BALTIMORE – It seemingly started out of nowhere. Suddenly, Buck Showalter charged onto the field, wagging a finger and spitting mad.
His target wasn’t the umpires. In fact, the umpires were trying to hold him back. He was jawing at New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
The first inning had just ended, and Nick Markakis scored. Moments before, third base coach Bobby Dickerson in his first major league season, heard Girardi scream at him.
“I know what you’re doing,” Dickerson heard Girardi yell.
“Body language, pointing at me and stuff. That was it, and I’m a grown man, that’s all. No one’s going to yell at me on a baseball field,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson and Girardi have no history. “You don’t know anything. You don’t even know me to be yelling at me,” Dickerson snapped.
After 26 years in the minor leagues, the 48 year-old Dickerson is finally in the majors, and in the heat of a pennant race, he wasn’t about to back down—not to an opposing manager accusing him of stealing signs.
Nor was the manager who had him as a player for the first time in Fort Lauderdale in 1987.
“I know Bobby Dickerson pretty well and so I knew Bobby might have something to say on his way back to the dugout. And he did,” Showalter said. “Somebody’s wearing black and orange, I’m not going to let that happen.”
Girardi wouldn’t go into detail on the matter.
The one thing that I’ve done, the whole time that I’m here, and everywhere I’ve been, is I’m going to protect our players at all lengths. That’s what I’m going to do, and there was something that I saw and I’m just going to leave it at that,” Girardi said.
Dickerson said the exchange started early, when Markakis, the Orioles’ first batter, hit a double off the wall.
“I didn’t hear him at first. I heard something and as I looked at the dugout, he was right there yelling at me from the far end. And I was running off the field, something else was said. And after that it was over,” Dickerson said. “As I passed by, that’s when something was said and I stopped. That’s when it started and that’s when Buck came out and he informed me to go to the dugout, so I went to the dugout.”
Showalter says he checks to see if teams are stealing signs early in the game, in the first 10 or 15 pitches and assumes both teams do.
In his first postgame interview, Dickerson, whose work at third base this year has been considered exemplary, handled himself with aplomb.
“You know what? I’m just trying to do my job over there and nobody’s going to yell at me for nothing. That’s all. I’m a grown man and he’s going to challenge me. That’s the way I took it,” Dickerson said.
The manager who’s known him for, oh so long, and has been through lots of major league pennant races was pleased to defend the man who’s in his first one.
"I don't get into theatrics or whatever. If I feel something, I'll express it,” Showalter said.