Slamadamonth, SLAM #44: Antonio Daniels

by July 11, 2013

Originally published in SLAM 44

May 2, 1985. Francois “Big Stick” Crevellas stands at the plate, digging in for the pitch. It’s the last game of the season for the University of the Virgin Islands Buccaneers. Bottom of the ninth, the Bucs trail by a run. The count is full, two outs. In the stands, a gangly 9-year-old swimmer named Timmy Duncan cheers wildly for his hero. The pitch comes in—CRUNCH—and just as quickly, the ball disappears over the centerfield fence and into the blue waters beyond. Before Crevellas can even cross the plate with his 83rd home run (his 17th walk-off), he is mobbed, Duncan foremost among the revellers. In the stands, a scout from the Oakland A’s takes notes: “Nice power, good eye. But can he handle Oakland?” A Reggie Jax fan from way back, Crevellas sure could. The doubt remained, however, and the A’s ended up passing on Crevellas, instead drafting a kid from California who also played basketball named Kevin Johnson. Crevellas, crestfallen, got a job at a bait shop. Duncan, horrified by his hero’s fate, vowed revenge. You know the rest. Johnson chooses Cleveland over Oakland, and carves out an All-NBA career. Duncan chooses rebounds over laps and becomes a number-one pick. Tragically, before he can join the League, Johnson retires. Duncan is disappointed, but he doesn’t forget.

May 2, 2000. Duncan is out with a bad wheel, but Antonio Daniels, the toiletries bag to Duncan’s suitcase, is enlisted. Tim tells Antonio the whole story, shows him the waterlogged ball he fetched from the seas so many years ago. Daniels, wiping tears from his eyes, agrees to do whatever he has to do. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right moment.

Russ Bengtson