It’s back!! Yes, it’s more silly stuff from BBD!! (Sincere apologies to fans of music stars Bell Biv Devoe...this BBD refers to old Baseball Digests.)
Now before you groan and moan, you need to be aware that this is an act of humanitarianism on my part. Over the years, I’m confident my writings about my favorite team have converted my entire global readership into Chicago Cubs fans, and I know we’re all still grumpy over the team’s ignominious early exit from the playoffs. So this mindless drivel will help you forget all that! Instead, you’ll be grumpy at me for foisting this on you!!
Some primo examples of The Fine Art of On-Field Conversation: Pitcher Bill Dawley: “When I pitched in my 60th game of the season, it activated a bonus clause in my contract. Our second baseman, Bill Doran, knew about this. He called time, and come to the mound and said, ‘Hey Bill, when you throw your first pitch, you’re $45,000 richer.’ Then he just turned around and went back to his position.”
Angels pitcher Mark Clear was in a jam. He started working more slowly, trying to disrupt the timing of the hitters. His teammate Bobby Grich called time and walked to the mound. Grich said, “Mark, see that blonde sitting behind our dugout?” Clear located her and told Grich, “Yeah.” Grich then said, “Well, I’ve got a date with her tonight, so would you please hurry up?”
When he unleashed his very first pitch in his very first major league game, Paul Mirabella says it sailed “40 feet over my catcher’s head.” The catcher, John Ellis, trotted out and asked, “Are you nervous?” Mirabella quickly said, “Yeah!” Ellis calmed him down by saying, “There’s nothing to be nervous about. We haven’t beaten these guys all year, and they kick the (stuffing) out of left-handers.” Then he turned around and trotted back to the plate.
Catcher Floyd Rayford and pitcher Sammy Stewart had a little failure to communicate one day. The bases were loaded, and slugger Dave Kingman was batting. Rayford wanted Stewart to throw a fastball. Stewart shook his head “No.” Rayford tried again, same result. They met on the mound and Stewart said he wanted to throw a slider. Rayford, still thinking fastball was a better choice, signaled for the heater. Stewart shook it off. So Stewart finally threw the slider he wanted. And Kingman hit a grand slam. Rayford trudged back to the mound but before he could say anything, Stewart told him, “You should’ve called for the fastball.”
Item: Whoa! I learned something new today! In the first season of “The Andy Griffith Show,” it was quickly revealed — and then never mentioned again! — that Barney was Andy’s cousin!
Ok, that had nothing to do with baseball, so let’s consider that a little between-innings break!
Item: In 1967, Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox won the Triple Crown. I know, I know, that sounds like a horse-racing feat. But then again, winning the Grand Slam in tennis — or in golf, come to think of it — sounds like a baseball feat. So, as this clearly demonstrates, I’ve lost my train of thought and don’t remember my point.
Wait, wait, here it is! — Yaz, as he was affectionately known, also won the Most Valuable Player award in the American League that season. When he received the hardware commemorating his achievement, there was, unfortunately, a little bit of a typographical error. Yes, you guessed it, the engraver misspelled “Carl.” True story.
Item: I don’t know if Yaz was an introvert or what, but during the off-season following his award-filled campaign, he devised a way to limit his appearances at rubber-chicken banquets and tedious interviews: He charged $1,500 for every appearance.
Item: Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw once described a home run wallop by his hulking teammate Greg “The Bull” Luzinski thusly: “Baseball is a game of inches. Bull just put 4,800 of them together.”
Item: Considering the astronomical salaries pro athletes make these days, this headline from a spring 1968 BBD seems achingly quaint: “Cardinals’ 1968 Salaries Total Record $800,000!”
If this anecdote doesn’t mean much to you, here’s some perspective: The minimum salary that a major league team can pay to any player is $563,500. Again, let me emphasize, that’s for one (1, uno, ichi, ek) player. Amazing, right? It’s almost as much as the Daily News pays me for each column!