Tuesday, May 20, 2008

One of These Stories Is Not Like the Other

ESPN put it to their readers- email them your "most legendary" baseball story. Legendary... the kind of stuff legends are made of. Call me picky, but I'm not sure the judge (Rob Neyer) made the best possible decision in regards to one of these.

"In the summer of 1988, I was covering the Triple-A Nashville Sounds for the now-defunct Nashville Banner. In August of that season, I witnessed no-hitters in consecutive games on consecutive days. Randy Johnson (yes, that Randy Johnson) threw a no-hitter for Indianapolis, but Johnson lost the decision 1-0. Nashville's Lenny Harris drew a first-inning walk, stole a base and later scored on a groundout. The run stood up as Nashville's Keith Brown tossed a two-hitter. I remember Indianapolis had to pinch-hit for Johnson in the eighth inning and Pat Pacillo pitched the bottom of the eighth. The next day, Nashville pitcher Jack Armstrong happened upon Johnson prior to that day's game. Johnson told Armstrong, "Don't throw a no-hitter and lose.'' Armstrong took Johnson's advice. He threw a no-hitter and won 4-0. Armstrong's no-hitter was nearly a perfect game; the only blemish was a walk to the fabulously named Razor Shines. You can look it up."
--Mike Waters (Syracuse. N.Y.)

I like it.

"In 1969, I saw Cesar Tovar and Rod Carew steal around the bases. They both got on base, then completed a double steal to get to third and second. Tovar stole home, and Carew took third. That same inning Carew stole home. (By the way, the only runs that the Twins scored that day, I think!) Has it ever happened again that there were two steals of home in the same inning?
--Patrick Hansel (Minneapolis)


"This is a college baseball story, but about a current major leaguer, so hopefully it qualifies. I remember watching Pat Burrell, who had already clubbed two homers for Miami against the J.D. Drew-led Seminoles. His next time up, the pitcher threw a fastball right at him. But instead of diving away, Burrell took his hand off the bat and caught the ball with his bare hand. He threw it to the ground in disgust, stared down the pitcher (who probably soiled himself), then went on to hit another home run later for good measure."
--JT (Miami)

I kind of doubt he caught it, he more likely deflected it or something, but that's a great story.

"I heard that while in Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr. hit six straight home runs in batting practice (not the legend, it happens a lot I am sure), but Lou Piniella bet him a steak dinner he couldn't hit the next one out. Griffey agreed and the ball didn't get out of the cage. Lou kept hounding him for the steak dinner throughout the night, so Griffey had a cow delivered to the locker room the next day. Not sure if it's true but great story."

If true, that qualifies as legendary in my book. There are a handful of other pretty interesting candidates. And then, there's this guy.

"ROBERTO CLEMENTE THROWS OUT BOBBY BONDS WITH AN AMAZING HUCK FROM DEEP RIGHT FIELD. It was either 1971 or 1972, and I attended an S.F. Giants night game at Candlestick Park. At some point in the game with the Giants batting and Bonds on first, a Giant crushed a sure double off the fence in right. Clemente played the carom perfectly. Bonds, one of the NL's fastest, took off like a shot, his goal being third base. Clemente unleashed a seed to nip Bonds at third and he was called out. While such plays were de rigueur for Clemente, it was a Hall of Fame play to witness. I was 13 years old at the time and it was the greatest defensive play I've seen live at an MLB venue. I am 50 now."
--Jon Leonoudakis

I understand Clemente was a legend, and that Bonds was really good. And I get that I'm being picky as hell, and making a post that's not even about bad sportswriting. (Relax, it took me like 5 minutes to put together.) I may be lazy, but Rob Neyer is even lazier. That was one of the top ten "legendary" submissions you got? An outfield assist? Did he get chosen for using ALL CAPS in the first sentence?

OK, fine, I'll post something else.


Chris W said...

"espn put it to their readers"

heh heh

Andy said...

It probably made it just because the dude said "huck" (or is that "HUCK"?) instead of bullet/seed/laser/any other word for throw.

blanco said...

can anyone get confirmation on the Pat Burrell story? I kinda hate him, but i'd gain a lot more respect if that's true because that's cool as hell.

Jeff said...

I like that the Clemente guy qualifies the throw as the best defensive play he's seen IN PERSON AT A BALLPARK. I mean, unless you're saying "i've been to 1,000 baseball games" before that - we don't give a shit. I've been to like 25 games...the best defensive play i've ever seen live was probably some Marty Barrett backhand going into center field.