By Hal McCoy
UNSOLCITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, moving to the patio because it’s 75 degrees. . .and just what month is this?
—AND IT’S THE TRUTH: While everybody waits to see if/when the Cincinnati Reds sign a notable free agent or to see what team trades for Jonathan India, let’s delve into some baseball oddities.
What piqued my interest was a video I saw on Facebook. One of baseball’s rarest events is an inside-the-park home run.
The video was from 1976. First, Toby Harrah of the Texas Rangers lined one to right. Former Reds manager Lou Piniella of the New York Yankees ran to the wall and crashed into it, missing the ball. As Sweet Lou lay writhing on the ground, Harrah circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
The game was not delayed to repair the wall after Piniella tried to knock it down.
Next up was light-hitting Bump Wills. Yankees center fielder Mickey Rivers was playing shallow. Wills hit the ball over his head and the ball took a right turn along the wall. Wills touched ‘em all. . .the only back-to-back inside-the-park home runs in baseball history.
The same year, Harrah, a shortstop, play every inning of a doubleheader and did not have one ball hit to him, something that never happened before to a shortstop nor since. Harrah could have left his glove in the dugout and come to think of it, he could have stayed in the shade of the dugout.
—Cleveland’s Kevin Kouzmanoff hit the first major league pitch he saw for a grand slam home run. It came off former Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez, pitching at the time for Texas. Volquez had a knack for twisting his neck to watch balls fly over walls.
—Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, swinging for the St. Louis Cardinals, hit a routine fly ball. Routine? It was a two-run sacrifice fly. I couldn’t find who scored from second, but I know it wasn’t Billy Hamilton.
—Two former Reds, Mike Cameron and Bret Boone, hit back-to-back home runs twice in the same inning, playing for Seattle.
—Rookie Robby Thomson of the San Francisco Giants was caught stealing four times in one game. For the year he stole 12 bases. . .and was thrown out 15 times. Manager Roger Craig couldn’t locate his red light, or he was too busy teaching his pitchers the split-fingered fastball.
—In one game, the Boston Red Sox hit into two triple plays. . .and still beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0. Obviously, the Twins needed to turn three triple plays.
—And, finally, Barry Bonds is the only player in history to have his hat size increase from 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 over the course of his career.
Did you know that Texas manager Bruce Bochy wears a size 8 1/4 hat, but his head always has been that size.
—FAMILIAR NAMES: The three finalists for the American League Cy Young Award are (drum roll, Griswalds): Gerrit Cole, Kevin Gausmann and Sonny Gray.
And isn’t it baffling and befuddling that two are former Cincinnati Reds pitchers — Gausmann and Gray. Now there are a couple of oh G’s.
—CASH-ING IN: As of this moment, with Joey Votto gone, the highest-paid player on the Cincinnati Reds’ roster for the 2024 season is pitcher Hunter Greene at $3.3 million. Next highest is catcher Luke Maile at $3 million.
—FROM UD TO INDY: Obi Toppin is enjoying his emancipation from New York to Indianapolis.
The former University of Dayton constellation is starting for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and played two large hands in his team’s record-tying 152-111 win Monday over the San Antonio Spurs.
The points tied a franchise record and Toppin was among six Pacers in double figures with 19. He made 6 of 11 shots and was 6 for 6 from the foul line in 27 minutes.
He had two steals and one ended with one of his tomahawk dunks to help Pacers coach Rick Carlisle win his 900th career NBA game.
In addition, Toppin drew the unenviable assignment of guarding 7-foot-4 rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama, The French Freak.
Toppin, of course, had help, but he was a big part of holding Wembanyama to 13 points.
_WALK ON BY: One of the best stories from the World Series not associated with Bruce Bochy was that of Texas outfielder Evan Carter.
The 21-year-old rookie had never played in a major league game until he was called up from Triple-A in September and played 23 games.
Then in the postseason he played like a superstar. He played in all 17 Texas postseason games and reached base in all 17. He hit .300 with nine doubles, a home run and 12 RBI.
His nickname is ‘Full Count’ because he is adept at working the count. And he showed it in the post-season by drawing 12 walks in the 17 games over 74 plate appearances.
—TOOT THEIR OWN HORNS: The University of Dayton’s Flyer Pep Band can do what it does in UD Arena for Flyers basketball games. . .toot its own horns.
The band, led by director Willie Morris, has been named winner of the 2023 Stan Musial Sportsmanship Award.
The band was selected because it adopted, supported and played for the Fairleigh-Dickinson team at the 2023 NCAA First Four in UD Arena and for the first round of the NCAA in Columbus.
FDU won its game in Dayton, then upset Purdue in the first round of the NCAA in Columbus. The Flyers Pep Band traveled to Columbus to play for FDU against Purdue.
“We always say that we were a part of that win because to have that kind of upset you have to have someone to cheer you on,” said Cole Joniak, Flyer Pep Band president. “We looked like FDU fans because on that day we were.”
The band will travel to St. Louis to accept the award on November 18 and the ceremony will be telecast on CBS on Christmas Eve.
And it is apropos that the Stan Musial award is going to a musical group this year. Every year during Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, Musial would entertain folks in the Otesaga Hotel lounge by playing the harmonica.
—SMILES FROM MYLES: An awesome quote from Cleveland Browns defensive game-wrecker Myles Garrett: “I love playing on the road because there is nothing better than making 50,000 people go dead-ass quiet. You give them a little something to remember and that’s how legends are made.” (A couple of weeks ago, Garrett silenced not only the city of Indianapolis, but all of Marion County.)
—QUITE A GROWL: A short take on from where the Cincinnati Bengals have come in a few short weeks — From Toothless Tigers to Sabre-toothed Tigers. And it is Joe Burrow rattling and waving the sabre.