Deion Sanders’ run-ins with Carlton Fisk and Tim McCarver are well documented, but until this morning, I was unaware that he sought a confrontation with a young Nashville reporter named Buster Olney.

Olney, after being slighted by Sanders (above), proceeded to bury the player (“There were details about how he had managed to draw a distinction between himself and his teammates: He was the only Columbus player who traveled with a girlfriend and the only player who didn’t carry his own luggage. He drew a dollar symbol each time he stepped into the batter’s box, which tended to annoy opponents — and his teammates, as well, who were reminded with each Deion illustration that he had a lot of cash and they didn’t.”). Deion didn’t take kindly to the piece and challenged Buster to meet him in the clubhouse. The latter replied “”Tell Deion, that if he wants to talk to me, I’m out here.”

In the end, the fists didn’t fly. But Sanders had a gift for Olney just the same.

From Olney’s ESPN weblog :

In the fourth inning of the game, the same batboy who had summoned me on behalf of Deion walked into the pressbox, holding a baseball. “Deion told me to give this to you.”

The baseball was dirty, probably a leftover from batting practice. In the sweet spot, Deion had scrawled a message. He didn’t include his signature.

“Keep writing like that your whole life,” he wrote, “and you’ll always be a loser.”