MOORPARK — When Dad is a former major league pitcher and the answer to a draft-day trivia question, you figure you know a few things about baseball.
You learn a love for the game; how to appreciate the smell of brick dust and the sensation of freshly manicured grass under your cleats.
You also learn something about the business end of the sport; and all the reasons why a young player should listen intently, nod approvingly and accept absolutely nothing that is said as gospel.
Jason Adamson grew up around baseball. His father was the first drafted player to skip the minors and go from college directly onto a big league club's active roster.
When the Baltimore Orioles signed Mike Adamson on June 27, 1967, it was to one of the richest rookie contracts at the time--a package worth, including provisions for finishing school, $100,000.
The deal earned Adamson an instant nickname: "Cash."
Adamson pitched in relief for the Orioles against the Cleveland Indians the same evening he agreed to terms.
Jason wouldn't be born for another nine years, but he has been treated to his grandparents' scrapbook and his father's recollections of that time.
None of it prepared him for his own draft-day ordeal.
Jason, a strong, fast and graceful athlete who patrolled center field and batted cleanup for three Moorpark High league championship teams, was recognized as being among the nation's top amateur players.
A respected baseball publication--one which rated him as a fifth or sixth- round pick--gushed, "projects as one of the better all-around athletes in greater Los Angeles." Scouts from several major league teams told him he was a lock to go in the draft's first 10 rounds; possibly as high as the third.
Through it all, Jason attempted to remain skeptical. "It's a business," his father told him. "You can't believe everything you hear."
Those words echoed in Jason's ears. He understood. But he got his hopes up anyway.
Last Thursday, the day of the draft, Jason Adamson went to school and waited for a call from his father relaying the good news. Friends planned to dog pile on him just as soon as they received word.
By lunchtime, still no call. Jason called his stepmother, Suzie, at home.
No word yet.
School ended. By this time, Jason figured he would be treating his friends to a pizza party. The call hadn't come.
He went home. The phone was ringing constantly. Reporters. Friends. His father, who was on a work assignment in San Jose, called at least a dozen times. Jason's heart skipped with each ring.
So many calls. None of them \o7 the\f7 call.
Rumors started flying. Players rated below Adamson already had been selected. Maybe, friends allowed, Jason had been drafted too, but the team was waiting to call.
At 11 p.m., family members decided that it was time for everyone to go to bed. Seventeen rounds of the draft had been completed. Still no call.
About midway through the second day of the draft, Jason Adamson received a call at school from his father.
He had been taken, by the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I was excited. I felt good," Jason said. "I thought maybe I went in the 18th or 19th round, or maybe even the 24th or 25th."
Thirty-third, dad said.
"Oh. All right," Jason said.
Mike Adamson could sense the disappointment in his son's voice.
"I told him, 'Remember what's happening now,' " Mike Adamson said. " 'Love the game, but remember it's a business. From here on, that's exactly what it is.' "
Jason, of course, knew that. He had heard it a thousand times before--and learned the hard way.
"I was expecting to go higher," Jason said. "It was my fault. I believed what everybody was saying. I thought I was going to be a top-10 pick and go party with my friends."
A question still gnaws at him: What happened?
Pitching, his father had warned, always goes first. "They'll take a guy who can throw 90 m.p.h. even if he can barely hit a barn," Mike Adamson said.
Even so, the first 32 rounds weren't all pitchers. Ed Roebuck, the Pirates' representative who scouted Jason, said a rumor circulated that Adamson would not sign if he wasn't selected in the first 10 rounds.
The Adamsons say they have no idea how such a rumor got started, especially because Jason lacked the grades to attract a college scholarship offer.
"I thought I made it clear that I was willing to sign for a decent package," Jason said. "I wasn't going to give myself away for three Snickers bars and a plane ticket, but, basically, you take me, I'm yours."
Several clubs called before the draft to ask what the Adamsons were looking for in terms of a signing bonus.
They were never given a figure. "Whatever's fair for the round I'm taken," was the family's reply.
Said Jason: "We're never going to know what happened for sure."
Mike Adamson's draft experience was far more enjoyable.
As a senior at Pt. Loma High in San Diego, he was the 18th player selected in baseball's first-ever draft, in 1965. The Phillies took Adamson, but they couldn't sign him. He accepted a baseball scholarship to USC instead.