Friday, August 6, 2010

Face Your Fears

Everyone's afraid of something.  OK, not Matt Murdock, but everyone else.  Lots of people are afraid of heights (Frank Russo), some people are afraid of snakes (Wally), and some are afraid of sharks (me, unless I have my trusty shark repellent handy).

Cyclones pitcher Hamilton Bennett is deathly afraid of, um, Leprechauns.

Well, ol' HB made the mistake of sharing his fears yesterday on Irish Heritage Night, when we had Bay Ridge's own Scotty the Leprechaun here for the festivities.  Of course, i saw this as an opportunity to terrorize Bennett in any way possible involving Scotty help Hamilton face and overcome his fears, making him a better man in the process.  So, when the time came for Scotty to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, Bennett looked at me like a drowning man looking for a life preserver, and I...gave him the thumbs up, a pat on the back, and big "go get 'em."

I have seen some things in my life, but I don't know if I've ever seen fear in someone's eyes like I did in that moment.  To his credit, Bennett soldiered through.  He didn't want to cause a scene or throw off the pre-game timetable, so he gingerly put one foot in front of the other, crouched behind the plate, caught the first pitch, and hesitantly posed for a picture:

Afterward, he was still shaken up, and couldn't -- or wouldn't -- take his eyes off the little green guardian of the gold pot.

Fine.  Ha ha.  The game starts, Scotty's off the field, and everyone goes on about their business, right?  Wrong.

Our hitting coach, Benny DiStefano went to high school with Scotty, and when he found out about Bennett's fear, he decided to take things one step further (or one step too far, depending on who you ask).

I got word that I was to escort Scotty into the clubhouse during the ninth inning so that he could hide inside Bennett's locker!

Even now, I can't stop giggling like a schoolgirl when I think about it.  Scotty climbed in, and told me to cover him up with the clothes, pillows, and equipment in Bennett's locker.  He was loving it!  "I've done some crazy, ahem, stuff," he told me, "but this has to be up at the top of the list."

Bennett was the last one in the clubhouse and by this time everyone was in on it.  Wally made an announcement that everyone needed to turn in their road uniforms for the upcoming trip, and when Bennett walked over to the locker, Scotty popped out!

HB literally went running for the hills, and Scotty, now in his glory, chased after him!  Through the clubhouse, onto the field, and into the bullpen they went until Bennett finally shook him and went into hiding.  A full THIRTY MINUTES later, Bennett was still on the field, afraid to come back in the clubhouse.  And of course, he blamed me.  It wasn't until I swore on everything I hold dear that Scotty had left the building and convinced him that I was just following orders that he came back inside.  And even then he was a little unsure.

Now, it should be noted that Bennett is perhaps the most fan-and-front-office-friendly player on the entire team, which makes me feel a little bad about the whole thing.  However, even he admitted that it was one of the best pranks ever and that he'd be laughing, too...if it hadn't happened to him!

Hopefully he's willing to forgive and one day he'll look back on it and see the humor.

After all, a little terrifying leprechaun interaction can be good for your career.  Look what it did for Rachel:

 -- Dave

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