Who’s NICE, who’s RUDE

Here’s a list of the nicest and rudest players I’ve encountered at my 600 (or so) major league games.


Josiasmanzanillo• Josias Manzanillo — I met Josias during Spring Training in 1994, and he remembered me during the regular season at Shea Stadium for years. Of all the players who’ve ever recognized me, he’s the only one who continued to throw me balls. On several occasions, he played catch with me from the field, and he always greeted me with a handshake.

• Fernando Vina — Once upon a time, when Vina played for the Mets, he saw me catch a practice ball behind the dugout and asked me to give it to him. I asked why. He told me to toss it. I questioned his motives. He told me to just do it. I was skeptical. “I’ll take care of you,” he said and promised to remember me, so I tossed him the ball and he tossed it right back. He was just being playful and wanted to see if I’d do it. He kept his word and remembered me for as long as he was with the team. (Unfortunately, he was traded to Milwaukee four months later.)

• Turk Wendell — Turk was another Met who recognized me, even after he’d moved on to other teams. A couple years ago, I caught up with him during batting practice at Shea and asked if he’d write a letter on my behalf to the people at the Guinness Book of World Records, who are making my “most baseballs caught” claim impossible to prove. Turk said he would, and he did.

• Trevor Hoffman — I once ran into Hoffy early in the afternoon as he was leaving the subway outside of Shea. I got his autograph and asked him if he’d toss me a ball later on during batting practice. He said he would and kept his promise. (I wrote an entire entry about the experience. Click here to check it out.)

• Todd Hundley — He never recognized me or even talked to me, but the man deserves an honorable mention for having given me more balls than anyone else, ever. I’m not sure exactly how many he tossed my way, but it’s probably about 15.


• Rick Reed — Pitcher Rick (or “P Rick” as I was forced to call him) was one of those guys who recognized me in a NOT nice way. He decided that I had too many baseballs and took it upon himself to make sure I wouldn’t get any more. During batting practice at Shea, when he was supposed to be shagging balls in left field, he’d move all the way over and stand on the foul line so he could run over and scoop up grounders before they reached me.

• Barry Bonds — In the early 1990s, Mr. Flaxseed Oil once rolled up to the Press Gate in a stretch limo with tinted windows. I was one of a dozen kids who approached his car and started begging him to come out and sign. Two minutes passed. No Barry. Five minutes passed. No Barry. Ten minutes passed. Barry stepped out of the car, and we shouted his name even louder than before. He snapped, “Y’all Johnrocker_1need t’chill. Y’all’re giving me a headache. I’m late.” And he left. It was three hours before the first pitch.

• Marvin Freeman — This clown taunted me and other fans with baseballs, rude expressions, and snotty remarks during batting practice. He did it every time he came to town.

• Hector Villanueva — It was 1992. I was 14. Senor Fatso tossed a ball into the crowd. I reached to my left and caught it. He walked over and said that the ball wasn’t for me and demanded that I give it back. I refused. He threatened to come into the stands and get it.

• John Rocker — Shea was an interesting place when the 1999 Braves came to visit. Rocker cursed at fans. Rocker spat (from a distance) at fans. Rocker gave “the finger” to fans. Rocker threw balls AT fans. Rocker grabbed his crotch at the entire bleachers section. (Perhaps, he was irked by the homemade sign that said “ROCKER LIKES COX.”)


  1. mstadlen@aol.com

    Great entry, that’s one creative sign. The nicest player I’ve encountered was Jose Lima. I remember he would throw any ball within a 40 foor radius of him into the crowd. He also once entered the field level blue expensive seats and signed till the cows came home. And they were really slow cows.

  2. dodgerssteven91@yahoo.com

    Nice guys that I’ve met…

    Jose Lima

    Guillermo Mota

    Josais Manzanillo (I agree with you there.)

    Kenny Lofton

    Eric Karros

    Livan Hernandez

    Chad Kreuter

    Byung Hyun Kim

    Chan Ho Park

    Torrii Hunter

    Not nice:

    Barry Bonds

    Trevor Hoffman

    Andruw Jones

    J.D. Drew

    Mike Piazza

    Nick Green

    Scott Podsednik

    Garrett Anderson

    Darin Erstad (Has a kids only rule, signs and throws foul balls ONLY to kids. He signed for me when I was thirteen last year, but I remember he pushed away a magazine cover from a forty-fifty year old, saying “kids only”.

    Do you have any not nice/nice guys in mind for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Thanks, and you wrote another great entry!

  3. raider61990@yahoo.com

    Ok well this is to dodgerssteven…I thought Scotty Po was really nice, maybe its only to milwaukee fans ;), but as far as not nice players go for the Pirates…Jose Mesa was not nice to me. Jose Castillo…biggest jerk ever besides Bonds? Possibility. Zach, who do you think is the nicest player from the Cardinals?
    Great Blog


  4. thegroceryman1@yahoo.com


    Jose Mesa isnt very nice as raider said, but Jose Castillo has been fine every time I’ve encountered him.

    The Pirates for the most part are very nice guys. I probably have around 100 autographs from them this year.

  5. dodgerssteven91@yahoo.com

    To GROCERYMAN and RAIDER61990, thanks for your help on the Pirates. Jose Castillo has been very nice over the years in the minors/majors and I have to agree with you there, Mesa is really mean. It was a couple years ago when I saw the Pirates and Dodgers, and I remember getting a lot of guys including 04 All-Star Jack Wilson.

    But, one last question, how nice are the stars Jason Bay, Zach Duke, and Pat Malholm?

  6. Zack

    Yes to Lima! I decided to limit my lists to five players each (or else this would’ve been another one of those 3,000-word entries), but if I hadn’t, Lima would’ve been the next guy for sure. I’m sorry to see him struggling with such a lame team.


    There’ve been dozens of Mets who’ve recognized me over the years, but thankfully, they didn’t last too long in NYC or else they forgot me over the winters. Braden Looper recognized me last year. So did John Franco and Al Leiter, but they’re gone. Leiter’s one of the all-time nice guys, by the way. But anyway, you’re right to be surprised by the lack of Mets on my list. I just didn’t get to talk about them all.


    Nice lists. I know we’d already talked about it, but I’m still surprised to see Mota on your “nice” list and Hoffman on your “rude” list. I haven’t had much contact with the Pirates, having only seen them once this year, but I still had good experiences with Ryan Doumit and Brian Meadows. Matt Lawton was on the team at the time, and he was super nice to everyone. Josa Mesa’s always been nice (at least when it comes to throwing balls into the crowd). Oliver Perez has never been nice, and that’s a shame because I’d love to be able to add him to my “Perez” list (which includes Carlos, Eddie, Melido, Timo and Yorkis). Piazza is not nice. You’re right. But I met him at baseball camp in the early 90s and got hit autograph three times.


    I agree with you about Podsednik. He was very nice to me at Miller Park in 2003. I have to go with Reggie Sanders as the nicest guy on the Cardinals. Marquis has also been pretty good to me over the years.


    100 autographs just from the Pirates this year? Oh my garsh.


    Thanks for the kind words about this entry. I had a lot of fun writing it (and dissing certain people who deserved it).

  7. thegroceryman1@yahoo.com

    Jason Bay is a good guy. Zach Duke has been good as well when I’ve encountered him. I’ve nevet met Pat Malholm, though. And yeah, Jack Wilson signs everything.

  8. nscar1840@aol.com

    Just thought Id share my nice/not nice list too.


    Joey Eischen(Nats): He gave me a ball while in the bullpen back in April andthen he gave my mom one too cause she was with me. And I went to see the Nats in Philly again in August, and he asked “Werent you here in the spring?” and he gave me a commemorative Nats ball.

    Ryan Vogelsong(Pirates)

    Marcus Giles(Braves): He takes care of his fans in Philly like you wouldnt believe. He came over and handed a bunch of us balls, and when I went to a game in July, he gave me his batting gloves right off his hands,and he signed my jersey, and as he signed, he thanked me for being a fan.

    Todd Jones(Marlins)

    AJ Burnett(Marlins)

    Jack Wilson(Pirates)

    So Taguchi(Cardinals): He signed and stood in for pictures for a solid hour for everyone and anyone who asked him. He is a real nice guy.

    Ryan Madson(Phils)

    Jorge Sosa(Braves)

    ~Not so nice~

    Mike Lieberthal(Phillies): I will never forget when at a game the Phils played against their AA team back in 2000 and a little girl asked for his autograph and he said “Sorry squirt, I am not doing any fan stuff today.”

    Guillermo Mota(Marlins)

    David Eckstein(Cardinals)

    Chad Qualls(Astros)

  9. Zack

    Good list. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I agree with you about Eischen. He’s always been generous. It’s fun to be remembered by players. I’m surprised to hear that about Giles. He’s never been rude or anything, but I didn’t realize he had it in him to be so friendly. I’ve been trying for two years to get a ball from Madson, and he keeps ignoring me. It’ll happen someday, though, as long as he stays in the NL East. Lieberthal has always been unapproachable, but man…that’s really crappy. Mota = major jerk. Don’t know anything about Eckstein or Qualls. Hmm.

  10. mkchang1001@hotmail.com

    Have any of u heard of Jeter? tha nicest gives bats to fans while on deck and even talks to nearby ones. once he even gave a kid his batting gloves after the end of an inning. super nice. i met him once. he came in my little league game and i was the last persohn to get his auto. any way i shoved through the crowd and he was about to go until he he opene his car window and signed a piece of paper and glove. he even drove some kids around the block on his red mistubitsi. super nice guy signs for everyone.

  11. Zack

    I’ve always known that Jeter is THE MAN, but I didn’t realize he ever went that far out of his way to be nice. Very cool. Thanks for letting us know about him.

  12. nscar1840@aol.com

    You dont mean the same Nick Green that was a rookie for Atlanta last year, do you? If so, I may have caught him on a very good day, lol. I got to meet him in Philly last year and he was very pleasant to everyone.

    mkchang-Wow, didnt know that about Jeter. Cool guy.

    Side note: If there are any Braves fans out here reading this, or anyone who might attend a Braves game, I want to add that Wilson Betemit and Ryan langerhans are also really good about signing, and so is Andy Marte.

    Oh and I know everyone here for the most part is all anti-Mike Piazza, but Ive had NOTHING but the best of luck with him! I guess it does help that I called out that Im from Royersford (About 10 minutes away from where he went to high school). Maybe thats why, but seriously, Ive had great luck with Piazza.

  13. tony_sypa@yahoo.com

    can’t tell you about today’s players, only yesterday’s…i’m an old timer … used to go to the hotels ( usually the old sheraton on 57th ) where the clubs stayed back in the late 70’s when i was about 15-16 …. i’m currently writing a book about those times so i probably shouldn’t say much, but thuis is a great topic….

    nice: pete rose …. hotel security used to kick us out constantly… one time while asking for mr. hustles autograph security came to kick us out … rose got furious.. starting yelling at the guy ” these kids are here to see me… get the **** out of here ” we loved it !

    bob eucker: was sitting in the front seat of the old campus coach bus that used to take the players to the stadium… my friend gets done telling me what a nice guy he is… so i go onto the first step of the bus ask him to sign and he starts yelling and cursing at me… after a moment of silence the whole bus starts cracking up .. uke tells me the look on my face was priceless…

    yount and molitor: big hockey fans .. we stood in the lobby talking about the ny islanders for about a half hour….

    muhammad ali: long story short… entertained 4 young fans in his room for 15 minutes, started by signing for us and telling us how we should do good in school and listen to our parents… soon he was into his routine,taking jabs at me, telling me he’s the greatest… and he was

    the worst

    johnny bench…. spit at a retarded kid

    al oliver: told me he doesn’t sign for white kids… luckily a black man in a suit heard him say this and took my card and got it for me.

    jefferey ” don’t call me jeff” leonard… never said no… just stared at you icily

    just to name a few …

    buy the book when it comes out for more…lol

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