one of the best days of my career was the day muhammad ali showed up to mariners spring training several years ago.
from the anticipation of his arrival that morning to his mezmerization of the clubhouse and especially the child like enthusiasm of mike cameron, ruben sierra and edgar martinez among others.it seemed like the world had stopped as ali held court in a room full of big dollar professionals who had all but turned into children chanting "Ali Kumbaya"!!!! one minute and a kindergarten class that the president was visiting the next, each mariner wanting his minute with ali. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen in a clubhouse.
outside the building, a lesson in sports or greatness crossing generations was given to all as ali interacted with kids at the fence who realized how lucky they were that today someone pretty special was coming over to sign a few autographs and throw a few fake punches. even with his body and mind ravaged by the sport he loved so much, ali spoke with his eyes and his smile with as much love on that late morning as he did with his rage when he was in the ring.
I shared a few minutes with the champ after the kids at the fence. I remember asking him about enjoying life now and he said in a soft muted voice, its good, life is good, he asked me about my accent and if it was from new york and i said they call you the greatest, they call me new york vinnie. it got a smile from the champ.
the mariners team phographer must have has his busiest day as the executives poured down from the offices and had their photos taken with ali. one invited ali and his entourage to stay for the game and the ballpark became a buzz nest as fans noticed ali sitting in the owners box.
as 'the greatest' sat in the owners box I asked if one of the club personnel could grab a dozen baseballs and see if we could get ali to sign as many as he would. luckily he was in a good mood and signed all of them! what a momento of the day. my ball stands proudly next to tom seaver and ed kranepool.
CLICK BELOW TO HEAR THE REPORT FROM SPRING TRAINING