Friday, April 1, 2022




Opening Day nuggets for diehards and casual fans alike

  • Baseball Card PRANK FOR THE AGES: The picture on California Angels infielder Aurelio Rodriquez’s 1969 baseball card is actually a photo of Angels batboy Leonard Garcia, who duped the Topps photographer. (Find this card, make big bucks!)
  • My question:  How many other imposter cards got out there undetected?
  • Rogue cards abound, with players intentionally throwing with the wrong hand (or photo negatives inadvertently flopped, essentially doing the same thing).
  • An example closer to home: Did you know that the 1957 Topps card for the Milwaukee Braves’ Hank Aaron card is also an error on the card company?  The right-handed slugger is shown batting as a "lefty" due to a reversed negative. The card was never corrected. 
  • Quiz Time:  I was the last pitcher Babe Ruth faced (1935) and also the first pitcher Jackie Robinson faced in a Major League game (1947).  Who am I? (Answer below)
  • Once baseball starts, why don’t they put the “coaches' boxes” where the coaches actually stand? For whatever reason--not to be clobbered by line drives?--they are rarely anywhere close to them.  (Same goes for the batters who seem to remove the batter's box outlines with impunity. Why is this permitted?)
  • Baseball without fans in the stands in the pandemic days was a plus in my book.  Think of all the images we were spared of obese, besotted guys with team logos painted on their naked torsos!  Of all the cheesy, misspelled signs we didn’t have to see . . . not to mention the goofy hats or the sight of “fans” with their heads down on their phones oblivious to the action or taking pictures of their nachos.  (All of the cardboard cutouts seemed to be upstanding grandstand citizens.)
  • Speaking of signs: Sign on the door of the Detroit Tigers visitor’s clubhouse:  No Visitors.
  • I finally got tired of guys treating me like a human TV grid and asking me, “Hey, Jim, when does the Brewers game start?”  My stock answer now:  All games—home, road, day, night. East Coast, West Coast, United States or Canada—start at the same time: When the umpire says “Play ball!”  (And I say it in a tone that invites no further discussion.) 
  • Rationale:  If it’s raining hard enough, the game may start an hour or two later than whatever the TV grid or Sports section says.  So I’m going with the umpires!
  • San Francisco Giants infielder Tito Fuentes on a Dodgers-Giants beanball war: “Man, they shouldn’t be throwing 90 mph fastballs at my head!  I mean, I’m the father of five or six kids!”
  • “Rome wasn’t born in a day!”—Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan
  • Quiz answer:  I’m Johnny Sain, as in “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” fame.
  • Gaffes and goofs in the broadcast booths:
  • “I neglected to say something last night that bears repeating.”—California Angels broadcaster Ron Fairly
  • “ . . . and on this very beautiful Father’s Day afternoon, I’d like to wish all the dads out there a very Happy Birthday.”—New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner
  • ·         “Winfield goes back to the wall. He hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It’s rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres.”—San Diego announcer Jerry Coleman (former Yankee infielder and World War II fighter pilot who flew 57 bombing missions against the Japanese, so we have to cut him some slack about his many bloopers).
  • Coleman again: “On the mound is Randy Jones, the left-hander with the Karl Marx hairdo.”
  • My favorite baseball player nicknames bestowed by ESPN’s Chris (“Boomer”) Berman:  Albert “Winnie the” Pujols, Bert “Be Home” Blyleven, Odibe “Young Again” MacDowell, Doyle “Brandy” Alexander, Jay “Ferris” Buhner, Dave Burba “Shave,” Andy “Merchant of” Benes and, a controversial one, Kevin “Large Mouth” Bass.  (That one was short-lived when Black fans protested the monicker)
  • Can’t resist—more Jerry Coleman: “There’s someone warming up in the Giants bullpen, but he’s obscured by his number” . . . “Rich Folkers is throwing up in the Padres bullpen” . . . “Steve Boros is not at the game today because of his daughter’s funeral.  Oh, wait—it’s her wedding.  Sorry.” . . . “If Pete Rose extends his hitting streak, they’ll be throwing babies out of the upper deck in Cincinnati!”  . . . “Foster has 19 home runs; one more and he’ll be in double figures” . . . “Sunday is Senior Citizens Day.  So if you want to be a Senior Citizen, just call the Padres ticket office.” . . . “We started the game with 53,00 people.  Half are gone, but surprisingly, most are still here.” . . . “That noise In my earphones knocked my nose off, and I had to bend over to find it.” . . . “There’s two heads to every coin.”  “Hi, folks—I’m Jerry Gross. Oops, no I’m not—I’m Jerry Coleman.” . . . “When you lost your hands, you can’t play baseball!”
  • Amazing baseball oddity:  The first World Series to end with a home run (by the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski against the New York Yankees in 1960, Game Seven) featured one distinction that will never be equaled (and never happened in a World Series game prior to that day), to wit: NO STRIKEOUTS in the game by either side. A 10-9 game with 24 hits and 1 error and played in a snappy 2:26, which is about the halfway point in most Yankees-Red Sox games these days.
  • Local note: A key moment occurred in the 8th inning when Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek, a Milwaukee native, was hit in the throat by a double-play grounder and had to leave the game.
  • As a result, the Pirates went on to score five runs in that inning.  A veritable turning point for the ages! Without that mishap, it’s doubtful anyone remembers Bill Mazeroski, nor would he be in the Hall of Fame. 
  • No matter who is playing these days, you can’t help but notice the nonstop sponsoring salvos, as in: “Let’s set the Pepsi defense for you.”  “This pitching change is brought to you by Jiffy Lube.”  And “Ryan Braun drives in another Badger Mutual Insurance run.”
  • Just once, I’d like to hear this: “Bob Uecker’s between-innings bathroom visits are br s Contemporary Latin Lesson: ought to you by Quilted Northern, the official toilet tissue of Major League Baseball.”
  • Today’s Contemporary Latin Lesson: Quod tempus non ipsum tincidunt? (“What time does the game start?”)

Compiled by Jim Szantor

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