“Are we there yet?”
I can imagine a young Alex Rodriguez asking his parents that as they drove through Florida on their way to some baseball field at some point in time. Obviously, I don’t have proof of that—but what little kid hasn’t uttered those same words at one point or another?
“Are we there yet?”
I have never seen any baseball player seem so genuinely happy and excited to play baseball as Alex Rodriguez. I think some of his enthusiasm (at least) can be traced back to him driving around to spring training games with his parents while growing up in Florida. He went to Twins games often enough, which I only know because of how highly he spoke about Twins PA announcer Bob Casey.
Bob Casey was the Minnesota Twins’ Public Address Announcer for the team’s first 44 years. Before that, Casey worked for ten years as the PA for the minor league Minneapolis Millers. He’s most well known for his introduction everyday at the Metrodome (“There is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO smoking in the Metrodome!”) and, especially, for his introduction of MLB Hall of Fame-er Kirby Puckett:
“The center fielder, number thirty-four—KIIRRRBBBBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYY PUUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKET!”
"I fell in love with his voice," A-Rod has said of his appreciation for Casey. Alex was 13 years old when the Twins went to and won the World Series in 1987, and 16 years old when the Twins won again in 1991. “The way [Bob Casey] would say ‘Kirby Puckett’ and ‘Kent Hrbek.’”
Alex Rodriguez broke into the majors in 1994, and he made sure to introduce himself to Casey when he did. The two developed a strong baseball relationship over the years. In 2005, when Alex Rodriguez was in the midst of preparing for the season in spring training, Twins radio broadcasters Jon “Gordo” Gordon and Danny “Dazzle” Gladden informed A-Rod of the grave condition of Bob Casey.
Alex called Casey and spoke with him on his death bed. It was there that Casey told Alex that he (A-Rod) was his favorite player ever, next to Kirby Puckett. Casey asked Alex if he would throw out a ceremonial first pitch for him at the Metrodome that following June, since he didn’t think he’d make it. "He just wanted Alex to know how important he was," said Mike Casey, Bob’s son, who had to explain what his father said to Alex because of Bob’s weakened condition.
"He's one of the great announcers of all time, and him and I grew very fond of each other, very close, and I grew a lot of respect for this man," said Rodriguez.
"He's an icon in our game," A-Rod later told the press about Casey. "His voice will live on forever.”
A-Rod paid so much attention to Bob Casey, he knew that Bob usually called out opposing players’ names in a monotone voice. He also knew that Casey did not use that voice for him.
“I'd come up and they'd be booing me out of the stadium,” Rodriguez told reporters. “And he'd announce my name [that way] ... I'd look up from the batter's box and wink. I have a lot of respect for people who have been around the game as long as he has.”
And this is why I have a lot of respect for Alex Rodriguez.