Two jobs ago, in 1996, I covered the Class AA Norwich (Conn.) Navigators and marveled at the exploits of a young outfielder in the Montreal organization named Vladimir Guerrero.
Guerrero was 20 at the time and was the Babe Ruth of the Eastern League. He hit .360 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 118 games. His OPS was 1.050. He even stole 17 bases and he had the best outfield arm in the league.
Thomas J. Dodd Stadium in Norwich was huge — so huge, in fact, that the Yankees eventually ordered the fences moved in because their prospects were losing confidence. But when Guerrero arrived with Harrisburg, he slugged two home runs in his first game.
All these years later, I asked him today if he remembered that game. His eyes got wide. “Fastball down the right-field line, slider to right center,” he said. “I liked hitting there.”
Guerrero was in Montreal by the end of that season and quickly became one of the best players in baseball.
The Yankees left Norwich, the Giants moved in and a few weeks ago the franchise decided to move to Virginia. Norwich is expected to get a New York-Penn League team. Hopefully people in eastern Connecticut will still go to the games. You never know what prospect on the field is someday going to become a star.