OBSERVATIONS: McCarver was a Catcher in the Wry

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, overdosing on college basketball (and loving it) until baseball season and the heartbreak begins.

—TIM WASN’T TINY: Former catcher/broadcaster Tim McCarver passed away this week, leaving behind some of the best baseball quips.

McCarver’s deep-depth on-air commentary irritated some listeners, but true baseball fans loved it. His knowledge came from kneeling behind the plate, baseball’s School of Learning The Game.

That’s why so many former catchers become managers and McCarver would have been a great one had he chose to pursue it.

McCarver was catching Bob Gibson one day and went to the mound to calm him down. Said Gibson, “What the hell are you doing here? The only thing you know about pitching is that you can’t hit it.” Actually, McCaver was a fair hitter, a career .271. Nowadays, that would fetch you $25 million a year.

McCarver, though, got his revenge on Gibson when he said, “Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I’ve ever seen. Every time he pitches, the other team never scores runs.”

When McCarver was with the Philadelphia Phillies, he was Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton’s personal catcher. Said McCarver, “When we die, they’ll bury us in the same cemetery, 60 feet, 6 inches apart.”

Just a few short years ago, of the 30 MLB managers, nine were former cathers: Ned Yost, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy, Brad Ausmus, Mike Matheny, Bob Melvin, Mike Redmond and John Gibbons.

Former Cincinnti Reds managers since the 1950s who were catchers: Birdie Tebbetts, Russ Nixon, John McNamara, Jack McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley and Jerry Narron.

—QUOTE: From former catcher Tim McCarver: “When a catcher has to use his thumb to give signs, that means the pitcher has more than four pitches.”

—THAT WAS SOME BELCH: Speaking of pitchers, one day in spring training in Plant City, a Florida newspaper sent a young woman to cover her first baseball game.

After the first pitch, they always announce in the press box the starting time of the first pitch. On this day, with Tim Belcher pitching for the Reds, he threw his first pitch and in the press box they announced, “First pitch, 1:07.”

So in the young woman’s paper the next day, she wrote, “Tim Belcher’s first pitch was 107 miles an hour.”

Belcher hung the clipping on his dressing stall in the clubhouse.

—TURN THE PAIGE: Ol’ Satchel Paige could really pack ‘em in, even when he was 50 years old. He was 50 when he pitched for the Triple-A Miami Marlins in 1956.

A then-record minor league crowd of 51,713 was in attendance at the old Orange Bowl to watch Paige pitch against the Columbus Jets.

And it was no publicity stunt. Paige pitched into the eighth inning of a 6-2 victory and he drove in three runs with a triple.

That was child’s play for Paige. He made his last major league pitch for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 when he was 59.

—QUOTE: From legendary pitcher Satchel Paige: “You win a few, you lose few and some get rained out. But you get to dress for all of them.”

—DOES HE WANT OUT?: Cleveland Browns runningback Nick Chubb posted three words on Twitter that should make Browns fans shudder and jittery.

Clearly, Chubb is disenchanted with his team’s yearly failures. During the Super Bow, he tweeted, “Tired of watching.”

Oh, boy.

—RAM-A-LAM-A-DING-DONG: There are three teams nicknamed ‘Rams’ in the Atlantic 10 Conference. When it comes to success, though, it is always the VCU Rams and the Rhode Island Rams.

The Fordham Rams? The rest of the league always wiped their Nikes on them. . .until this year.

Before this weekend, Fordham was 21–5 and tied for second in the A10 at 9-4. It is Fordham’s first 20-win season since 1990–91, 32 seasons ago.

Since then the F-Rams had three winning seasons and lost at least 20 games 15 times.

There is a caveat. The Rams were 12-1 in nonconference games, a record built with the easiest nonconference schedule in all of Division I basketball, according to KenPom.com. That’s 352nd of 352 teams.

The University of Dayton mangled Fordham, 82-58, on January 10 in Fordham’s gym. . .and it truly is a gym.caught up.)

—A DIFFERENT ‘CAT: When it comes to college basketball, when one talks about the Wildcatas they usually are referring to Kentucky, Kansas State, Arizona or Villanova.

Northwestern? Great journalism school. Basketball? For most seasons, those Wildcats were fortunate to hit Lake Michigan while standing on a pier.

Not this year. As a lover of the underdog, I’m a huge Northwestern fan this year. They won their 11th Big Ten game Saturday when they whipped Iowa by 20 points. And they were underdogs in their own gym.

It’s the first time they’ve won 11 Big Ten games since 1931, the same year President Herbert Hoover made The Star-Spangled Banner the official national anthem.

—FOR PETE’S SAKE: Some folks are making a big deal out of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis and what he might do.

Davis is just 124 points away from breaking Pete Maravich’s career Division I college scoring record.

And that is so much bull and malarkey. When Maravich played, freshmen could not play and there was no three-point rule. So Pistol Pete scored his 3,667 points in three years over 83 games.

Davis, a fifth-year player, already has appeared in 144 games, 61 more games than Maravich.

This is not to disparage Davis. That’s a ton-and-a-half points. But Pistole Pete he ain’t.

An interestings sidelight is that both Maravich and Davis had/have their fathers as their head coach. That means both had/have the greoen light to shoot at any time from any place, including from the downtown business district.

—QUOTE: From Pistol Pete Maravich: “I played six to 10 hours a day, every day, 90 days during the summer, and I’d do incredible things. I would dribble blindfolded in the house. I would take my basketball to bed with me, I’d lay there after my mother kissed and tucked me in, and I’d shoot the ball up in the air and say, ‘Finger tip control, backspin, follow through.'” (Maravich was the real Basketball Jones.)

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