Haven’t we met?

The last time I saw Joe Musgrove, reigning champion of the (American) baseball world, he was trying to work his way out of a jam in front of four thousand people in Fishkill, New York.

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Musgrove pitched in four World Series games this fall for the champion Houston Astros, winning one of them. His name sounded familiar when I read it in the news, but I couldn’t place why.

Today I remembered. In August 2014, while vacationing in western Connecticut, I saw a Class A New York-Penn League game between the Tri-City ValleyCats (an Astros farm team) and the Hudson Valley Renegades (a Tampa Bay Rays farm team.)

Musgrove, who nowadays works out of the bullpen, started that game for Tri-City. He pitched into the seventh inning, didn’t allow a run, but didn’t get the win either. (Tri-City ended up winning 2-0 on two runs scored after he left the game.)

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Three other members of the 2017 Astros also played on the 2014 ValleyCats — outfielder Derek Fisher, third baseman J.D. Davis and first baseman A.J. Reed. Fisher played the night I saw them, and also appeared in the 2017 World Series; Davis and Reed didn’t do either.

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Meanwhile, only one member of the opposing Renegades has made the big leagues to date — and he spent just about the minimum time there, appearing in one game and pitching one-third of an inning. (He got his man, anyway.)

Most people who tout minor-league baseball as a place to see the stars on their way up probably keep close track of who they’ve seen — through programs, through autographs, whatever. That, or they make it a point to go see the hot prospects.

I like my method better. Go spend a night under the lights in an unfamiliar town, have a beer and soak in the scene. And then see what comes back to you after a couple of years have traveled their course.

That night also happened to be Superhero Night at the ballpark, and the interns and summerhelp were decked out in all kinds of costumes.

Perhaps there were people in the building that night who remember nothing of Joe Musgrove but have always remembered the time they saw Spider-Man.

That’s fine too.

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