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LaTroy Hawkins is featured on Ep. 27 of Outta The Park. Please click here to listen.
I had a taste of it the year before when the Kansas City Royals clinched the 2014 ALCS, I was assigned to cover their clubhouse celebration. Normally, a visiting reporter can avoid the heavy downpour of champagne, but there were some familiar faces at this party. Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Erik Kratz were all guys I got to know from their time with the Blue Jays, so when they saw me enter the clubhouse, I became a target.
Now, a year later, I was better prepared.
It was September 30, 2015 and the Jays were at Camden Yards in Baltimore. A win would clinch the AL East and as the team’s broadcaster, we were planning to be live from their clubhouse celebration.
The year before, in Kansas City, I went into the clubhouse in a clean suit, and left drenched head to toe and my contact lenses were stuck to my eyeballs. I was ready this time. Not only did I have a change of clothes, but I had a pair of goggles to protect my eyes. If you’ve ever had champagne sprayed into your eyes, you’d understand why everyone was wearing them.
As the celebration began, I was bothered more by all the wires I had a drag around, more than the icy cold booze that was being poured over my head. I was living a dream. This was much different than that night in Kansas City. This is a team I had been with all season and at times I was caught up in all the excitement.
I was just barely able to hear Buck Martinez in my ear, throwing down to me for the next interview, but I had a great support staff with me that kept me informed and untangled.
I did get caught off guard once, when Mark Buehrle pulled out my earpiece in the middle of an interview, but it was all in good fun.
As ready as I was that night, nothing could have had prepared me for what was about to happen. After finishing up an interview with Devon Travis, someone came from behind me, picked me up, and threw me into a large laundry tub, full of ice and beer. The completely unexpected polar plunge was far more jarring than the champagne spray. You know how they say it’s easier to just dive into a cold pool rather than ease your way in? That rule doesn’t pertain to a tub of ice water. It was freaking cold, but that wasn’t my first concern, it was the fact that here I was, submersed in a tub of water, plugged in to some vital equipment.
I eventually managed to stand up and put on a brave face, but I wanted the hell out of there. The problem was, I was so cold, I couldn’t climb out.
While it was one veteran who threw me in, it was another who was just as concerned for my safety as I was. Out of nowhere, LaTroy Hawkins pushed passed a few guys, insisting I needed assistance, and lifted me out. Had I partaken in some of the booze that was flowing, I probably wouldn’t have not felt it as much, but I did. I was shivering, and still had some work to do. I was dripping, and with every step I took, I could hear a swishing sound in my soaked leather shoes (I learned from that and wore shower sandals for the remainder of the clubhouse celebrations).
I look back on that night now and laugh. It was one of the highlights of my career, and I’m so glad I had handed my phone to someone, who captured it on video. I’ve had the chance to be a part of a few more of those post game parties, but nothing compares to that cold, wet and sticky night in Baltimore.