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I Met Gerry Fraley, Twice

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Some thoughts on the passing of a local sportswriting legend

Minor League Baseball: Corpus Christi Hooks at Frisco RoughRiders Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The first time Gerry came into my sphere was in 2012. I don’t recall the specifics, but looking back, it seems likely it was June of that season for a Frisco appearance of everyone’s favorite Ranger, Roy Oswalt. Gerry came into the press box and despite being well aware of his reputation as a perennial grouch and non-friend to bloggers, I decided to introduce myself. I was in awe of his presence, because I respected the hell outta his writing. He was no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point. A wizard wise with his use of words. Me: not that.

He did not disappoint that day. He greeted my greeting with a literal grunt. Literally, the man emitted a low-range, guttural grunt. Probably shouldn’t have included the word “blogger” in my shaky introduction. That wasn’t smart at all. Regardless, he had such little interest in pleasantries, I found it mildly rewarding. I’d been brushed off by the great Gerry Fraley. An honor many before and many after me had felt and I wore it like a badge of honor, and saw the immediate humor in it. You see, Gerry wasn’t in Frisco to meet some ass-face blogger. He was in the smallpark for a story. He was there to sit with the scouts (which he did) and pick their brains about what they saw. Gerry went where the stories were and fought fiercely to bring them back to his readers. There was a story that day in Frisco, so he came to get it and bring it back.

Then I met Gerry again. Fast forward to 2016. It’s a beautiful, hot Sunday afternoon, and I more clearly remember the details of this day, because I was not on the clock. Not really anyway. Once a year, my wife comes out to the ballpark with me. And this day was special because we were bringing our nearly 1-year old daughter to her first baseball game. We came in through the admin offices, mostly so I could show off my kid. Worked our way towards the elevators that lead up to the Frisco press box and I told my wife the crowd was so big because Yu Darvish was making a rehab start for Frisco. My wife is holding my daughter and we get in the elevator, and so does Gerry Fraley. I’m wearing my credential, but I’m immediately overwhelmed with an “uh oh” feeling. He was intimidating to me, and he’d gone a few rounds of sparring with folks from Lone Star Ball over the past couple years, so I was just hoping he wouldn’t read my credential. I think he realized we were headed to the same place and since the game wasn’t starting for an hour, it was ok that my wife and kid were riding the elevator up. Then it happens. He locks eyes with my baby daughter and immediately covers his face. Then uncovers it, revealing a smiling, laughing mug. Then covers it again, and uncovers it and his tongue is sticking out. My daughter was bellowing baby laughter. Gerry fucking Fraley was playing peek-a-boo with a baby. My baby. And they were both cracking up. The elevator door opens as we hit the top floor. He looks at my wife and says, “Enjoy it. They grow up really fast. I have twin boys and they’re both taller and bigger than me all of the sudden.” And he looks at me and sticks out his hand and says, “Gerry”. I stammered, “I know. Michael.” Then he walked out of the elevator and without breaking stride, turned around for one last game with my kiddo.

Sometimes it’s said that you can be respected or you can be liked, but you can seldom be both and you should never be neither. Gerry was most certainly respected. Everyone will tell you that. But I also think Gerry was liked, maybe more than he realized. He didn’t care for bloggers and he didn’t like superfluous, flowery writing. He didn’t like writers inserting themselves into the story. And I truly don’t care. I absolutely respected Gerry Fraley. And I liked him too.

Rest In Peace, Gerry Fraley.