From the first time I saw them in 1996 at an old make shift ball park next to a shopping center about 30 miles outside of Boston, later at a spectacular new LeLacheur Park, until this season at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, MD, I’ve never failed to have fun seeing the Boston Red Sox Rookie A Lowell Spinners.
Many Spinners are first year college players, just drafted out of college, who are getting their first taste of professional baseball and are anxious to please any one connected with organized baseball, including an old demanding photographer like yours truly..
They play a fun, competitive brand of baseball, where the young players can still make mistakes and learn from their failure as well as success.
Through the years, I’ve had several special moments with the Spinners.
I used to love talking to my favorite Spinners manager Billy Gardner, who nicknamed me ”Brimsley,” because he thought I looked like the guy advertising Quaker Oats on television..
I remember telling my son Thomas that David Eckstein, the little skinny kid playing second base for Lowell, was my best bet to be a major leaguer because he was always hustling and had so much desire.
During my days at Lowell, I got to know several major leaguers in the making, Freddy Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz, who pitched a no-hitter last season with Boston..
In addition to taking pictures of most of the players, I’d interviewed a player or two for Boston Baseball, in past years, future major leaguers, Shea Hillenbrand, David Eckstein, Kevin Youkillis, Anibal Sanchez, and Jonathan Papelbon, who I designated my official body guard one day in case fans got too ruly. This year’s lucky interviewees were Red Sox #3 draft picks, RHP Kyle Weiland and RHP Stephen Fife, both of whom were very articulate and great interviews.
From the Spinners I saw play this season, I think the Red Sox got some keepers in left handed hitting leadoff hitter and outfielder Mitch Dening, who is hitting 346 BA , 3 HR and 11 RBI in 28 games played, and RHP Brock Huntzinger, who is 4-0 W-L with 0.49 ERA in 37 IP.