OBSERVATIONS: About players giving away cars

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, live from St. Simons Island, Ga., for a week of doing nothing and the first day I was here the Reds beat Milwaukee, 14-11. Maybe I should stay here. Twist my arm.

~Some stories that need to be told never get told. It was publicized when Barry Larkin retired and presented Cincinnati Reds equipment manager Rick Stowe with a new Mercedes.

This one wasn’t told. In 1985, after Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb on the all-time hit list, the team had a special day for Rose. Among the gifts was a new Chevrolet.

After the ceremony, Rose walked off the field and hopped into the dugout. He flipped the car keys to athletic trainer Larry Starr and said, “It’s yours.”

In all my years covering the Reds, here is what I got from players: A pair of used sneakers from David Weathers, a pair of pink running shoes from Homer Bailey, a pair of cowboy boots from Chuck McElroy, a fantastic floor model cigar humidor from Jose Rijo and about 3,532 Excedrin headaches from a bunch of them.

~As a kid growing up in Akron, I voraciously read the baseball stories written by Jim Schlemmer in The Beacon Journal.

I’ll never forget one line he wrote after pitcher Bob Feller was hit by a line drive in a sensitive part of his body.

Wrote Schlemmer, “Bob Feller was hit where only a feller could be hit.”

Speaking of Feller, only two pitchers ever struck out the same number of batters as his age. Bob Feller struck out 17 Philadelphia A’s when was was 17 and Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros when he was 20.

~QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller: “I would rather beat the Yankees regularly than pitch a no-hit game.” (Feller threw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters and his second no-hitter was against. . .the Yankees.)

~In the entire history of the major leagues, only one switch-hitter had a career batting average of .300 on both sides of the plate.

It wasn’t Pete Rose, it wasn’t Mickey Mantle, it wasn’t Roberto Alomar and it for sure wasn’t Ruben Sierra. It was Atlanta’s Chipper Jones and he hit a consistent .304 from both sides.

~QUOTE: From Hall of Fame Chipper Jones: “You have to have the desire to succeed and you can do that without cheating. Well, some people can.” (Wonder whom he was talking about and my guess is the initials are B.B. and it’s not Bobby Bonilla or Bo Belinsky.)

~When Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak was stopped in Cleveland in 1941, DiMaggio told reporters, “Well, it hand to end sometime.”

Wrong, Joe. It never ended. Eighty-one years later, ’56’ remains sacrosanct. In fact, ’56’ should be removed from the numerical table.

~QUOTE: From Hall of Fame Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. . .and we all know where you have gone: “I can remember a reporter asking me for a quote and I didn’t know what a quote was. I thought it was some kind of soft drink.” (If it was, Joe, it certainly wasn’t Coke Zero because there was hardly ever a zero next to your name in the box score.)

~After New York’s Gleyber Torres hit a gamer-winning home run over the short right field wall, Texas manager Chris Woodward called Yankee Stadium a Little League park and said, “It would not have been out of 99 per cent of the other parks.”

Wrong on two fronts. It would have been out of two parks, and Great American Ball Park isn’t one of them. The other is Houston’s Minute Maid Park. And somebody figured the math and it wouldn’t have been out of 96.7% of the 30 MLB playpens.

Woodward apologized the next day for calling the $2.4 billion Yankee Stadium the second coming of Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa., home to the Little League World Series.

~Let it be said up front. I love West Virginia. My father was born there, I spent considerable time there, I own a half-zip with a West Virginia University log on the breast that I wear often.

But some of the West Virginia humor is hilarious. My all-time writing hero, Jim Murray, spent a career poking fun of cities and states and he aimed his sharpened pen once at West Virginia.

“The state of West Virginia is America’s poorhouse, an area of such permanent arrested economic development that its only out is to declare war on the United States and try to lose,” he wrote. “There are sections of the state where they don’t stare if you’ve got shoes, but they do if you’ve got laces in them.” (I believe he is poking fun at the clodhoppers I wore as a kid.)

With that in mind, here are three West Virginia jokes that would even make my dad laugh:

—West Virginia University graduates are told that their diplomas can be used for handicapped parking.

—An announcement at an Ohio State football game: A car needs to be moved immediately. It is West Virginia license plate EIEIO.

—A couple bought an old farmhouse in West Virginia and began remodeling the inside. They found a skeleton in a closet and it was determined that it was the winner of a West Virginia hide-and-go-seek contest.

Forgive me, Mountain Mama.

~Now if you will excuse me, I have a Montecristo White Label Churchill to torch out by the swimming pool. See you in a week.

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