By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, chasing Quinn, my nine-month old Havanese puppy. He has my pen in his mouth. Guess he wants to be a writer like his master because he loves pens. He has chewed at least a dozen into twisted and unusable hunks of plastic.
—Marla Ridenour is a former colleague at the Dayton Daily News and now puts together words for the Akron Beacon Journal. And she is as talented as any sports writer you’ll ever read.
She saw the Facebook photo posted the other day of me sitting by myself in the Cincinnati Reds dugout at Great American Ball Park. And she asked, “Are you waiting for Roger Clemens?”
After I quit laughing, I decided to share the story that prompted Marla’s question.
It was 1986 and Clemens, pitching for the Boston Red Sox, struck out 20 Seattle Mariners, a Major League record for a nine-inning game.
Because Clemens is a Dayton native, although he blew town at any early age, my esteemed sports editor, Ralph Morrow, directed me to fly to Boston to interview Clemens.
I set up the interview through the Red Sox media relations department and they told me to meet Clemens in the clubhouse at 2 p.m.
I was there at 2 p.m. No Clemens. I was there at 2:15. No Clemens. I was there, fidgeting near a table in the middle of the clubhouse when Clemens strolled in at 2:45.
I gave him time to settle in, then strolled to his locker. His back was to me and I said, “Roger, I’m Hal McCoy from the. . .”
“I know who you are,” he said. “I don’t have time today, come back tomorrow at 2.”
I returned the next day at 2. No Clemens. At 2:15, no Clemens. At 2:45 he strolled in again. Again I approached him.
“Don’t have time today,” he said. “I have to do a People Magazine interview and photo shoot.” I hustled up my courage and said, “Look, Roger. I was sent here expressly to interview you. If you don’t want to do it, tell me and I’ll go home.”
“Meet me in the dugout at 3:30,” he said. I was sitting by myself in the Boston dugout (just like in the Facebook photo) when Clemens walked out.
He plopped down on the bench about 10 feet away, and there was no social distancing at the time. He was bent over, tying his shoes, preparing to run some sprints. There is a photo out there somewhere of Clemens and me in the dugout, sitting 10 feet apart as he double knots his spikes.
“I can give you ten minutes,” he said.
So I asked a few quick questions and I asked him about his youth in Dayton. And that’s when he uttered the famous words, “The best thing about Dayton was seeing it in the rear-view mirror.”
And he rose from the bench and trotted off. End of interview.
—The 1970 All-Star game in Riverfront Stadium is best-remembered for Pete Rose running over catcher Ray Fosse.
Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench remembers it for another reason. The first three innings were pitched by Tom Seaver, three shutout innings. Bench was his catcher.
Bench repeated the story to my good friend Bill Madden, a fellow Hall of Fame writer.
“The game started in the twilight,” said Bench. “He threw a couple of fastballs to the first hitter, Luis Aparicio. I called for a curveball. Tom calls me out to the mound and screams at me, ‘No, no, no. We’re throwing nothing but fastballs tonight.’”
Bench said Seaver pointed to the sky and said, “In case you haven’t noticed, it’s twilight, they can’t see a damn thing.”
Bench returned to his squatting position, called for a fastball and Aparicio struck out. During those three shutout innings, Seaver struck out five.
—One of the best quotes about pitcher Tom Seaver, who died last Monday, a line uttered to former Cincinnati Post sports writer Mike Bass by catcher Marc Hill: “Guys like Seaver come around once every million years or so.” (Couldn’t agree more. Not only was he overstuffed with talent, he was ‘The Thinking Man’s Pitcher.’)
—QUIZ: Does anybody know what this number represents? 322,117,250. No, it is not the collective earned run average of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
It is the inning-by-inning runs scored by the San Francisco Giants against the Colorado Rockies — 23 runs (and 27 hits).
—Special to Ryan Roth, the best Elvis Presley tribute artist in the country: Did you notice this in a recent Texas-Houston game? ELVIS Andrus hit a home run off Ryan PRESSLY. Said Pressley to Andrus, “Don’t Be Cruel.”
—Is anybody watching the NBA playoffs? Are they going on? Who’s in it? Does LeBron James play for Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles or some other team? I’m not watching but I know for sure that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not in it.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter about playoffs: “Good teams make the playoffs, but hot teams win the playoffs.”
And this year, Derek, bad teams can make the playoffs while teams that are supposed to be good, like the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, might not make the playoffs. It’s Baseball 2020.
—In our last episode, we complained about the over-and-over replay of the Applebee’s commercial using the Cheers theme song.
Upon further review, the ear-assaulting commercial of-the-week belongs to Zillow, with that woman singing as if she is in a submarine.
Now, as Roger Clemens would say, “Get off my lawn.”