BOSTON - It was April 26, 2003 and the Toronto Blue Jays were in the midst of a Saturday afternoon tilt with the Kansas City Royals.
With the Jays in the field, the team's third base coach, Brian Butterfield, felt somebody slide a piece of paper beside him on the Toronto bench. The note read: "Ty Warren, Texas A&M.;"
"I was very excited about that pick to tell you the truth," Butterfield said before last night's Red Sox-Jays game. "I had more adrenaline flowing the rest of the game because I was pleased with the pick."
The Blue Jays are always the priority when it comes to Butterfield, a Maine native who still lives in Standish during the offseason. He has, after all, been Toronto's third base coach since 2002. But there is one team that runs a close second: the New England Patriots.
For Butterfield, trips into Boston are a treat for many reasons, chief among them is the chance to catch up with his sister, Valerie Reilly of Londonderry, and her two athletic kids, Rachel and Jack, both former Eagle-Tribune All-Stars. But the minute a Boston-area reporter is spotted, his secondary priority comes into play. There is information to be had and opinions to be given.
With the NFL Draft looming this weekend, Butterfield is in his glory.
His home features a television room with two levels of stadium seating, four TV sets, and a conspicuous Tedy Bruschi jersey that every patron has to fist-pound before getting a drink from the refrigerator.
"I want to send out a thanks to all the scribes in this area for doubting Tedy Bruschi," said Butterfield, who wears No. 55 in honor of former Patriot Willie McGinest. "Because of all the doubters, he is going to be more determined than ever. So you tell them, 'Thank you.'"
When it comes to the Patriots - especially during these days leading up to the draft - Butterfield is all business. His passion for pro football was sparked by his friendship with former Patriots coach Bill Parcells, and more recently thanks to his close relationship with the Pats' vice president for player personnel Scott Pioli.
Parcells called him crazy.
"He told me to get a life when he brought in a rookie free agent out Virginia Tech and I knew his height, weight and 40-yard dash time," said Butterfield.
After a long night on the diamond, he has stayed up reviewing tapes of Patriots preseason games. And the coach still takes pride in the fact that years ago he had urged the Pats to take recent acquisitions Sammy Morris and Kelley Washington over the likes of J.R. Redmond and Bethel Johnson.
Last year Butterfield was singing the praises of Texas tight end David Thomas even before New England grabbed him in the third round. This year? 'Butter says it is all about defense, in particular safeties.
"Scottie (Pioli) usually laughs when I try and impress him because maybe he thinks I'm nuts. Or maybe I do know something," Butterfield said. "I don't think he takes me seriously, nor should he.
"I don't know how the first 23 picks are going to go. I don't know if some GMs are as smart as I am. In years past, (the Patriots) have always looked for that insurance policy."
The other perk about coming to Boston is being able to reunite with one of his biggest pigskin confidants, Red Sox utilityman Eric Hinske. The two met up yesterday before the game just in front of the Toronto dugout and immediately began breaking down potential selections for both Butter's Patriots and Hinske's Green Bay Packers.
The pair recalled when Butterfield's second favorite football team, the University of Michigan, was losing to a lesser team. Because of the constant clubhouse razzing, Butter had adjourned to the coach's room for the rest of the game. But Michigan came back, leading the coach to sprint through the door in celebration. Unfortunately, Hinske had the same idea. He, too, was running into the room, and met head-on with the charging Wolverine fan.
Butterfield got up with a smile from ear-to-ear. Not only had his team made his day, but, thanks to Hinske, the coach got a little taste of the action, to boot.
"Nobody knows more about the Patriots than Butter," Hinske said. "He's unbelievable."
Brian Butterfield's Patriots draft wish list:
1. Darrelle Revis, corner back, Pittsburgh - "Just like Ty Law, a big physical corner. He ran a 4.41 (40-yard dash) in his Pro Day."
2. LaRon Landry, safety, LSU - "Probably unrealistic."
3. Patrick Willis, linebacker, Mississippi - "Probably gone by 18th pick."
4. Michael Griffin, safety, Texas - "Great range and strength."
5. Adam Carriker, defensive end, Nebraska - "Even though it isn't a position of need."
First day sleepers: John Wendling, safety, Wyoming; Eric Weddle, safety, Wyoming