Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Chasing the Dream 2012

I went to the ball park early yesterday morning to pick up a ticket for last night’s game against the Blue Jays. I had been informed that there might be a few tickets available at the box office on game day; otherwise, I was out of luck. Tickets for Spring Training games here in the “Grapefruit League” in Florida are rarer than hen’s teeth.

There are scalpers (ugh!) who station themselves along the routes to the games. They also hang around the parking lots on game day. Then there are the ticket agencies who market the tickets, having collared hundreds of tickets for sale. One should expect to pay four or five times the face value of a ticket, depending upon the teams that are playing. Simply disgusting.

I strolled through the grounds of the magnificent new structures that have been established near the airport. The stadium itself is called “Jet Blue Park”. The grounds are called “Fenway South”, perhaps a tribute to the old girl who is celebrating her hundredth birthday in Boston this year. There are six full-sized ball fields surrounding the main structure, as well as several batting cages, bullpen mounds, and other areas for players to get ready for the upcoming season.

The Red Sox organization is made up of several different teams at several different levels, from rookie ball to the major leagues. The parent club maintains teams at all of these levels, supporting several hundred players. They are all at this spring training complex, under the watchful eyes of scouts and coaches, trying to put the pieces together for the season ahead.

Chorye Spoone is one of those individuals. (To be pronounced as COR-EE, according to the Sox Media Guide! ). Chorye has been around baseball for a long time. He spent the first seven years of his professional career in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, having been selected by the Orioles in the eighth round of the first year player draft. He is 26 years old, stands a little over six feet, and tips the scales at 215 pounds.

He told me he is thrilled to be wearing a red uniform this year. “This is a first class organization. I am thrilled to be here”. Obviously, Chorye has been through the baseball wars, fighting his way up through the ranks to get to the “Show”. He now knows that is within his grasp. Last year he spent some time in Norfolk at the “AAA” level, and at Bowie at the “AA” level.

He began his career at the “Rookie” level in Bluefield, and has had stops at Delmarva, Frederick, Aberdeen, on more than a few occasions, as well as in the Gulf Coast League with the Orioles. Last year in November, he was plucked from the Orioles by the Sox as a minor league free agent. He is signed through 2012.

Spoone hails from Pasadena, Maryland. He attended Northeast Senior High School in Maryland, as well as Catonsville Community College. I asked him what he did to occupy his time as a kid. “We played sports all the time,” he told me. I loved playing football, basketball, and baseball. In the summer, we would knock on each other’s doors, and play all day, especially ‘Home Run Derby’, and ‘Run Down’. I had a Sega game system at the time, but did not use it much. We just wanted to play”

When I used the expression “chasing the dream” to him, he did not flinch. “That is why we are all here,” he stated. He told me he has a wife, and is expecting the birth of his first child. He maintains that driving passion to get to the Big Leagues in the game that he loves.

He told me he is a passionate football fan, Baltimore Ravens, thank you. He said that he had been to a couple of Washington Capitals’ hockey games, but that he is not a big fan. I told him I could change that in a hurry. He smiled. I am not sure he has enough time right now to think about much other than the quest.

The Blue Jays stroked their way to a 9-2 victory over the Red Sox last night. Expectations remain high for the Jays, as all of the teams in the American League East are making note of the Jays’ excellent spring. Aaron Laffey gave the Jays several strong innings, giving up three hits. The Jays have to contend with the Sox, the Yankees, the Orioles, and the Tampa Bay Rays in the toughest division in baseball. So be it.

In the other dugout, Chorye Spoone continues to prepare for the season, in hopes that new Sox manager Bobby Valentine and his staff will need his right-handed pitching services. Spring Training. Game time temperature? Eighty-two degrees.

James Hurst-March 21, 2012

James...thanks for giving my son Trevor your Blue Jays media guide when you were at the Red Sox spring training game. He studies it night and day. Thanks for making his day and being so generous.
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