Day Retiring After Half Century In Professional Baseball
Boots Day has a plan.
After 55 years in professional baseball, the Ilion native and former Montreal Expo is putting a uniform on for one last season.
The 2021 Frontier League schedule has special meaning for Day.
Last year's season was wiped out due to COVID. Now, with all indications that a season will be played and on time, Day is anxious to get back to his beloved Evansville (IN) Otters. He first joined the organization in 1995 as their manager. During his playing days, Day spent four seasons playing Tripe-A ball in the city.
From 1975 - '80, Evansville was the top affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The club was then known as the Triplets.
Day, who made his MLB debut during the 1969 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, will assume bench coach duties for Otters' manager Andy McCauley. The 16-team Frontier League is an official MLB Partner. Each club is responsible for recruiting and signing their own players. Most are either undrafted or have been released from affiliated minor league teams.
While waiting for opening day scheduled for May 27, Day is doing all he can to keep busy.
"I'm doing good," Day said earlier this week during a telephone conversation from his home in Chesterfield, Missouri. " I'm watching a little TV, mingling with friends; keeping low-key."
Day, 73, has had no COVID health scares. Getting into the Otters' home ballpark Bosse Field, and on green grass for one more season is what still excites the Central New Yorker. This is amazing, given that when Day first joined organized ball, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States.
There will be no changing Day's decision about the upcoming baseball season being his last.
"That's enough," declares Day.
But, Day, who labels himself a "baseball guy", says the game will never totally leave him. Last season, without the Frontier League operating, Day tells of watching a lot of MLB games on TV from his suburban St. Louis home.
Along with current Washington National pitcher Patrick Corbin, Day is one of two Mohawk Valley Community College alumni to play in the big leagues. Day, who didn't play baseball as a student at the first community college established in New York State, did take night classes there prior to joining the Cardinals' organization.
During his parts of six MLB seasons, Day spent five of them with Montreal. The city and its baseball history remain special to Day. He has hopes that an MLB franchise will someday return to Quebec.
"They (Montreal team) would need a new stadium. It would need to be much smaller than Olympic Stadium (66,000 capacity). I think they would draw well in a ballpark with 38 - 42,000 seats," says Day, who last appeared in an MLB game in September 1974 with the Expos.
During the 1974 season, Montreal called up future hall of famer Gary Carter to make his rookie debut in September. He wore number 57 on his jersey. Day, who wore number eight, was no longer on the Montreal roster for the 1975 season. His uniform number was reassigned to Carter.
471 MLB games under his belt, decades of coaching and managing in the minors, scouting for MLB clubs including the Kansas City Royals, and time tutoring hundreds of kids in independent ball hoping for a break in the game as he had , Day is comfortable in putting a bow on his career.
Charles Frederick Day is content with his contributions to the game. One last season in uniform promises to be the sweetest of all. There's enough memories from taking orders from iconic managers as Leo Durocher, Red Schoendienst, and Jim Leyland, and having teammates as Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson, and Ferguson Jenkins to last all the off-seasons to come.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.