Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Memory of a Banquet - I

As my memory pulls up the images it's telling me this banquet took place in 1997 or 2002.  Why of all the 30 banquets would my mind tell me to pick from those two years?  That in a minute.

The ambiance and positioning of TVs in the establishment suggest to me that we were at Giordano's in Oak Park.  So that leads me to believe it was more likely 1997 than 2002.  David and I began our migration deep into the western suburbs of Chicago in the late 90's or early 2000's with the growth of our respective families and at that point we settled in on HomeRun Inn in Darien.

Prior to that we held the banquets in our homes, at Giordano's, even at a Chinese restaurant (that's a story you don't want to miss).  But this story I'm pretty sure took place at Giordano's in Oak Park.  I seem to recall the room we were in, with a big screen TV near the ceiling (or maybe it was elevated in the bar area next to the room we were in).

Usually, for most owners, the allegiance to a given player ends with the last out of the regular season.  I may own Aaron Hill and want him to have an MVP year, but since I'm not really a Diamondback fan, once the post-season starts I don't want to see Hill beating up on a team I would like to get to the World Series.

Apparently that was not the case for one of our owners.  In 1997 (and work with me here that all the specific details I'm sharing are actually accurate) we were enjoying some pizza, camaraderie and award announcements with the NL playoffs on the television in the background.  David Mahlan (Commissioner and CFCL God) was smoothly running the award ceremonies when, in the middle of handing out an award, we heard "YEAH!!!!  WAY TO GO JT!!!" and saw Paul Zeledon (owner of Da Paul Meisters) jump up [literally] and clap because JT Snow got a single against the Marlins.

Mind you he didn't hit a game winning homerun, didn't drive in a run if I remember correctly.  He . . . got . . . a . . . single.  He got a single in the post-season which does not count one iota for CFCL purposes.  We all looked at Paul and said "Paul?  What are you doing?"  Paul responded, "Snow got a single!  He was on my team this year."  Didn't matter the single didn't count for the Meisters stats.  Paul just wanted all of his players that were in the post-season to do well.

And here's the best part (please, memory, please let this part be true as well).  As I remember it, JT Snow's contract with the Meisters expired at the end of the 1997 season.  So technically Paul was cheering for a player he no longer owned.

Right there, in a strange nutshell, epitomizes the essence, the passion, the geekiness of the CFCL and its owners.  To paraphrase a popular beer commercial of today "It's only strange if you're not in the CFCL."

More images from the 2013 Banquet:

The DoorMatts happily accepting their certificate (and envelope) for finishing in 3rd place - in the money for the 4th time in the last six years.

Commissioner Bentel showing the new owners the Copperfield Trophy (won by the Graging Bulls).  The trophy consists of two baseball cards (one of the top offensive player for the CFCL Champion and one of the top pitcher - this year it was Carlos Gomez and Stephen Strasburg); an engraved nameplate and a Cubs logo ball all signed by the 2013 CFCL owners at the draft.  At this point of the explanation Bentel may have been instructing . . . imploring . . . threatening the new owners "Do Not Sign In The Place Of Honor!"  The previous year's champion signs the ball underneath the Cubs logo in the Place of Honor.  It's fitting that this post was about the Meisters.  Paul could never quite follow the instructions to not sign in the Place of Honor.

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