Monday, January 5, 2009

More top-ten all-time moments

4. Blair/Nixon: The first game I remember was in the bleachers at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore circa 1970. We lived about a mile from the stadium and you could see the light standards from our front yard. I remember staring at the lights and dreaming of being a ball player. (I remember crying on the front porch as my brother, in full uniform, headed off to the little league opening day parade. I was too young.) Reds fans will recall that the Orioles (obviously my favorite team at the time) were pretty good in the late '60's/early '70's. They lost the '69 series to the Mets, beat the Reds in '70, and lost to the Pirates in '71. (My parents went to a '71 series game but didn't take us kids -- my second worst "my parents won't take me to X game" story -- the first being my Mom not allowing me to go see Larry Bird (his junior year at Indiana State) play Central Michigan even though I had a season ticket and Bird had just been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. My crime: falling behind in 6th grade independent math.)

I don't remember much about that first game, but I do remember that Dave Leonard came in early in relief and completed the game for the win. (I did a quick search on and found no Dave Leonard, so I obviously have the name wrong, but that's my memory.)

My favorite player at the time (besides Dave Leonard -- who doesn't exist) was Don Buford, a short left fielder who batted lead-off. I saw him a couple seasons ago at the GAP as a bench coach for Frank Robinson's (who, as my Dad explained around that time, was no relation to Brooks Robinson) Washington Nationals. Paul Blair, who later played for the Yankees in their late-'70's series runs, played center, and, of course, Frank was in right. I remember arguing with my Dad about who was more famous, Paul Blair or Richard Nixon. My Dad tried to explain that Nixon could be on the front page of just about any newspaper in the world. I countered with, "yeah, but Blair starts in center for the Orioles."

Brooks played third (no need to remind Reds fans of that), Mark Belanger (all glove - no stick) played short, Davey Johnson (why isn't this guy managing? because he got divorced?) played second, and Big Boog Powell was at first. Elrod Hendricks and Andie Etchebarren split at catcher, and Merv Retmund was the main pinch hitter off the bench. Of course, Jim Palmer lead the rotation with Pat Dobson, Dave McNally, and Mike Quellar. One year, all four of those guys won 20 games.

5. More Orioles: The year Camden Yards opened I called before the season started and got three really good seats between the dugout and home plate on the visitors' side, I think we were row R, for a Saturday afternoon game. Not bad for a new stadium that sold-out the entire season. I no longer lived in Baltimore (Lexington actually) but had to go to a game. I took my brother (a Md. grad student at the time) and my Grandfather, who lived in the D.C. area. It was a real treat to have a job and be able to treat my grandfather to a game after all of the games he took me to as a kid, including a Colts/Raiders overtime playoff game at the aforesaid Memorial Stadium, where The Snake out-dueled Bert Jones -- a game that is often replayed (I think on "the Ocho") as one of the great NFL games of all time. They played the Mariners, so I got to see both hall of fame Jr.'s on the same field.

6. More Orioles (sort of): I was in the right field bleachers of Bush Stadium (1.0?) watching the Cards take batting practice with a couple of friends, one of whom I think was Rod Keillor. Anyway, Andy VanSlyke (for a long time my favorite player) was chatting with Danny Cox, when suddenly he turned around and through a baseball out of the stadium over the right field wall. I imagine it went something like this:

Cox: Andy, do you think you could throw a ball out of the stadium?
VanSlyke: dunno (throws ball out of stadium). Yup.

Years later, I was sitting at BWI waiting for Rachel to fly in. Right across from me at the gate (this was pre-9/11 when you could wait at the gate) was Andy VanSlyke. I wanted to ask him if he remembered throwing the ball out of Bush Stadium. This seemed like the kind of thing that a celebrity wouldn't mind discussing, especially with no one else around, but I chickened out. A couple years ago when I was in line with Marty Brenneman at the cheese and crackers table at the CBA tour of the Reds' hall of fame I thought of that moment with VanSlyke and decided to go for it, asking Marty whether he was looking forward to working with his son Thom in the booth. He said he was.


Marti Reeser said...

I remember the Van Slyke/Cox moment, I was at that game with you and Rod. Of course, we were siting in right field getting serendade by the left fields fans (...right field sucks, right field sucks). I've re-told that story to by kids, but dont think I've really had to embellish it over time. I've often wondered what happened to the ball, did it land up on the top the stadium, come down on the street below, kill someone! I imagine that there was a roof of some sort where it landed. Nice that Van Slyke makes two of your three top time, since he was on-deck for the Clark HR in the 85 NLCS. If you recall, I have lots of his rookie cards because we were trying to jump the gun on the next big rookie. I also have 25-30 rookies of Pedro Martinez's brother, I cant even recall his name.

Anyway, one of my all-time favorite moments also came at Busch Stadium. Dont recall the year or who they were playing. I do remember sitting in the first few rows of the left-field bleachers and watching Ozzie Smith come out and make a sliding/diving catch in the outfield as the left-fielding went tumbling over the top of him. I cant think of the name of the left fielder, but I want to say Curt something. No, it wasnt Curt Flood! After the catch, my mind remembers this large sucking sound like everyone i the stadium gasping at once for 1-2 seconds before breaking out in huge applause. Maybe it was Curt Ford, I'm sure it wasnt Vince Coleman. Of course, he couldnt stay out of the way of electronic tarps! My least favorite moment as a kid was learning that Keith Hernandez had been traded to the NY Mets for some washed up pitcher. Of course, he went on to bigger things (Seinfield, etc) and St. Louis never real had another true first baseman star until Pujols. I realize Jack Clark played first, but that was just where they played him. Thanks for sharing some more of you top ten baseball moments.

az said...

That's so sad that you missed those huge games! Do you think your mom knew how big they were when she wouldn't let you go?

Dave Zahniser said...

Where to start. I'm glad you remember the VanSlyke/Cox thing. I was pretty sure you were there, as I know we've discussed it. Pedro's brother was Ramon Hernandez, who mostly played with the Dodgers. Hernandez was traded for Neil Allen and Rick Ownby. Allen had a decent week (player of the week) and Ownby never did anything. You do recall, I assume the perfect game that we saw (David Palmer) as part of a double header with the Mets, which was Hernandez's first game back as a Met. Remember the moths were everywhere. That won't make the top-10.

I don't recall the Ozzie incident or who the left filedr might have been? Rod?

Anyway, thanks for reading and for commenting.

Dave Zahniser said...

I was probably "too young" for the world series, and if she didn't know about the Bird game it was because she wasn't listening. I pled my case.

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

Marti said...

I think Palmer pitched for the Expos and not the Mets; I vaguely recall the months. Too bad that MLB later changed the rules to only 'officially' recognize nine inning perfect games. Guess that ticket stub value is worthless! Neil Allen is pond-scum as was Mookie Wilson until his son played on the 06 STL WS Championship for the Cardinals. It was odd seeing him in the stands with a Cardinals hat. Were you with me when we saw Daryl Strawberry hit a HR at Busch that crushed off the right-field scoreboard? That was easily the hardest hit ball I witnessed. Want to bring up the Tito Landrum and Tommy Herr feud?

Marti said...

Found a video of Pedro slamming his glove after the Clark HR, its at the 37-38 second mark of this Jack Buck Montage on YouTube.

By the way, is AZ short for Ann Zahniser? My favorite Ann Zahniser moment includes trash and your old HS principal. Remember that one?

Dave Zahniser said...

I think it does stand for Ann Zahniser, but I'm not sure. If it does, it's probably Jim's wife and not my Mom.

Talk about least favorite moments.

Jade said...

...still no Pete Rose... You may soon be asked to leave the Greater Cincinnati area, Dave. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Marty Brennaman said...

I remember that conversation.