Groundhog Day: Reynolds wishes for Minor League do-over
Second baseman recalls getting locked in bathroom before big game
If he had the chance, Harold Reynolds knows exactly what moment in his career he would like to revisit -- Groundhog Day-style -- and alter just a bit.
His wish for a do-over, however, doesn't involve any of the 5,398 plate appearances or 1,374 games he played over parts of 12 Major League seasons. Instead, the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner would go all the way back to a Triple-A game in 1983 -- well, more specifically, the moments before that fateful game.
A member of the Salt Lake City Gulls at the time, Reynolds -- a Eugene, Ore., native -- was set to bat leadoff in his professional hometown debut in a road game against the Portland Beavers. Yet when it came time for the game's first pitch, he was nowhere to be found.
As it turns out, Reynolds had taken a quick trip into the bathroom to relieve some of his pregame jitters -- and had become trapped in the process.
"Man, it's funny thinking about it now because I was back in Oregon for the first time, so obviously I've got all my high school teammates, my friends, my family -- everybody is there," Reynolds said. "I'm the leadoff hitter, so I'm getting ready and I decide to run into the bathroom real fast just before the anthem, but then I couldn't get out. I hear it finish and, by that point, I'm just screaming for someone to come help me."
Unfortunately, this wasn't a matter of a teammate simply playing a prank on Reynolds. In fact, it took a few minutes before anyone even realized what was unfolding in the visitors' dugout.
Salt Lake City's pitchers had already made the trek out to the bullpen and the rest of his teammates were at the opposite end of the dugout ready for the game to start. Being the Minor Leagues, there was no surplus of players or coaches hanging out at the far end of the dugout.
"It literally delayed the game. The umpire was fired up and yelling, 'Get a hitter up here now!'" Reynolds recalled. "Finally someone heard me calling for help, but they eventually had to get the custodian or a maintenance guy at the ballpark to come and literally break the handle off the door so that I could get out."
Needless to say, Reynolds' teammates had plenty of fun at his expense in the aftermath of it all. While he was fortunate enough to not have a career-long nickname or anything substantial come out of the whole ordeal, his Salt Lake City teammates "never" let him fully live it down.
"That was the joke everywhere we went all season long. All season long, man," Reynolds said. "I'd finish batting practice and we'd be putting on our game uniforms and all the guys would be walking by and asking, 'You go to the bathroom yet, Harold?'"
While Reynolds would undoubtedly like to revisit that night and never enter that restroom in the first place, he can at least rest easy knowing that other young players haven't had to suffer through a similar fate at that same ballpark.
"The good news is, to the best of my knowledge, they never put a handle back on that door," Reynolds said. "So, thanks to me, guys can go in and out of there now without worrying."
Though memorable, it's not exactly the mark that Reynolds wanted to leave in his return home. As for the game itself, it's long been overshadowed by the events leading up to it.
"I wish I could say I remember getting a hit or us winning the game, but that story is honestly my only lasting memory of my first visit back home," Reynolds said. "That's it. That's my one takeaway from that night. So yeah, I'd like to take another crack at it, if I could."