Designated hitter comes to the National League
How ya doin’? Got a cellphone call from Billy Lorah on Saturday afternoon. He and Ralph Karl were in Florida visiting with their high school football coach from 1979, Jim Alderman. Alderman is on the far side of exotic surgery after having his pancreas removed. The cancer has now shown up in his liver. Billy had coach Jim on speaker phone. “How’s it going, Fredman?” Jim asked. I responded, “Good, how ya doin’?” adding, “I guess that is as dumb a question as you’ve been asked in a while.” And so we talked a little about what happens next and he said, “If it weren’t for Kathy taking care of me, I’d have been dead already.” He added, “Seeing those guys and talking about the Cape days means everything. I’m sure you know whatever you accomplish in life, from sports to the other stuff, there is nothing like the bond between coaches and high school athletes. I really wish I could see all of my Cape friends and athletes one more time.”
Designated driver - Two decades ago, my middle-aged road buddies and I headed out in a minivan for a fun Friday night at the Georgetown Oyster Eat. We had a designated driver who set a new standard for DDs by drinking a lite beer on the way to the event. He laughed, saying, “Once I get there, the drinking stops.” Remember when there weren’t designated drivers and there were no designated hitters in baseball or designated shooters in basketball? The National League is going to the designated hitter for this upcoming 60-game season. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer published a Sunday story looking at some of the great pinch hitters and pinch-hit moments in Phillies history, not to mention pitchers who could hit, but now won’t get a chance with a DH in the lineup. Matt Stairs had 23 pinch-hit home runs and 100 career hits. Other Phillies pinch hitters mentioned were Del Inser, Greg Gross, Ricky Jordan and Greg Dobbs. But no mention of Smoky Burgess.
Hey Smoky! Smoky! Smoky was a catcher in MLB from 1949-67 who batted left-handed. He was one of the greatest pinch hitters of all time and played for the Phillies, Pirates and other clubs. Smoky Ellsworth was John the Blacksmith’s dog in Lewes; he hit most strays in Lewes. The storyline on Burgess was you could wake him up from a sound sleep at 3 a.m., hand him a bat, send him up to the plate to pinch hit, and he’d rope a line-drive double to right-centerfield. Smoky had 145 career pinch hits, an MLB record later broken by Manny Mota in 1978. Smoky Burgess died in 1991 at the age of 64.
All-brother outfield - In 1963, the San Francisco Giants started an outfield of Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou, the only all-brother outfield in Major League Baseball history. Felipe’s son Moises is also a former Major League outfielder. Luis Rojas, 38 years old, is also Felipe’s son. He was named manager of the New York Mets on Jan. 22, 2020. The Alou/Rojas family is from the Dominican Republic.
Botched Bubba story - The FBI determined the rope found in the garage of race car driver Bubba Watson was a garage door pull that has been there since 2019. I know what a garage pull looks like, so I bought the FBI story until I saw a photo of the “garage pull” and I thought, “Are you kidding me?” It looked straight out of the movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” And now I’m skeptical across all aspects of this story. There is just something very weird about it.
Pandemic picks - Let’s just say sports seasons may get pushed around, and the high school sports of football, wrestling and boys’ lacrosse may be offered during the same season. Which sports would suffer the most, I wonder? I could name numerous Cape athletes who play two and a few that play all three of those sports. Hank D’Ambrogi is the returning starting quarterback, but he’s a lacrosse player. Jaden Davis is a football player and also a lacrosse player. Lucas Ruppert is a wrestler and football player who also plays lacrosse. Mikey Frederick, CJ Fritchman, and Carson Kammerer are all-state placers in wrestling, but also play lacrosse. I picked those three boys’ sports because they are listed as the most high-risk and will be the last to return. I think fat walruses in rut basking and baking on the beach is also a pretty high-risk activity.
Snippets - I recently took a group photo of young smiling female athletes not yet in high school. They were not wearing masks and not socially distanced, and a reader called me on it, which is justified and ironic, as I was the only CoMorbid hominid in the habitat. I sank to a new level of something to do Friday afternoon when I hung out at Jungle Jim’s taking photos of runners in cars picking up packets for virtual races. I did get to see and talk to real people, and encountered some animal life, including two failure fosters and a bucket of baby mallards in Billy Lingo’s golf cart. Go on now, git!