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Minor-league baseball: New Jersey players swing for the bigs

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"I'm serious, Tike," says Raines. "Skeels is in the tunnel right now with a phone number. Milwaukee wants you to call immediately and give 'em an answer."

Redman looks up and, realizing the news is no joke, is overcome with a sense of relief. This is why he's been toiling in Newark all summer for a meager $2,000 a month, minus clubhouse dues (the fact that he has to pay them is a humiliation in and of itself). This is what he's been waiting for.

"It's just being in the big league stadium, seeing the fans, and that sense of achievement," Redman confides after the game (a 10-8 victory over the River Sharks), when asked what excites him most about the prospect of being back in a major league uniform. Redman is standing outside the showers of the Bears clubhouse now, wearing a pair of sandals and black Under Armour shorts, anxious about making his plane. "And then, you get in the batter's box and just lock in...."

Redman's eyes widen as he mimes his batting stance, looking toward an imaginary mound that features a Tim Lincecum or a Roy Halladay, or some other such major league challenge.

"I didn't know if I'd make it back," he admits. "I know I can play, I wanna do this till I'm 40. I won't know what to do after that, and was certainly not ready to figure that out, but for now, I can put off thinking about life after baseball."

A parting of friends

As if on cue, Carl Everett, the former big-leaguer and present designated hitter for the Bears, walks by my interview with Redman.

"You gonna miss him?" I ask Tike, nodding in the direction of Everett.

"Of course he gonna miss me," Everett yells over his shoulder. "That's a dumb question!"

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