OBSERVATIONS: What does a guy catching behind Johnny Bench do?


UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still living in the past until baseball returns, if it does, and everybody keep both fingers crossed, and toes, too, if that’s possible.

—Bill Plummer was many of Johnny Bench’s back-up catchers with the Cincinnati Reds, meaning they played every changing of the equinox.

Plummer wanted extra exercise and knew I played tennis on the road every morning. So he asked if he could tag along, even though he never played the game.

So I taught him, along with Ray Knight and Joel Youngblood. Of the three, Plummer quickly grasped the game.

As part of teaching the serve, I placed a tennis ball can in a corner of the service box and challenged them to hit the can. Plummer, one strong hombre, not only hit the can, he put a huge dent in it.

He was a fierce competitor, hated to lose, hated to miss a shot. After one flubbed volley, he hurled his racquet over the fence into some deep weeds. It took us 15 minutes to find it.

Plummer was strong defensively, but a .188 career hitter. Don’t tell that to Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. In a 1974 game Plummer hit two home runs off Carlton.

Plummer, though, used his dugout time wisely, observing the game, and became manager of the Seattle Mariners.

—QUOTE: From the movie, ‘Trouble with the Curve,’ released in 2012 before computers took over the game: “Anybody who uses computers doesn’t know a damn thing about this game.” (But they know spin rate, exit velocity and lift angle.)

—Nike has pulled all Washington Redskins gear from its on-line store and big-time NFL sponsor FedEx told the Redskins to change their name.

Under severe pressure, the team said it is taking its team’s nickname under a thorough review. Not long ago, eam owner Dan Snyder said about changing the name said, “Not now, not ever.”

How long before they go after the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves? Following Washington’s reaction, Cleveland officials say they are studying a possible name change.

As one person asked, “How long before they go after the Cleveland Browns because it offends brown-skinned people?” And how about the Vikings, Raiders, Buccaneers and Pirates. Those were a bunch of bad dudes.

This is, indeed, a slippery slope. How about just getting away from all this by eliminating all nicknames and just calling them the Clevelands, the Cincinnatis, the Atlantas, the Pittsburghs…well, you get it.

—Maybe major league teams should be more creative like the minor leagues: Montgomery Biscuits, Akron Rubber Ducks, Jamestown Jammers, Clinton LumberKings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Savannah Sand Gnats, Auburn Doubledays, Omaha Storm Chasers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Toledo Mud Hens, Chattanooga Lookouts, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

—Tesco, a British grocery chain, recently admitted that its ‘all-beef’ burgers contain 30 per cent horse meat. Now instead of asking for rare, medium or well, does one asks for win, place or show?

—MLB’s first round of testing for COVID-19 revealed 38 positives, of 3,185 tests. There are 31 players seven staff members on 19 different teams with the virus. Two Cincinnati Reds players test positive.

Now that summer camps are open, let’s see how that number rises, especially in Florida, Texas and California, where virus numbers continue to spike upwards.

Under HIPPA, names are not revealed unless the person infected comes forward. But it was revealed that Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and three others Braves tested positive.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, when a rookie asked him where the whirlpool was: “Stick your foot in the toilet and flush it.” (Somebody must have done just that in our bathroom during our Fourth of July cookout. Our upstairs toilet stopped up and spilled all over the floor. Fortunately, it was not my day to be on Poop Patrol.)

—So Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku doesn’t like competition? The Browns signed Atlanta Falcons free agent tight end Austin Hooper. And Njoku immediately demanded a trade.

Nobody can blame the Browns for adding tight end insurance. Njoku was injured last season and played in only four games and started one. His total 2019 contribution was five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Five catches, 41 yards and one touchdown is one average day for Rob Gronkowski.

—QUOTE: From Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski: “Me not work hard? Yeah, right. Picture that with a Kodak.” (Just shows how old school The Gronk is. Who knows what a Kodak is…or was.)

—Can’t watch the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Makes me gag watching people stuff whole hot dogs down their throats as fast as they can.

As usual, Joey Chestnut won the Mustard Yellow Belt Saturday for the 13th time in 14 years. He set a world record by stuffing 74 hot dogs and buns down his throat in 10 minutes.

And who can eat a hot dog on a bun after dipping it into a glass of water to make it soggy? Yech. And, no ketchup? C’mon.

I ate three Hebrew National hot dogs and buns in an hour Friday and headed straight for the Pepcid bottle.

—QUOTE: From the nation’s No. 1 hot dog, Joey Chestnut: “I think my body was built to eat 69 hot dogs. It’s not natural.” (Hey, it’s not natural to eat four hot dogs and how natural is it to eat 75?)

2 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: What does a guy catching behind Johnny Bench do?”

  1. As usual, stellar column. Glad you weren’t on patrol today, lol. Did I jog a memory for the Plummer story? You told me that the other day. Have a Happy 4th!

  2. Really love the stories about guys like Plummer and Chaney, Hal, the players who were around for awhile but never in the spotlight. Did not know he’d homered twice on Carlton but I do recall (?) that the Reds seemed to handle him pretty well despite his dominance at the time. Wasn’t Hal King a backup catcher, too? I remember (?) a bit hit vs. the damned Dodgers on pennant winning year. Glad to know (?) you’re getting around ok again.

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