Nottle's Singing Manager shtick probably does leave some people trying to look behind the curtain, since it's human nature to wonder if someone is less than genuine when they're so upbeat (and no doubt he's often had to show a different side of himself to his team, which is a Can-Am League-worst 15-42 after being swept by Atlantic City, which won 13-3 tonight to complete a three-game sweep at The Zip).
However, when you read about him doing stuff like this for fans, you know that he's got a good heart in a baseball business than can often be heartless.
"I knew I would like Singin' Ed Nottle, as he is called. We talked at great length before the game. I seem to recall he spent off-seasons in Evansville, Ind. He talked about retiring because his wife had cancer. Then he told me he was going to sing before that evening's game. A Duluth season ticket holder of some 40 years had just lost her husband. Ed was going to dedicate a song to her.
"Around game time the clouds turned snowglobe blue, so classic of Northern Minnesota in mid-June. The elderly woman sat in her box seat wearing a Dukes warm up jacket. The seat next to her was empty. Ed walked to the pitcher's mound and his entire team followed. The players and coaches took off their caps. They all faced the long-time fan. Ed then delivered an immaculate version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' It was a touching moment."It's hard not to feel for the Nottles when you read that. The man is, by his own admission, a through-and-through ham, who's adopted that persona as part of the bargain he's made to stay in baseball for a half-century. Right now — assuming that there's no duplicity about the reasons for his leave of absence — there's a little less joking.
(Thank God yours truly refrained from pointing out the Rapidz, 18 games behind Québec for the league's best record, have almost caught up to Lehigh Valley — 21 games out of first place — which had a seven-week headstart.