A Fan is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A view from the cheap seats of baseball past, present, and future.

THAT MAGIC MOMENT

Favorite Memories

Brad: It seems that everyone's got a defining baseball moment--the one they remember best of all. What's yours?

David: When [Kent] Hrbek came up to the plate [in the sixth game of the '87 Series], the bases were loaded. I had to leave to go to a wedding party. I said, "Well, they're going to switch pitchers; let's run for the car." My wife and I went dashing from the park. We were halfway there and you'd think the roof was coming off the stadium. There was no doubt the minute we heard the sound that he'd hit the grand slam. The cab drivers stopped and started rolling down their windows, telling us what had happened.

Julian Empson Loscalzo: Mine is the steal by Chico Ruiz of home plate in 1964 off Art Mahaffey that started the Phillies' 10-game losing streak. I was there. I was 13, the Phillies were in the pennant race, and right there they went down the tubes. That's my moment, which shows you how my life has gone ever since.

Brad: At least half my defining moments are heartbreakers. I remember when Viola blew the 10-run lead at Cleveland. It was the first time in my days as a fan that they actually had a chance. That was the year of Ron Davis. The year Puckett came up.

Dark Star: The most defining moment for me, the greatest single at-bat I ever saw, was in the '88 Series. The Dodgers had a guy named Mike Davis, he hit about .190. World Series, two outs. He worked the pitcher for the greatest walk I've ever seen. Fouled pitches off. Finally, finally got a walk, then [Kirk] Gibson hit a home run to win the game. Nobody talks about that walk, but no walk, no Gibson.

David: I've got two great moments. One was watching Quincy Troupe, a Negro league catcher who got his chance in professional baseball when he was 38 years old. He came up against the Saints and hit about a 500-foot home run over the right-field fence, which was impossible over at Lexington Park. I was thinking about how sad it was that this guy never got a chance. He had about 12 at-bats in the majors after that, at age 40. The other defining moment was watching [Jerry] Koosman one day--the season was over, and Koosman was pitching against the Red Sox at the Met one day in September. Fred Lynn came up and Koos decked him, just threw it straight at his head, totally out of context. Koosman was going to show that he could handle that guy if he felt like it.

Dark Star: How about the [decoy] play in Game Seven of the 1991 Series? Did that make everything right or what? Here it is, the first play you learn in Little League, and here it is in the last game of the World Series.

TOM KELLY

A Mystery Wrapped Inside an Enigma

Brad: I'd like to talk about Tom Kelly and people's perception of him.

Bill: He's going to have to adjust to be the right manager of this franchise, this team, the way it's constructed. And I think that's been the case for the last couple of years. I've seen him give up on a team. I saw him give up on the Twins in '92, and for the first three and a half months of the season, they were better than in '91 or '87. They were a fabulous team. Then Oakland came in and Eric Fox hit that home run, and they just fell apart. Knoblauch got thrown out doing something boneheaded every other night, but you could also see Kelly just sticking David West in situations where it really hurt the team just because he wanted to show somebody that West couldn't pitch. Kelly got fed up with them because they were making mental errors and doing things that his other teams hadn't done, and I don't think he's been quite the right manager for them--he seems now to be trying a little harder to be more patient with the kids.

Dark Star: But this guy won a World Series with Steve Lombardozzi on second base.

Bill: But those were both veteran teams with players who knew him and knew how to play and wanted the roles to be real clear-cut. He's an exceptional manager in those circumstances.

Brad: How about Kelly as a character?

Shawn: He's pretty vapid, but the thing that's interesting about him is the thing about Minnesota: that incredible silent, stoic, passive-aggressive quality. For the Twins he's absolutely perfect.

Dark Star: He's adapted pretty well for a guy from New Jersey.

Brad: My sense, despite what you say, is that he's not very adaptable as a manager. It takes him a while to make shifts, he sometimes gives up, he clearly doesn't like hotshots. He wants a team made up of guys like Gene Larkin or Dan Masteller, and he's always been able to do that. But the same act wouldn't play in New York or Boston.

Dark Star: But it would have played in the '50s and early '60's, and that's what we all cry out for. So we all turn against Kelly. See, I think Kelly is the best manager in baseball, and I'll tell you why. At the end of the season last year, his team was dead in the water and in the late innings of games that they were out of, he managed an inning at a time and kept his teams involved. He's the only manager in the world who could've won with the team he had in '87. But I think last year he proved himself more as a manager than any other year, because he kept his team attentive even at the end of the season. They were playing hard. They just weren't beating anybody.

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