When baseball cards were enough of a part of everyday culture that little card shops could survive in strip malls, I was a fairly regular shopper at my nearby store. Not enough where the man behind the counter knew my name, or even knew much about me, but he knew me enough to recognize me.
One day, when I was in the store gazing at the cards in the glass case and not purchasing anything, the guy offered me a few free packs. Are you kidding me? Free packs of cards?! I was ecstatic.
Except that they were football and hockey cards. The guy tried to talk me up about finding an Eric Lindros card saying “He’s like Wayne Gretzky, but better.” As a kid living in greater Los Angeles, I knew who Wayne Gretzky was. I didn’t know, or care, about Eric Lindros.
I knew some of the NFL players in the pack of cards I got, but one stood out to me: Reggie Roby.
Here’s why: As I studied the cards as my mom drove back home, I saw that he was wearing something weird. Not the one-bar helmet.
Reggie Roby was wearing a watch.
Not that his name didn’t make him memorable enough (how can you forget a great alliterative name like Reggie Roby? It’s got to be one of the best first-last name combos where you have to use both when you refer to said person.) But the fact that he was wearing a watch on the field of play was incredible!
And, this wasn’t a one-time thing for Reggie Roby that happened to get captured on a card like Bill Ripken’s “Fuck Face” fiasco. Reggie Roby wore a watch a lot.
Not only did I think it was weird as a kid that a pro athlete wore a watch during the game, I still think it’s weird.
Dusty Baker wears a watch in the dugout while he’s managing, but he’s a manager. The only time he goes on to the field is to wear out his bullpen and get another toothpick.
Did Dusty always have dinner reservations? Was he like the growing population of satisfy-me-now America and didn’t like that baseball had no time constraints? Was he like Joe Buck and hated baseball, but because it made him so wealthy, he just dealt with it? There is no good reason for Dusty Baker to wear a watch. Unless it had a calculator on it so he could instantly figure out ERA’s and OBP’s and other things that might help him manage a game.
So, why in the world did Reggie Roby wear a watch? After he suddenly passed away in 2005, this story said that Roby wore a watch to time his punts.
Really? To time his punts?
By the time he kicks the ball, watches out for a rushing defender near him and then hits his watch to start the time, the ball is most likely on its way down. No NFL team had an intern that could do it for him?
Reggie Roby, coming off the field: Well?
Fresh out of college, 21-year-old Miami Dolphins intern: 4.3 seconds.
Reggie Roby: I’ve got to get my leg kick higher.
That would be the conversation. Like the guy who follows a cameraman around just to hold the cable, timing Reggie Roby’s punts would be the intern’s job. Imagine putting that on your resume.
So, not only did Reggie Roby have to worry about a rushing defense, if the snap would be good, the wind, where he was going to punt the ball, putting it in bounds or out of bounds, playing the field position game, possibly making a TD-saving tackle, or getting injured, he also decided that timing his punts with an on-field watch was a good idea.
Reggie Roby played 16 seasons, was a three-time Pro Bowler and is 18th in career punt yardage, so he obviously was good at his craft. But did he really need to wear that watch?