“How old is your dad?”, I inquired, “He is about 70, I think, I don’t know”, Mike looked at his wife Tammy inquisitively. She shot him a perplexed look and said, “Seriously Dude! Your Dad is only 65…”, Mike laughed and Tammy shook her head. Mike and Tammy were at the Riverdale High School baseball field to watch their son Michael, a high school junior play first base for the Estero H.S. Wildcats. They weren’t my first choice to profile on this day. Whitney who was at the game because her son just got done playing for the Riverdale Raiders JV team, in a loss to Estero’s JV team, said “I had to meet and profile the Mugavero’s”. I was confused as to why she would be referring me to a rivals family. She laughed and said, “Travel ball”. She went on to explain that in South Florida everyone knows each other when it comes to select baseball, since most kids in the same age bracket have played with or against each other for years. Whitney introduced me to Mike and Tammy. Mike made sure to tell me that he was a “moser”, meaning he tended walk or “mosey” all over or pace when the game was being played. I explained to them what I was doing and they agreed to be profiled.
Mike and Tammy will be married 18 years this June. Mike’s friend was an intern working under Tammy at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers where she was running the Sports Medicine Program at the time. His friend thought Mike and Tammy were ideal for each other and thought they should meet. Mike was living in the Tampa-St. Pete area at the time, so thought he would come down and check her out. Mike was thrilled after he met her. He called his mom to tell her that Tammy knew what a “hit and run” and a “sacrifice fly and bunt” were! They dated for a year and then married. (When he was telling me this he rudely interrupts to cheer on Estero, not cool Mike, not cool… I wrote this when he did this to me a few times, we thought it was funny) They have two boys Michael and Joey, a freshman in high school, Tammy said not to forget their baseball orphaned dog, Sophie! Mike says that he is very grateful that “the boys grew up loving the sport that he grew up loving”. He goes on to say, “it can be challenging at times since every night there is either a practice or a game”. Tammy was quick to point out that she, “…wouldn’t have it any other way!” “The kids love the fact we get to go to tournaments, then stay at a hotel. When we were growing up it was Little League, Senior League, High School, then you might be invited to play American Legion. Now, there are so many more options,” Mike volunteered.
Tammy laughed and told me that “all their vacations revolve around baseball”. One year they took the kids to New York and Boston so the boys could see the Yankees at Yankee Stadium before they tore it down and the Red Sox at historic Fenway Park. The following year it was Chicago so they could see the Cubs at Wrigley and the White Sox at US Cellular Field. Michael is a Chicago Cubs, Bulls and Bears fan. Mike says, “it is because of the trainer, ‘the Match Maker’ (very good friend of Mike’s) was an assistant trainer for the Bears. He is currently the head trainer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mike wondered if Michael will change teams now. Tammy said she is very proud of her interns, besides Mikes friend, she has another intern that is a trainer for the Indiana Pacers. Tammy’s Sports Medicine Program sent trainers to the different schools in Lee County back in the early 90’s. Currently, the schools, for the most part, employ full time trainers. She currently is the Manager of the Bonita Bay Fitness Club.
Tammy seems to be the bigger fan of the MLB than Mike is. She is a Yankees fan but that wasn’t always the case. She grew up in Indianapolis (she played Little League until she was 13, then they made her play softball, she wasn’t happy about that) where she cheered on the “Big Red Machine” back in the 1970’s (Cincinnati Reds) with her family. I tested her, of course, by rattling off a few names and she topped me by rattling off three or four more… Today it is the Yankees, she says she is a fan of “good baseball” and doesn’t get caught up in all the politics. She stated she won’t remain loyal to one team if they aren’t putting out a good team. “Players leave all the time”, she said, “but the Yankees always put out a good team”. “It is not like it used to be where players played in one place and I also love A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez)”, I was like “what!”, “why?”… “…because he is larger than life. I like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods also!” Tammy laughed as she said, “I don’t care, I am not ashamed of loving A-Rod!” I loved Tammy’s confidence and I did mention it to her. She stated to me, “I am not short on confidence that is for sure!” She did mention that she can’t get behind a West Coast team since she goes to bed at 9. Saturday she will be cheering on the Yankees against the Orioles. Tammy and her friend are going to a spring training to hopefully watch some good baseball.
I want to mention that Tammy was taking pictures of the players as we spoke and Mike would pace on occasion, but he didn’t “mosey” as much as I expected. At one point his son grounded out and he blamed himself for the out. He said that he should have stood on the other side of me (that and maybe he should have touched the mortar line between the bricks with his left hands index finger as he bent his head to the right…) Mike is a bit superstitious. He had a baseball with him that he told me that he tried to keep at all times since Michael got 2 hits when he had it at a tournament. He said he didn’t have it one time, and Michael or maybe it was Joey didn’t have a good game. Mike laughed and said he had all kinds of little things he does, i.e. If Michael got an error he would move to a different spot, or if he was sitting he would stand. He is always moving. I asked what it was like to watch their kids play. For Mike it is nerve racking. For Tammy it isn’t so much, she trust her kids game. Mike says he gets very nervous when Joe pitches, he doesn’t know why, it is just the way he is wired.
Mike told me that he played baseball at Pinellas Park High School. He had 2 brothers, one older and one younger, all of them played first base and wore number 19, he said with a laugh as he recalled the memory. He texted his, 70ish or is it 65ish, Dad (who still lives near Tampa) how Michael and Estero (Mike said Michael liked the chemistry on the team) was doing as we talked. His dad was texting him and telling him how his nephew was doing. Mike was a Mets fan growing up even after they moved to the Tampa -St Pete area when he was in kindergarten. Then with Tampa Bay getting the Rays during MLB expansion he started rooting for them, his parents had season tickets for the first eight years. He and Tammy did get to the World Series when the Rays lost to the Phillies in 2008. He says they don’t get to many games since the boys keep them hopping all over South Florida. Mike’s story about “hopping” – the boys had a morning baseball game (tournament) in Naples, a Pop Warner football game around noon in Fort Myers and another baseball game in Naples at 4, all on the same day. They made the all three games. “This is what we do. We get to spend all this time together as a family”, and Tammy nodded in agreement, “Its been our life for a long time,” Tammy said. Mike replied, “It feels like it was a blink of the eye.”
I want to thank Whitney for introducing me to Mike and Tammy. I felt very comfortable talking to both of you. You made me laugh. You both seem to have a great handle on what you enjoy in life. Mike remember to bend to the left, while you are scratching your forehead, I think you were squinting with your right eye fully shut. I think that will work next time Michael or Joey “Doughnuts” is hitting! “Seriously Dude!” Forgot to mention I loved how you two interacted with the girls that came to watch after their softball game, very cool!
If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014” which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html . Please also share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!