McCoy: Some Stuff On S.J. Jackson And R. Jackson

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave., shaking my head over the plight of the National League, where only four of the 15 teams were over .500 entering the weekend. The Cincinnati Reds are in last place in the NL Central, but only 1 1/2 games out of a wild card berth. Go figure.

—WAS IT SO, JOE?: One of the saddest baseball stories ever written was that of Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was one of the Eight Men Out, one of eight members of the Chicago Black Sox banned for life by commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis for throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Jackson originally took a $5,000 bribe from first baseman Chick Gandil, the ring leader, but tried to give it back. Gandil wouldn’t take it and threatened Jackson with bodily harm.

So Jackson went to manager Kid Gleason, informed him of the fix and said he didn’t want to play. Gleason said, “You’re gonna play.”

And, oh, did Jackson play. He hit .356 with ten hits, then a World Series record, with a home run. And he played flawlesslly on defense.

Nevertheless, Landis banned Jackson because he knew about the fix, even though Jackson told his manager and tried to return the cash.

One of Jackson’s biggest supporters for re-instatement and consideration for the Hall of Fame was Ted Williams.

Said Williams before his death, “The more I talk about it, the madder I get at the game I love so much. What happened to Joe Jackson wasn’t fair. It is time he be re-instated and be given his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.”

Wonder what Teddy Ballgame thought about the Pete Rose case?

—WHO ARE YOU?: Any idea who this quote from a fellow ballplayer is about?

“He is the player fans come to see because he is so electrifying. You don’t know what he is going to do. He is strong and he can hit one out of the ballpark. And he is so damned fast he is likely to score from anywhere.”

Had to be talking about Elly De La Cruz, right? Well, yes, but not the case here. That was former New York Yankees pitcher Tom Sturdivant talking about teammate Mickey Mantle.

—THE BLACK LEGACY: As a tribute to Rickwood Field’s legacy to the Negro Leagues, where so many Black players performed, the umpiring crew for the San Francisco Giant-St. Louis Cardinals game Thursday night was all Black.

The crew was Adrian Jackson, Alan Porter, C.B. Bucknor, Jeremie Rehak and Malachi Moore. An all-Black crew was a first in MLB history.

Only 11 Blacks have been full-time MLB upmires and the first was Emmett Ashford in 1966, 19 years after Jackie Robinson integrated the league as the first Black player.

Ashford, a flamboyant umpire, worked 20 years, mostly under duress. As Jim Bouton wrote in his then controversial book, ‘Ball Four,’

“Other umpires talk behind his back. Sometimes they’ll let him run out on the field himself while the other three are holding back in the dugout sniggering. It must be terrible for Ashford.”

Columnist Jim Murray once wrote of Ashford’s strike call: His right arm shoots out and in a voice that brings bull moose out of the woods for miles around, he shouts, ‘Steeee-eeee-rike-aaaah.”

—NUXY NEEDED PERMISSION: Speaking of Rickwood Field, after 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall became the youngest player to ever appear in a major league game, the Cincinnati Reds sent him to Birmingham to pitch for the Barons in Rickwood Field.

Before he could pitch there, the Barons had to get a special dispensation from an Alabama child labor law office.

And Nuxy’s son, Kim, said his dad didn’t travel on the road with the Barons, “So he went out to Rickwood to watch the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. And he saw Satchel Paige pitch.”

—THE AGELESS SATCHEL: And speaking of Satchel Paige, he pitched his next-to-last game in MLB in 1953 for the St. Louis Browns. Next-to-last.

His last game was 12 years later in 1965. He came back to pitch one more game. . .when he was 59 years old. And, incredibly, pitching for the Kansas City Athletics, he pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

Then he returned to the game room at the local Senior Citizens center.

—JUST REGGIESPEAK?: Everybody knows that Reggie Jackson was a self-centered, attention-seeking, I’m all for me kind of guy.

He’s the guy who told New York writers when he played for the Yankees, “I’m the straw that stirs the drink.” And he said about betting booed, “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”

He also uttered, “I’d rather hit than have sex.” And this one: “The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is that I can’t watch myself play.”

So it was man-bite-dog time when Reggie appeared on Fox-TV Tuesday night at the Rickwood Field telecast and said this about Willie Mays:

“He was Baryshnikov and Gretzkey. Great players are five-tool players, but Willie had six tools. . .great baseball instincts. He was the most talented player ever. I used to imitate his walk before games, but I could never imitate him on the field.”

After the telecast, they gave Jackson a lie detector test, but results were not revealed.

There was an at bat when Nolan Ryan and his 101 miles an hour fastball told Jackson, “Next at bat, nothing but fastballs.”

Ryan blew two past Jackson. On the third, the strictly pull-hitting Jackson lined one the opposite way to left field that was caught. The two looked at each other and smiled.

—GUM IT UP: When Phillip K. Wrigley owned the Chicago Cubs, he knew much more about Doublemint gum than double plays.

But somebody whispered in his good ear that pitching was important so he came up with an idea to provide incentive to his pitchers.

He decided to pay each of his starting pitchers $15,000 when nobody else on the team wqs paid more than $10,000.

Did it work? Uh, no. All five finished below .500, the best was Moe Drabowsky at 9-11 and second best was Taylor Phillips at 7-10. And the Cubs finished fifth at 72-82.

So what ol’ P.K. really did was gum up the works.

—AH, SEMANTICS: I’ve quit calling the bathroom the john. I call it the jim. That way I can say I start every morning by going to the jim.

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 63: And on and on and on and on (Don’t Stop Believin’):

Your Love (The Outfield), St. Elmo’s Fire (John Parr), Home (Phillip Phillips), I Won’t Give Up (Jason Mraz), Drift Away (Uncle Kracker), Bad Day (Daniel Powter), You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon), Summer of ’69.

(Bryan Adams), Open Arms (Journey), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2), Take The Money And Run (Steve Miller Band), Strange Magic (ELO), When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge), Maggie Mae (Rod Stewart)

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