As a local sports reporter, I don't expect to cross paths with famous athletes very often. In my year with Main Street Connect I've been fortunate enough to interview Bobby Valentine, Calvin Murphy and Travis Simms, to name a few.
I also didn't expect to meet the player responsible for one of my fondest sports-related memories. But there I was on Wednesday afternoon with the man himself, Rico Brogna.
You're probably wondering--Rico Brogna, the guy who played for the Mets in the mid-90s and the infamously terrible late-90s Phillies? Yep, the former Major League Baseball player who just took a job as the head coach of the Notre Dame-Fairfield football team provided me with one of my favorite memories from growing up.
Full disclosure, I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan. I've been to Fenway Park more times than I can count and I've been to some amazing games. That would include opening day 2005, when the Red Sox raised their first World Series banner in 86 years.
In 2000, Brogna was claimed off of waivers by the Red Sox and played only 43 games in Boston. He hit a grand total of one home run in his time in Beantown, but boy was it a doozy.
I was 13 years old, sitting 20 rows behind home plate with my best friend, Dan, and his dad, seeing the Sox take on the then-lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Boston trailed 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases. Brogna stepped to the plate and I said out loud, "Grand slam, right here!"
The very next pitch, Brogna cranked one into the right field bullpen for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Red Sox one of the most memorable regular season wins of the decade.
Eleven years later, in Fairfield, Conn., I was interviewing the guy responsible for one of the indelible moments from my childhood and one I still talk about with my best friend, Dan. But that's not the coolest part. It was one of his favorite memories, too.
Brogna is from Massachusetts and grew up a huge Red Sox fan. He said that was something he always dreamed of doing. He told me his young kids are becoming Red Sox fans, too, and recently came across a highlight of that same home run while watching NESN on a family trip to Cape Cod.
So a press conference introducing a high school football coach turned into a very special moment for a young sports reporter. It was one of those moments when paths that you never expect to cross do. Eleven years after that home run, Rico provided me with yet another indelible memory.
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