Urban: Overseas to All-Star, Vogelsong unabashed

July 12, 2011, 3:00 pm
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July 12, 2011


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Mychael Urban

PHOENIX -- Many lessons are among the layers of the Ryan Vogelsong story, a poignant reminder of the virtues of perseverance and sheer love of the game.And as the story shines in the national spotlight this week in Arizona, where the 33-year-old right-hander is the most unlikely of five Giants participating in the All-Star Game festivities, Vogelsong offers a little advice to those hoping to follow his path.Listen to your wife, guys. Seriously."They're always right," Vogelsong said Monday during a Media Day mashup. "I'm not being sarcastic. They are."Alas, had Vogelsong listened to his own wife, Nicole, a few years back, the inspirational story that drew large crowds of curious chroniclers wanting to hear more Monday might never have unfolded so dramatically.
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After the game chewed up Vogelsong and spit him out of the big leagues after the 2006 season, he signed to play in Japan, and there he stayed for three seasons.Nicole thought her husband was giving up in a sense, not pursuing another job stateside with appropriate confidence and zeal."When I signed to go to Japan, that's what our biggest fights were about," Vogelsong said. "She thought I was selling myself short. She wanted me to keep trying free agency, to find a big-league job."Might all this have been avoided? The international detour? The grueling, character-testing year in the minors last season? Another trip across borders, to winter ball in Venezuela? It doesn't happen if Nicole Vogelsong initially gets her way?"I don't know," Vogelsong said. "That's hard to say. But she is always right."
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Call it delayed gratification. For both of them. And after routinely downplaying first the possibility of being an All-Star and then the significance of being one -- out of humility and then shock -- it finally hit home for Vogelsong over the weekend when he saw a graphic on a baseball highlights show about the several All-Star starters in a row that the New York Mets were in the midst of facing."They put up each guy's face, and there I was," he said as a smile spread across his face. "That was pretty cool."Quite a moment for Nicole, no doubt, as well.