10 great moments in "chatting" history
Seattle times staff reporter
1) Will Clark gets his mitts on history
Virtually every mound conversation these days is conducted behind the veil of the players' gloves, for which Will Clark deserves the credit (or blame). In the opening game of the 1989 NLCS at Wrigley Field, San Francisco's Clark was set to bat against the Cubs' Greg Maddux with the bases loaded. Cubs manager Don Zimmer came out to the mound to talk to Maddux.
"I read his lips," Clark told the San Francisco Chronicle years later. "I was standing there adjusting my batting glove, and I had a clear view of Maddux's face. I could see him say 'fastball in' to Zimmer."
Sure enough, Clark hit a grand slam, and the face of baseball was changed forever. When he heard of Clark's trickery, Maddux began covering up his face, and now virtually every pitcher does the same.
2) And don't forget to thank Andy Griffith
Aaron Sele's most memorable mound visit occurred in his very first major-league start, at Fenway Park. Red Sox manager Butch Hobson came out to talk to him in the seventh inning after Sele gave up a leadoff double. He gave Sele some encouragement, and then, Sele recalled this week, told the startled rookie that when the reporters came around after the game to ask him what he said, "Tell them I said there's a real good episode of 'The Andy Griffith Show' on tonight."
Sele, who would do just that, got out of the jam and won the game.
3) Tra-la-la, triple play, other things Stengel had to say
Casey Stengel was a purveyor of memorable mound quotes. One time, Tug McGraw begged Stengel to let him stay in a Mets game.
"Let me pitch to one more man," McGraw said. "I struck him out the last time I faced him."
Replied Stengel: "Yeah, but the last time you faced him was this same inning."
Another time, in a game against San Francisco, Stengel went out to talk to Mets pitcher Larry Bearnarth with two on, no outs and future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda at the plate.
"Tra-la-la," was all that Stengel said before walking off, leaving a puzzled Bearnarth. On his next pitch, Cepeda grounded into a triple play to end the inning. Bearnarth couldn't wait to ask Stengel what "Tra-la-la" meant.
"Tra-la-la, triple play," replied Stengel.
4) Pitcher pleads, but case ends in a hung Jerry
When Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss pleaded to stay in a tight game, manager Tommy Lasorda told him he'd do the Democratic thing and take a vote. Lasorda wanted to yank him. Reuss voted to stay, of course, figuring that with catcher Steve Yeager on his side, he had it made.
When queried by the manager, however, Yeager told Lasorda, "Shoot, I would have taken him out two innings ago."
5) Baseball played at a different speed
Steve Garvey, former Dodgers and Padres first baseman, said first-base conversations had a different dimension during his day.
"I played in the '70s, an era when there were a lot of amphetamines in baseball," Garvey told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2002. "I could tell from the way a player arrived at first base if he was on them or not. They'd have the pupils dilated, the sweats, talking real fast. I'd say, 'How ya' doing?' and they'd say [intensely] 'FINE!!! Yeah, Yeah, I'm fine, yeah, yeah!!!' "
6) I lay my jersey down to sleep...
Orel Hershiser told the Dallas Morning News that his strangest mound visit occurred at Wrigley Field. Dodgers pitching coach Ron Perranoski trotted out to the mound while Hershiser was hurling a shutout and asked Hershiser to look for Perranoski's wife, June, behind the dugout.
"We bought tickets to the Illinois State Lottery," Perranoski told Hershiser, "and if she's there, that would have meant we won the lottery. I was going to take off my jersey and lay it here on the mound."
7) Check, please. On second thought...
The late Johnny Oates had a more painful mound memory during a game at The Ballpark in Arlington. Oates, the Rangers' manager, stood on the mound with catcher Ivan Rodriguez, waiting for a relief pitcher to arrive, when Pudge suddenly reached over and tapped Oates in the groin.
"Cup check," Rodriguez told his startled manager, who recoiled in pain.
Oates later told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I've learned from my experiences: You never know what to expect when you go to the mound."
8) Cook makes good use of bad ear
Longtime reliever Dennis Cook, deaf in his left ear from a childhood illness, had a surefire way of handling mound visits when he was pitching poorly.
"When they came to eat my rear out, I put my bad ear to 'em," Cook told the Star-Telegram.
9) Laughter is the best medicine, especially if your pitcher stinks
There are innumerable examples of managers, coaches or catchers using humor to diffuse a tense situation.
Twins coach Rick Stelmaszek, a former catcher, used to startle his pitchers by telling them, "The moon is made of green cheese," and then returning to the plate.
Pitching coach Billy Connors once went out in the 1980 World Series and said to visibly nervous pitcher Renie Martin, "I have one thing to say to you, young man: I love you."
Art Fowler, acting as an emissary for fiery manager Billy Martin, would tell struggling pitchers, "Whatever you're doing, you'd better cut it out, because you're ticking off Billy."
And former A's catcher Ron Hassey, the Mariners' bench coach, went out to the mound in a tight game to speak to Oakland rookie pitcher Todd Burns, who had just been called up hours earlier.
"Who are you?" Hassey asked him.
10) Misery loves company
Ex-Dodgers pitcher Burt Hooton once was advised on what pitch to throw by his pitching coach, Red Adams. The batter hit a three-run home run. A furious Hooton returned to the bench, and sat next to Adams. The opposing pitcher got into a jam the next inning, putting two runners on base, causing his own pitching coach to trot to the mound.
Hooton yelled out, "Tell him the same thing Red told me!"