David Segui is how I learned what a switch-hitter was. He is how I learned that it is considered advantageous to throw left-handed if you are a first baseman; and, more basically, he is how I learned that if a player has his glove on one hand, he throws with the other; and, more confusingly, he is how I learned that if a player is facing you on television–say, if the camera was on David Segui, back leg touching the bag, body splayed, and front, gloved arm stretched out toward the mound, holding a runner close–then if a player’s glove is on your left, it is really on his own right, and he is a left-hander (this part, admittedly, remains confusing).
In 1991, when Segui was the Orioles’ better-than-average young first baseman, I believed that teams only had one starting pitcher, because I was six and whenever my father took me to Memorial Stadium, invariably Ben McDonald was pitching, because, despite Cal Ripken, Jr.’s MVP season, the O’s weren’t very good and my dad only considered it worth the schlep from our Washington, D.C. suburb if McDonald, one of the highest-rated prospects in history, was throwing.
By ’92, I was reading the paper after every game and could imitate Cal Ripken’s bizarre stance that led him to have one of his worst seasons to date; by ’93, between television and radio–usually migrating from television to radio as I was forced to my bed, the lights shut out–I never missed a game. David Segui is how I learned that sometimes your team trades players, and that you could even trade them from one league to another (Segui went to the Mets). Segui’s successor, Rafael Palmeiro, is how I learned that the steroids scandal wasn’t some distant thing but something that would affect me personally. But only today, looking up Segui, did I learn that, having begun his career in Baltimore and then spent the better part of a decade shuttled among six different teams, he ended his career as a back-up DH also in Baltimore–on a team I no longer cared about (thanks to owner Peter Angelos) in a sport I no longer cared much about (thanks to steroids).
So I guess this is growing up.