By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, waiting for baseball to join college basketball, hockey, auto racing, college football, pro golf, soccer and the NBA on my crowded sports TV menu.
—As we all know, or should know, Cleveland-born and Ohio State track legend Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics in Munich, Germany, rubbing it in the face of Adolph Hitler and his Aryan theories.
Did you know that Owens had a two-year baseball experience, although he never picked up a ball or a bat?
Owens ran into tax problems and needed money in 1939 and 1940. So he toured with the Toledo Crawfords of the Negro American League. One of those appearances in 1940 was in front of an overflow crowd (fans even sat atop the dugouts) in Dayton against the St. Louis Stars.
After games and between doubleheader games, he ran races. He ran around the bases against four-man relay teams that each ran from just one base to the other. He ran the 120-yard high hurdles against sprinters that ran the 120 yards without hurdles. He ran against horses. And he seldom lost any of them.
But he did have a slight advantage against the thoroughbreds in a 100-yard dash. They used a starter’s pistol, which usually frightened the horse and delayed its start.
Owens seldom talked about those two years because he thought he was being used like a carnival act and it was demeaning. But he made more money than most of the players.
—QUOTE: From four-time Olympics gold medal winner Jesse Owens: “The people come out to see you perform and you’ve got to give them the best you have within you.” (For Owens, that was against Olympians and equines.)
—Everybody knows that Jackie Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier. How many knew that it could have been Roy Campanella were it not for a misunderstanding?
Branch Rickey called Campanella into his office for an interview and at the end he offered Campanella a contract.
At the time, Rickey not only was chief executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers, but he owned the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers in a Negro league.
Campanella played for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro American League and was happy there. When Rickey offered the contract, Campanella thought it was for the Brown Dodgers and said no. It was for the white Brooklyn Dodgers.
Only after Rickey signed Jackie Robinson did Campanella discover his offer was for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella, of course, later signed with the Dodgers, after Robinson signed.
—QUOTE: From Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella: “I never want to quit playing ball. They’ll have to cut this uniform off of me to get me out of it.” (Unfortunately, Campanella was paralyzed in an auto accident at age 36 when he was still playing for the Dodgers.)
—With baseball peeking over the horizon, how about this special day put together by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green on May 23, 2002?
During a 16-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, Green had four home runs, a double and a single. He was 6-for-6 with seven RBI, six runs scored and an MLB record 19 total bases.
LA’ Shawn Green is not to be confused with Shawn Greene from the TV series ‘The Walking Dead.’ If the Brewers had walked Green he would not have left them for dead.
—Speaking of ‘The Walking Dead,’ how about the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff? It has kept the training room crowded this spring
The latest occupant is Michael Lorenzen, who suffered a right shoulder strain while pitching batting practice. Other pitchers who have missed time this spring are Sonny Gray, Wade Miler\y, Amir Garrett, Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims.
Oh, add outfielder Nick Senzel to the injury list with a groin pull and mark down any injury to Senzel not as fake news but as old news.
—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford: “Sooner or later the arm goes bad. It has to. Sooner or later you have to start pitching in pain.”
—In another head-scratcher and chin-stroker the Reds released Noe Ramirez. He is the pitcher the club acquired in the trade that sent closer Raisel Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angeles.
The Reds also acquired minor league infielder Leo Rivas as the player to be named later in the deal. Rivas, though, is not on the team’s 40-man roster.
In addition, the Reds made top prospect Taylor Trammell part of the deal to acquire pitcher Trevor Bauer. Bauer is gone, a very rich pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Trammell will begin this season as a starting outfielder for the Seattle Mariners.
—The NCAA basketball tournaments? The men are playing to see who gets crushed in the championship game by Gonzaga and the women are playing to see who gets annihilated in the championship game by UConn.
—Memphis, the team that beat injury-riddled Dayton in the first round, 71-60, won the NIT by whipping Mississippi State in the championship game, 77-64. UD beat Mississippi State during the regular season, 85-82.
Memphis jumped to a 13-0 lead, Mississippi State caught up by halftime, 33-33, then Memphis piled it on in the second half.
—The NHL’s Rocco Grimaldi (a great name for a hockey player) of the Nashville Predators scored four goals last week in a 7-1 romp over the Detroit Red Wings. Three goals in a hockey game is a hat trick. So what is four goals. It’s a Texas hat trick. Why? Nobody knows except everything is bigger in Texas.
Grimaldi hadn’t scored a goal in a month-and-a-half before his explosion. He names all his hockey sticks and he used a new one for this game and named it Trudy.
Speaking of four goals, in 2017 Auston Matthews scored four goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs. . .in his first-ever NHL game.
And Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, also in 2017, scored four goals in one period, the third.
That’s my hockey report for the year because during the few games I’ve watched I’ve never once seen a puck go into the net with my naked eyes. . .or even with my glasses on. I prefer my ice in a glass with a Tito’s & tonic.
—QUOTE: From former New York sports columnist Jimmy Cannon: “A puck is a hard rubber disk that hockey players strike when they can’t hit one another.”
—How many of you have ordered a Flippity-Fish for your cat? Mark this one down as one of the worst commercials of all-time.
—From my favorite comedian, deadpanner Steven Wright, via Scott Russell: “My grandfather told me that sometimes you win, even when you lose, like in musical electric chairs.”