No diamond, but Greenwell's life still a gem

Journal-Bulletin Sports Writer

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The auctioneer is doing his
fast-talking best to solicit high bids for the Reserve
Grand Champion 1,275-pound steer, which is being led
around the show ring by the 4-H Club member who raised
it from birth.

The bidding stalls around $3.25 per pound. The
auctioneer refuses to give up.

Finally, a man in a white cowboy hat and a gray leather
jacket with red sleeves and a big Boston Red Sox logo
on the back, raises his hand.

The auctioneer takes note of his bid for $4 per pound.

The man has his steer, or more accurately, the meat
from it because this is a slaughterhouse sale of 13
steer and 39 hogs shown during the Lee County

``This is fun,'' he says. ``The kids get excited. And
we'll get 750 pounds of red meat out of it, cut up in
T-bone steaks, hamburger, everything you'd find at the
butcher's. It's all the red meat we'll have to buy all

He is wearing a big smile, as if he had just hit a
game-winning, ninth-inning homer in the major leagues.

Whole new ballgame

But there are no more such baseball heroics for the
man, former Red Sox left fielder Mike Greenwell.

For the first time since he was a child, Greenwell will
not be playing baseball this summer.

Unless an offer he can't refuse should come in during
the next few weeks, Greenwell is officially retired.

And busy.

He's racing a Monte Carlo (red, number 39, his Sox
number) in a limited late-model circuit as a hobby;
he's running his 890-acre ranch in nearby Alva, where
he tends to his 175 head of cattle; he's operating his
Bat-A-Ball amusement park; he's managing his son Bo, 9,
on a Little League team; and he's in the process of
having timber planted on land he recently bought in
Georgia, where the family (which includes wife Tracy
and son Garrett, 6, can vacation and hunt.

After lasting only six games with the Hanshin Tigers of
Japan last year (bad back, broken foot but he collected
around $3 million), Greenwell, who is only 34 and hit
.295 in 1996, his final year in Boston, has been
contacted by Kansas City, Minnesota and Seattle about
playing this season.

So far, though, ``the right situation'' hasn't come up.
He'd like to be able to help a team win, and is
confident he still can hit .300.

But if that ``right situation'' doesn't arise in the
next few weeks, Greenwell is done, he says.

He can live with that, he said the other day, waiting
for the auction to begin.

``I'd go through periods where I'd be like, `Okay,
maybe there'll be another chance,' and then the next
day, `Ah, I don't need to, I'm not going to,' ''
Greenwell said.

``I enjoyed watching my son play football last fall. I
got to see all of his games for the first time ever. I
enjoyed last year. I enjoyed being home,'' he said.

But after 10 full seasons in the big leagues with
Boston, he admits he suffered a little withdrawal.

``I couldn't watch the games. If I watched the games,
then it started bothering me. Anybody's game, not just
a Red Sox game. Baseball in general. I couldn't hardly
watch the World Series games,'' he said.

Now that he's out of baseball, Greenwell says he enjoys
the challenge of driving his own race car. He drove
four races in a higher level, finished as high as 11th,
and hit the wall once.

``I don't plan it being a career. It's strictly a
hobby. But it's just like you're playing a game. You're
nervous, you're fired up, you get mad when you're out
there, you get excited when you're out there. It's the
same thing. It's a little bit of a replacement for not
playing. I think every athlete has to have something
like that,'' said Greenwell, who has had his own racing
team for years.

It's not baseball, but Greenwell says he's satisfied
with his big-league time, anyway.

``I'm not crying over spilt milk. I had a great career.
I'm happy with what I achieved in baseball. I'm happy
that I'm not disappointed I'm not playing now. I made a
lot of money. I've been intelligent with my money,'' he

`` . . . I'm only disappointed the way it went down at
the end. I had no problems of saying it was the end, or
leaving Boston. But the way we (Clemens, Canseco and
Greenwell) left, was a joke,'' he said.

Greenwell wasn't laughing then, and he snickers when he
sees the money and the long-term contracts now being
tossed around by general manager Dan Duquette.

``He said he didn't believe in long-term contracts.
What he believed in was getting people out of there who
had power. That's why Roger's gone. That's why Jose's
gone,'' he says, speaking of former teammates Clemens
and Canseco. ``That's why I'm gone. It wasn't for lack
of performance, I don't believe.''

These days, the Sox train only a few miles from his
home. But he said he won't go to City of Palms Park
because he says he doesn't feel welcome by the

So he tries to stay busy to ease the pangs of

``It's not easy, and every player deals with it
differently,'' he says. ``I've been very active away
from baseball with business stuff. So it's easier for
me than most. There is life after baseball.''

A child's game

The manager, wearing a teal Florida Marlins cap,
exhorts his young Marlins as they play an exhibition
game on opening day of the North Fort Myers National
Little League.

``Be aggressive at the plate,'' he says. ``I want guys
who want to play. Hit the cut-off man.''

He's intense but composed, even as his team falls apart
and loses, 7-3, to the Braves. There's no yelling. He's
positive and instructive.

But when a kid complains he doesn't want to catch, he
has a quick and quiet discussion on the bench with the
player, laying down the law. And when another kid
throws his helmet after being called out on a close
play, there's another chat.

``Curtis, do not ever, ever throw your helmet,'' he
says forcefully but without malice in a corner of the
dugout, away from the others.

Afterward, the rookie manager assesses his style.

``I want the kids to achieve, but the game is supposed
to be fun at this level,'' Greenwell says. ``I'm going
to try to make it fun. And I'm also going to teach them
about discipline and sportsmanship.''

He's is smiling a smile that says he is at peace with

``Life is good,'' says Mike Greenwell.

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