By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, written with tears in my eyes over the loss of one of he greatest men I ever came across. . .scout Gary Hughes, a man I called Mr. Baseball, because he was.
—There is a big question hanging around Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer — What kind of baseball spikes will he wear for his next start?
OK, there is a more important question.
Bauer is, palms down, the top pitcher eligible for free agency after the season. Do the Cincinnati Reds have a chance to keep him? Will a one-year $35 million deal do it? Can the Reds afford to do it?
Bauer appeared on MLB radio on SiriusXM last week and here is what he said:
“I want to win. I want to be with a team that has a winning culture. I want to be there in the playoffs. I want a chance at a World Series. That’s one thing that really drives me. I want a chance to pitch every fourth day instead of every fifth. That really drives me. Going along with that: How’s the medical staff? How’s the technology — the information that’s available on the coaching staff? What’s the culture of the organization like?”
That’s a wish list longer than my Christmas List when I was eight. And how many items on that list can he check off with the Reds.
He has to be frustrated that the Reds give him no run support when he pitches, third worst in the National League. His earned run average is 1.80, but his record is 4-and-4.
And Bauer is on record as saying he won’t ever sign more than a one-year deal with any team.
But on his recent radio interview he said, “Well. . .maybe.”
—I hesitate to write this, for two reasons. One, I won’t do the man justice. Two, I can’t stop crying.
A man I truly loved from the top of my heart to the bottom left us this weekend.
Gary Hughes, a man who loved baseball and a man baseball loved back, died from liver cancer.
Hughes was the super scout of all super scouts. He worked for several teams and spent a few in the front office of the Cincinnati Reds.
During spring training, we were inseparable at night — either dining out or spending hours at the Sarasota Kennel Club watching the greyhounds empty our wallets.
Former Minnesota manager Tom Kelly bred racing greyhounds and knew about the love Hughes and I had for those beautiful canines. He named one of them after us — Gary’s Real McCoy. And the dog became an All-American sprinter.
He never called me Hal. He called me Captain, as in Captain Greyhound. And I call him Mr. Baseball, because if anybody was Mr. Baseball, it was Gary Hughes.
Hughes, famous for his Jimmy Buffet shirts (He loved Key West) was the kind of guy who took over a room when he walked in. Everybody gathered around him, begging him to tell baseball stories.
USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale wrote an unbelievable tribute column about Hughes and I had to quit reading it a half dozen times to wipe away the tears. Check it out. It’s worth your time.
And to you, my dear, dear friend, Heaven just received the best baseball scout who ever lived. . .and one of the best friends I ever had. There are some days when life is very, very tough.
—There are as many oddities in baseball as there are oddballs on the field and there is a legion of oddballs.
One of my baseball favorites when I was in high school was glove-flashy Cleveland first baseman Vic Power.
On a hot August day in Cleveland in 1958, Power stole home not once, but twice. Two times in one game. And what’s odd about that? Power only stole one other base the entire season.
And the pitcher for Detroit when Power performed grand larceny was former Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Bill Fischer. Wonder if he taught his pitchers how to hold runners on third base?
Recently it was mentioned that Pete Rose went the entire 1975 season without a stolen base. Amazingly, in 1980, when he was 40 years old, Rose stole second, third and home in the same inning.
He was not playing for the Reds. He was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and he did it against the Reds. It was in Riverfront Stadium with Mario Soto on the mound.
Ty Cobb stole home 54 times. Babe Ruth stole home 10 times. But Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Maury Wills, the modern-day base burglars, never stole home. . .not once, not any of them.
—Obnoxious Commercials IV: No, John Stamos, I don’t want you to knit me a sweater and I don’t give a jar of Brylcreme how soft your hair, It is in another of those aggravating Geico commercials that used to be so good.