In the 1970s and early 1980s, when baseball agent Ron Shapiro represented as many as 20 Baltimore Orioles players at any given time, he sometimes would take along one of his seven children to the Memorial Stadium office of then-Orioles general manager Hank Peters to sit in on negotiations.
"I felt it would be great experience for them," he said, "no matter what they did in life."
As it turns out, one of Shapiro's children, Mark, grew up to become GM of the Cleveland Indians. And on Monday, the great circle of baseball life will come around again when the Shapiros sit together in Ron's box near the third base dugout for Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"For someone like me who has been in the game as long as I have," Ron Shapiro said of his 36-year-old son, "to be able to sit with my son in his role as general manager of a major league team on Opening Day, it's a very special feeling."
"The roots of my passion for baseball are in Baltimore," said Mark Shapiro, "and the roots of my code for living life are in my father. . . . But in my professional life, I'm not nostalgic for the Orioles at all. I still love Baltimore, but when I see that Orioles uniform now, my desire is just to beat them."
Actually, several great circles of life will come around again Monday, the way only baseball can seem to produce.
Mark Shapiro, at the time four years removed from his Princeton graduation, got his first job in baseball in 1992 as an "assistant" in the Indians' baseball operations department.
"Essentially a go-fer," Ron Shapiro says. The man who hired him was Peters, who had moved on from the Orioles to the Indians five years before.
In the Indians' dugout Monday will be Eddie Murray, newly elected Hall of Famer and Orioles legend. As a child, Mark Shapiro, like many Baltimore youngsters, idolized Murray, who happened to be a client of his father's. And one of Shapiro's first hires upon being named GM of the Indians prior to the 2002 season was stealing Murray away from the Orioles to be the team's hitting coach.
On Monday, Murray will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, as recognition of his election to Cooperstown this winter.
"This is going to be a special [Opening Day] because of what this year means to Eddie," Mark Shapiro said, "and what Eddie has meant to me."
Ron Shapiro -- who has the distinction of representing more Hall of Famers (Murray, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Kirby Puckett, with another, Cal Ripken, four years away) than any other agent -- used to dissuade Mark from seeking a career in the sports business. All this time later, all he can say is he was wrong.
"It has been really satisfying to see him work his way up through the organization," he said. "He's way ahead of me at this point in his life."
Even hard-core baseball fans might be hard-pressed to name one member of the Kansas City Royals or Detroit Tigers rotations, as they prepare to battle the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the worst record in the American League.
For the record, the Royals will go with RHP Runelvys Hernandez, LHP Jeremy Affeldt, RHP Miguel Asencio, LHP Chris George and LHP Darrell May.
Combined number of major league victories: 21.
The Tigers counter with LHP Mike Maroth, RHP Jeremy Bonderman, RHP Adam Bernero, RHP Nate Correjo and RHP Gary Knotts. Combined number of major league victories: 18.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one time in the past 60 years has a team opened the season with a rotation boasting of fewer major league wins: The 1998 Florida Marlins (Livan Hernandez, Felix Heredia, Eric Ludwick, Brian Meadows and Rafael Medina) had 16.
The Royals and Tigers, incidentally, play each other 19 times this season. Can't wait. . . .
The Devil Rays' release of outfielder Greg Vaughn (whose $9.25 million salary they will swallow) leaves their 25-man Opening Day roster at an incredible $15 million.
As noted in the St. Petersburg Times, that is about one-tenth of the highest-team's payroll (the New York Yankees), about one-half the next-lowest team's payroll (the Montreal Expos) and about $6 million less than the Texas Rangers will pay Alex Rodriguez alone. . . .
This bit of news garnered two lines in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday: "Outfielder Brady Anderson accepted a demotion to Class AAA; the Padres said Anderson, 39, won't take playing time from any prospects."
The long-time Orioles star was trying to make the Padres' roster after being released by the Cleveland Indians last season. He hit .196 with two homers for the Padres this spring. . . .
Another former Oriole who did quite a bit better in Padres camp this spring was left-hander Jesse Orosco, who made the team after going unscored upon in eight spring appearances (through Thursday).
Orosco, baseball's all-time leader with 1,187 games pitched, is in 24th major league season and turns 46 on April 21.
"It's something I enjoy doing," Orosco told the Union-Tribune. "My arm is very healthy right now. I'm going to keep going until you know, they just say, 'Jesse, you don't have it anymore.' " One reason the Padres signed Orosco this winter as a lefty specialist is those 18 games against the San Francisco Giants and slugger Barry Bonds, who has hit only .160 with two homers in 27 career at-bats against Orosco.
Reason for Concern
Atlanta Braves right-hander Jason Marquis, whose apparent emergence last season was one reason the team felt secure in trading away Kevin Millwood, has a 10.06 spring ERA and has miffed the coaching staff with his lack of interest in instruction.
Marquis is in danger of losing his rotation spot to rookie left-hander Horacio Ramirez, who is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA this spring. . . .
The Houston Astros' release of veteran pitcher Shane Reynolds on Thursday nearly caused a mutiny among the team's senior players. Reynolds, who spent 11 years with the team and made five Opening Day starts, was cut loose after posting a 5.87 ERA this spring, and later said he would have focused more on results (as opposed to experimenting on pitches) had he known he was competing for a job.
"A lot of times things happen in this game that you don't understand," veteran first baseman Jeff Bagwell said, in comments that were echoed by Craig Biggio, Brad Ausmus and others. "This is one of them. Big time. I don't understand it. . . . I don't know where this is coming from. He's a veteran.
"The last time I checked, the back of a baseball card doesn't have spring training stats on them."