AVON — Thursday night’s Lake Erie Crushers game had a couple of special guests in the house.
Indians All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was the announced special guest, throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs for fans on the main concourse during the first hour of the game.
Cabrera, sporting a Crushers cap the entire game, spent the remainder of the game watching the game from one of the suites with his parents and other members of his family, including his sons. He did not make himself available to the media, and left the stadium after the eighth inning.
Meanwhile, legendary Hall of Fame Cavaliers play-by-play voice Joe Tait took in the game from the press box, lending his pipes for a few innings of PA announcing and a few innings of radio play-by-play just for fun.
“I like this because, as I like to say, this is ‘real sports,’” said Tait, who was a guest of WEOL’s Tim Alcorn. “I think it’s kind of neat. You’ve got guys out here who are trying to live a dream or get to a dream at this particular juncture, and they’re busting their butts to play hard and try to attract somebody’s attention.
“This ballpark is beautiful. It’s an outstanding facility. It’s a pleasure to come out here and just enjoy the evening and enjoy the game.”
Tait said he is enjoying his retirement and is collaborating on a book with Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto, which is due out around December.
“I have plenty of things to do,” he said. “I had 41 years go by where I had a lot of things pile up in corners of home, and now I’m slowly but surely starting to wade through some of that — file some, throw some, read a lot.
“There’s plenty to keep you busy in retirement, you just have to take the time to sort through a lot of things. Plus it’s fun to just enjoy life. Personally, I think this is a great way to enjoy life, coming to a ballgame like this.”
Tait still helps Cloverleaf High with some PA duties and he’ll still be the radio voice for Mount Union football this fall.
“Those things are real genuine enjoyments for me,” he said.
This was Tait’s second appearance at The Freight. Last season, during the final series of the year, Tait made a public appearance and signed autographs for the fans on the concourse.
“I’d just assume sit here and watch, but they’ve asked me to do a couple of things and I would be more than happy to help out,” Tait said. “It’s not necessary that I do either the radio or the PA. I just enjoy coming out to watch the ballgame.”
Tait said he has not kept up with the Cavs or any of the Cleveland sports teams since he officially stepped away back in April.
“To be honest with you, no,” he said. “When I retired, I retired. I don’t follow the pro teams — nothing against anybody, though. I hope the Indians win a World Series, I hope the Cavs win a championship, I hope the Browns win a Super Bowl. But I’m just not interested in (following them).
“I guess it’s like being a mailman. You walk a beat for 40 years, and then you retire. What’s the first thing you’re not going to do? Take a long walk. I enjoyed it.”
Tait encouraged local fans to check out teams like the Crushers to fulfill their sports fix.
“If people haven’t been out here, they really ought to make the effort to come out and spend a summer evening watching baseball,” Tait said. “You could do a lot worse than spending an evening with the Crushers at this fine ballpark.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.