October 22, 2008
A baseball blogger has to blog .... but he also has to eat breakfast.
How fortunate, then, to find out that Lenny's Restaurant, Clearwater's home-away-from-home for Philadelphians, was just a 10-minute drive from my hotel. The family diner is located across the street from the Phillies' spring training facility and has already been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Tampa Tribune, by the Associated Press and on MLB.com.
That kind of media lineup was no doubt the reason that owner Dan Farrell (right) barely batted an eye when I introduced myself after downing a delicious omelet, some hash browns and five cups of coffee.
One of his managers, Kevin Schauer (left), had just finished giving a radio interview and they expected to continue being a hit with reporters in search of the offbeat story all week long.
The ironic thing is that they've probably served more media members in the past few days than actual Phillies fans. They expect that will change this afternoon and on Thursday morning, when Phillies fans finally arrive in town and Lenny's — named after Dan's late father — will again resemble a busy morning before a spring training game in early March.
Though his restaurant is only about a 20-minute drive from Tropicana Field, there's little doubt that Farrell is pulling for the Phillies tonight. His family hails from the New Jersey side of Philadelphia and the sign outside boasts the matchup as one between his restaurants and Ferg's, the now-famous bar located across the street from The Trop.
Also, when the Phillies are in town for spring training, the restaurant cooks for the team at their facility each morning and players often stop by for a meal after the games.
I asked Schauer to rattle off a few of the player's breakfast preferences and he quickly complied.
"Ryan Howard eats all of the meats — turkey bacon, turkey sausage, chicken, turkey and two different types of cheese," said Schauer, who used his Phillies connections to hook up tickets for Game 1. "His favorite is biscuits and gravy, but he's only allowed that twice each spring.
"Chase Utley likes two different kinds of egg-white omelets — one with turkey and peppercinis and the other with chicken and peppercinis."
"Jamie Moyer likes egg beaters with onions and avocado."
"As for Jimmy Rollins, I say he just orders half-a-Howard."
Since the team is busy trying to win its first World Series since 1980, Schauer and Farrell don't expect to see any players stopping in. But they plan on seeing plenty of red Phillies jerseys packing the booths and have planned this week's special accordingly. It was a deal so good that it had me wanting to proclaim that it was five o'clock somewhere at nine in the morning.