By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a great night at the Portsmouth Murals baseball banquet as driver Sonny Fulks fought fog on the way over and fought fog on the way back. That’s OK because I’ve been accused of being in a permanent fog.
—WHISTLE BLOWER: Cincinnati Reds scout Gene Bennett, a resident of Wheelersburg, heard there was a 14-year-old kid across the river in Lynn, KY. who could throw as hard as any major league pitcher.
His name was Don Gullett. Bennett invited hin to a tryout/workout. He lined up nine college players to face the 14-year-old Gullett.
He struck out the first six and Bennett said, “That’s enough. I’ve seen enough.”
Said Gullett, “But I can get the other three, too.” Bennett permitted him to proceed and he struck out those three, too.
Bennett told him he would be back to sign him after he graduated from high school.
Bennett doubled as a basketball official and was working a McKell High School game, Gullett’s school and Gullett was McKell’s star player.
Early in the game, Bennett whistled a couple of quick fouls on Gullett and Gullett said, “If you don’t swallow that whistle I’m not going to sign with the Reds.”
So what did you do, Gene.
“I swallowed my whistle.”
—WHERE IS HE NOW?: Aroldis Chapman is Exhibit A, maybe B, too, about how modern MLB player are mercenaries.
Chapman signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $10.5 million. Even though Chapman helped the Texas Rangers win the World Series, they didn’t keep him.
So Chapman, whose first team was the Cincinnati Reds, will pitch for his sixth team in 14 years — Cincinnati, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Texas and Pittsburgh.
After one game in Cincinnati, my friend/driver Ray Snedegar and I were awaiting a light at a street corner near Great American Ball Park. A yellow Lamborghini screamed around the corner, nearly hitting us. It was Chapman.
How do I know it was Aroldis? The license plate read ‘105 MPH.’ The vanity plate indicated that he once threw a pitch 105 miles an hour. And he was driving close to 105, too.
—WHAT DID HE ‘SPAHN?’: After Willie Mays was called up from the minors to the New York Giants in 1951, he began his career 0 for 12 on the road.
When the Giants returned to the Polo Grounds, Mays’s first at bat was against Hall of Famer Warren Spahn.
Take it from here, Mr. Spahn.
“He swung and connected. The ball cleared the fence in left, it cleared the seats in the lower deck, it cleared the tall upper deck, it cleared the roof and disappeared,” said Spahn. “And that was one of the best curves I ever threw in my life. It must’ve broken a foot. Just think, if I got him out there we might not have had to deal with him ever again.”
—TRIVIA TIME: Who owns the highest career batting average in Cincinnati’s old Riverfron Stadium? Pete Rose? Nope. Joe Morgan? Nope. Sean Casey? Nope.
His initials are H.M.and his first name is Hal, but it’s not Hal McCoy. It’s Hal Morris at .319.
—70 VERSUS 100: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid scored 70 points in a game this week and they called it a franchise record.
Semantics. It was a Philadelphia 76ers record, but not a Philadelphia record. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 while wearing a Phildelphia Warriors uniform.
On the same night, Minnesota’s Karl-Antony Towns scored 62 and his coach, Chris Finch, was not impressed. Towns, seeking more and more points, went on a wild shooting binge in the second half.
It was so ugly Finch actually benched him for a while in the fourth quarter.
After the Timberwoves lost, 128-125, to the lowly and awful Charlotte Hornets, Finch went off.
“It was an absolutely disgusting performance of defense and immature basketball,” he said. “We totally disrespected the game, ourselves and we got exactly what we deserved.”
Did you hold anything back, coach?
—FIRED FOR WHAT: Speaking of the NBA (National Boredom Association), first-year coach Adrian Griffen had the Milwaukee Buckss at 30-13, second best record in the Eastern Conference at the season’s halfway point.
Griffin was summoned to the executive suite and probably figured a raise or a bonus was in order.
Instead he was told, “Turn in your iPad, you’re fired.” Say what? Why? Griffin must have been caught stealing the owner’s box of Keebler’s fudge-striped cookies.
Most likely, though, Griffin was too critical of superstar Giannis Antetokoumnpo’sdefense and Giannis complained to th office.
Let’s see, who should go, Griffin or Giannis? See ya, Mr. Griffin.
—I WASN’T JOSH-ING: A few years ago, I made an annual trip to Wyoming (Don’t ask why and skiiing was not involved).
I attended a University of Wyoming football game and witnessed a freshman quarterback sling the football all over War Memorial Stadium, the highest elevated stadium in Division I football at 7,220 feet.
When I returned, I stood and told my fellow Dayton Agonis Club members, “I just saw a quarterback for Wyoming that is going to be a star in the NFL.”
I heard guffaws and snickers and I’m certain they wondered if I fell off a mechanical bull in some Laramie watering hole. “Wyoming? Are you off your rocking horse?”
Well, that kid’s name is Josh Allen and, well, as Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman would say, “How we lookin?”
—PUCKING AROUND: My one year working at the Detroit Free Press, the executive sports editor approached me in the office one day and said, “Our hockey writer can’t work tonight. Do you know hockey so you can cover the Red Wings?”
And I said, “Absolutely, I’ll do it.” In reality, I had never seen a hockey game and didn’t know a puck from one of my Aunt Nellie’s biscuits.
I dutifully trudged to Olympia Stadium and plopped down in the press box. I quickly displayed my ignorance by askin a writer seated next to me, “What’s that red light behind the net for?”
Well, at least I got to see Gordie Howe knock an opposing skater halfway to Hamtramck.
—YOU CAN QUOTE ME: More utterings from baseball players:
From Frank Robinson when he managed the Indians: “In Cleveland, pennant fever usually ends up being a 48-hour virus.”
—From manager Casey Stengel on managing the 120-loss New York Mets expansion team; “Our first game was April 10, 1962, and it was our best game. It was rained out.”
—From former Reds outfielder Dave Collins, who had a half-dozen ex-wives: “I hate the minor leagues. I’d rather go out to dinner with my ex-wife’s attorney than play in the minors.”
—From former pitcher Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant: “The only good thing about Oakland is that long bridge that takes you directly into downtown San Francisco.”
—From former manager Whitey Herzog: “We only need two players to be contenders, Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax.”
—From former Reds infielder Darrel Chaney, when asked how to keep the team on its toes: “Raise the urinals.”
From pitcher Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee when he first saw the 37-foot high Green Monster left field wall in Fenway Park: “Do they leave it there during the game?”
From Bob Uecker when he played for the last place Philadelphia Phillies: “The cops picked me up at 3 a.m. and fined me $500 for being drunk and $100 for being with the Phillies.”
—From former Reds infield Rocky Bridges: “It’s a good thing I was in Cincinnati for four years. It took me that long to learn how to spell it.”
—From former Cincinnati Reds manager Jack McKeon: “I went to church yesterday to pray for our pitchers, but there weren’t enough candles.”
—From former Cincinnati Reds manager Ray Knight: “We got a lot of guys not doing what their bubblegum cards say what they can do.”
—PLAYLIST NO. 11 (Some of my mid-level picks:
Say Something (Great Big World), Another Day in Paradise (Phil Collins), Center Field (Credence Clearwater Revival), Hurts So Good (John Cougar), Are You Lonesome Tonight (Elvis Presley), Just Want To Be Your Everything (Andy Gibb), How Do I Live (LeAnn Rimes), Please Don’t Go (KC & The Sunshine Band.)
Centerfold (J. Geils Band), Telephone Line (Electric Light Orchestra), You’re So Vain (Carly Simon), Say You, Say Me (Lionel Ritchie), Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot), Right Here Waiting (Richard Marx), Air That I Breathe (The Hollies), Look Away (Chicago).