OUT OF LEFT FIELD
A SMORGASBORD of Baseball-iana
"Do not be alarmed, Mr.
Isaacs. I will be
tonight. If you
will not be
Stan Isaacs, the peripatetic Left Fielder, deserves censure for touring the hinterlands of Warsaw, Berlin and London while the World Series is on. As penance he left behind these notes and quotes from some old baseball notebooks.
Come feast with us at
our Captain's Table...
By STAN ISAACS
Tommy LaSorda, the baseball huckster, managed the Dodgers for 18 years. I dont know if it was because he was a good manager or because he had the gift of gab. When I speak before groups I always get laughs repeating his line about him and his wife. My wife and I have been married 40 years, he says, and we still go dancing six times a week. She goes Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I go Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
One Sunday morning at Catholic church before a game LaSorda spotted his opposite number, Cincinnati coach John McNamara, lighting a candle. LaSorda figured McNamara was praying for a victory over his Dodgers. After McNamara left, wanting to play all the angles, LaSorda snuffed out McNamaras candle. He told him about it later. Years later McNamara was in Rome, visited St. Peters, and sent LaSorda a postcard with a picture of the candles there, and wrote, Lets see you blow these out.
* * *
At spring training games managers and ball players constantly talk about being ready to go when the bell rings, meaning that they would be playing for keeps and at their best when the season started. I heard this for so many years at spring training that one year I brought a cowbell to Yankee Stadium on Opening Day and just before the first pitch I stood up and rang the bell. For sure this was one time a bell, however, unofficial, rang to start the season.
* * *
An ice cream story: Jackie Brandt, a knockabout player of the 1950s and 1960s was regarded as a flake. Once, after a game in Houston he and some teammates went out for ice cream. Brandt didnt like the nearby ice cream emporium because it didnt have many exotic flavors. He promoted a drive to the other end of town to another ice cream parlor featuring many flavors. He ordered a vanilla cone.
* * *
Whitey Herzog, who managed the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, was an entertaining man. He had on occasion a tart tongue. When he learned that outfielder Andy Van Slyke, came from Utica in upstate New York, not far from Cooperstown, he told Van Slyke, Thats the closest youll ever get to the Hall of Fame.
* * *
A sign of the brilliance of Mets fans reacting with low humor to the early hapless Mets was one comment and one banner at the Polo Grounds.
In the Mets initial draft of broken-down or never-was players there was a pitcher named Bob (Butterball) Botz who didnt even last through spring training. In the Mets first game at the Polo Grounds, when they were in the process of taking one of what would be many beatings, I took a stroll out of the press box. I heard a fan mutter, Bring back Butterball Botz.
Much was made later in that first season of the arrival of young Eddie Kranepool, a 17-year-old prospect from the Bronx. A fan put up a banner that read, Kranepool is Over the Hill.
Another banner worthy of mention: An inspired salvo from Chicago White Sox fans in right field made a brilliant point about the defensive lapses of Sox outfielder Claudell Washington. It read: Washington Slept Here.
An outstanding banner during the Mets-Cards series picked up on the old baseball mock cry of Spahn and Sain and pray for rain. For these pitcher-thin Mets, a sign at Shea read; Glavine and Maine and pray for rain.
* * *
When a then new ball park was being built for the San Francisco Giants there was conjecture about which company would pay millions to have its name affixed to the stadium. Hank Greenwald, the longtime Giants announcer, suggested that the Ralph Lauren Company that sold the line, Polo, buy the rights to the ball park and affix the name, Polo Grounds. Alas, it became at first Pac Bell Stadium, and then something else that hardly anybody east of Sacramento can remember.
* * *
The Yankees finished one western trip in Anaheim, CA. The reporters covering the team were on a tight deadline. It became a race to get our stories done in time to get to the airport to fly back to New York. With no taxis on hand, Joe Trimble of the NY Daily News said he could get us a ride with a friend. His friend turned out to be Peter Lorre, the whining villain in many movies. We finished our stories and hustled into Lorres car and he drove us to the airport. Visions of Lorre in film noir movies flitted through my head, imagining us involved in hair-raising straits as we drove along. The trip was uneventful. We made the plane in time.
* * *
Brooklyn Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen once told substitute outfielder Cal Abrams to heckle Cincinnati Reds manager Luke Sewell from the bench. Abrams did this with gusto, continually egged on by Dressen. At the end of the game Abrams was notified that he had been traded to Cincinnati.
©2006 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. This column first posted Oct. 23, 2006.
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