This was seven years ago, in Long Beach, at a game being played at a tiny 3,000-seat stadium -- an independent league game in which the participants were mostly trying desperately to revive failed dreams of major league glory. On this particular night, however, there was one player whose name was even more recognizable than some of the former big leaguers who were passing through on their way to athletic oblivion, a name that somehow had become representative of all that fans hate about modern-day players. Synonymous with greed. That would be Bill's son, Matt Harrington, who -- after being selected No. 7 in the baseball draft only two years earlier -- had turned down almost $5 million from the Colorado Rockies and who eventually would go on to become the first player in major league history drafted five times without ever signing.
But before that dubious record would become a reality, before Matt would end up working in the tire department at Costco for $11.50 an hour, he was still trying to find his way back to the money, back to the talent that once had him ranked as the best high school pitching prospect in the country. So here he was, making less than $1,500 a month with the Long Beach Breakers, loosening up in the bullpen before starting that 2002 summer night.