By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, which feels more like The Man Sauna and is so hot my Havanese opts to leave me and recline on the dining room cold air register. Smart dog, dumb daddy
—Speaking of dumb daddy, how many out there have injured themselves following the Cincinnati Reds? Raise your hand. Let me pause from typing to raise my hand.
It happened this week when the Reds were in Atlanta, when Kyle Farmer singled home a run in the top of the 11th to put the Reds ahead, 6-5.
Dutifully, I began typing my story, a big, exciting Reds win. As I put the finishing adjectives and adverbs on the story, Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies crushed his three-run walk-off homer.
I slammed my right elbow on the top of my desk. Hard. Very hard.
Two days later my elbow was turning black with some swelling. Did I break it?. Temper, temper.
A visit to the emergency room for an examination and X-rays. . .and should I send the co-pay bill to Lucas Sims, who gave up the three-run homer?
Fortunately, there is no broken bones, no fractures, no bone chips. Just a badly bruised bursa.
They didn’t examine my head, but they should have.
—QUOTE: From actor Pete O’Toole: “All the sports injuries you acquire as a youth begin to multiply when you are 70.” (Especially when you are 80 and slam your soft elbow on a hard surface desk, then wonder why it turned black and blue . . .the elbow, not the desk.)
—A neighbor sold his house so he could buy tickets to the Field of Dreams game in Iowa this week. The average ticket for the game was $1,400 (for one seat) and were as high at $3,000 (for one ticket).
I wouldn’t pay that much money to watch teams from A League of Their Own play a game naked.
That being said, MLB did this one right. The production was fantastic and it was worth watching, even though, should I say, it was a bit corn-y.
And the game was a sizzler, a walk-off ninth-inning home run by Tim Anderson to give the Chicago White Sox a 9-8 victory over the New York Yankees.
And those White Sox uniforms were sweet.
—QUOTE: From former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Enos “Country” Slaughter: “One year I hit .291 and had to take a salary cut. If you hit .291 today you’d own the franchise.” (And he said that in 1973. It has a long shelf life because it is even more true today.)
Immediately after my Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown in 2003, Bob Uecker took the podium and put the crowd of 20,000 in the aisles with his self-deprecating humor. Uecker played in the majors for six years and produced a minuscule slash line of .200/.293/.287.
He told this one on how he was with the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals when they won the World Series.
“But I was on the disabled list,” he said.
“I had hepatitis,” he said.
How did you get hepatitis?
“The team trainer injected me with it,” he said with his deadpan face.
—QUOTE: From Bob Uecker: “When I was just a kid, the Cardinals offered to sign me for $3000, but my dad couldn’t afford it.”
—After Henry Aaron hit his historic 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time list in April of 1974, he went 1 for 16 and the one hit was home run No. 716.
And he hit only .268 that year, far below his .305 career average. He was 40 years old and winding it down. He didn’t normally play a game after long flight to the next city.
There was, though, a notable exception. The Braves played a game in Atlanta, then flew to San Francisco and Aaron was scheduled for a day off.
But there was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that caught Aaron’s attention. It was about a brash, cocky young pitcher named John ‘The Count’ Montefusco. In the piece, he said he didn’t understand why he was pitching that day against the Braves because the Braves were a bad team.
After reading that, Aaron told manager Clyde King, “I’m playing, I’m in there.” And he reversed a nasty low-and-outside Montefusco slider over the fence. And he added a two-run single.
Message: Let sleeping old dogs that carry a big bat continue their afternoon naps.
—QUOTE: from San Francisco Giants pitcher John ‘The Count’ Montefusco: “We drew 438,000 people in Candlestick in 1975 and the only time people came out was when I would pop off and say something. It was show business.” (Montefusco pitched a no-hitter in Candlestick Park and backed up his mouthiness. In 12 years, he was 90-83 with 32 complete games, 11 shutouts and a 3.54 earned run average.)
—Javier Baez struck out four times in a game last week. The only thing that would have made me happier is if he had struck out five times.
—QUOTE: From former Detroit Tigers first baseman Norm Cas on his 1,091 career strikeouts: “Pro-rated at 500 at bats a year, that means that for two years out of the 14 I played I never even touched the ball.” (For Javier Baez, it might be four years.”
—My Top Ten Favorite Baseball movies:
A League of Their Own
Bang The Drum Slowly
Field of Dreams
For Love of the Game
***Every spring before leaving for spring training I watched ‘Major League’ to get me in the proper mood. And every time I hear the song ‘Wild Thing,’ I think of Ricky Vaughn and manager Lou Brown saying, “Give him the heater, Ricky.”
And there were all those ad-lib lines from Bob Uecker (no script for him), portraying radio broadcaster Harry Doyle, like: “Just a reminder, fans. Comin’ up is our ‘Die-hard Night’ here at the stadium. Free admission to anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won a pennant.” (If he had said World Series, it would still be true.)