Winter Meetings: Tommy “the V” Viola, Meet Sweet Music Viola

As a kid growing up with the last name VIOLA, there was one player that I always wanted a chance to meet. I got that chance on Tuesday night in Orlando when I had the opportunity to say hello to Frank “Sweet Music” Viola. viola-frank

Living in New York for the early part of my life, people thought it was odd that I had one of my favorite players on a team from Minnesota. Frank Viola was the star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in the 1980’s. He won the Cy Young Award in 1988 after posting a 24-7 mark with a 2.64 ERA in 35 starts. In eight seasons with the Twins, Viola won 112 games. Overall, he won 176 games over a 15-year Major League career.

In 1989 — Viola — a native New Yorker — became a New York Met when he was traded by the Twins to the Amazins for  package of players that included Rick Aguilera, David West, Jack Savage, Kevin Tapani, and Tim Drummond.

I remember when Viola became a Met. As an eight-year-old living in Brooklyn, I went nuts! Now, I would have two very good reasons to root for Viola. He made 12 starts for the Mets the rest of the 1989 season, and excelled on the mound in Flushing a year later.

In 1990, Viola won 20 games for a 91-71 Mets team that finished second in the NL East. It was great to see him have success!

It’s funny, one Frank Viola story for me was when I moved from Brooklyn to the Poconos (PA). Everyone that I met in PA would always ask me if I was related to Frank Viola. In school, Little League, church, everywhere! While I never knew the answer, I would say yes. Why not, right?

Being a big baseball fan, it made a lot of sense to me. And, being from New York, it sounded like a no-brainer!

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On Tuesday, I had a chance to shake his hand, tell him my story as a kid growing up with the last name Viola, and how I had a room full of Viola plaques, baseball cards, and more. I was able to grab a quick photo with him (pictured, right), which I immediately sent to my Viola family.

All and all, it was nice to talk to him for a few minutes and I have to thank Knights GM Scotty Brown for introducing me. Meeting him was 30+ years in the making for me!

Meeting Frank was a great way to cap-off the evening. Tuesday was a busy, busy day here at  the Winter Meetings for me. I’ll have a blog with interviews from Tuesday, but just to make one note about Tuesday…

At 1:30 PM on Tuesday, the Knights, along with the Chicago White Sox announced a six-year extension to their Player Development Contract. White Sox manager Robin Ventura spoke to the media at 1:30 and then Buddy Bell and Knights Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski spoke to some media afterwards.

For more information about Tuesday’s announcement, read my press release here:
Knights Ink Six-Year PDC Extension with White Sox from Orlando, FL

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