Only room for one Redwing in center
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Gerry Reese and Joe Paine have been teammates since about the time current college seniors were born. Babies born when they started playing together in the mid-1990s are now are old enough to vote.
Reese thinks they became teammates in 1995 but Paine thinks it was 1994. Either way, that’s s a long time together, more than two decades and closing in on a quarter of a century. Reese and Paine are both 58.
The Maryland residents’ connection began, Reese said, when they were invited to a workout for a local team. “I don’t remember him from that workout,” he said.
They were soon assigned to a team along with a ballplayer named Steve Harbin. All three started playing together and are still together. “By accident,” said Reese, a resident of Mr. Airy, Md.
Their current teams are the Midatlantic Redwings and Chesapeake Redwings. Reese estimates they’ve probably played about 1,000 games together as teammates in various leagues, tournaments and the Roy Hobbs World Series.
Heck, they even bowl together.
When they started playing together, Paine said, he and Reese were both centerfielders.
“He turned out to be a better centerfielder than me,” Paine said.
So Paine, who delivers the Baltimore Sun every morning, turned his attention to pitching and other positions.
And Reese still plays centerfield. “He can still track them down,” Paine said of Reese.
But one thing has been a constant in Paine’s life even longer than playing baseball with Reese. Paine, a Marine Corps veteran, has delivered the Sun virtually every morning for 33 years.
He has around 1,000 stops on his route and rises at 1:30 a.m. seven days a week virtually every week of the year to make sure readers have the Sun when they get up a few hours later.
The only week Paine isn’t delivering the newspaper even on the coldest Maryland winter mornings is the week he comes to Fort Myers for the Roy Hobbs World Series.
Many things keep Reese and Paine together.
“We just like to have fun together,” Paine said.
By the time the 2017 Roy Hobbs World Series rolls around, Paine won’t be delivering the Sun anymore. He’ll be residing in the Sunshine State, in a house on Fort Myers Beach.
Paine will retire effective Oct. 31, 2017. That will give him time to play more than one week at the Roy Hobbs World Series.
Although he and Reese have never played on a championship team, the game isn’t all about winning. Yes, winning is better than losing. Yes, their team was runner-up one year.
When? Paine isn’t sure. “I’m getting old and can’t remember,” Paine said.
But he is sure of this: He enjoys baseball and playing with Reese.
“He’s very funny,” Paine said. “He keeps everybody laughing. I don’t know one guy who doesn’t like him. He’s always got a one-liner.”
Paine can also be funny. When he was asked if there was a danger he might inadvertently throw a newspaper through somebody’s window he dismissed the notion. “I’m not strong anymore,” he said.
Reese enjoys having Paine around even though he may no longer be able to break a pane of glass with a thrown newspaper. “He’s just a good person,” Reese said. “He’s the guy you want to be like, a family man.”
Reese added that Paine has an above average baseball IQ, and they can talk the game and situations with him for a long time.
Maybe some day their story will be in the Sun, but somebody else will have to deliver the paper by then because Paine will be living fulltime in the Sunshine State.
One thing will remain the same – his Maryland friends Steve Harbin and Garry Reese will journey south to play with him in the World Series. “We’re like family,” Reese said.
They’ll likely remain teammates for years to come. “I can’t imagine getting on the field without Joe,” Reese said.
Joe Paine and Garry Reese are back on ball fields again this fall, just like they’ve been doing since 1994. … Or is that 1995?