Remembering 2012: Etch’s Missing Rings
It may be the slowest time of the year for Revolution news, but we still have plenty to post here in case you missed it during the season. As we did last year, we’ll be posting a different column at the beginning of each week from the past season of the York Revolutionary Times in case you missed an issue at the ballpark.
Memories Forever “Etch”ed
In his first 50 seasons of professional baseball, four had the ultimate ending for Andy Etchebarren. Just ask his friends and family.
By Paul Braverman
Champagne and beer flew wildly around the Revolution clubhouse in the late afternoon of Sunday, October 2, 2011, after the York Revolution defeated the Long Island Ducks 6-3 at Sovereign Bank Stadium, clinching their second consecutive Atlantic League Championship three games to one. The usually vociferous Andy Etchebarren had already retreated to the cozy confines of the manager’s office, after briefly addressing the team.
Surprisingly, the often in your (and umpires) face skipper of the York Revolution, with his fierce competitive streak, doesn’t really do celebrations. A foolish front office worker found this out when he discovered Etch sitting quietly in his office.
“Well, my guys did OK this year,” said the unusually understated Etchebarren when he saw him.
“Excited to get another ring?” the staffer said.
On that question, “Etch” furrowed his legendary eyebrows.
“That stuff is all in the past,” he said, not one to be sentimental about the championship that happened 20 minutes ago. That stuff is for guys like you, not guys like me.”
The staffer hardly considered this an insult, but rather another window into a man who is a little more complex, a little softer if you will, than his gruff reputation.
You hear so much in sport about obtaining “the ring,” and how damaging it is to a star player’s legacy to have to retire without one. Either that’s just trumped up talk that makes sport a little more dramatic, or Andy Etchebarren is just cut from a different cloth. All of his rings, two Atlantic League Championship, two American League Championship, and two World Series Championship, have all been gifted to someone else by the original owner, and he doesn’t have a single regret about any of them.
“I just don’t wear them, the big rings like that. I’m not one of those guys, I think it’s showing off, or something. That’s just the way I feel. I know what we did, so I wanted to give them to my daughters before I died so they could appreciate it more.”
Etch’s 1966 World Series Championship ring he earned with Baltimore is now with his eldest daughter Kimberly, who is saving it for her son, Etchebarren’s grandson Jeremy, once he turns 21.
“He knows he’s getting it, and really excited about it,” beamed Etch.
The second World Series ring he picked up in 1970 with the Orioles is with his younger daughter Lisa, who proudly displays it in her home. Etch also picked up AL Championship rings in 1969 and 1971, the years Baltimore came up short in the World Series during the stretch that saw he and that legendary nucleus of players Robinson, Robinson, Palmer, Powell etc. play in three consecutive World Series, and four in six seasons. Those rings he also gave away to good friends.
40 years may have passed between that ’70 World Series and Etch’s next championship, his first as a coach or manager with the Revolution in 2010. But the decades did little to quash his generosity. While bestowing his first rings to his actual children brought them great joy, the ones he’s given away lately have made one-time strangers feel like his family.
“I love Etch, he’s a father figure to me, and he’s only got a couple years on me,” says Ray Jackson of the Yorktowne Hotel. High praise indeed from a man who has only known Andy Etchebarren since 2009, when he took over as Revolution manager.
Jackson handles all things Atlantic League at the Yorktowne, as it hosts the visiting teams throughout the season and Etch, who lives at the hotel while the Revolution is at home. Between April and September you find Etch either at the ballpark or the Yorktowne, so the bond formed quickly, culminating in Etch giving Jackson his 2010 championship ring after he received it on Opening Day 2011.
Jackson, who attends at least 20 games a season in person, was shocked.
“When I gave it to him he cried, he had tears coming down his face. The hotel manager came up to me and said ‘you don’t even know how you’ve made Ray feel.’ He’s been there for years, and is very helpful to me and everyone who comes in. He was a guy I thought should have that ring, and he’s very proud of it,” said Etch.
“I will cherish it until the day I leave this Earth,” says Jackson, who unlike Etch, isn’t shy about a little showing off. “I keep it on a dresser in my bedroom, but I wear it around a lot to because I love showing it off.”
The lucky recipient of the 2011 ring is none other than Ray Ferrer, a Revolution full-season ticket holder from the beginning in 2007, a familiar face to players, front office and fans alike at Sovereign Bank Stadium. In addition to almost never missing a game, Ferrer is of help to the organization as well, providing housing and/or a host family to many players on the team each season during their stay in York. Etch, in genuine appreciation for Ferrer’s help and loyalty, gave this ring away before he’d even won it.
“Last year before the season, he told me if we won another one, he’d give the ring to me,” said Ferrer. “I said, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’” he laughed.
And when the Revs made the championship-clinching out against Long Island, a pre-season promise had hardly slipped the mind of Ferrer.
“When it was over I reminded him, ‘remember our bet?’ He said, ‘that was no bet, I’m a man of my word and you’re getting the ring.’”
“I told him I’d give it to him, and he was very happy. He never thought I’d do that,” said Etch. “I know what we did. I’ve got the memories. I don’t need to put that ring on to remember. At least I remember what we did on the field, because sometimes I go into a room and have no idea what I went in there for.”
Only Etch knows for sure, if he knows at all, who will get the next ring if the Revolution pulls off an unprecedented Atlantic League three-peat. But make no mistake; in what he says will be his final season on the bench, once again good memories are not getting in the way of the goal and task at hand.
“They’re nice memories, but you never get those games back. The last game when we beat Long Island was nice to win the championship, but you know what? That game’s over. We celebrated it, we had a good time with it, but we’ve got to move on. Right now, I’m not thinking about the two championships we won, I’m thinking about the ballclub we’re putting on the field that has a chance to win another championship.”
And even though you wouldn’t know it to look at his ring finger, winning championships fit Andy Etchebarren just fine.