I was sitting at my desk catching up on some dreaded paperwork Saturday afternoon when the phone rang and this upbeat voice introduced himself.
Baltimore reliever Tim Byrdak, about whom I had just written in this week's Independent Baseball Insider column, was returning my call. It was the first time we had spoken.
Even though he confirmed his happiness for his first major league victory eight days earlier, I wouldn't have been surprised if Tim was downcast. After all, he had just gone on the 60-day disabled list to have bone chips removed from his left (pitching) elbow.
He sounded anything but down, and explained why. It turns out Tim nearly got that first win last July at Minnesota only to see the Twins pull out the game in the bottom of the ninth. But after Byrdak and his Dad had walked back to the hotel Tim had a phone call that set him back. A friend from his Double-A days in Wichita had been seriously injured. This husband and father of two was paralyzed from the neck down. It probably would be a permanent condition.
"There were other things more important than a win in the major leagues," Byrdak told me.
He also is upbeat about the future. "They (Orioles) put me on the 60 because they needed the roster spot", but this 32-year-old veteran of 13 pro seasons, including an Independent Baseball campaign with Gary, IN and Joliet, IL in the Northern League in 2003 when he was coming off Tommy John (elbow) surgery, is hopeful of being back in an Orioles uniform by July 1.
I will be pulling for Tim, as well as for his friend.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
BYRDAK'S SURPRISE CALL
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.