OBSERVATIONS: Who Needs Another Baseball Curse?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave, feeling old, until I remembered that after pitching more than 5,000 innings, Nolan Ryan threw a no-hitter and struck out 16 Toronto Blue Jays. . .at age 46.

—Baseball loves to talk about perceived curses like the Curse of the Bambino on the Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs.

Now some foof (i.e., a combination fool and goof) with too much time on his hands has come up with a curse on the Cincinnati Reds. He calls it The Curse of John McSherry.

That’s a terrible thing to attach to one of the best major league umpires ever and an even greater man.

Why the curse? Well, the Reds won a playoff series in 1995, the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Opening Day in 1996, on the seventh pitch of the game, McSherry collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Since then, the Reds have not won a playoff series, the only MLB team that can sheepishly make that claim.

The Curse of John McSherry is pig latin. If there has to be one, I prefer The Curse of Davey Johnson.

Johnson managed the 1995 Reds to that playoff win over the Dodgers. But owner Marge Schott fired him after the season because he was living ‘in sin’ with his girl friend, whom he later married.

And the Reds haven’t won a playoff series since. . .The Curse of Davey Johnson.

—HE GOT JACKED: It was 1953, a game between the Class A Greensboro Patriots and the Burlington-Graham Pirates. Both teams had 22-year-old catchers — George Lyon for Greensboro and some guy named Jack McKeon for Burlington-Graham.

During a McKeon at bat, the two got into fisticuffs and Lyon was thrown out of the game, “Because he threw the first punch,” said umpire Walt Vanderhoof.

Greensboro columnist Smith Barrier wrote, “McKeon has a most unorthodox batting stance and swat’s flies around the catcher’s head with his bat. He knocked Lyon’s mask off.”

And that’s what started the fight. The significance of this is that both Lyon and McKeon are 94 years old and still alive and vibrant.

Keep in mind, that was 71 years ago. But when I brought it up this week to Trader Jack, he remembered every detail as it it happened in a game last night.

“I took a swing and he hit my bat with his glove,” said McKeon. “I told him, ‘Don’t do that again.’ Next pitch, he does it again. I didn’t say anything. Next pitch, I leaned back and hit him in the helmet with my bat and the fight was on.”

And I’ll say it again, Trader Jack belongs in the Hall of Fame.

—ALL-INCLUSIVE?: Now that MLB has integrated all the statistics from the Negro Leagues to MLB stats, one wonders what might be next.

Might they soon include stats from the Japanese leagues for players who came from Japan to play in the U.S. majors? Or, they could just include all players from the Japanese leagues.

The Negro League players, through no fault of their own due to segregation, never played in the majors.

If they do include Japanese stats, guess what that means? Pete Rose no longer would be The Hit King. The all-time hits leader would be Ichiro Suzuki with 4,367, eclipsing Rose’s 4,256 hits.

And Sadaharu Oh would become the all-time home run king with 868

—BRITCHES BRIGADE: Raise your hand high if you dislike players wearing their baseball pants above the knees.

I have both hands raised. . .sorry Jonathan India. My second raised hand is for the players who wear their baseball pant legs dragging the ground, covering their shoes.

Why can’t they just wear their pants neatly bloused halfway up the calf so half the socks show? Yeah, yeah. Once again, get off my lawn.

—OL’ WHAT’S HIS NAME: Scooter Gennett played three years with the Cincinnati Reds and I never knew his real first name.

It’s Ryan. I had to look it up. Gennett played seven years in the majors and hit 87 home runs. . .four of them on one day.

I was there that day, but didn’t recall two things. Before he hit the four straight home runs, he singled his first time up, so he went 5-for-5 that day. And before the single he was 1 for 19.

And the Reds were wearing military camouflage uniform tops, so maybe the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers couldn’t see him.

After becoming only the 17th player to hit four homers in a nine-inning game, and at 5-10 and 175 pounds, perhaps the smallest, Gennett said:

“For a guy like me to do that, it’s amazing. It’s maybe a little short of a mircale, but I’m just blessed, man. Baseball’s an amazing game.”

But wives know how to keep hubby’s hat size from swelling. After the game, Gennett’s wife said, “Good game.”

And Gennett said, “Good game? Is that all ya got? Good game?”

—QUOTES AND NOTES: What you hear when you listen:

From Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley on Chicago’s Wrigley Field: “I love it. It doesn’t get much better than a day game in Wrigley Field. . .until you trot out to right field and they tell you how bad you stink.”

From former portly Braves pitcher Terry Forster after TV host David Letterman called him, “A big tub of goo” and the fattest man in baseball: “ A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”

From former Pirates pitcher Jim Rooker on his nights on the town: “Manager Chuck Tanner used to have a bed check just for me every night. No problem. My bed was always there.”

From San Jose sports columnist Charles Bricker in 1981 when Rene Lachemann was named manager of the Seattle Mariners: “Being named manager of the Seattle Mariners is like being named head chef at McDonald’s.”

From Dayton native and Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt on the Philly newspapers and fans being highly critical: “I don’t know if it is their upbringing or if they’ve had too many hoagies and too much Philadephia cream cheese.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 57: A reader suggested a list of songs apropos for the Cincinnati Reds. So, here goes:

The Rose (Bette Midler), Money For Nothing (Dire Straits), You Had A Bad Day (Daniel Powter), I Fall To Pieces (Patsy Cline), Take This Job And Shove It (Johnny Paycheck), It’s Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty), It’s Now Or Never (Elvis Presley), Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey) It’s A Heartache (Bonnie Tyler).

Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who), Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad (Meat Loaf), Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Six Days On The Road (Dave Dudley), Dazed And Confused (Black Sabbath), 9 To 5 (Dolly Parton), Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran), Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kris Kristofferson), Ring My Bell (Anita Ward).

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