Here are a few items from my latest two books–first, from Wits, Flakes, and Clowns. For some reason, this book has a whole lot of funny stuff on former Pirates and Indians.
One of the most colorful characters ever was former Rookie of the Year Joe Charboneau. His stories are legendary–take the times he drank beer through a straw he inserted in his nose. In order to save money when he was in the minors– and this is not for the squeamish– he performed an act of amateur dentistry, extracting one of his teeth with pliers, a razor, and finally vise grips. Somebody, I think his manager at the time, said Charboneau’s crazy stuff didn’t bother him, explaining his thinking by saying, “I figure as long as he don’t go pullin’ someone else’s teeth more power to him.”
Once Joe was stabbed by a mentally disturbed fan—stabbed by a Bic pen of all things. Joe later said, “That’s just the type of crazy stuff that seems to happen to you.” I thought, yeah, if your name is Joe Charboneau, that is.
One time Jerry Reuss and a few teammates dressed up in some grounds crew outfits and, before a game, went onto the diamond and dragged the infield while driving a cart. He kept at it until his manager finally spotted him. Another time he and Ken Brett drove a cart by Cincinnati’s dugout before a game and Reuss shot a moon at the Reds players. Yet another time he was flying in a helicopter over his team’s spring training complex. He then bombarded teammates with a supply of water balloons, laughing as the soaked players scattered.
Some material could fit into the Wits book OR the book available on Amazon entitled 1960: When the Pittsburgh Pirates Had Them All the Way:
Dick Stuart was such a poor defensive player, he told Roy Face to be careful with his effective pickoff move. He warned Face, “Don’t throw over real hard, I might miss it.” That reminded me of a story I love about Joe Pepitone which Jim Bouton disclosed in his book Ball Four. It began when Pepitone botched a throw in the 1963 World Series. He blamed the misplay by saying he had lost sight of the ball against a background of spectators’ white shirts. From then on, wrote Bouton, “He didn’t want to handle the ball anymore than he had to.”
In the 1964 Series Pepitone was holding Lou Brock at first base. Bouton, in an effort to keep the speedy Brock close to the bag, signaled to Pepitone that a pickoff throw would ensue. Amazingly, Bouton peered over to Pepitone who was “standing there shaking his head, tiny shakes because he didn’t want anybody to see. It was the first time I ever saw anybody shake off a pick-off sign.”
Johnny O’Brien had an identical twin, Ed, and both were on the Pirates. One day during spring training, Ed wasn’t scheduled to play so he was permitted to go fishing. Johnny played the early innings and did well. Later in the game manager Bobby Bragan decided to pull a trick—he had Johnny wear his brother’s uniform and pinch hit, reporting in to the ump by telling him that he was Ed. That night when the brothers ate supper together, Ed asked Johnny how he had done. Johnny replied, “I did pretty good, but you went 0-for-1.”
Here’s a trivia question I struck out on from Baseball Digest. Who is the all-time leader for the Giants franchise in the following categories: a) homers b) runs c) hits and d) RBI. Now, the first three were easy, and I thought the RBI leader would also be the same answer, but that’s not the case. Scroll down for answer.
Also from Baseball Digest: The 2019 explosion in baseball was crazy. The Twins blasted a record 307 HR. Incredibly, they AVERAGED 34 homers and 101 ribbies for EACH slot in their lineup!
Before ’19, there were just 47 teams ever to swat 226 or more HR over a full season, BUT last year the average amount of homers for each of the 30 MLB teams was 226! Plus, hitting 30 or more homers as a player used to be considered a lot–in 1965 the World Champion Dodgers hit a major league low of 78 HR, a total two teammates could reach nowadays. That season, it took just 32 HR to lead the AL, and from ’65 through ’76, four times a man with exactly 32 HR topped the AL.
Further, in ’65 only 10 men hit 32 or more home runs and only around a dozen reached the 30 HR plateau. However, in 2019, a new record was set for men with 30+ HR– a staggering 58 players did this, nearly five times as many as was the case in 1965. Too much home run derby for me. I miss the frequency of, say, hit and run plays– and the squeeze play is just about extinct.
Quiz Answer: While Mays remains the #1 Giant for homers, runs, and hits, but Mel Ott drove in more runs than the Say Hey Kid with 1,860. Mays total as a Giant was exactly one less than Ott who spent his entire 22 years in MLB with the New York Giants while Mays, who also lasted for 22 seasons, was with the Mets for part of ’72 and all of ’73, seeing limited at bats (44 RBI).