Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hibbing, revisited

Eli TintorJoe, my little friend from Wisconsin, was asking about autographs from Fall Instructional League -- mainly Parmelee, Benson and Brandon Roberts, but he included some words about Eli Tintor as well.

"Also watchout for Eli. He's got pop he hit 3 homers this two weeks that ended up game winners. I was there for the first, he was estatic. He had a smile from one ear to the other. I talked to him the day after and he said he didnt know how long it be before it ever happen again like that. a few days later in the playoffs bang. So watchout hes a 'Special Player'."

As if anyone needs to tell me about Eli. Tintor was drafted into the organization as a cather in the 18th round of the 2003 draft and played the 2003 and 2004 season with the Gulf Coast League Twins. 2004 was kind of a special season for him, as he got loaned up to the Miracle partway through, in part because the organization was a little thin catcher wise with Joe Mauer hurting his knee at the major league level.

Generally speaking, I'm tickled to death when we get any of the GCL boys on the Miracle squad, but I loved having Eli up. I bounded over to the gift shop, got a Miracle ball and had him sign it for me. Still have it too, and it's the only autograph on that ball.

Eli was a little tickled about being called up as well. "It was everything I could have imagined — playing in front of 1,000 people and all that stuff," he told his hometown newspaper.

He got to play in seven games before they sent him back down. "It was brutal (going back). Now I have to be up at 6:30 a.m. to be on the field by 7 a.m. With the Miracle, we were on the field at 3 p.m. I'm down a little bit, but I got the experience."

He was here when Terry did a group sales with the French foriegn exchange students, a game which left my friend Aaron majorly pissed off as they were seated in our section. They knew nothing about baseball, where all dressed like little tarts and refused to stay seated during the game.

And when I say they knew nothing about baseball, I mean NOTHING. They had to give them sheets with with lyrics to take me out to the ball game on them, so they could sing the seventh inning stretch.

However, they did enjoy getting this pictures taken with "real baseball players" and while Eli may not have been Derek Jeter, he was the next best thing as far as these girls were concerned. So I did get a laugh, watching him down on the field with girls just dripping all over him as he kept possing for pictures.

(If you want a laugh, ask him about the incident.)

He was here for Hurricane Charley too, an experience for anyone in the GCL class of 2004.

"We were right in the middle of it," Tintor said, again to his hometown newspaper. "There were 130 to 140 mile per hour winds. It was pretty nuts.

"Trees were down. Wires were down," Tintor said. "Houses were torn down. I guess there were casualties, too.

"Some stoplights came flying through the parking lot. You couldn’t get outside without getting hit by debris."

The boys lasted four days without electric and there had been some talk of transfering them over to the clubhouse to stay instead of at the host hotel, but it never came to that.

Lots of experience all in one year. I was pretty bummed when he was back with us for extended in 2005 but in the end he went up to Elizabethton. I has hoping they'd move him to Beloit, but his batting, .228 in GCL, probably wasn't up to snuff.

He did well in Elizabethon though, hiting .281 and earning Appalachian League Player of the Week honors. He was considered the the third string catcher at the time although some of his fans felt otherwise about the situation. But the bat is the key thing and the bat was coming around.

I told him that in spring training this las year too. As long as you can hit...he assured me he had the batting thing figured out. Evidently he did. It was the catching thing that was a problem and Eli was moved to the outfield for 2006 as a member of the Beloit Snappers.

I have no clue how his fielding was (10 errors seems like a lot for an outfielder, even in Beloit) but he hit .285 with 12 home runs, making him second on the team behind Erik Lis in the home run department. 54 RBIs sent him third in the team in that department was well. Not a bad plate perforance at all.

So he's here for Fall Instructional League to work on his fielding skills and perhaps I can now look forward to him gracing the Miracle roster again -- even if it is as a outfielder. I'll have to ask him how he likes being way out in the field, as opposed to being part of all the action behind the plate.

Of course, on a personal note he's a fun guy too, especially has he kept telling me that he's from so far up north -- Hibbing, Minnesota -- that it never unfreezes up there and they play baseball on ice covered fields all of the time. I'm quite certain he's pulling my leg, as I've since heard that it does unfreeze, for about a month and a half over the summer.

And that yes, air conditioners are luxery items in Hibbing and the only people that have built in swimming pools have them so they can play hockey on them in the winter. I wonder if he's every played hockey. Shall have to ask him that as well.

So, I'm hoping to get autographs for Joe at Fall Instuctional League (if I survive that long) and I will certainly keep an eye on his "special player", Eli Tintor.