Man O’ War

I went to spring training camps in Florida a while back. This was unrelated to bird watching. But then, most things are.

I was recording impromptu public service radio spots with ball players. I wasn’t there to look at a bird. No matter what kind.

I was in street clothes, carrying a tape recorder. Nothing makes an ordinary guy feel dorkier than being on a ball field with real, professional jocks.

I ignored the Man O’ War in the sky.

Athletes like to be in commercials, so I had been cleared by Major League Baseball to make recordings with players between innings, if they agreed.

The huge bird wasn’t much of a distraction.

I convinced some big-name stars to read my scripts as I held the microphone. They were good guys, and I was getting good stuff.

Florida was tropical, with birds that were new to me. But so what. They can’t compete with a bat cracking a ball.

That’s why what happened is tough to recount.

I approached a shortstop, a famous guy whose name I won’t mention. Overhead the Man O’ War circled.

This shortstop was a hot-tempered, tobacco-chewing, scar-faced, wrecking machine, known for scrapes on and off the field.

While I’m asking him to read my script, I glance up. He follows my eyes. “What you lookin’ at?”

I say, “Just a bird.” He squints at me, then spits on the ground, a big glob. And walks away without another word.

This was a long time ago. But it’s spring again, baseball’s starting, and I think about the Man O’ War I saw in Florida.

And how he spit on the ground rather than deal with a dork that didn’t belong on a ball field.

5 Responses to “Man O’ War”

  1. Chad Skaggs says:

    If you want to see the Man O’ War bird, go to Cedar Key, Fla. Walk down to the little harbor. A brid-watchers’s boat there, a comfortable craft for visitors, was skippered by a guy and mate who could take you virtually eyeball to eyeball with them last spring. Nice ride, reasonable price. (Is this comment legal? It’s just another review.)

  2. Why watch a bunch of guys instead of that bird? Why apologize for it? Guys–any time, any place. Frigate bird? Yow. Accept no shame whatsoever.

  3. Marc D. says:

    As the TFBW said in this latest posting: “This was unrelated to bird watching. But then, most things are.” It’s always been obvious here that it’s not about the birds, it’s about the bird watcher. And, Man O’ War is also a bird? And also a horse, and a Portuguese jelly fish, and a sea-going vessel…

  4. Mary M says:

    I have never seen a Frigatebird (Man O’ War Bird) in person. I have seen lots of photos of Frigatebirds with the big red pouch inflated in mating display. I would say that you were lucky to see the bird, and even luckier that the ball player walked away.

  5. Susan says:

    That short stop sounds like an a-hole! …Too bad the Man O War didn’t drop “a big glob” on him:)