Back in 1999, I took over writing the weekly Inside Baseball column for Sports Illustrated.
It was a huge deal for me. I was barely 27, itching for an opportunity, desperate to impress my editor and Tom Verducci and Michael Bamberger and Tim Crothers and all the greats who covered the game for the magazine.
One of my first assignments was to write something about Jim Fregosi, manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. I’d never met the man before, but I certainly knew of him. A. Because he was a superstar with the Angels back in the day; B. Because he managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1993 World Series.
I flew to Toronto, and entered the Blue Jays clubhouse. Fregosi was in his office, meeting with the assembled media. I joined the crowd, waited for an opening. I was almost certainly wearing some awful T-shirt, ill-fitted jeans and the backward cap that looked beyond inane. Finally, a burst of silence.
Me: “My name is Jeff Pearlman. I write the Inside Baseball column for Sports Illustrated and …”
Fregosi: “I don’t know what the fuck that is.”
I completed my question and slunk away.