Get pleasure from this excerpt from Why We Love Baseball, the brand new e book from distinguished baseball creator Joe Posnanski.
At some point, I used to be watching the video of David Hulse’s hilarious foul-ball exhibition, and I assumed: “Man, I HAVE to get that into the e book.” That form of bizarre, random, type of meaningless however altogether great second is on the coronary heart of why I needed to put in writing WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL. However how do I get a second like that right into a countdown of the 50 most magical moments in baseball historical past; it clearly would not belong there. So I got here up with this concept of placing these little lists of 5 moments into the e book: 5 Barehanded Performs; 5 Duels; 5 Loud Residence Runs, and so forth. 5 Humorous Moments was one in every of my favorites.
Every time I instructed folks I used to be penning this e book, they’d inevitably advocate a favourite second. The one they advisable most occurred March 24, 2001. On that day, in Tucson, Corridor of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson was going through San Francisco Giants heart fielder Calvin Murray. He fired a fastball.
“I’m anticipating to catch this ball,” Arizona catcher Rod Barajas mentioned, “and all I see is an explosion.”
For months, I went backwards and forwards concerning the second. “You need to,” one pal instructed me. “It’s the funniest second in baseball historical past.”
Is it, although? I imply, I assume you may make the argument for those who don’t suppose too arduous concerning the hen. Ultimately I made a decision to not embody it — or not less than to not give it extra space than this.
Listed below are 5 humorous moments:
DAVID HULSE’S FOUL BALLS (OCTOBER 3, 1992)
The Rangers and Angels, two going‑nowhere groups, had been taking part in out the season. Ninth inning. Texas trailed 4–2 with one out. Rangers’ rookie David Hulse stepped to the plate in opposition to Angels’ nearer Joe Grahe.
Hulse, a left‑handed batter, was late on the primary pitch and he fouled it arduous into the Angels’ dugout on the third‑base aspect. The Angels’ gamers scattered a bit after which, as gamers typically do when foul balls come flying in, made numerous hand gestures towards Hulse as if to say, “Hey,
what did we do?”
On the subsequent pitch, Hulse slapped the ball arduous into the Angels’ dugout once more. Extra silliness. A safety guard waved a white towel in give up and an Angels’ participant obtained as much as get his glove for defense.
This form of factor occurs every now and then.
However on the subsequent pitch, Hulse smashed ANOTHER ball into the Angels’ dugout. And that doesn’t occur. Three in a row? Now all of the Angels’ gamers and personnel, each final one in every of them, moved into the opposite nook of the dugout. The announcers had been laughing so arduous they couldn’t even broadcast the sport.
“Have a look at all of them bunched up over there,” one mentioned.
Hulse smiled and shook his head. He was nonetheless a rookie attempting to show he belonged within the main leagues. He wanted to pay attention. Grahe’s subsequent pitch was up. Hulse swung . . . and he fouled the ball arduous into the Angels’ dugout for the fourth time.
“Clearly, I didn’t do it on objective,” he would say. “Hell, if I may do it on objective, I’d be within the Corridor of Fame.”
It was great. Hulse acquired a standing ovation from the group when he grounded out on the subsequent pitch. He would say it was the one standing ovation he ever acquired.
Not lengthy after, Saturday Night time Dwell did a baseball skit the place mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew, saved getting hit within the head with foul balls.
The batter within the skit? Proper. It was David Hulse.
CANDLESTICKS MAKE A NICE GIFT (1988, MOVIE BULL DURHAM)
I consider the mound go to scene in Bull Durham is the funniest scene in any baseball film. And it virtually didn’t make it into the film. Why not? Producers didn’t suppose it “forwarded the plot.” They appeared unmoved by director Ron Shelton’s rationalization that Bull Durham didn’t
precisely have a plot.
Organising the scene: Nuke LaLoosh was struggling. The infielders all gathered on the mound, and so they ended up speaking a few cursed glove and a teammate’s wedding ceremony and Nuke’s father within the crowd. Hey, we’ve all puzzled what these mound visits are like.
Lastly, Durham Bulls coach Larry Hockett — performed by Robert Wuhl — was despatched out to the mound to interrupt issues up. “Excuse me, what the hell’s occurring out right here?” he asks.
“Nicely,” says Crash Davis, performed by Kevin Costner, “Nuke’s scared trigger his eyelids are jammed and his previous man’s right here. We want a stay rooster — is it a stay rooster? — we want a stay rooster to take the curse off Jose’s glove, and no one appears to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for his or her wedding ceremony current. That about proper? We’re coping with loads . . .”
“Nicely, uh,” Hockett says, “candlesticks all the time make a pleasant reward. And possibly we will discover out the place she’s registered, possibly a spot setting or, I assume, silverware sample. OK? Let’s get two!”
Good. And Robert Wuhl got here up with it on the spot.
Right here’s what occurred: The scene was shot at 4 a.m., it was freezing, and everyone was able to name it an evening. Shelton mentioned, “OK, final one, Robert, this one’s yours,” that means Wuhl was free to say no matter he needed.
His line was imagined to be: “Oh, I assumed there was an issue.” However this time, Wuhl was fascinated with how a couple of weeks earlier he’d requested his spouse what they need to get a pal for his or her wedding ceremony. “Candlesticks make a pleasant reward,” she mentioned. He used it, advert‑libbed the remaining, and ended it with the basic baseball phrase “Let’s get two!”
Wuhl by no means thought they’d use it within the film. However the subsequent day, when everyone was watching the dailies, the scene performed and the entire room broke up. And later, focus teams known as it one in every of their favourite scenes within the film.
ADRIÁN BELTRÉ PULLS OVER THE ON‑DECK CIRCLE ( JULY 26, 2017)
Adrián Beltré was very humorous. For years and years, he didn’t let that a part of his persona present — baseball does ask its gamers to be stoic.
However as he grew older and extra snug within the huge leagues, he let his persona out. He would get in rundowns after which simply run off the sector, heading for nowhere. He would tease infielders by taking his hand off the bottom, daring them to tag him. He would lose his thoughts every time anybody touched his head.
His funniest second was in all probability within the late innings of a lopsided Rangers–Marlins recreation. Florida was main the sport by a dozen runs within the eighth inning, when Beltré started taking a couple of heat‑up swings close to the Texas on‑deck circle. Sadly, within the eye of umpire Gerry
Davis, he was not close to sufficient. Davis demanded Beltré transfer nearer.
Beltré appeared certain that Davis was placing him on. However Davis was critical. He saved barking at Beltré to maneuver nearer to the on‑deck circle.
So Beltré did. He dragged the on‑deck circle nearer to the place he was standing.
“I simply did what he instructed me to do,” Beltré mentioned.
Davis then threw him out of the sport, which solely made the entire thing funnier.
KEN GRIFFEY MAKES THE PLAY IN FRONT OF KEN GRIFFEY (SEPTEMBER 21, 1990)
It was the ninth inning of a detailed recreation between the Chicago White Sox and the Seattle Mariners. A younger White Sox participant named Sammy Sosa lifted a fly ball to left subject. The ball was headed straight on the Mariners’ left fielder, a 40‑12 months‑previous Ken Griffey. This was Griffey’s 18th season within the huge leagues. He’d been a star on the well-known Huge Pink Machine Reds of the mid‑Seventies. He’d performed in three All‑Star Video games. He’d caught hundreds of fly balls.
This was no completely different. He held out his arms, the common signal for “I obtained it.”
And simply as he was about to catch it . . . his 20‑12 months‑previous son Ken Griffey Jr., with the most important Bart Simpson smile on his face, jumped in entrance of him and caught the ball first.
It was so humorous and, extra, so pretty. The Griffeys had been the one father‑and‑son mixture to ever play in the identical recreation. They’d a number of great moments collectively; they as soon as hit again‑to‑again house runs. However this was my favourite, particularly for the look on Ken Griffey’s face afterward, the look fathers know, the look that claims: “You’ve obtained to be kidding me.”
GIBSON PLUNKS LACOCK (SOMETIME IN 1986)
On September 3, 1975, a Wednesday night in St. Louis, the Cardinals and Cubs performed a recreation that didn’t matter a lot. The Cardinals had been solely simply within the pennant race. The Cubs had been lengthy gone. Solely 15,000 or so diehard followers got here out.
The sport took on new that means within the seventh inning.
That’s when the Cardinals despatched Bob Gibson to the mound for the ultimate time.
They didn’t know for certain that it was the final time, however that they had a reasonably good guess. Gibson was 40 and had already introduced he was retiring on the finish of the 12 months. Two days earlier, the staff held Bob Gibson Day, full with tributes and presents and a message from President Gerald Ford.
“Most of all,” Gibson mentioned to the group, “I’m happy with that indisputable fact that no matter I did, I did it my method.”
He may need retired proper then, however he determined to stay it out just a little longer. He needed to consider that he nonetheless had just a little one thing left, even at age 40. There was by no means anybody who competed tougher than Gibson. He pitched with radiance and verve and a salty disposition. He’d glare hitters into mud.*
“Don’t dig in in opposition to Gibson, he’ll knock you down,” Henry Aaron instructed Dusty Baker. “He’d knock down his personal grandmother. Don’t stare at him. Don’t smile at him. Don’t discuss to him. He doesn’t prefer it. Should you occur to hit a house run, don’t run too sluggish and don’t run too quick. And if he hits you, don’t cost the mound. He’s a Golden Glove boxer.”
No, Bob Gibson didn’t depart a lot room to function.
That day, Gibson got here in to pitch reduction, and he simply didn’t have it. He walked a batter, gave up successful, walked one other batter, threw a wild pitch, and deliberately walked a batter to load the bases.
Up stepped left‑handed pinch hitter Pete LaCock. If anybody else had been on the mound, Cardinals’ supervisor Pink Schoendienst would have introduced in a lefty reliever. However he had an excessive amount of respect for his previous pal and teammate to tug him.
“That is Gibby’s out to get,” Pink instructed everybody on the bench.
LaCock was feeling a bit salty himself. He was 23 then, and cocky and certain that the Cubs weren’t treating him with the respect he deserved. Earlier than the sport, he yelled at Cubs’ supervisor Jim Marshall for 45 minutes.
“Pete is a really formidable younger man,” Marshall instructed reporters. “He wants quite a lot of time for somebody to clarify to him what it’s all about.”
LaCock stepped in and labored his approach to a full rely. Gibson threw a fastball, down and in. In his youthful days, he had thrown that fastball by Mays and Aaron and Clemente. Now, although, it simply sat there. LaCock turned on it for a grand slam, the primary and final of his profession.
Wait, you say: There’s nothing humorous about this.
Nicely, for the subsequent decade, Gibson stewed about that pitch he threw to Pete LaCock. He may barely stand the truth that LaCock obtained the higher of him and there was no second act. He fought again by taking pictures at LaCock. “When a hitter like Pete LaCock hits a grand slam off you,” he
instructed one reporter, “it’s time to hold them up.”
In 1986, there was a sequence of previous‑timers’ video games performed in ballparks throughout the nation. It was enjoyable. Gibson performed in a few them. And, because it turned out, so did LaCock. The truth is, there was a recreation in Kansas Metropolis, and Bob Feller was pitching when LaCock got here up.
Instantly, and with out warning, Feller stepped off the mound, and Bob Gibson raced in. He had not been scheduled to pitch. He took only some heat‑up pitches.
And on the primary pitch, he drilled LaCock within the again.
Now, that’s humorous. A few years later, announcer Bob Costas requested Gibson if the story was true, if he had actually are available simply to hit Pete LaCock with a pitch in an previous‑timers’ recreation. Gibson gave him the well-known stare.
“Robert,” he mentioned, “the scales should be balanced irrespective of how lengthy it
* Gibson all the time mentioned that he wasn’t evident at hitters in any respect, it’s simply that he didn’t put on his glasses on the mound and so wanted to squint to see the catcher’s indicators. No person — and I imply no one — purchased this.
From WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL by Joe Posnanski, revealed by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random Home, LLC. Copyright (c) 2023 by Joe Posnanski.