As a smooth-fielding utility infielder, Randy Ready accumulated 937 assists over his 12-year Major League career. He notched yet another one this past weekend.
In a fortuitous series of events, Ready played a key role in reuniting a heartbroken southern California family with their beloved dog. He found himself on national television as a result.
As heartwarming as the story is, it has its roots in a recent tragedy. The Weir family of Poway, Calif., was among the many which lost their home as a result of the uncontrollable fires that had swept through the state. Still reeling from this immense loss, the family soon had to face another hardship when their golden retriever, Teddy, disappeared. He had been chained in the back of a pick-up truck while the family visited a local insurance office. When they came back outside, he was gone.
Since Teddy's leash had been cut, the Weirs suspected that he had been stolen. KUSI, a San Diego television station, quickly did a story on the Weirs' plight, in which they appealed to the public for help in locating Teddy. The Ready family was up for the challenge.
"I was at the batting cage with my kids, and my wife called and said there was a dog at the top of our street," said Ready, a Poway resident and father of six whose home escaped damage by the fires. "Our neighbor had called her about it, and they wanted me to come home and take care of it. I mean, this was a 100-pound golden retriever. He was more like a bear."
"So I came home, and managed to get the dog into the back of our truck. He was tired and had a lot of anxiety, but he did okay. We took him to the vet to see if he was microchipped, but he wasn't. No one knew anything, really. My wife and I had both seen the story on KUSI about the missing dog, but we thought it was a real long shot that the dog we had was the one they were talking about. My wife called the station to investigate, and they got us in touch with the woman [Nannette Weir] who had been pleading for the dog's return."
A telephone conversation with Nanette Weir led to both parties being cautiously optimistic that the dog the Readys had found was indeed Teddy.
"In our family, we've had dogs go missing before. Emotions are really running high in that kind of situation." said Ready. "There was no way to rule out that Teddy was theirs, so we arranged to meet at the shopping center down the hill to find out."
Fortunately for all involved, the dog in question turned out to be Teddy. A KUSI television crew was on hand to capture the tearful reunion, and CNN later gave the story national exposure.
"As soon as Nanette saw him, she knew it was Teddy. She was bawling her eyes out in the parking lot," said Ready. "It was just a real emotional scene, and we were grateful to have been a part of it. Animals are really part of the family, and the Weirs had already lost so much as it was. With Teddy coming back to them, it was just a big pick-me-up."
Now, Ready will attempt to settle back into his offseason routine. He spent the 2007 season as the manager of the Texas League's San Antonio Missions (the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres) after three seasons with the Midwest League's Fort Wayne Wizards.
"It was a grueling season, that's for sure," he said. "Long travel, hot days, hot nights. It was funny, I played in the Texas League in 1982. Who would have thought I'd return 25 years later as a manager? I'm slotted to return to San Antonio in 2008, but there's always room to move up."
No matter what happens, however, Randy will not soon forget the tumultuous events of October 2007.
"I had people calling me, like 'I saw you on TV!'" marveled Ready. "It was just a rough week for everyone in this area, and I'm fortunate we were able to play a small role in something positive."
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.