OBSERVATIONS: Some Baseball Tales. . .And Much Other Stuff

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, looking out the window and seeing three inches of snow and, hey, c’mon, it’s baseball season.

—THAT WAS SPECIAL: More about Don Gullett, the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher who passed away earlier this week. And may I borrow a line from the song, ‘Hall of Fame,’ by The Script.

And the title is apropos because injuries were the only thing that stopped Gullett from baseball’s Hallll of Fame. The script sang, ‘Cause you burn with the brighest flame.’

Mark Schmetzer, a free lancer who writes more than half of each edition of Reds Report, reminded me of a wonderful Sparky Anderson/Don Gullett story.

Gullett was a 19-year-old rookie in 1970 and one day Gullett asked Sparky for a day off, “For a special occasion.”

Anderson thought it might be for a birthday or anniversary. Nope. Gullett’s wife, Cathy, was having her high school graduation.

And this one from Scott Russell, the biographer of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee.

Before Lee faced Gullett in Game One of the 1975 World Series, Lee said, “They say Don Gullett is going straight to the Hall of Fame. I’m going straight to the Elliot Lounge.”

—A DIFFERENT PITCH COUNT: The 2023 Cincinnati Reds used a staggering 17 different starting pitchers and 40 total pitchers.

Yes, that’s a bunch. But Louisville Bats manager Pat Kelly needed name tags to identify his pitching staff. He used 23 different starters and 55 total pitchers.

Is it no wonder the Bats had the second highest team earned run average in the International League at 6.17? They might have been passing out application forms at the Slugger Field front desk in search of more pitching.

—DRESS ‘EM UP: So what’s the big topic the first week of baseball spring training? It isn’t exit velocity, spin rate or launch angle. It’s worse.

Players are complaining about their uniforms, designed by Nike and manufactured by Fanatics.

They say the jerseys and pants fit poorly, have inconsistent colors, too small lettering and are cheaply designed. Worst of all, they say, is that they can’t alter the pants to their individual styles.

Said Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile about the uniforms, “It’s just like toilet paper. But after a whille it’s just your toilet paper.”

In other words, you know what MLB can do with those duds. Charmin, anybody?

It’s The Great Fashion Flap and they have gone so far as to get the players’ union involved.

Many of the complainers should be thankful they are even given a uniform instead of their walking papers.
—SINGING SIGNALS: The Houston Astros may soon have a catcher who can sing the National Anthem before a game and Take Me Out To The Ball Game in the seventh inning.

And the Cincinnati Reds orginally drafted him in 2019 in the 13th round, then traded him to the Astros for pitcher Cionel Perez. He is Luke Berryhill, ‘The Singing Catcher.’

In 2021 he wrote a song about his life in the minors, ‘Road To The Show,’ and he said, “I literallly just wrote my life and it just flowed out about the bus rides, the good games and bad games, just working my way up.”

He recorded the song and others and now sings and performs professionally in the off-season. And so far he has made it to Triple-A, one step from the majors.

When a batter digs into the box, he might hear a voice behind him singing. . . ‘You Had A Bad Day. . .’

—PAY AND GO AWAY: It is always disconcerting to see a coach lose his job and nobody was stunned when Ohio State fired basketball coach Chris Holtmann.

And it is even more disconcerting when a coach is fired mid-season.

But shed just a tear or two for Holtmann. To sweep him out the door, Ohio State must pay him a buyout of $12.8 million. The next time one sees Holtmann he’ll probably be found fishing off a yacht in The Bahamas.

Where do I sign up?

—HOLMES TO HOLMES: Former boxing heavyweight champion Larry Holmes (1978-85) is not related to University of Dayton basketball wunderkind DaRon Holmes II.

The boxing Holmes, though, has some advice for the hoopster Holmes, who must endure everything from opponents but the opposing coach hiring an ax murderer to take him out.

Said the boxer Holmes, “Don’t take no punches. Prove to them you are a good fighter.”

And while on the subject of UD basketball, I have one question about 5-foot-10, 155-pound point guard Javon Bennett: “How can a kid so small play so big?” Bennett plays as hard as a referee’s heart.

—CEREAL KILLER: Questions: Honey-Nut Cheerios or Frosted Flakes? Bananas on them or not?

—PETE PEEVE: How do you pronounce often? It is not off-ten. It is off-en. The ’t’ is silent. It is like hasten and soften. Now get off my lawn.

—QUANTUM QUOTES: More utterings from baseball people that can be used as quotation devices:

From Mickey Mantle: “Did you hear that Yogi Berra accepted a $1 milllion contract from George Steinbrenner? A dolllar a year for a million years.”

From former catcher/broadcaster Joe Garagiola: “The Chicago Cubs are like the Rush Street bars in Chicago, a lot of singles but no action.”

From former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner about complaints from pitcher Goose Gossage: “Thc Goose should do more pitching and less quackig.”

From columnist Jim Murray on Billy Martin: “Some people carry chips on their shoulders. Billy Martin has a whole lumberyard.”

From Yogi Berra (And maybe he really said it): “Listen up. I have nothing to say and I’m only gonna say it once.”

From pitcher Dan Quisenberry on trouble with his sinker: “The batter still hits a grounder, but the first bounce is 360 feet away.”

From Pete Rose on Philadelphia fans: “Most of them would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell.”

From former catcher/broadcaster Bob Uecker: “I had slumps that lasted until Christmas Eve.”

From Joe Torre while managing the New York Mets: “I’m not sure if I’d rather be managing or testing bullet-proof vests.”

—PLAYLIST NO. 20: The iPod keeps churning them out:

Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen), There’s A Hush (Herman’s Hermits), Bye, Bye Baby (Bay City Rollers), It’s My Party (Lesley Gore), Then He Kissed Me (The Crystals), Against All Odds (Phil Collins), Why Can’t We Be Friends (War), My Eyes Adored You (Frankie Valli), Chariots Of Fire (Vangells), If You Don’t Know Me By Now (Simply Red).

Sea Of Love (Honeydippers), Baby I Love You (Rhonettes), When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge), Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills & Nash), Cracklin’ Rosie (Neil Diamond), I Write The Songs (Barry Manilow), Brandy (Looking Glass), Drive (The Cars), These Eyes (The Guess Who).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *