It was a common Sunday afternoon scene: A 14-year-old ballplayer grabs father and wrangles a trip to the sporting goods store. Absolutely nothing especially unusual about it.

However if there were 100 weekend journeys to Cock’s Sporting Product like it for Tyler Phillips, one stood apart from the rest. The day before, the righthander had actually pitched a fall game for his travel group. In the stands, amongst the parents and the players and coaches from other teams was one man who, it ends up, would be shopping that Sunday as well.

” We remain in the shop, and this man approaches me,” the righthander recalls nearly nine years later. “I ‘d seen him at the video game the day in the past. I figured he was somebody’s daddy.”

However Takeshi Sakurayama– most who understand him call him “T-Money”– wasn’t in Flemington, New Jersey, a four-hour drive from his Connecticut home, to see his child play that weekend. In truth, he wasn’t there to see …