OBSERVATIONS: Something for Champ Summers to chew on

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, laboring over an Observations column on Labor Day. Work, work, work.

—HE WAS BEECHED: It was the late 1970s and the Reds had an outfielder name Champ Summers. He always played with a large chaw of Beech-Nut chewing tobacco filling his cheek.

One game Summers hit an inside-the-park homerun and after sliding safely into home he stayed on the ground, flat on his back.

The next hitter asked, “You OK? You hurt or are you just out of breath? Said Summers, gasping and green-faced, “No, I just swallowed by chewing tobacco.”

—GROUND ATTACK: Cleveland – – – – dians pitcher Zach Plesac missed his start last week when he fractured his right hand pounding the ground after giving up a home run.

Some lessons are never learned. Last year, Plesac fractured his right thumb when he angrily ripped off his jersey and caught the thumb on a chair.

Plesac reminds me of a former tennis opponent who constantly threw his racquet against the fence after messing up a shot, many times breaking the racquet.

He did it one day and his opponent said, “You know what? You’d be better off putting your racquet gently on the ground and throwing yourself against the fence.”

—A DRUGGED BAT: You’ve heard of movie stars being discovered in drug stores, but a guy named Art Weis has a better story.

It was 1929 and Weis, playing for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association, wandered into a drug store. He saw a bat on display and liked it for no reason he could ascertain. He bought it. . .for 25 cents.

And he used it during that 1929 season and hit .345 to win the Southern Association batting title.

Perhaps the Cincinnati Reds should send Jose Barrero on a mission to Rite-Aid, Walgreen’s and CVS. Do any of them sell bats?

—MOVIN’ ON: What does it say when a player can’t hit for average and can’t hit for power, but is playing for his eighth team in 10 years?

It says that the player runs like a rabbit fleeing a coyote and plays defense like the U.S. Navy.

Billy Hamilton just signed on with the Minnesota Twins after playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Miami and Minnesota.

Hamilton’s walk-up song should be Johnny Cash’s ‘I’ve Been Everywhere.’

—RED ALERT: From former Columbus Dispatch sports writer Brad Schmaltz, a great friend despite the fact he taught me how to play blackjack.

Since June 20, the New York Yankees were 30-37 as of Sunday. The Reds? 30-36, a half-game better than the Yankees.

Hey, you take your positives where you find them, even though half the MLB teams have a better record than the Bronx Bunglers since June 20.

—OUT OF POSITION: Hall of Fame baseball writer Jayson Stark, a master at digging up obscure facts about the Grand Ol’ Game, come up with this one.

Through Sunday’s games, 103 position players have pitched this season. There were six on August 23. And position players have given up 42 homers, five by former Cincinnati Reds infielder Josh VanMeter, now playing infield/pitcher??? for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As I’ve said before, ban it.

—FLYIN’ HIGH: One of the many negatives about breaking my hip is that I am unable to cover University of Dayton football games, something I enjoy immensely.

The next best thing is listening to Larry Hansgen and coach Mike Kelly broadcasting the games on WHIO radio. And example from Kelly: “He can cut on a dime and give you change.”

One of the more incredible accomplishments by the Football Flyers is that they have gone 498 games without being shut out, longest streak in NCAA football.

The last time UD was shut out was in 1976, 7-0, by Marshall went current head coach Rick Chamberlin was a freshman lineman. He is in his 15th season as head coach and is as loyal to his players as a hound dog and a mother.

And he won his 100th career victory Saturday, 22-20, at Robert Morris.

—HORSING AROUND: As I watched Saturday’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar, I thought I was watching a tape of Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths.

But it was a 4-year-old horse named Flightline and he won by 19 lengths. The rest of the field needed binoculars to see him cross the finish line.

Flightline has won all five races he has entered, four by more than 10 lengths. His win qualified him for the $6 million Breeder’s Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.

They should give the other horses in the field a two furlongs head start. . .and he still might win.

—BALL HOGS: Never ceases to amaze that fans will risk life, limb and a $12 beer to snag a foul ball or a home run ball. First, they risk a broken finger trying to catch a ball whizzing at 100 miles an hour. Then they risk their $12 beer and $5 hot dog. And if they miss it, they dive over seats and other fans, risking broken ribs.

And it is all for a $24.99 baseball that can be purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods, cheaper than most tickets to the game.

OK, OK. When I was a kid I did all that trying to get a souvenir baseball. But if I got one, we used it on the vacant lot in Akron between Helsel’s Square Deal grocery and Nick’s Barber Shop.

—PAPER TIGERS: They always say that a team looks good on paper but games are won on the field, not on paper. Change that these days. With all the analytics nerds running games, it is now that games are won on the field, not inside computers.

—POINT TAKEN: I always watch the three or four weather forecasts the local TV stations give us each half hour (and about 30 seconds of sports). I need to know the dew point. Actually, I don’t know the dew point from the decimal point from the exclamation point from needle point from Cedar Point.

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