Ohio State's Urban Meyer, a former minor league shortstop, visits Indians
CLEVELAND (AP) — Urban Meyer dreamed of playing shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. On Monday, he got as close as he ever will.
Ohio State's new coach, who grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, and spent two years as a minor league shortstop, played catch in the outfield with his 13-year-old son, Nate, took some swings inside the indoor batting cages at Progressive Field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Indians opened a three-game interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Meyer showed good form on a few cuts in the cages and then stood in awe as Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ripped line drives into the netting.
"Listen to that sound," Meyer said, marveling at Cabrera's effortless swing.
Shortly after arriving at the ballpark, Meyer ran into Browns running Trent Richardson, who was throwing the ball with Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan. Before long, Richardson was tossing the ball with Nate Meyer and then threw around a football with Indians reliever Joe Smith.
Richardson and Meyer share the same birthday, and the former Florida coach said he tried hard to recruit the Alabama running back to join the Gators.
"I got to know Trent real well," Meyer said. "Obviously, a great football player. He's from Emmitt Smith's high school. A great player and I'm glad he's with Cleveland because I'm a big Browns fan, too."
Meyer said he was a big fan of the Indians in the 1970s, and the 47-year-old proved it by rattling off names like Duane Kuiper, Rick Manning, Boog Powell and Buddy Bell.
Meyer said when he was in high school, team president Gabe Paul invited him to old Cleveland Stadium before the baseball draft.
"He took me down to shortstop and said, 'maybe someday you'll play shortstop for the Indians,'" Meyer said. "They were supposed to draft me."
But the Indians passed on him in the 1982 draft before he was taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round.
Meyer seemed to enjoy the pregame atmosphere as much as his son. They visited the Indians' clubhouse, where players greeted Meyer, who wore a scarlet Ohio State golf shirt.
Richardson, too, spent time hanging out with Cleveland's players, including outfielder Johnny Damon, a big Florida fan.
"Why did you have to beat up my Gators all those years," Damon joked. "Congratulations, though. It's nice to have you here."
Richardson said he's felt welcomed everywhere he's gone in Cleveland.
"It's a lot like 'Bama," he said.
Richardson, who was the No. 3 overall pick, said his rookie contract with the Browns is "about done" but he's waiting for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III to sign their deals.
"We just got to wait on the big boys," he said.
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