Story courtesy of At Bat magazine
Written by Kim Rogers
"Last name?" the soft-spoken young lady behind the hotel checkout counter asks.
"Jewett." Indianapolis Indians Manager Trent Jewett replies.
"First?" she asks, while carefully punching the name into the computer.
"Moron, ugh, er ... Trent," Jewett mumbles sheepishly.
Jewett was coming off a damp, uncomfortably cool night on the field where a young leather-lunged fan was on his case from the seventh inning on, bellowing loud enough to be heard from blocks away, never mind throughout the ballpark.
"I swear he only knew two words, the name on the back of my jersey (Jewett) and moron," says Jewett, 44, who has managed at the Triple-A level since 1996 and the past three seasons with the Tribe.
Ah, such is the life when you are a Minor League Baseball manager.
If you thought this job was nothing more than a walk in the park -- make that ballpark -- you might want to think again after following along with Jewett during the course of one of his hectic days in Triple-A Baseball.
The final out of an agonizing 5-4 loss to Pawtucket is recorded. The nine-inning game took three hours and 32 minutes to play. A 1-hour, 19-minute rain delay made the loss even harder to swallow.
"It's the worst possible scenario -- long game, rain delay and it always seems to happen on a getaway day," Jewett says. "You can almost count on it."
The setback concluded an eight-game trip that started with a four-game series at Ottawa and left the Tribe running on fumes as it prepared to return to Indianapolis for an eight-game homestand.
Jewett finishes filing his game report for the parent club Pittsburgh Pirates. Johnny pitched four solid innings before losing his control, then his composure, eventually crashing and burning in the fifth. George misplayed a two-out fly ball in center field which opened the door to three unearned runs. Billy was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, fanning twice on curveballs in the dirt with runners in scoring position. The report went on and on ...
After showering and dressing before returning to the hotel, Jewett nibbles on a post-game hamburger and fries, while sipping a cola. He isn't all that hungry, at least not for a burger and fries. He actually has a craving for ham and eggs, but that isn't on the clubhouse man's menu.
Jewett arrives at his hotel room, and calls his wife Sue. It's late, but the plan was to give her a call once he got back to his room, no matter what time it was.
With a dreadful 4 a.m. wake-up call looming, it's time to turn out the lights, not that Jewett is ready to fall asleep. He's tired physically but still wired mentally, dwelling on certain game situations from the tough loss to Pawtucket.
"You start asking yourself all kinds of questions right before bed," Jewett says. "You fall asleep, but you don't sleep well. And on top of it all, you're worried about sleeping through the alarm clock."
The alarm goes off. Jewett stumbles out of bed in a daze, momentarily uncertain of where he is, let alone what day it is. He jumps in the shower, hoping the jolt of cold water will bring him back to his senses. He's still groggy when leaving the room.
The team bus heads to the airport. Jewett is greatly relieved that all of his players are accounted for. Jewett, seeking a little peace and quiet, finds a seat in a far corner away from the players.
The plane begins boarding for a 7:05 a.m. flight to Indianapolis with a lay over in Atlanta. Jewett glances at a USA Today to see what day of the week it is. The forecast is for scattered showers in Indianapolis. This team sure could use a rain day or even a rain week!
Jewett dozes off somewhere between boarding the plane and the 15-minute delay announcement. It seems like he had just closed his eyes when a coach tugs at his sleeve. "Skip, we're here. We're in Atlanta," the coach says.
"I swear, that must have been a 5-minute flight!" Jewett says.
The team makes the connecting flight with little room to spare after a mad dash down an escalator and a whirlwind ride on an automated train. Jewett catches another cat nap from Atlanta to Indianapolis but doesn't sleep as soundly this time around. His mind starts to sink into game-day mode, pondering the state of his pitching staff and his weary players.
Home! The best part of the day for Jewett -- and, with no offense to his devoted wife -- is walking through that door and being greeted by Raleigh, their seven-year-old yellow Labrador, tongue wagging and tail whipping back and forth.
"She doesn't care whether we won or lost, whether I managed good or bad," Jewett says. "All she cares about is that I'm home. Your mom loves you, your wife loves you, your children love you, but I'm thoroughly convinced there's nobody on earth who loves me more than my dog. She's really special."
The homecoming is brief. Jewett has just enough time to take another shower before heading to the ballpark. "I swear, nobody in this world takes more showers in one day than a Minor League manager," he admits.
Raleigh is running in circles, thinking Jewett is going to take her on a walk. "It's like, she's looking at you and saying, 'you just got home ... why are you leaving?'" Jewett says.
Shortly after arriving at Victory Field, Jewett is greeted by the clubhouse man.
"Welcome back skip," Mr. Clubhouse shouts from across the room.
Jewett enters his office, but before he even has a chance to take his jacket off there's a knock at the door. It's Matt, the club's public relations man.
"I only need five minutes today," Matt says.
"I suppose you want to know why I didn't bunt in the ninth last night?" Jewett shoots back.
"Well, no, not really," Matt says. "I've just got a list of radio and newspaper interview requests for you and I'd like to set up some kind of schedule. The start of tonight's game will be delayed 15 minutes due to a special pre-game ceremony. There's also a chance of rain. We'll keep you abreast of the situation."
The pitching coach sticks his head in Jewett's door, telling him that their starting pitcher, Hector, has a sore shoulder from sleeping funny on the plane and doesn't think he can go.
Jewett takes a call from the Pirates. They don't want him to pitch tomorrow's scheduled starter, Paul, because there's a good chance he'll be called up. That's because the Pirates' projected starter for tomorrow slipped on a bar of soap in the shower and pulled a muscle in his back.
"Things like this always seem to happen in the same day, all in a matter of five minutes," Jewett says with a pained expression on his face. "Your starting pitcher can't go and the big league club comes for another. You lose two pitchers in five minutes, and your bullpen is spent."
Today's batting practice is optional for the Indians. Five players answer the call.
Jewett isn't too tired or weary to be impressed by these players' dedication to improving their games, even if he can be heard grumbling under his breath with every batting practice pitch.
It's a glorious sight for fans in the stands, watching baseballs fly all over the park, some even envious of Jewett's opportunity to pitch batting practice every day. What a job!
"What the fans don't know is I've thrown thousands of baseballs over the years," Jewett says. "Now, it's fun, but my arm hurts."
Jewett does a live TV interview in front of the dugout. He only wishes he had as much energy as the bubbly reporter conducting the interview.
Infield practice is a breeze, er a blur. At least, Jewett and the pitching coach have settled upon that night's starting pitcher. It's a reliever, who will be making his first start of the season. They don't know what to expect, just hope he can eat up some innings "without his arm falling off." They tell him he's going to start 30 minutes before the game.
"The biggest question is when to tell him," Jewett says. "We don't want to tell him too soon. Relievers are so used to working on short notice, and we think that will be the best route to take."
First pitch. "This is the easy part, the game," Jewett admits.
Rain delay. Jewett's worst fears come true as a heavy thunderstorm moves through downtown Indy. The Tribe skipper is informed that the game will eventually be finished, but it's going to be a long wait.
The rain delay, however, offers no rest for the weary Jewett.
"It's an emotional roller coaster for the players and coaches," Jewett notes. "Plus, the players think it's a good time to go in (to the manager's office) and complain because they're not playing. They're proud players. They want to play. But unfortunately, you've only got eight spots on the field. You need extras. You need reserves."
It's a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth, and the Tribe's lead-off man draws a walk. Jewett flashes the bunt sign from the third-base coaching box, looking to move the lead runner into scoring position, only this time Jerry pops out to the pitcher who doubles the runner off first base.
The Tribe manager, bent over with hands on his knees, just stares in disbelief straight ahead at the right-field scoreboard, thinking all the while "I can't believe it. Did this guy follow me from Pawtucket or what?"
It's another frustrating loss -- 4-3 to the Louisville Bats in 10 innings.
Jewett files another game report with the Pirates. Jimmy, the reliever who started on short-notice, was outstanding until the rain came. We're hoping Hector, who was pulled from tonight's start (sore shoulder) can go tomorrow. If not for a dropped fly ball in left field by Bobby with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth, we'd have won in nine. And on and on ...
It's time to shower, nibble on some fried chicken and potatoes.
Jewett is pleased to see a text message from a former player who just got his first Major League hit.
He heads out the door, knowing he must leave that night's game behind. It's history and another game, another hectic day is another sunrise away.
"Sue has had a tough day as well," Jewett says. "And if I take the previous game home with me, her response will be, 'Don't be mad at me. I didn't drop that fly ball.' And she's right."
Home. "Thank God, no wake-up call!" he mumbles just before opening the door. He is greeted by Raleigh, tongue waging and tail whipping back and forth.
"That tongue is a beautiful sight," Jewett says. "She doesn't care that you started the day in Pawtucket after getting your butt kicked the night before. Or that you were home for 10 minutes before heading to the ballpark again for another tough loss. When she greets you at the door, it's as if she's saying 'daddy's home.' And everything seems right with the world.
"I love it. I love the every day challenges. I wouldn't have it any other way."
NOTE: During the season, copies of At Bat magazine can be purchased at the Hot Corner Gift Shop or game program stands throughout Victory Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.