Mike Toomey was sprawled on his hotel room bed, on the road again. He was chewing tobacco and reading a book about Thurman Munson, spitting into a plastic cup to the left, reading to the right. On a table were two magazines: Inside Sports and Penthouse.
You got the feeling he was a baseball man.
Here rested the manager of the Alexandria Dukes of the Class A Carolina League. He was in midafternoon and midseason form.
"I was going to write a book last year and call it 'Really Scuffling.' It would have been a best-seller about minor-league ball. It would have been all about the great people and crazy times," said Toomey, who probably would prefer to write off last year's 54-86 last-place record. This year his team placed second in the first half.
Mike Toomey is 5 feet 6, 145 pounds. He speaks with a gruff voice, wears blue jeans that fit and a uniform that is a little large. He looks much younger than his 29 years and when you see him on the street you figure Spanky and his rascals can't be far behind.
He loves his business and his uniformed associates: "What I'm doing is being my own personal self," Toomey said. "I'm concerned about my players. I want every guy to move up. I know it won't happen, but my job is to make everyone at ease.
"My boss has told me 'I want you to win, but more importantly, I want you to develop prospects.' I haven't set any goals for myself. I'm really very happy where I am," said Toomey, who played and coached baseball at George Washington University.
"I'm not saying I wouldn't love the chance to manage in the major leagues. I think any coach would. But it's not a dream or anything."
Toomey is a player's coach, the kind who'll work and drink with his players. He is not the run-a-lap-and-see-me-in-the-morning type, cursed and perhaps feared by his players.
"I think sometimes I get too close to the players. I'm not that much older than some of them and we like to do the same things: drink beer, chase girls and dance," said Toomey.
"I think there are positives and negatives to being a young coach here. I think the positive side is that I can understand the problems these guys are going through. We talk things out. Maybe the negative aspect is that it might be difficult to earn their respect since we are so close in age."
His players agree with the positive and disregard the negative. "He is really a sincere coach," said pitcher Tim Burke. "He'll always stand up for you. To me, as a pitcher, that's important, especially when I'm on the mound. At the same time, Burke said, Toomey socializes with the team "just like he's one of the guys."
"It's not easy to be a coach and be able to get along with 25 different personalities," said first baseman John Schaive. "But he has done it."
Toomey is a managerial fan of Billy Martin -- "He gets the most out of his players" -- and Earl Weaver -- "The way he uses Belanger, Garcia and Crowley is amazing. He loves to tell stories.
"We had a guy pitching for us last year named Jack Hobbs. But we called him 'Hollywood' Hobbs. He was a good-looking guy who drove a 'Vette," said Toomey, relishing the recollection. "He was from Lynchburg, and when we were here last year he had a plane skywriting, 'Come see Jack Hobbs pitch tonight. The best pitcher in all of baseball.'
"Well, he had 200 friends out there and gave up six runs in the first inning. I had to pull him," said Toomey. This particular recollection was triggered by a letter from Hobbs, who is now pitching in Florida. Toomey likes to keep in contact with his former players, too.
Then, another story: "When I went to GW we used to go to this bar on 19th and Pennsylvania. An old man who wore bow ties and smoked a big cigar owned the place. We called him Big John. There was some guy who always sat on the bar there and wore a motorcycle helmet and when he got drunk enough rolled over and yelled, "Timber!'
"This was a man's bar. There were no ladies named Bertha with beehive hair there," said Toomey. "It was a great place. But it closed down two years ago."
Then he returned to his first love: "Baseball people are of a different breed. They're flaky, I guess. You know, free and easygoing.
"They have to be the kind of person that understands what a great game baseball is. Like my old home town, Waverly, N.Y., every town should have three things: a bar, a church and a ballpark."