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The Story of the Shoppach Slide

Sunday, April 15th, 2012 by

Shoppach drew breath, his mind cleared and his eyes narrowed.

This story has been pieced together using interviews with unnamed baseball sources.

It’s Friday the 13th of April, and Kelly Shoppach knows today is the day. He’d been called into Bobby Valentine’s office unexpectedly earlier in the day. Bobby said only four words, “Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rawhide!”. Kelly knew exactly what he meant.

During the off season, the one thing that had been on Kelly’s mind was his lack of speed on the basepaths and the big fat zero in his career stolen bases column. When spring started he turned to the only man on the Red Sox he knew could teach him how to steal a base – David Ortiz.

Secretly, behind closed doors at the new Fenway South complex, Shoppach and Ortiz worked every night on perfecting Kelly’s stolen base technique. After two weeks things were not going as well as they had hoped. They knew they needed a second opinion, as they sat down to think about it, Jacoby Ellsbury walked past. “Hey Jacobi, Have you seen Adrian?” shouted Big Papi.

Standing at First base, watching Bobby for the signal, time appeared to pass normally as the sign flashed up.

Steal.

Kelly drew breath, his mind cleared and his eyes narrowed. He could feel a slight breeze grazing his whiskers, the cries of “Here, Here, Cold Beer!” echoed momentarily. He heard a child laugh, and the guttural drawl of a 1963 convertible Corvette Stingray rasping down the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Suddenly, the pitcher’s arm whipped back and then snapped forward, shooting the ball towards home plate, like a Mark 48 torpedo fired towards an enemy vessel in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. It pocked into the catcher’s mitt after only 0.458 seconds. After 0.459 seconds Kelly’s muscle memory kicked in, one step became two then three and then, at full tilt, he careered towards 2nd base like a derailed train. Instinct told him Molina had been fooled by the delayed steal, but that a throw would be coming in soon. It was time for stage two.

Slide.

The Shoppach Slide.

Shoppach knew Rays Shortstop Reid Brignac wouldn’t be able to fathom the ’10 foot before the bag slide’ in time, and sure enough, Brignac bought the dummy. Kelly knew as he glided under the bemused shortstop that all that was left was to pop up and then flop down to head-butt the 2nd base bag. Kelly wasn’t sure why Adrian had insisted on that but he was the expert. Like the 2 hour World Record domino run started by Acrobat and former Miss Finland, Salima Peippo, it was executed perfectly. It wasn’t until after time was called, and Kelly had collected his helmet from a few feet away, that the audacity of the moment began to sink in. He’d done it. Career steal number one.

 

That night in New York

Derek Jeter thought to himself  I’ve never seen him do that in Spring Training.

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About the Author

Red Sox Media Guide and Baseball America prospect handbook collector, owner of the lucky logo ball which brought the 2007 Red Sox back from the brink.

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