Getting traded during the season is tough, regardless of if you’re going from a last place team to first or visa versa.
The first time it happened to me, I was playing for the Rockies. If I’m not mistaken, it was around the all- star break and we were right in the hunt. We weren’t particularly talented, but we were scrappy and played well as a team. To make a long story short, after one of the games, I got called into our manager Buddy Bell’s office.
As I walked in, Dan O’Dowd (general manager) was sitting there too. I had no clue what was up. I remember thinking they probably wanted to discuss the game or the pitching staff or something. But I could instantly feel a funky vibe and that’s when Dan just came out and told me that I’d been traded. Bam. It was like someone sucker punched me. All I remember saying was where am I going? Dan replied, Kansas City.
That’s when I started to get pissed. I had already spent 6 years in Kansas City. Not to mention that the Rockies were in first and the Royals were in the cellar. I liked the guys on my team, we played well together, what the hell did they want? And you’re sending me back to KC? And I’ve got one day to get there? Damn it!
I just walked out in a daze, spoke to the media, said goodbye to all my friends and teammates and headed home. Telling the wife was interesting too. Basically the conversation went like this…I got traded to Kansas City, I’ve got to be on a plane tomorrow at noon, I hate to do this, but you’ve got to pack the whole house up, send everything to KC and meet me there with our one year old son. She didn’t take it well.
But took it we did. And as with most things in life, as bad as it seemed at that moment, it all turned out for the best. I made a lot of new friends, reaquainted with old ones, and we actually turned out to be a pretty competitive team.
Still though, the experience was pretty traumatic. My most vivid memory of the whole event happened the day after I got traded. I came back to Coors field in the morning to clear out my locker and get my stuff together before my flight to KC. There was a scheduled night game that day, and I was there early in the morning, so the stadium was pretty much a ghost town. I cleared out my locker and was strolling across the field saying goodbye and heading towards my car which was parked outside the left field wall.
Like I said, it was a ghost town. Just me and the field. But as I crossed the infield, someone up in the press box hit the button that played the song I used to walk up to the batter’s box…Crazy Town’s “Butterfly”.
Talk about emotional. With tears in my eyes and the music blasting in the empty stadium, I gave a salute to the mystery person in the press box and just kept walking…on to the next city. Another chapter in the life of a ballplayer.