OBSERVATION: His Name Was Luscious, But Don’t Call Him That

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, finishing up another can’t-put-down baseball book — Jerry Izenberg’s ‘Larry Doby In Black And White.’ As a kid and a Cleveland Indians fan, Doby was my favorite player.

—HAPPY EASTER — In the early 1950s, the Cleveland Indians (not the Guardians had a 6-foot-4, 250-pound first baseman name Luscious Easter. He preferred Luke and if you called him Luscious you might be eating a large knuckle sandwich.

He hit the longest home run in the history of old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, 475 feet into the upper deck. He was, though, a gentle, kind man with a love of playing a card game called Spades-High.

One time he drew 21 straight aces of spades. On the 22nd hand, the ace of spades fell out of his sleeve. Teammate Suitcase Simpson chased him with a broken beer bottle. Easter barricaded himself behind his hotel room door until the two made up the next day.

In 1952, Luke and teammate/Hall of Famer Larry Doby were tied for the American League home run title on the last day of the season with 31 each.

Doby homered in his first at bat. Easter wanted to at least share the title, but hadn’t homered when he batted in the ninth. He walked. But he refused to take first base. He wanted that home run. It took nearly 10 minutes to get him out of the batter’s box and physically push him to first base.

In those still racially-prejudiced years, Easter hit 31 homers and drove in 97 runs. After the season, he was sent to the minors. Why? He was a Black man dating a white girl.

And that was the end of his MLB career, but his life was even more tragic. In 1979, Easter cashed a $5,000 check at a Cleveland bank. Two men accosted him outside the bank with shotguns. When Easter refused to hand over his cash, one of the guys shot him dead.

—QUOTE: From Luke Easter when a fan said he saw Easter’s longest home run: “If it came down, it wasn’t my longest”

—TOILET TALK: The ridiculousness (Is that a wordo) of the City Connect uniforms keep reaching new lows, or loos.

The St. Louis Cardinals unveiled their CC duds and they aren’t that bad. But one thing they obviously didn’t think about.

On the front of the jerseys it reads, ‘Lou.’ Do the designers know what a ‘loo’ is in Great Britain. That’s OK, though. Some Cardinals fans believe the season has gone into the crapper.

—BRONSON BURNER: This is not to embarrass Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India, especially after his double, single and grand slam home run Friday against the Dodgers.

It is just a point of emphasis to show how Indian was struggling. Before his Friday outburst and eruption, India’s slugging percentage was .281 and he hadn’t had an extra base hit in 46 at bats. That’s call a banjo hitter.

In 2008, Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo had a slugging percentage of .295. And he wasn’t using his guitar as a bat.

In that same game, LA’s Mookie Betts was hitting .182 over his previous six games. His night? Two doubles and a single.

—WALK AWAY RENEE: Baseball is a strange, strange game. With 34 losses (even more than the Reds), the Miami Marlins have one of MLB’s worst records.

Yet…the last place Marlins, 18-34 and 19 games out of first place, have five walk-off wins, the most in baseball.

Speaking of something strange, The Tampa Bay Rays have one complete game pitched for them in the last eight years. That was done by lefthander Ryan Yarbrough, not working out of the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen.

—GO AHEAD, ADJUST: While most rookies either keep their mouths shut or talk in cliches, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes is refreshing.

At this time last year, Skenes was pitching at LSU. He was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. The Pirates called him up a couple of weeks ago to get immediate use from their $9.2 million investment.

In his second game, he struck out the first six Chicago Cubs he faced. He went six innings and didn’t give up a hit, walking one and striking out 11.

For three starts, he is 1-0 with a 2.25 earned run average and the soon-to-be 22-year-old has walked four and struck out 21 in 16 innings.

When asked what he would do when hitters adjust to him, he boldly said, “I mean. . .go ahead and adjust. Good luck.”

Hey, if you can back it up you can say it.

For another example, during a press conference Elly De La Cruz was asked if he could beat Shoehei Ohtani in a 440-yard dash.

Said Elly, “He’s fast, but I’m the fastest man in the world.”

As we said. . .if you can back it up. Uh, Elly? Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. would like a challenge race.

—LONG GONE: Look for this guy to get a look from the Reds soon.

He is from Batavia, near Cincinnati, and he graduated from Glen Este High School. Then it was on to Wright State University and he was drafted in the third round by the Miami Marlins.

He played 46 games for the Marlins in 2022 and 2023 and was released. The Reds signed him in April and assigned him to Class AAA Louisville.

His name is Peyton Burdick, a 27-year-old righthanded outfielder who has played five years in the minors and hit 87 home runs.

The latest, the loudest and the longest came last week at Louisville Slugger Field against the Toledo Mudhens. It was crushed far over and above the left center field wall and smashed high off the scoreboard.

How far? They say 500 feet — the longest home run in the minors or majors this season. Not even Aaron Judge, The Master of Long Distance, has dispatched one that far.

—THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: In Game One of the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays made his a-mays-ing over the shoulder catch in the Polo Grounds on a 450-foot blast by Cleveland’s Vic Wertz. The center field wall in the Polo Grounds was 458 feet from home plate, farthest, by far, of any major league park, before or since.

Then in the 10th-innng, New York Giants’ pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes hit a 260-foot walk-off three-run homer. The right field wall was 258 feet from home plate, shortest, by far, of any major league park, before or since.

Afterward, Cleveland pitcher Bob Lemon said, “How far away is that wall? I could stand on the pitcher’s mound and piss over it.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 56: Do you think I can make it to Playlist Number 100 without repeating songs? I do.;

Hair (The Cowsills), Baby Come Back (Player)YUL, I’m Into Something Good (Herman’s Hermits), Reason To Believe (Rod Stewart), Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf), Light My Fire (The Doors), You Might Think (The Cars), Can’t You See? (Marshall Tucker Band).

What About Love? (Heart), Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams), Help (The Beatles), Ruby Baby (Dion), Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers), Piano Man (Billy Joel), Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd), It Must Have Been Love (Roxette).

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