I had a great start, this unique, amazing woman was my first and second grade teacher. Sadly we lost her last year, but she cast a large shadow in her ninety-nine years. I was hoping I’d have a screenplay about her finished, but she didn’t teach me promptness …
Nothing like being aware of one’s mortality than to have people in a similar category, and of like age, die. A while back I thought about the passings of pitchers Paul Splittorff and Tom Underwood, maybe even more so, because I was a combined 7 for 53 (.132) against them. Of Bob Welch who died on Tuesday at the age of 57, I’ll always remember my first Triple-A at bat. If there is one skill I will accept is that I could hit a (high) fastball; he threw a 2-2 high fastball by my swing for strike three. It was a harbinger of things to come for him, if I may be so immodest, as this was the year he had that epic battle against Reggie Jackson to close out Game Two of the 1978 World Series. A record of 211-146, a 27 win season, the last to win that many, and the third winningest pitcher of the 1980s behind Jack Morris and Dave Stieb, gone too soon.
Okay, let me get this straight, Manny Machado was running from second to third, (see video here on SI.com )unsuccessfully tries to avoid Josh Donaldson’s tag, takes umbrage at the force of the tag, and jumps into the third baseman’s face, before an apology could be issued, though we’re not exactly sure an apology is warranted. Then at the plate, Donaldson is once flipped before being hit by the pitch. I know margins are going to cross in this game, but it’s not as though Machado gave himself up and Donaldson slammed him in the chest with ball in glove. I harken back to days of yesteryear, on the pickoff play at second, Bobby Grich would often drop his knee on the west side of the bag, taking away most opportunities for a safe headfirst slide. A strong feet first slide or going back to the bag standing up was most prudent, if the baserunner had enough time to facilitate this. Once, going back standing up, Wayne Tolleson, unintentionally elbowed Grich in the face. Tolleson offered a quick apology, that evidently wasn’t accepted, because on the next play, another pickoff throw to second, Grich made no attempt at the ball that sailed into centerfield and started punching Tolleson. Our baserunner, giving up four to five inches in height must have conjured up his football playing days at Western Carolina University as he tackled Grich and held him at bay long enough for the calvary, er, the Texas Rangers to come to the rescue. Okay, so it’s not a generational thing … and while I immodestly have your attention, my baseball/clubhouse movie, Reunion 108 will have at least a week’s run beginning Friday, June 20th at the Washington Township Bow-Tie theater (Bergen County N.J.) 201-666-9449, 07676 area code. The movie has an IMDB page, Facebook and website for more information. And to add to the shameless plug, Cafe Press has some apparel through BillySample@pastpros or pastpros.com
I played eight years and a month in the majors (and I’m proud of that month) and had eight managers during that tenure; my favorite one passed away today, Don Zimmer. I thought he told it to you as straight as it could be told, and it always wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
A trade late in spring training for Lee Mazzilli in 1982 had me wondering where Lee was going to play. I walked into the clubhouse the next morning, and the clubhouse attendant said that Zim wanted to see me, “Noooooo!” I was mad going in and not all that happy coming out, but I could appreciate him trying to use the analogy of him backing up Pee Wee Reese when he thought he would get a shot at shortstop in the fifties with the Dodgers. Oh, as you know he was quite a character, one day after a night game in Texas and an off day before going to Toronto, we left early in the morning on the off day, usually, the team would leave later in the evening, as there is no need to be in the home team’s city by eleven a.m. However there is a need if you want to get to the horse track and bet on all thirteen races. And you should have seen this old school Dodger trying to implement the new wave short term performance philosophy directed by the front office. How many hits will you get in your next thirty at bats, six, seven, eight? I reached for the pocket schedule he had on his desk, “Are we facing both Morris and Petry in the next series?” Number given had to be readjusted. If you were around him for any period of time, you have a story. I have more, maybe for another time. Condolences to his lovely and congenial widow, Soot. The game and the people involved were better because of his sixty-six year association.
It’s a couple of days from being ‘official-official’, but I have the chisel against the stone and the mallet descending for a week of Reunion 108 at the Bow-Tie chain’s cinema in Washington Township/Township of Washington (Bergen County, NJ). The week will start either June 20th or June 27th, update later this week. For this indie producer this is a big litmus test, if the movie does very well in attendance, we get at least another week, and who knows after that, and I’m counting on the, “Who knows after that?” … oh, I have some movie merchandize too … BillySample.pastpros.com
Correction: The Edge of Sports interview with Dave Zirin, scheduled tomorrow, February 28th, is pre-taped to be aired on Sirius XM Satellite Radio-Sirius Channel 92 @ XM Channel 208, Friday at 4p.m eastern/ 1p.m. and is repeated throughout the weekend (Friday, 5p.m. eastern and Saturday 4a.m and 9 a.m eastern) Wait, who said that I was often just getting in at 4a.m?
Tomorrow, February, 28th, I’m scheduled to join Dave Zirin, sports editor of the Nation Magazine, on his radio show, The Edge of Sports, to discuss the movie, Reunion 108. Both Dave and I have been opponents of the use of Native American nicknames for sports teams, and I imagine we’ll touch on that subject, as I have a scene in the movie parodying that issue. Best of health, Billy