OBSERVATIONS: The day Concepcion went ’round and ’round and ’round

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and as Martin Luther King once said, “Free at last, free at last, free at last.” Well, almost.

—It was about this time of year in 1976 when the Cincinnati Reds were in Wrigley Field for a series against the Chicago Cubs.

Shortstop Davey Concepcion wasn’t in a slump, he was in a deep funk, hitting .157. I wrote something he didn’t like and when I approached him he said, “I no talk to you any more, Mack-oy.”

He left his seat and headed to a back room where there was a large industrial dryer. He decided to climb in, “To heat up.” Rookie pitcher Pat Zachry, who would be Rookie of the Year, saw Davey climb in and shut the glass door. Zachry flipped on the switch and through the window you could see Davey spinning, his face passing by upside down, sideways and right side up.

When he climbed out, his hair was singed and his eyebrows were gone. Then he went 3 for 6 that day and hit .304 the rest of the season.

Earlier in the series, he walked into the shower with his uniform still on and said, “I’m trying to wash away the demons.” That one didn’t work.

I ignored him for several days until one day I was passing his locker and he said, “Hey, Mack-oy, I talk to you now.” I ignored him a few more days before approaching him and he was fine.

Does Concepcion belong in the Hall of Fame? You betcha. Manager Sparky Anderson always said, “If the game is on the line, I love to see Davey in the batter’s box.”

His numbers are better than many shortstops in the Hall – Ozzie Smith, Phil Rizzuto and Peewee Reese, to name three.

I always tell him, “Davey, you should have learned to do a back flip on the field like Ozzie Smith and you would be in The Hall right now.

—QUOTE: From former Texas Rangers shortstop Toby Harrah: “Baseball statistics are like a bikini. They both show a lot, but not everything.” (That certainly applies to Davey Concepcion, but I’d never want to see him in a bikini.)

—There was an overflow crowd of 36,691 in Crosley Field for an April doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947.

The Reds won both games, 6-1 and 2-1. What’s so special about that? Well, Reds management removed all pay phones from Crosley Field so fans couldn’t place bets on the games. (Add your own Pete Rose comments.)

—The last time I went bowling I left in the middle of a frame because I didn’t have time to spare. Yeah, I know, I should have gone on strike.

Remember David G. McFarland and ‘Bowling for Dollars?’ If I had been on the show I would have owed them money. And remember one thing: Never try to rent bowling shoes if you wear size 15.

—QUOTE: From writer Hunter S. Thompson: “Dinosaurs didn’t bowl and now they are extinct. Coincidence?”

—From TV commentator Andy Rooney: “I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” (And the toilet paper disappears even more quickly off a store shelf.)

—Umpires in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) must not have a strong union, or any union at all.

After a game last week, the entire five-man umpiring crew was sent back to the minors for retraining, just three games into the season.

Why? A player complained. It was a game that the Hanwha Eagles beat the SK Wyverns (what is a wyvern?), 8-4.

Eagles outfielder Lee Yong-Kyu blasted the umpires during a live TV interview. Said Yong-Kyu, “Even though it has only been three games this season, a lot of players are really unhappy with the (in)consistency of ball-strike calls. I’d like to ask all umpires to be more considerate of players.”

That would never happen in MLB. The umpires union is nearly as strong as the players union.

If MLB listened to players complaining about umpires, half of them would be in the minors and Angel Hernandez would be working in Class A.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda: “Sometimes you just have to let an umpire know that you are not satisfied with his decision, that they’ve missed the call, in our opinion. Not that it is going to do you any good, but you’ve got to let them know.” (Apparently, it does a whole lot of good in the KBO).

By the way, is anybody watching the KBO games on ESPN? I’ve watched a couple of innings a couple of times, but I just can’t get into it because, well, who are these guys?

—A horse named Mr. October ran in the first race at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday, obviously named after Reggie Jackson.

The horse is well-bred, a son of Smarty Jones, who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He missed the Triple Crown when he finished second in the Belmont Stakes.

The race Saturday was a lowly $5,000 claiming race and Mr. October finished fifth in a field of nine. Maybe, like Reggie Jackson, he does better in October.

I didn’t pick Mr. October, fortunately, because I was never a big fan of Reggie Jackson. Now if the horse had been Mr. Rickey, in honor of Rickey Henderson, you’d have to wager a few quid on him because you know he would be really fast and steal the race.

—QUOTE: From comedian Henny Youngman: “My horse was so late getting home he tip-toed into the stable.”

—Congratulations to Madison Wiss, winner of this year’s PressProsMagazine/Hal McCoy scholarship. She will use the $2,500 to pay part of her tuition to study communications at Bowling Green and she wants to be a sports writer, “My ultimate dream.”

The Minster High School graduate is a daughter to Mike Wiss and she has good genes. Her dad has won three state high school baseball championships and three girls state basketball championships at Minster.

Wiss is the ninth winner of the PPM/Hal McCoy $2,500 scholarship and to help future journalists is one small way is one of the things I love doing the most.

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: The day Concepcion went ’round and ’round and ’round

  • May 9, 2020 at 4:34 pm
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    Hal;

    Crosley Field in April…burrrrrrrr it could get awful windy cold ! (or fry like an egg in the “sun deck”)

    THANK-YOU, your observations on Mr. Concepcion. I’d also suggest his bronze presence outside GABP as soon as possible. I’d hope before Barry’s bronze.

    I sure hope he makes it to Cooperstown as much as I have surely hoped that the late Gary Bettenhausen will someday make it to the IMS Hall of Fame.

    Dave Concepcion kind of invented playing SS on artificial turf. His patented 1-hop throw to first base from deep shortstop pretty incredible. I was always amazed watching how he defied gravity jumping high to snare a line drive. Finally, as you write, seeing him develop into a wonderful clutch hitter.

    Also tried KBO. Same “turn off” reaction on this end.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2020 at 6:51 pm
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    I never get tired of hearing this story (or any other story about Davey, of course!) Thanks, Hal! Keep them coming. Maybe you could change this blog from the Cincinnati Reds blog to the Davey Concepcion blog?? What can I say? Old habits die hard! 🙂

    Reply
  • May 11, 2020 at 12:46 pm
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    No question Davey was much loved. By choice I think he spent much time in his home country. He didn’t seem to try to master English. This would have given many opportunities for commercials and interviews. This limited his public exposure. He deserved equal attention as Rose, Bench, Perez, Morgan, Griffey. Not criticizing, just observations. Feel free to correct me.

    Reply

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