CHICAGO–The Cubs are allegedly close to landing free agent outfielder Cliff Floyd. Cubs G.M. Jim Hendry has had his eye on Floyd since 1991, when Floyd played at Thornwood High School in the Chicago suburbs.
Jim had been invited to Thornwood’s spring “turnabout” dance by a girl he hung out with “just as friends.” Cliff was a big baseball star at Thornwood. Popular. Strong. Handsome. Well-liked.
They met at the refreshments table. Cliff was picking up juice for his date. Jim was polishing off his second plate of brownies. Sparks flew, primarily because Jim wore braces at the time and was generating a lot of static electricity. They danced, laughed, and stayed up all night chatting at an IHOP at Jim’s request.
They hung out a lot during their senior year. Cliff gave Jim his class ring. Jim gave Cliff an onion ring. Then, graduation came.
Jim asked Cliff to follow him to Creighton, where Jim had been coaching the baseball team. “It’ll be great!” Jim said. “You can play on the team, and we can spend all kinds of time together!”
But Cliff had met a different G.M. A better G.M. A foreigner from Montreal who offered Cliff money and fame. And so, he packed his bags and headed north. Jim was devastated.
Jim didn’t really think much about Cliff until he saw him again in 2004. At the time, Cliff was in New York, still playing baseball. Still handsome. Still perfect.
Jim was with Sammy at the time. He knew things were going badly with him and Sammy. He knew it was going to end soon. Jim desperately wanted Cliff back in his life. He even tried to use Sammy as leverage to be together with Cliff again, but to no avail. Cliff stayed in New York.
Jim kicked around the next couple of years and tried to forget about Cliff. He ran around with Jeromy and Jacque for a while, but no one could offer him what Cliff had.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend called Jim to tell him the news. “Did you hear?” Omar Minaya said. “I dumped Cliff. He really misses you.” Jim’s heart pounded as he put the phone back in its cradle. Then, he picked the phone back up and started to dial. Those old, familiar numbers.
Then, a brief click. “Jim?” said the voice at the other end. “Is that you?”
“It’s me,” Jim said.
A pause. “I’m ready to come home. If you’ll have me,” said the voice at the other end.
“You never left home, Cliff,” said Jim. “You never left home.”