OBSERVATIONS: Some Things From The Past

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave on a nostalgic day, so all the tidbits below are from the distant past. Hang with me.

—A WAGNERIAN GM: Dick Wagner is the general manager credited (discredited?) with dismantling The Big Red Machine, piece by piece by piece.

When Dave Collins played outfield for the Cincinnati Reds, we developed a good relationship and he fed me some good information.

Somehow Wagner got wise to it. In 1981 he let Collins go, then came up to me and said, “I got rid of your little Bobo in the clubhouse.”

I told Wagner, “I’ll find somebody else (I did).
And I was here before you and I’ll be here after you.”

I was right. . .by many years. Wagner was fired in1983. Daddy Wags and I were like sandpaper and cotton, never got along. I called him once after a trade and he said, “What are you calling me for, you’re just gonna rip me.” I hung up on him.

Amazingly, years later when I was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame I received a very nice congratulatory note from him.

Once again, I’ll steal the line uttered by Joaquin Andujar: “I’ll say it in one word. Youneverknow.”

—WITH OR WITHOUT CHEESE: When the Cincinnati Reds swept the 1990 World Series, owner Marge Schott was angry because it ended in Oakland. She wanted a couple more games in Cincinnati for the revenue.

She was so angry she refused a big celebratory dinner after the game. The team was staying in a San Francisco hotel on Union Square. A block away was a Jack in the Box franchise hamburger joint.

That’s where the players gathered, or as Dave Concepcion called it, ‘Back in the Jocks.’

—A ROLLS REUS: Former major league pitchere Jerry Reuss celebrated his 75th birthday last week and it reminded me of a game he pitched that I covered.

If you were a Reds fan, it wasn’t much of a game, even though it was nearly perfect.

It was June 11, 1982 (I looked it up) and the big, blond left-hander was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds. Eddie Milner opened the game with a double, then Reuss retired the next 27 Reds in a row. It was the second time Reuss came within one batter of a perfect game.

Of course, 1982 was the year the Reds set a franchise record for losses, 101, that still stands. Thank you, Dick Wagner.

Reuss’s career looks like the spinning marquee on the front of a Greyhound bus — St. Louis, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Anaheim, Chicago, Milwaukee. For his career he was 220-191 with a 3.64 earned run average.

Did you notice ‘Cincinnati’ stuck in the middle of that list? He spent less than half a season, 1987, with the Reds — seven starts 0-5, 7.79 earned run average.

While he didn’t provide anything on the mound, he was one of the funnier guys I ever covered. He owned a quick, dry wit.

—THE CAMPY CAMP: When it comes to all-time catchers, you hear Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, Pudge Rodriguez, Buster Posey, Ivan Molina, Carlton Fisk, Josh Gibson (Did I hear somebody whisper Steve Yeager?).

Seldom does Roy Campanella catch a mention. Why is that? He was the second Black player behind Jackie Robinson to be signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He won the National League MVP in 1951, 1953 and 1955 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Dodgers signed him out of the Negro League after he began playing for the Baltimore Elite Giants when he was 15. He never saw a dime. His parents received all his paychecks until he signed with Brooklyn.

When he was called up from the minors in 1948, Brooklyn’s catchers were Gil Hodges and Bruce Edwards. Manager Leo Durocher installed Campanella behind the plate, moved Hodges to first base and moved Edwawds to third base. So the Dodgers had three natural catchers in their starting lineup.

Campanella’s career was cut short in 1958 when he was paralyzed from the neck down when he flipped his car.

And it was Campy who famously said, “You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”

—SIX PA’S, NO AB’s: Miller Huggins was an outstanding manager for the New York Giants and the New York Yankees, but he did something as a player 114 years ago that probably never will be done again.

As a shortstop and leadoff hitters for the 1910 St. Louis Cardinals, he went to bat six times. But the next day’s sports page listed it as, ‘Miller AB’s 0.’

That’s right. He batted six times but was not credited with an at bat because he walked his first three times, hit a sacrifice fly, then put down two sacrifice bunts. Six plate appearances and no official at bats had never been done and hasn’t been done since.

The Cardinals won that game, 10-6, over the Philadelphia Phillies, their 15th loss in 16 games. Just over 800 fans wandered into Baker Bowl to see why they were opening the gates.

—HOW DID IT TASTE?: Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ray Sadecki said he dreamed one night that he swallowed a giant marshmallow. When he awoke, his pillow was gone.

Sadecki was traded to San Francisco for Orlando Cepeda, who promptly won an MVP with the Cardinals. Sadecki struggled.

It was a time when folks were spreading lame Polish jokes so a Giants fan would say, “Tell me a Polish joke.” And the answer was, “Ray Sadecki.”

—ANOTHER YOGI-ISM: On an extremely hot, muggy day in New York, Mets manager Yogi Berra encountered the team’s owner, Mrs. Joan Payson outside a hotel.

PAYSON: “Hello, Yogi. You look very cool today.”

YOGI: “You don’t look so hot yourself.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 66: Yep, I’m still finding them.

Under The Boardwalk (The Drifters), Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis Group), It Must Have Been Love (Roxette), Waterloo (Abba), Losing My Religion (R.E.M.), Time In A Bottle (Jim Croce), Annie’s Song (John Denver), Please Mr. Postman (Carpenters).

Silly Love Song (Wings) Seasons In The Sun (Terry Jacks), Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Elton John), Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), What A Night (Four Seasons), Lonesome Loser (Little River Band), Babe (Styx), Tequila Sunrise (Eagles.)

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