It’s funny that as much as I blogged about “Hulk Logan”, something in my heart told me the night would belong to another. His name is Vasili Spanos and he is without a shadow of a doubt, an enigma. He smiles and signs for the crowd despite them not knowing who he is. “Number 22, can I have your autograph?”
He sits in the dugout as a DH and makes no attempt to interact with his mostly younger teammates. He even goes as far as sitting at the corner away from everyone. After at-bats, he comes in and curses for 45 minutes about his plate appearance. This comes after a ground out and a near-miss home run to Center, which he legs out for a Double. After his eventual run, he comes in and cracks what some might call a smile with his teammates. Then it’s off to his destitute where he begins brooding, perhaps because his RBI Double was not a Three-Run Home Run.
In between all this action, Spanos makes sure to take his Insulin shots. Yes, Vasili is a Diabetic. He brings to the dugout his baseball equipment in one bag and his water, Gatorade, and needles in another one. Throughout the game he managed to raise his average from .256 up to .269, all while the Infamous Tatiana and I cheered loudly for him. It’s a shame we were the only ones.
In his last at-bat after his success at the plate it seemed that Vasili was in a great mood until a 91 MPH pitch rocked him straight on his helmet. From my seats I could see anger and pain in his eyes, but he walked directly to First without incident. When he came back to the dugout after the inning was over the entire team gave them a sign of approval, as they joked and mocked Spanos. This time, Vasili could not hide his smile and look about as happy as anyone could.
The game was over and as the players were walking away we called Vasili over. He not only signed our two cards but he even posed for a picture. Overall, he was a great gentleman and an even greater player on that night. When his teammates had long been gone, Vasili was again alone in the dugout collecting his things. At that moment the lights went out and the fireworks show began. We sat through 20 minutes of beautiful lights in the sky but every few minutes I’d take a peek in the dugout.
All I could see was a silhouette of a baseball player. He wasn’t the strongest, the fastest, or anything close to the best but on this night, he was a hero on and off the field. Thank you, Vasili.
Mother Nature tried to ruin the fun…
Vasili Spanos warming up
Vasili at the plate
A typical view from our seats, Vasili alone
Vasili cares about the fans…
…and the fans care about him!