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By Daniel I. Dorfman-
(CBS) Dewayne Wise will never make the Hall of Fame. He almost certainly will never play on an All-Star team. But the beauty of baseball is that one person can come out of nowhere and etch their names into the history books. Such is the case with Dewayne Wise.
It was two years ago Saturday when Mark Buehrle had one out in the top of the ninth trying to complete the rarest of rare feats in baseball: a perfect game. Gabe Kapler of Tampa Bay hit a pitch that off the bat looked like it was going to end not only the perfect game, but Buehrle’s shutout as well. But Wise, inserted into the game as a defensive replacement in center, leapt as far as he could at the wall in deep leftcenter field and managed to bring the ball back, losing control for a moment but grabbing the ball back before it hit the ground. One hitter later Buehrle had his perfect game. Soon, Buehrle was accepting a congratulatory call from President Obama and Wise was the owner of one of the most iconic moments in team history.
The spot where Wise made his grab is now marked with “THE CATCH” at U.S. Cellular Field. That gesture was unveiled by the team a few days after the play was made.
“I wish my name was up there but when people see that they are always going to remember that Dewayne Wise made that catch,” he said.
While Wise, now a member of the Florida Marlins, was thrilled at the time, he rolled his eyes a bit last week when a reporter asked him at Wrigley Field if he was willing to talk about that moment yet again now that two years have passed. In a sense, it is a prison for him, the moment he is trapped in and will never be able to escape.
“It’s still going on,” he said. “During batting practice somebody will always mention it. I hear it every day.”
He added more as to why he is reluctant to get into the moment again.
“It seems like every time someone comes over to my locker, that is the first thing everybody wants to talk about,” he said. “It’s good to be remembered for something, but at the same time, I do get tired of it sometimes. That was two years ago, let’s talk about what is going on now.”
Wise is now a role player for the Marlins. He plays sparingly, but he is back in the majors now, after being promoted to the major league roster earlier this season. It is another uniform for Wise, 33, after stops in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Chicago and two in Toronto, not to mention a lot of minor league stops for the native of Chapin, South Carolina.
His time in Chicago came to an end about two months after his largest moment on the baseball stage. After playing in 84 games in 2009, he and the White Sox parted ways in the type of move that happens every year for backup players such as Wise.
“I had fun here,” Wise said. “Chicago was my favorite city. I’m not going to lie as there are times I wish I was still playing here. But things happen and you have to move on.”
He doesn’t stay in touch with a lot of his teammates in Chicago. Just occasional texts between Buehrle and he talks with former Sox rightfielder Jermaine Dye here and there.
He does have fond memories of playing for Ozzie Guillen though.
“I liked Ozzie,” Wise said. “He doesn’t care if you are a rookie or a veteran guy. If something needs to be said, he’ll say it. I liked the way he made the game fun. He wasn’t a manager who was always serious. He would joke around but he meant business. I liked that about him.”
Wise may be a role player but he has earned the respect of Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who works in the Florida front office.
“He’s a quiet leader,” Dawson said. “He works diligently day in and day out. He provides you with an outfielder who can cover all three areas out there. He provides a veteran presence for the young guys.”
Wise is now adjusting to life in southern Florida. What Chicagoans have been feeling this week in terms of brutal heat is what it is like most of the time in Miami and Wise is getting used to that. He is also getting acclimated to playing in front of very small crowds – in fact they rank last in the National League in terms of attendance – as the Marlins play their last year in what is now Sun Life Stadium before they move into a new park next season.
“You wish that more people would come to the game but it rains at five o’clock every day and you are sitting out in that heat and you understand why people aren’t showing up,” Wise said. “Hopefully next year with the new ballpark things will change.”
As for his favorite memories here in Chicago, he is split between the catch as well as his offensive performance in the 2008 American League Division Series against Tampa Bay where he had a three-run homer in Game 1 and a crucial two-run double in Game 3, the only game the Sox won in that series.
“That was my first time I ever got to start in the postseason and to contribute the way I did, that is something I will never forget,” he said. “But that catch is one of the best catches in history so it is good to be remembered for that.”
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.