Sports: We Shared It Together
JM: Yeah. My dad was a fast-pitch softball pitcher and also played shortstop. So I grew up going to his games. When I turned eight, I was old enough to play Little League, and my dad coached me for the next 10 years, through American Legion ball. When he came home from work, I would be on the porch with a catcher’s mitt and my glove and a ball, and before he could even go in to say hi to my mom, we’d be pitching in the driveway. And if he had a game that night, or practice, I went with him. On nights that he didn’t have games, and I didn’t have games, we’d be in the backyard, playing pepper. On weekends, as I got into my early teens, my dad would take me out to one of the local fields, and he’d throw me batting practice, and my mom and my sister would shag. It was a family event. That’s how I grew up, with baseball in my blood. And it’s true to this day. Not only were my wife and children at all of our playoff games, but my parents and my sister were at all of the games, and the playoff games, and they were at the parade. My parents live and die with the Phillies.
MT: Didn’t you tell me, Jamie, that you’re moving to Bradenton, Florida, so your two teenage sons can go to the IMG Baseball Academy?
JM: That’s right. I’ve told our boys, “Look, this is your opportunity, we can give you this opportunity, now it’s up to you guys to make something of it.” Our goal is to have these kids go through this program, graduate from the school, and go on to hopefully play college baseball, because we want them to get an education. After many years of pro baseball, I finally got my degree in 1996. This is an opportunity for them to make something for themselves.
PM: Speaking of sons, Mike, I’m reminded that you didn’t stay for the parade because you wanted to get back and take your son trick-or-treating.
MT: Well, this was a tough one for me. But I realized that when I left the graveyard, I felt like I had done everything there was to do, and I couldn’t ask for any more joy. I still get choked up when I think about it. I mean, I was at all three rounds of the playoffs, I sat with my family, my best friends from childhood, summer camp, elementary school, high school, college, and then got to share it with my dad. When Lidge struck out Hinske, I turned to my buddies and suddenly we were 10 years old again, dancing and crying and kissing each other. My lasting image of this experience is of men hugging men in the streets of Philadelphia. If you don’t believe in the power of baseball to pull that off —
PM: The only other time that happens is the Mummers Parade.