I have been writing this blog for a little over a year, and I named it Serafini Says as I figured Dan Serafini would be a good pseudonym.
In 1999, I was living in a townhouse on the near north side of Chicago. Across the courtyard, a townhouse was rented out by Dan Serafini, a pitcher who was called up early in the season from Iowa.
Back then, I had the weekend/night game season ticket package for the Cubs, and, on a number of occasions after I got back from a game, I would see Serafini walking his dog, and we would chat occasionally. Serafini pitched one year for the Cubs, and then was on his way to his next stop.
At the end of the 2000 season, I went to the Cubs’ garage sale, which offered game used jerseys, flags, etc. I decided I wanted a jersey, but didn’t want to spend the often ridiculous prices charged. Then, I saw it, the #33 Serafini jersey. It was $85, and with the backstory, it was an obvious buy.
So, when I started writing this blog, I simply used that name, but never, ever, represented myself as this crafty lefty.
Until last month…
On a Tuesday, while checking the email linked to this blog, I received an email from a producer with WCCO and the Twins’ radio network. Dan Serafini was the #1 pick of the Twins in 1992, and played for them for a couple years.
Turns out, they wanted to interview “me,” me being the former major leaguer. Who was I to say no? After allaying my wife’s fears, who thought I would be sued or arrested, and telling my buddy, who demanded I drop his name into the conversation, I agreed to tape an interview on the Thursday before the Cubs-Twins series in Minneapolis.
So, on Thursday, after emailing the producer a cell phone number, I got a call from Steve Thomson, the talent, but not the producer who set up the interview. He first asked me where I was (I told him Chicago), and why I ended up there, and started the tape.
The night before “my” interview, I figured I should be ready to answer some questions about “myself.” I checked various baseball sites, and learned such interesting tidbits as the fact that Serafini went to the same high school as Barry Bonds. I also found when Serafini made his MLB debut, got his first hit, and first and only major league save.
This research took all of twenty minutes. Turns out it was about nineteen more minutes than the radio boys did.
After an introduction, and my best Spinal Tap-esque “Hello Minnesota,” I was asked my first question, "Was there pressure being a #1 pick?”
The beginning of my answer was the completely Freudian, “I won’t lie to you…” before giving some great Bull Durham-type answers. I also spoke convincingly about growing up in the Bay Area, seeing games at “the Stick,” and even referenced a Mark Twain quote about the weather in San Francisco, as well as the feeling of playing in Chicago (“Wow, what a thrill.”)
I did get a chance to work in the names of my pal and my brothers as people I contacted right away when I got my call to the Show. Coincidentally, my brothers and I were in Minnesota that weekend on our annual Cubs Road Trip, so we listened to the show from our hotel.
I had one answer prepared. When the Cubs are playing exceptionally poorly, I watch the NBC Game of the Week broadcast of the Ryne Sandberg Game with Bob Costas and Tony Kubek (an all-time underrated duo). During that broadcast, Kubek and Costas were commemorating that on that date in 1971, Rick Wise threw a no-hitter, hitting two home runs along the way. As Kubek talked about Wise, he said that he was now “managing his investments,” a great way of saying, “not much.”
So, when I (or should I say Dan) was asked what had been doing since I left the majors, I was ready, but first I mentioned another tidbit I had picked up.
Serafini was on the Chiba Lotte team that won the 2005 Japanese League championship for manager Bobby Valentine. I learned that when I came upon a picture of Serafini getting a beat down from another former Cub, Julio Zuleta. I BS’d my way through a bunch of questions about playing for Valentine before being allowed to tell the listening audience in the Upper Midwest that I was in Chicago “because of the love of a good woman” and was currently “managing my investments.”
As we wrapped it up, my questioner said thanks, and said goodbye, simply hanging up, and not saying a thing about the interview. I wondered if I had been found out, and had to wait until the Twins Weekend Magazine show that Saturday to see if I would be receiving my (or Dan’s) fifteen minutes. Sure enough, the interview was played in its entirety minutes before the Twins regular pre-game show.
I resisted the temptation to make news (i.e. "Yeah, I saw Barry juicing back in high school, and Sammy in 1999..."), and kept it very vanilla. Still, they bought it.
I immediately emailed the producer who set up the interview and asked for a tape or mp3 of the interview, and got no response. None. Did they figure it out? Who knows. I held off posting this in hopes of getting a recording, but this will likely end any chance of getting it.
Point is, next time you hear someone being interviewed on the radio, don’t be sure it is who they say it is.
And, Dan (the real one), if you read this, I hope you remember, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!