Chuck Tanner, with a smile on his face as wide as home plate, walked back and forth in the dugout, telling an anecdote about Jimmy Piersall.
Sitting on the bench and listening earnestly were Bill Madlock and Jason Thompson. Above the dugout, a youngster was screaming, "Hey, you, tell Madlock and (George) Hendrick that we want their autographs."
It was major league baseball in Woodbridge, Va.
The occasion was an annual game between the Class A Prince William Pirates and the major league Pittsburgh Pirates. And the stands were overflowing with 6,000 spectators; a normal turnout for a Prince William game is approximately 600.
Micki Ryder, who is originally from south Pittsburgh but who now lives in Fairfax, had three youngsters next to her dressed in small Pirates uniforms. "Its fantastic," she said. "In fact, I brought the entire neighborhood."
Madlock, sitting on the bench with his arms crossed, joked about playing in a meaningless game against the Carolina League Pirates. Pointing to the third base line, he said, "Yeah, you're going to see me line up out there." Then he pointed quickly behind, and added, "After that, I'm going to go to sleep back there."
But Madlock thought the game was good for the fans. "I think it's good because they have the Orioles just up in Baltimore but they don't have a National League team around here."
Tanner viewed the game as a chance to give his young pitchers a workout, and he didn't like to think about the possibility of injuries to key players. "You can't think about injuries," said Tanner. "You can get hurt walking down the street.
"The players are going to have fun tonight. Teams owe this to the fans in the country."
On the other side of the field, Prince William pitcher Jim Neidlinger, who was with Pittsburgh for spring training this year, talked about last year's game, when he got a chance to pitch. "When I went into the game, I wasn't that nervous because they always support you. It's definitely an opportunity for a kid to move up."
In the game itself, pitcher Rick Rhoden drove in five runs with a grand slam and an RBI single to lead Pittsburgh to a 10-3 victory.
Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Prince William went ahead, 3-2, in the fifth inning on RBI singles by J.B. Moore and Burk Goldthorn. Pittsburgh tied the game in the sixth on a RBI triple by Joe Orsulak.
Rhoden hit a two-out grand slam homer off Scott Neal in the seventh to give Pittsburgh a 7-3 lead.