How many of you watched the Sox game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday? If you did, you knew that it could possibly be the final start for Mark Buehrle as a member of the White Sox.
The guy you heard Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone rave about is exactly the guy that I’ve dealt with for the past 8 years. The Buehrle you saw salute the crowd after he left the game is the guy who I will always remember. Mark Buehrle epitomizes class. Nice to everyone he encounters, and easily one of the best interviews in the business.
2004 was the first year I met Mark Buehrle. It was at Hi-Corbett field in Tucson, Arizona. Buehrle threw, I think, 3 innings. The spring is about getting your work in, and that’s what Buehrle did, allowing, what I remember was about 4 runs. The PR guy grabbed me after his start to go interview MB. As we walk in to the cramped clubhouse, I hear a lot of commotion. Looking around the corner it’s Buehrle tossing his chair, and cussing something fierce. I looked at the PR guy and asked, “You want me to interview him?”. PR guy says, “Oh that’s just Mark, he’s just kidding around, go get a couple questions with him”. As I approach his locker with quite a bit of trepidation, he looks up at me and says, “Hey, how are you? Let’s get this done”.
I interview him the next spring. This time he shakes my hand and pulls me in to the shot with him saying “Let’s do the interview like this”. I wish to this day I would have kept that video. You would have seen a laughing ball player, with his arm around a stunned producer, with what I am sure is an idiotic look on his face.
That’s the way Buehrle always is. He takes his job seriously, but understands what he does is a privilege, and not a right. How many guys have thrown a no hitter, a perfect game, won 2 gold gloves, won a championship and pitched in an all-star game and still have fun? The answer is one–Mark Buehrle.
Spring 2010, I am walking toward the TV booth when this guy stops me and asks if I have seen Mark Buehrle? I say yes, he is in the clubhouse. The guys says that he is close friends with him, and wants to thank him for leaving him tickets. And, could I go tell him that he is here. I say sure, so I find Buehrle in the clubhouse and explain the situation. Buehrle says that he has never met the man, but he is an old friend of his wife, I think. I tell him that the guy thinks they are old buddies. Buehrle says, “Yeah, I don’t know what to say to the guy, but I’ll go talk with him”. Half hour later, there’s Buehrle talking, and laughing, with this guy like they are old pals. Class act all the way.
Just this past spring, we were talking before one of his spring starts. Buehrle mentioned that he has to get out quickly after the game, so what does he do? He gives us 2 sound bites: One if he pitches well, the other if he didn’t. No joke, 2 hours before his start, he gives us a happy version, “I felt good out there. Just getting my work in so I am ready for the regular season”. Next one: “It was tough today, I just didn’t have my good stuff. I’m glad it’s just the spring”. Funny thing is, after his start, he waited to answer our questions after all.
Middle of spring, auto racer Michael Waltrip is in the clubhouse. I don’t know why, but everyone thinks Buehrle is a huge NASCAR fan. I ask him about his knowledge of racing. He says, “None, I just fall asleep on the couch, and when I wake up and they are always talking to the winner, so everyone thinks I watch every race because I remember who won”.
Sox fans are really the one’s who won. Watching one of the greatest pitchers to ever wear a Sox uniform for 13 years. How fitting it was that Buehrle won his 13th game of the year Tuesday.
I can only hope that 2011 isn’t the last time that Buehrle will leave his mark on Chicago White Sox baseball. If it is, I hope one day I get a chance to thank him for making my life easier–from a TV sense.
One more story. Cameraman Tom stayed after the game to get post game from Buehrle. I had left to edit game footage. One thing led to another, and Tom missed Buehrle. Anyhow, Tom found Buehrle and asked him for a quick bite, apologizing profusely. Buehrle looks in to the camera and says, “This is bull-sh*t, I pitched horribly”. He starts laughing, than procedes to give a real nice 2 minutes.
Thank’s Mark. Baseball, and society, needs more people like you.