By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the beach house kitchen while enduring an all-day downpour on St. Simons Island, Ga. Hence, some off-the-cuff observations
—ANOTHER GREAT READ: A few years ago, I read a book by former Cincinnati Post sports columnist Joe Posnanski called, ‘The Baseball 100.’ I said it was the best baseball book I ever read, and I’ve read hundreds. . .really. I still believe it is.
Another Posnanski book was just released entitled, ‘Why We Love Baseball,’ and it, too, is a classic. Some snippets:
**Sometime in the 1930s. a 17-year female named Jackie Mitchell, owner of a nasty sinker, was signed by the minor-league Chattanooga Lookouts to pitch one inning of an exhibition game against the New York Yankees.
She struck out Babe Ruth on a 2-and-2called strike three, then struck out Lou Gehrig on three pitches.
**There is a famous photo of Jackie Robinson sliding hom on a steal in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series. It shows New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently protesting that Robinson was out.
Berra had that photo hanging in his musuem until the day he died and every time he passed the photo, without fail, he said, “Out.”
And long after Robinson died, when Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and Berra crossed paths, Berra’s first word was, “Out.” And Rachel replied with, “Safe.” Then they both laughed and hugged.”
**Nolan Ryan scoffs these days when he sees pitchers lifted after 100 pitches. There was a game during which he threw 235 pitches.
When a reporter mentioned it, Ryan shrugged and said, “Hell, I threw 242 in my last start.”
After Nolan struck out 17 in one game, former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Frank Robinson said, “He struck me out three times and I didn’t even play.”
**After Springfield-area native Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Milwaukee, only to lose the game in the 13th on a three-run home run by Joe Adcock, he received a mountain of letters.
His favorite came from a fraternity at Texas A&M and it read, “Dear Harvey: Tough shit.”
Said Haddix, “It was short and sweet, but it summed up everything pretty well.”
—MORE PUNISHMENT: After his Colorado team was pole-axed by Oregon, 42-6, coach Deion Sanders said his team played like hot garbage. And he added, “You better get me now. This is the worst we’re gonna be.”
A message for Coach Prime: Your team looked more like frozen garbage and those glasses you wear must be rose-colored because this week could be worse when you run up against Southern Cal.
—THE NAKED TRUTH: The jersey worn by Wilt Chamberlain in the final game of the 1972 NBA finals sold at auction for $4.9 million.
Wonder how much my Kent State jersey that is hanging in my closet would fetch? Nadine is stilll laughing.
When I covered the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA, Chamberlain played for the Philadelphia 76ers and scored 52 points one night.
I waited for him at his locker after the game for an interview. He walked out of the shower naked, of course. He was 7-foot-2 and I’m 6-foot-2. I introduced myself and we shook hands.
The next day, I told my sports editor, “Wilt Chamberlain came out of the shower and we shook hands.”
Said my sports editor with a wry grin, “Are you certain you shook hands with him.
—QUOTE: From famous author John Irving: “The majority of American males put themselves to sleep by striking out the batting order of the New York Yankees.”
Despite my friendship with Yankees manager Aaron Boone and what he did for my career, I’ve always despised the Yankees because when I was a kid they always beat up on my beloved Cleveland Indians.
—KISS AND RUN: When Morganna Roberts sat in the stands in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium for a game in 1971, she was not yet ‘The Kissing Bandit.’ She was just a fan.
But a friend seated with her bet that she wouldn’t run on the field and kiss Pete Rose. She did it, won the bet, and made a career out of running on to playing fields and kissing superstars.
And what does she say about it? “My career began on a bet and Pete Rose’s career ended on a bet.”
—JACK BE NIMBLE: One of my all-time favorite people, as a manager and a person, Jack McKeon, admits that as a player he wasn’t top-notch. He likes to say, “I hit three ways. . .left, right and seldom.”