By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, just 27 days before the start of spring training — but who is counting.
HALL OF FAME SHORSTOP Ozzie Smith, who played for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, was in Cincinnati Tuesday to speak at the La Salle Sports Stag and was asked if he liked coming to Cincinnati.
“Why would I ever like coming to Cincinnati?” he said. “I hated it. Why? Because we had to play The Big Red Machine.”
LATE NIGHT TELEVISION drives me to distraction. Earlyl this week I decided to watch a move, ‘Hurricane Season,’ about a high school basketball team from New Orleans that won a state championship the year Katrina obliterated the city.
It started at midnight and seven minutes in the Centric network broke for commercials. And commercials. And more commercials. I thought there must have been 20 commercials.
So at ther next break, I decided to count the commercials. The break came at 12:33. I was absolutely correct. There were 20 commericals about: a movioe, paper towels, seasoning, chocolate, candy, a chain restaureant, hair coloring, insurance, health foods, water filters, weight loss, credit checking, vaporizors, hotel reservations, tax preparations, on-line schooling, dish washing liquid, baby food, exercise bikes, movie promo.
After those 20 commercials the move resumd at 12:42 (nine minutes of commercials). Eight minutes later, 20 more commercials. I gave up. There was a horrible movie on MGM, but I watched it because MGM shows no-commercial breaks movies with just one intermission.
REMEMBER THE TV show Dragnet and Detective Joe Friday, played by Jack Webb? Well, Joe Fridays badge number was 714. That’s because Webb was a huge baseball fan and Babe Ruth was his favorite player and Ruth hit 714 career home runs.
EVERY YEAR I attend a baseball banquet in Portsmouth, an event to raise money for the maintenance of the famous murals on the flood walls in downtown Portsmouth.
The star of the show every year is former scout Gene Bennett, who worked for the Reds for more than 50 years and signed players like Don Gullett and Barry Larkin.
The price of admission is worth every penny just to hear the pre-dinner prayer offered up by Al Oliver, a Portsmouth native and former star outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers.
Oliver was a teammate of outfielder Roberto Clemente and Oliver remembers an eerie comment made by Clemente on the last day of the 1972 season.
Clemente had 2,999 hits on the final day of the season and Oliver told him, “Well, if you don’t get your 3,000th hit today you’ll get it next year.”
Said Clemente, “God has the last say.”
Clemente got his 3,000th hit that day, his 3,000th and last. During the off-season he put together an air lift to carry food and drink and clothing to the people of Nicaragua after an earthquate. Clemente’s plane went down shortly after takeoff and he was killed.
A GREAT QUOTE BY a former Reds employee who worked for former owner Marge Schott, who was banished from baseball for, among many things, racial slurs. Said the employeoe, “Marge said good things about bad people and bad things about good people.”
WHILE AT PORTSMOUTH HIGH, Oliver was an outstanding basketball player. I saw him play. I was with the 1964 Dayton Belmont state champions when they played at Portsmouth, which was unbeaten at the time. Belmont beat them in their home gym, even though Belmont star Bill Hosket keeps telling Oliver, “You guys cheated. You had your own refs and one basket was in front of a stage and every time we shot free throws the students would shake the basket supports and make the basket move. But you guys were the toughest team we played all year.”
Oliver went to Kent State on a basketball scholarship, but last only one quarter before deciding to pursue baseball. “I thought it would be easier to face Bob Gibson and Tom Sreaver than to face Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain,” he said.