Wade Appreciates the Greatness of the Game

It may seem strange to those of you whose greatest thrill in the game comes from attending fantasy camps where you can mingle with those who played the game with such distinction in the past. It doesn't to anybody who's ever tried to teach history to a bored group of middle schoolers. It is true, though, that many who play the game today have no reference at all to those who did it in the past.

To illustrate, there was the time when Gary Sheffield, playing for the Dodgers, was told he was about to break a home run record held by Duke Snider whereupon he asked, "Who's Duke Snider?"

Such an attitude often has Cory Wade shaking his head in either bewilderment or exasperation. For Cory is one player who has steeped himself in the lore of the game and who's familar with the greatness of many who came before. So, it was a particularly large moment for him this spring when he was able to receive some lessons from Sandy Koufax.

Koufax was making one of those unannounced visits to Dodgertown that he sometimes does, something the staff is always quick to make the most of. This time he was demonstrating how he threw his curve to a privileged few that included Wade.

All were aware that Koufax was someone to hold in respect even if they weren't quite sure why. Cory, though, knew well who it was that was doing the teaching and for him it was as if that Sandy had arrived by chariot from Mount Olympus.

"You should see the size of his hands !" he exclaimed later. "He has the huge hands so when he wraps it around the ball, it disappears. Some of the guys tried the grip but coudln't do it. I'm fortunate that I have fairly large hands so I was able to do it. And it's helped, believe me."

Not surprisingly Wade has made himself an ardent student of how to get better at this occupation. He was a 10th round draft pick from Kentucky Wesleyan in 2004, a position player who had only taken pitching seriously as a senior but who learned that it was his arm that was going to do it for him in pro ball or not at all.

He spent his first year in the Dodger system shuttling between the Gulf Coast team and Ogden while last year he went between Columbus and Ogden, all the while trying to find his niche. It now seems to be in the bullpen, even as a closer something he's been doing for Columbus with fairly good results so far this time.

He's got a pretty good fast ball so now if he can master the Koufax curve, he can make his presence felt. While he greatly appreciates the tutoring that he gets on a regular basis from his coaches, there's nothing quite like soaking up a lesson while sitting at the feet of a master.

For in a world that considers songs sung in the 80's as Golden Oldies, Cory's one who appreciates the legends of the past. So, no matter how far he gets in the game himself, you can bet those moments spent with Sandy will rank high on his list of thrills. And he'll feel sadness that some of his teammates won't be able to understand why that should be.