In April, the I-Team was dispatched to find out as much as possible about Jeff Samardzija's Daytona days. One goal was to discover the identity of "Bootstraps the Bussie," judgmental sponsor of The Shark's* Baseball Reference page. Now, a twist!
Here's how the sponsor's note on Baseball Reference reads:
NOBODY was more excited about your choosing baseball over football than I was...HOWEVER...your off the field late night activities while playing here in Daytona with the Cubs were VERY VERY sad...please change your ways and become a role model.
Today, we received an email from Derek Ingram, former radio announcer for the Daytona Cubs. He knows who Bootstraps the Bussie is — or at least, the man to whom the page's sponsor is referring — and the answer will ... mildly amuse. Take it away, Derek:
I just randomly came across your article on Jeff Samardzija and his "Bootstraps the Bussie" connection while Googling to see what Samardzija was doing these days. I know this is an older story and that Jeff is not even in the Major Leagues right now, but I can shine some light on this whole story...I wish I would have found this article sooner so I could have saved everyone some of the mystery, I was the radio announcer for the Daytona Cubs from 2006-2008.
"Bootstraps the Bussie" was the ACTUAL bus-driver for Daytona for 2007 and part of 2008. Now his real name was not Bootstraps, it was William _______ I am drawing a blank on his last name. He worked for our bus company Dynamic Tours and Transportation. He was "dubbed" Bootstraps by our hitting coach Richie Zisk (Former Pittsburgh Pirates star in the 70s).
Zisk was/is a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan and "Bootstrap Bill Turner" was "cursed" on the movie which was pretty popular back then. Right after William (aka Bill) became our bus-driver in 2007 we lost three straight games, Zisk with his odd sense-of-humor said it was the "Curse of Bootstraps" and the name Bootstraps stuck. To be honest it has been two years and I had to really think about it to remember that his real name was William because everybody on the team just called him "Bootstraps."
"Bootstraps" was not a fan of Samardzija for one reason or another, but was a huge fan of baseball and the Daytona Cubs specifically (sometimes it's better if the bus-driver is not a fan becuase they can get too up or down after games). There are several current Major League Baseball players who could confirm this story who were on those Daytona teams. The Daytona Cubs front office members could also confirm that he was "Bootstraps." Several of the front office members (Josh Lawther, Brady Ballard, Eric Freeman) would be able to confirm this as they worked for the team during those years also. Bootstraps was let go by the bus company before the end of the 2008 season in-which we ironically won the Championship after his "Curse" was over. That was also my last season with the team.
Hope this helps uncover the "mystery" of Bootstraps the Bussie. Funny thing is, Samardzija knew who it was the entire time, but nobody who was just a fan or somebody reading the story would have had a clue as they weren't people who were riding the bus.
It was the bus driver the whole time! The calls were coming from inside the house!
Thank you, Derek, for finally bringing this saga to a close. Have anything else to say?
I don't want it to seem like I agree with all of the negativity about Samardzija. He was a lot of fun to have on the team and brought so much attention to us that I would never want to do that. While he was at times "too cool for school" he also never said anything negative to me personally (or my three assistants) and I never saw him do anything inappropriate in our four months or so with the same team. I also handled the team's Media Relations duties and time-after-time Jeff obliged and fulfilled nearly every single media request no matter how small the media outlet was or in some cases how legitimate they were. As you know, rumors are rumors and there were a lot of them back then regarding women, drugs, etc., but who knows the validity of them.
In regards to Bootstraps the Bussie, a lot of people in the Daytona area (familiar with the team) know who he is and I seriously doubt he is the one actually behind the posting, but now at least everybody can at least know who he is.
So there you have it. The Shark** might be an OK guy on top of it all.
*Nickname still hasn't picked up.