OBSERVATIONS: Jack Armstrong, the All-American tuna boat captain

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if the University of Dayton Flyers, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals all can win on the same day (Sunday), but more concerned that all three might lose.

—The baseball lockout brings back memories of the 1990 lockout, a 32-day affair that wiped out most of spring training and delayed Opening Day by a week.

During the lockout, I visited Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jack Armstrong at his Plant City, Fla. condominium. He was unsigned and unhappy with the team’s contract offer.

During the interview, Armstrong said of the offer, “I can make more money being a tuna boat captain.”

When the lockout ended and Armstrong walked into the Plant City Stadium clubhouse for the first day of spring training, he found his locker stuffed with:

Yellow rain slickers. Long rubber boots. A huge fishing net. A large nautical clock. A fishing pole. His teammates had read his comment and presented him with the proper gear. And that’s the day he became known as Captain Jack Armstrong.

It was his third year with the Reds as a No. 1 draft pick and his two-year record was 6-and-10 and his earned run average was below sea level at 5.10.

A raise? He was fortunate not to get a pay cut. He did start fast in 1990, 8-1 with a 1.61 earned run average in his first nine starts. And he made the All-Star team. After that 8-1 start, he went 4-8 the rest of the season to finish 12-9 with a 3.42 ERA.

The Reds didn’t protect him and the Florida Marlins took him in the 1992 expansion draft. He was a free agent in 1994 and no team signed him. He was out of baseball at age 29 and might be somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia looking for Charlie Tuna.

—Two recent Cincinnati Reds have left the country.

Outfielder Yasiel Puig, unable to land an MLB contract, signed with the Kwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball organization. His stipend is $1 million, the most any KBO team can pay a first-year foreign players.

Shortstop Freddie Galvin and his long, long hair that covered his name on the back of his uniform, is off to Japan to play for the Fukuoka Hawks.

Infielder Alex Blandino was outrighted by the Reds to Triple-A Louisville. He refused the assignment and became a free agent. He signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants. . .and, yes, some folks believe San Francisco is a foreign country.

—Just one year after his near-fatal automobile accident and a near-amputation of a leg, Tiger Woods is playing in a golf tournament next week.

He will play in the PNC Championship, a 20-man invitational in which the players are paired with a family member. Tiger will play with his young son, Charlie, and he will be permitted to ride in a cart.

Tiger’s daughter, Sam, is a soccer fan and dad once introduced her to soccer legend Lionel Messi. Afterward, Tiger said to Sam, “Isn’t it neat to be a living legend?”

Said Sam, “Yes, we live with one.”

—It was inevitable. Former UD mega-star Obi Toppin, now employed by the NBA’s New York Knicks, performer his between-the-legs dunk in a game this week.

It was all over ESPN and the sports network even showed the between-the-legs dunk he performed at UD Arena against George Washington. Coach Anthony Grant was not pleased and ordered him to cease and desist.

It is one of those things that if you try it, you better be successful. Obi is 2-for-2.

Of course, it is easier in the NBA. Obi could pick up his dribble at half-court and take five running steps and not be called for traveling. But he didn’t travel on either one of those Globetrotter-like dunks.

—QUOTE: From Emma Burton, a singer with Spice Girls: “I’m not a big sports fan, but I love it when they ‘slam dunk.’ That’s sexy.” (She would fall in love with Obi Toppin.)

—Somewhere just beyond St. Peter at the pearly gates, on a perfectly manicured football field, Woody Hayes is smiling broadly.

It had to make the ol’ coach’s day when he heard that the New England Patriots ran 46 plays against the Buffalo Bills and only three were passes. And the Pats won by executing 43 running plays.

Woody’s offense at Ohio State was known as three yards and a cloud of dust as he ran nearly every play between tackles. His theory on the forward pass was, “Three things can happen and two are bad (incompletion, interception).”

Hayes also would love New England coach Bill Belichick because both were/are disdainful of the media.

—QUOTE: From former Ohio State football legend Woody Hayes: “I will pound you and pound you and pound you until you quit.” (And Woody’s sledgehammer was his fullback.)

—It was a Like Father, Like Son moment. Ron Harper Jr. buried a half-court shot at the buzzer to lift Rutgers over No. 1 and unbeaten Purdue, 70-68.

His father, Ron Harper, played at now defunct Dayton Kiser High School and at Miami of Ohio. I had the pleasure of watching him dominate at both domains.

Harper is a feel-good story. He and his twin brother were part of a six-children family raised by his mother, who worked as a teacher and on the assembly line at General Motors.

Harper was cut from the Dayton Belmont team as a freshman and transferred to Kiser, but didn’t play as a sophomore. As a senior at Kiser he averaged 20.5 points and 13.4 rebounds.

(I can relate, sort of. As a sophomore at Akron East, I was 5-foot-6 and cut from the team. I grew six inches the next summer and was a 6-foot-2 starting guard as a junior. At the awards assembly, our coach, Russ Estey, said: “Last year, McCoy was so short he could walk under the sinks in the boys bathroom.” That’s all he said and fortunately never mentioned my basketball shortcomings, even though I grew tall.)

—What were they thinking when they named this thoroughbred race horses?

*Ordor in the Court (Not Order in the Court, it’s Odor in the Court, which means the owner must have gotten a rotten judicial decision).

*Whykickamoocow (Indeed, wouldn’t you rather kick the nag that you bet on and finished last?)

*Ha Ha Ha (That’s the jockey laughing when told he was expected to win).

*Arrrrrr (And that is pronunced how?).

*Potoooooooo (They stopped when they ran out of o’s).

*Doremifasolatido (On a scale of one to ten, that name is a one. Scale. Get it?).

*Maythehorsebewith you (Now that’s a clever name, but no horse has ever been with me, unless you count horsing around).

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