We spoke to Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata once. It was at PiratesFest 2011. Our question was simple. How was winter ball Jose?
He looked at us with a stare that extended past our eyes and straight through the vast Convention Center walls, well past the floor to ceiling windows to a place far, far away.
We waited for our answer. Hell, it seemed like a simple question.
The pause Tabata took was deafening. We swear Doug Drabek, who was seated to Tabata’s right, signed three autographs as we stood waiting.
In our ignorance, we thought, maybe Tabata doesn’t understand our question? Damn. What should we do?
Tabata’s forearms gripped tightly on the Sharpie we had handed him. He was focused. His eyes were dialed in on a not-so-special photo of himself. We had just grabbed the photo for a buck off a hometown vendor in the back.
But Tabatas’ pause was killing us. At least five seconds had passed.
Hell….maybe he didn’t hear us? I cleared my throat and was just about to repeat the question. Maybe the question was too controversial since the Pirates didn’t want him to have anything to do with playing winter ball last season?
But then Tabata spoke. As he stared right though us, it was clear as a July morning in the Laurel Highlands.
The answer Tabata gave still echoes in our ears to this day:
I wish I was still there.
It’s not hard to understand the Pittsburgh Pirates wanting to extend a baseball player like Tabata. He still loves the game. That’s an overused statement in baseball today, but it’s pretty clear to see that Jose Tabata loves nothing more than suiting up in black and gold to play a game he loves.
We’re just glad he is on our team.