The crowd recoiled in horror. It was a site they would never forget. Years later, some would say they continued to have recurring nightmares about that night.
Slow down just a bit, I'm getting ahead of myself. We need to travel back to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, circa 1986. Picture if you will, a young boy of 7 years old, trying to scratch his way on to the local baseball team. Most of the boys on his neighborhood team were 10 or 12 years old. None of them had his talent, but they had the one thing he didn't. Size.
He was beaten up repeatedly for trying to ease on to the field and take a spot in the outfield. The older boys would throw rocks at him or push him down and drag him off the field. One day, just as dusk was falling across the field, he worked his way to the batter's box where he picked up the well scarred bat. Expecting to be jeered and ridiculed at best, he was surprised when the pitcher motioned for him to get ready. He wasn't surprised at what happened next.
The first pitch came straight at his head. He surprised everyone by not flinching a bit as the ball slipped just past his chin. The second pitch was well behind him, but again, he didn't move. Apparently deciding the intimidation tactics weren't working, the pitcher threw his third pitch right across the plate. Adrian dropped to a knee as he swung, driving the ball well over the heads of the 3 boys playing in the outfield. Collectively, every boy on the field turned to look at Adrian who stood with a huge grin on his face.
The catcher patted young Adrian on the head in congratulations and was more than a bit shocked to be hit in the stomach with the barrel of the bat. All the boys would come to learn that Adrian did not like to be touched on the head.
Adrian became a fixture at the field, many times the first to arrive and the last to leave. His hours and hours playing ball with the older boys honed his skills in such a manner that he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a scrawny 130 pound 15 year old. Adrian worked his way through the Dodgers' minor league system and made his MLB debut in 1998 at the tender age of 19. He made quite a splash during his first at-bat as he checked his swing on the first pitch and immediately pointed his arm at the first base umpire to get a ruling. The home plate umpire, the catcher, the pitcher, the announcers and the 32,786 people in attendance didn't know what to make of Adrian's gesture. The first base umpire, also confused, signaled that Adrian hadn't swung at the pitch. Adrian continues to appeal his own checked swings to this day and is the only player who does it.
Fast forward to that fateful day in April of 2000. An innocent foul popup by Minnie Minoso, signed just for this game by the Giants so he could appear in his 7th decade of professional ball, would be the end of Adrian. As Adrian drifted over from his position at 3rd, a strong wind caught the popup and blew it toward the crowd. Unfortunately for Adrian, the grounds crew had left the recently rolled up tarp on the edge of the field. As Adrian dove for the ball, his most amazing quirk would become a factor. Adrian landed atop the tarp, the brick hard tarp, and because he refused to wear a cup like every other infielder in the history of baseball had since their invention, his family jewels were pulverized. The fans in the front row became witness to the most horrifying incident since Disco Night at Comiskey, as Minoso's foul ball led to Adrian's fouled balls.
Rumor has it the Dodgers buried Adrian under third base. Some people speculate Adrian was cremated and his ashes were mixed in with the mud rubbed on baseballs by umpires at Dodgers games for the rest of the season. Personally, I like to think Adrian is back in Santo Domingo, riding his Hover Round scooter, wearing a permanent ice pack and teaching local boys all the they need to make it to the Big Leagues.
The preceding story is 73% fiction, 16% fact, 9% speculation and 2% undetermined. The quirks are real and when Adrian signed with the Rangers, I was amazed to see some of the stuff he does. He's fun to watch.