OBSERVATIONS: What Shohei Ohtani Did, Rick Wise Did Better

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, bleary-eyed from Friday night west coast baseball but ready for another dose tonight.

—WORDS TO THE WISE: The TV folks are going off the deep end over Shohei Ohtani’s doubleheader performance the other day, as well they should. He pitched a complete-game one-hitter in the first game and hit two home runs in the second game of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

I witnessed and covered one even better in 1971. Rick Wise of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter and hit two home runs against the Cincinnati Reds in the same game. One game.

And everybody remembers Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Why? Because it went 12 innings and Boston’s Carlton Fisk hiit a walk-off home run to beat the Reds. Guess who the winning pitcher was? Rick Wise.

I covered that one, too. I was not the beat writer in 1971 when Wise pitcched the no-hitter. Our regular beat writer, Jim Ferguson, took the day off and I was his stand-in

Wise has another distinction. At two different times he was traded for a future Hall of Famer. The Phillies traded him to St. Louis for Steve Carlton. And the Red Sox traded him to Cleveland for Dennis Eckersley.

—QUOTE: From Rick Wise when the designated hitter rule was installed: “The designated hitter rule is like someone else taking Wilt Chamberlain’s free throws.” (When it came to free throws, Wilt the Stilt shot as if he was blindfolded and standing with his back to the basket. . .and he might have done better had he shot them that way.)

—THE MAIN SPARK: While rummaging through a a stack of old spiral notebooks, I ran across one in which I had scribbled some Sparky Anderson quotes. The ink is fading and hardly legible. . .or was that my left-handed hand-writing?

***”I’ve changed my mind about the designataed hitter. Instead of it being bad, it stinks.” (And he said that when he managed the Detroit Tigers in the American League before the National League adopted it.)

***”Jose Canseco is built like Greek goddess.” (His personal statistics don’t list his breast size.)

***”If you have to choose between power and speed, you’ve got to go for speed. (Sparky would love the 2023 Cincinnati Reds.)

***“The problem with that guy getting on base is that it takes three doubles to get him home.” (I didn’t write down to whom he was referring, probably one of his pitchers.)

“The only reason I’m coming out here tomorrow is because the schedule says I have to.” (My fading notes say it was after the Reds lost two straight 4-0 games to the Philadelphia Phillies in May of 1975.)

—HE GOT SMOKED: From my great friend and former co-beat writer Brad Schmaltz: Pirates rookie pitcher Ron Blackburn was sitting in the dugout long before the gates opened when manager Danny Murtaugh plopped next to him and said, “My guess is we’ll have 30 to 35,000 fans tonight.”

“No way,” said the kid. “I’ll bet you a box of cigars we have 30 to 35,000,” said Murtaugh. “You’re on,” the rookie said.

Suddenly, Blackburn realized Murtaugh said 30 to 35,000, not 30,000 to 35,000. If 31 people showed up, he would lose.

“You win,” he said. Said Murtaugh, “Pay me when you can.”

So the rookie slipped into Murtaugh’s office, knowing the manager kept boxes of his favorite cigars in there. The kid grabbed one and later presented it to Murtaugh. Murtaugh turned to one of his coaches and said, “Nice kid. Pays off fast.”

***Speaking of cigars, my friend Jason Hyman attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and brought me back a box of cigars from the Cooperstown Cigar Company. The cigars are great and the wooden box is a keeper.

—MIDDLE EAST BASEBALL: Barry Larkin is co-owner of an upstart professional baseball league in Dubai called Baseball United.

The four-team league will hold its draft in September in Cincinnati with Opening Day in November. So far, the league consists of the Mumbai Cobras, the Karachi Monarchs and two yet-to-be-named franchises.

With all the money in Dubai, expect a 100,000-seat stadium, the foul poles will be oil derricks and the players will use gold-plated bats. As giveaways, the teams will give fans barrels of oil.

—WHAT’S IN A NAME?: The Appalachian League is a summer college league, like the Cape Cod League, for freshman and sophomore collegiate players. None of the teams is affiliated with any major league team.

And the nicknames are hilarious: Bluefield Ridge Runners, Burlington Sock Puppets, Danville Otterbots, Princeton Whistlepigs, Pulaski River Turtles, Bristol State Liners, Elizabethton River Riders, Greenville Flyboys, Johnson City Doughboys, Kingsport Axmen.

Love ‘em, except for the Ridge Runners. We West Virginians considered that term offensive. We had a kid in my high school gym class from West Virginia we called ‘Ridge Runner’ and we considered it derogatory. So did he.

—QUESTIONS UNANSWERED: My great Sarasota friend, Tom Melzoni, recently wondered why a bunch of questions have never
been answered, like who let the dogs out?

That prompted me to wonder why a lot of questions posed in songs have never been answered (Yes, I have too much time on my hands).

***We still don’t know the Monotones question of who wrote The Book of Love and it has been 70 years.

***And has any girl ever said yes to Bobby Freeman’s question, “Do You Want to Dance?” It, too, has been 70 years.

***Have we ever found out who put the lam in the lamma, lamma ding dong? Nope.

***Frankie Lyman never discovered the answer to Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

***Peter Townshend and The Who never found out Who Are You, Who, Who?

Hey, Tom. I know who let the dogs out? It is me, every morning at about 6:30 when Paige, Quinn and Parker decide it is time to romp in the backyard. And like CCR, they have me looking out my back door.


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