Dale Mitchell walked around Harbor Place in a generic Blast uniform, reflecting on how he would feel very funny walking around this way in Kansas City.
"I'd be afraid I'd meet someone I knew," he said. "But I guess that won't happen here."
A moment later, sitting in a restaurant, the waiter approached.
"Hey, didn't I see you on television?" he asked. "Isn't your name Mitchell or something?"
Dale Mitchell smiled. He may be the newest member of the Blast, but he isn't as anonymous as he thought.
In fact, in the Major Soccer League, Dale Mitchell is a star, recognized in MSL cities from here to San Diego. If he kept his credentials in his wallet, he'd need a gym bag to carry it.
He is a three-time All-Star, a three-time team MVP with Kansas City. He was Tacoma's all-time leading scorer when he left there in 1987, and still holds six Stars' scoring marks.
Then, of course, there is the fact he is the league's leading scorer the past four years, piling up an incredible 229 goals to bring his career total to 319.
And now, Dale Mitchell belongs to the Blast, as it prepares to open its 11th MSL season tomorrow in Wichita, 8:35 p.m. (WCAO-AM 600).
"Playing wise, it's refreshing to be here," Mitchell said. "Getting to play with different guys in different surroundings, I think that's good. I think you can become too comfortable."
Mitchell, 32, came to the Blast this summer in a trade that sent midfielder Carl Valentine to Kansas City. Neither player was pleased, but Mitchell, because he felt he had been misled by Comets' management, was particularly upset. He filed a grievance, charging Kansas City owner Chris Clouser with fraud, and asked to be made a free agent.
Mitchell admits his wife, Diane, still is not happy with the idea of picking up and moving with their two children, 6-year-old Danielle and 3-year-old Kristina, from the house they bought seven months ago in Kansas City.
"None of this has anything to do with . . . not wanting to come to Baltimore," Mitchell said. "I think Baltimore will be a good place. I enjoy the downtown and I always thought Baltimore was the best city to visit in the league. The restaurants are better than in Kansas City, there is more to do here, more places to take friends when they visit.
"I think, in time, everyone will be happy . . . It's just the unknown is a little scary."
Dale Mitchell learned the game of soccer outdoors, as a 5-year-old. He can describe himself as intense, a player who smiles little while he works. He knows he becomes frustrated when the game doesn't go his way and he is not the kind of player who can leave his irritations on the playing field.
He is 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds. His favorite baseball team is the Dodgers and he is rooting for Cincinnati in the World Series. Being a Canadian, he loves ice hockey and is delighted to be located between the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers in a city that carries NHL games on television -- providing just a little piece of heaven not available in K.C.
But ask him about his style, the way he plays the game of indoor soccer, and Dale Mitchell draws a blank.
"I can talk soccer all day," he said. "But my style? It is hard to talk about myself and the way I play."
His job is to score goals, but he says there is more to it than that. Good players, said Mitchell, find a way to produce even when they shouldn't.
"It's not just a good shot," he said. "It's other things. They adjust to the game. Some people think if you know what a guy likes to do and you stop it, you'll stop him. But that's not necessarily the case."
Blast veterans Tim Wittman and Mike Reynolds couldn't keep the wonder from their voices when they discussed Mitchell at practice one day this week.
"Wait until you see this," said Reynolds. "Mitchell has this move off the boards that's beating everybody."
Moments later, Mitchell demonstrated it. He moved up the field, the defender in front of him. Suddenly he slammed the ball into the board at an angle. It's a kind of give-and-go to himself. This time, veteran Mike Stankovic was duped.
Last spring in the Eastern Divisional finals, Mitchell beat the Blast's Bruce Savage on the maneuver, and the result was a game-winning goal that extended the series.
"Everyone knows he's going to do that," said Wittman, with mingled admiration and distress. "I can't believe he continues to get away with it all over the league."
"I have to use everything I can to be successful. I know there are purists who have come to the indoor game from outdoors, who know the boards are there but have let it get into their minds that real soccer players shouldn't use them. I'm willing to use the boards. I'll do anything I have to do to win."
Dale Mitchell is the biggest signing the Blast has made since 1983, when Stan "The Magician" Stamenkovic began the magical ride to the Blast's one and only championship.
Stamenkovic was signed to be the difference -- and was. Mitchell was acquired to make a difference -- and could.