Friday, March 7, 2008
The Hit List
By Steve Wright ESPNOutdoors.com
LEESBURG, Fla. — With a baseball in his left hand, Elite Series rookie Billy Brewer has made Barry Bonds' "list" and Alton Jones' "list."
Billy Brewer came in 3rd on Day One of the 2008 Sunshine Showdown.
Brewer pitched for seven seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1993 through 1999, mostly as a middle reliever. When asked who was the most famous player he got out, Brewer was quick to answer, Barry Bonds, who became the all-time home run leader last season.
"He got me, too," Brewer added. "I'm on his list. The one he got me on was a walk-off home run. It wasn't pretty."
What Brewer did to get on Jones' list wasn't pretty either, and it's a list of a different type entirely.
"I've known Billy for over 10 years," said Jones, who recently won the Bassmaster Classic after qualifying for it 11 times. "We met when my son, Little Alton, went to one of his baseball camps."
Jones, 44, was born in Dallas and has lived in the Waco area since attending Baylor University. Brewer, 39, was born in Fort Worth, attended Dallas Baptist University and settled in the Waco suburb of Bruceville.
"Billy came over to my house one day because he loved to fish," Jones said. "My son was into baseball, so we kind of traded out fishing for baseball.
"We got to play catch in my yard with a Major League Baseball pitcher. Billy threw one to me that sailed over my head and went right through one of the windows of my house. I've saved the broken glass and the ball. Somehow I'm going to make a nice presentation for him at one of these tournaments this year."
Jones might not be the only one making presentations to Brewer on the Elite Series Tour this year, based on Brewer's first day of the Sunshine Showdown at the Harris Chain of Lakes. Brewer was in third place after Day One with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 7 ounces.
With a little luck, he could have been leading the tournament with around 30 pounds on Thursday. Brewer had a 13-inch bass in his bag, which he could have culled with either the 5-pounder or the 6-pounder he lost right at the boat that day.
But Brewer wasn't looking at "what ifs" Friday. He is thoroughly enjoying the rookie season of his second career.
"I'm just enjoying being out here," Brewer said. "I get to meet great guys and hang out with them. I'm just lucky.
"I could zero today, and I'd still have the same attitude. I'm just glad to be out here."
Brewer compiled career stats of 178.2 innings pitched, 11 wins, 11 losses, 5 saves and an earned run average of 4.79. His best year was his second in the Majors, with the Royals in 1994, when he appeared in 50 games and compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.56 ERA and 3 saves.
Brewer was traded from the Royals in '95 to the Yankees in '96, then went from the A's to the Phillies in '97. After Tommy John surgery on his left arm in '99, Brewer said his Major League career was finished.
Although the sports of professional baseball and professional bass fishing involve a competitive instinct, Brewer doesn't see any other similarities between the two.
"The thing about this whole fishing deal is it's not a team sport," Brewer said, while nodding toward the two boats next to his Friday morning. "I don't see myself competing against John (Crews) or Britt (Myers). I'm competing against those little green things, trying to catch those fish. I can't do anything about what those other guys do."
And apparently, Brewer can't always control where he's throwing a baseball. Alton Jones has the evidence to prove it.
"If I would have been about nine feet tall, I might could have caught that pitch," Jones laughed.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Sunshine Showdown on the Harris Chain of Lakes, from Leesburg, Fla., March 6th–9th, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 4 p.m. ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 3:30 p.m. ET. And a reminder & Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday, so remember to set your clocks.