As a youngster, Alan Trammell hawked sodas in the home of the Padres. But not for the Padres. They weren't good enough back then even to help an eighth-grader earn small change.
"Strictly Cokes is what I sold, and in the upper deck at that," the Tiger who pummeled his home-town team today was saying. "I was low man on the totem pole; never worked my way up to peanuts. And only did (pro) soccer and Chargers games. The Padres didn't have any big crowds, so I never got asked to work when they played."
Those Padres crowds were only slightly larger than the one Trammell faced now, standing atop a stool in the Tigers clubhouse and about to commence a sort of torch relay to the Hall of Fame.
Because only 25 other players in World Series history have hit two home runs in one game, Trammell was asked to donate his bat to Cooperstown.
Mostly, hitters part with a favorite bat about as often as a Padres pitcher makes it to the seventh-inning stretch. For starters, those guys shouldn't.
But Trammell was more than willing to unload the precious lumber, for he cracked it slightly his third time at bat.
"Tried to go to right," he said, "and got jammed. Then I switched to something else and still got a hit. Guess it wasn't the bat after all."
So that wasn't Wonder Boy being passed to a functionary who would route it to Cooperstown; neither is the man who stroked it so dramatically anything close to a natural.
Alan Trammell is very mortal, from the strands of his thinning hair through the right shoulder heated before games and iced afterward to the knee a Padres trainer helped rehabilitate last offseason.
His buddy from the Padres, Tim Flannery, had called Trammell "Ruth" when they passed between innings of the Tigers' 4-2 victory. After acting Ruthian, Trammell admitted to choosing his number because of the Babe.
Still, even with four RBI, he left a bunch of people stranded today. Fortunately for the Tigers, they were only kin.
"We've got a houseful this weekend," he said. "Cousins. Friends from San Diego. Anyway, I took the keys to the van my wife was going to use to bring 'em to the park. She called about an hour before game time. I looked in my pocket and, sure enough, there was that key with mine. I did some stammering on the phone. Don't even know if she made it to the game, 'cause I didn't see her in her seat.
"I'll have to make it up to her."
Trammell is one of the most unassuming stars in sport. He has to be all but pushed to answer those curtain calls Tiger fans have demanded through the playoffs and Series. The only thing that makes Trammell blush more than that is when Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson touts him as the greatest shortstop he's ever seen. Trammell is levelheaded enough to realize both that Anderson blows more smoke than a Pittsburgh blast furnace and that he just might be third best in the American League East.
Very likely, Trammell would be judged his league's most valuable player this season had that shoulder not gone limp near the All-Star break. It cost him 42 games in the field, and seems more troublesome than he will admit. "I am going to see (a specialist) again after this is over, but only as a precaution," he said.
"There will be no operation."
Trammell has been a Tiger regular for seven seasons; he has only felt comfortable and confident at the plate slightly less than two. "That's when I've been a tough out," he said. "I changed my stance and have gotten more power, as well as more consistency. Sparky and Gates Brown (the hitting coach) wanted me to do it sooner, but I was too stubborn. I'd try it on a tee in the dungeon (under Tiger Stadium) but not in a game. Finally, I used it in Anaheim -- and went five for five. That'll give you lots of confidence."
What each of those two homers today gave Trammell he couldn't quite describe.
"I'm pretty much in a daze (during the trot around the bases)," he said. "I'm not one of those who stands there and watches 'em go out. I don't show emotion . . . .
"That's not my style. I don't like to show anyone up. I don't want people to know what I'm thinking."
In the next several moments, Trammell was thinking back to growing up a Padres fan, to sneaking into the stadium for games and admiring Nate Colbert.
Trammell played every position, including a year at catcher in Pony League. The shortstops he considers himself most like are workers Mark Belanger and Eddie Brinkman, rather than the supreme stylist, Ozzie Smith.
More cautious off the field than on, Trammell decided against joining several teammates in a show of bravado on the eve of possibly clinching the Series.
"We're not the Cubs," his locker neighbor, Marty Castillo, had insisted.
"What are you doing handing out these (travel plans to San Diego in case Game 6 is necessary)?" Kirk Gibson bellowed. "Don't you have any faith in us?" Trammell saved his schedule and insisted, "It's never over 'til it's over." Lately, it's been over shortly after it began.