Friday, April 10, 2009

Top Five Favorite Baseball Moments

Dear Readers,

I thought I would spice up this blog by listing my five favorite moments in baseball history. I ranked them, which was for the most part arbitrary.

5. Dave Winfield kills a bird with a baseball

According to Wikipedia:

On August 4, 1983, Winfield accidentally killed a seagull by throwing a ball at it while warming up before the fifth inning of a game at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. He doffed his cap in mock sorrow, and fans responded by hurling obscenities and improvised missiles. After the game, he was brought to the Ontario Provincial Police station and arrested for cruelty to animals. He was released after posting a $500 bond. Yankee manager Billy Martin quipped, "It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man all season." Charges were dropped the following day. For years afterward, Winfield's appearances in Toronto were greeted with loud choruses of boos until he became a fan favorite when he joined the Blue Jays in 1992.

In fairness to Dave, I have been to Toronto Exhibition Stadium (“The Mistake by the Lake”) and it would have been hard to throw a baseball and not hit a seagull in that dump. Dave also helped win a World Series for Toronto and also was one of the first athletes to create a charity.

Here is a picture of Dave Winfield and me as a child:

4. Nomar Garciaparra is named Nomar Garciaparra

Ok, so naming a child isn’t exactly a baseball moment, and apparently Nomar is just a nickname for Anthony Garciaparra, and even the validity of this claim has come under scrutiny, but I will make it nonetheless: Nomar’s father Ramon named his son Nomar because it is Ramon backwards.

Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra

and musician Josh Kolenik

Nomar’s stats have fallen off a bit as off late, probably because he is busy doing other things:

On October 8, 2005, Garciaparra and his uncle Victor were alerted to the screams of two women who had fallen into Boston Harbor outside his condominium. One of the women sustained injuries to her head after hitting the pier on her way in. Garciaparra quickly jumped into the harbor and saved both women, who were later taken to the hospital.(Wikipedia)

3. Vince Coleman Throws a Firecracker at Children

In 1993, with Dodger Eric Davis behind the wheel, professional base stealer and Met Vince Coleman threw a lit M-80 at a group of fans while driving through Dodgers parking lot. Three fans were injured, including an eleven-year-old boy and two-year-old girl. Coleman claimed that he didn’t know throwing a firecracker at someone could result in injury. He was sentenced to 200 hours community service.

Three months earlier, Coleman was recklessly swinging a golf club in the Met’s clubhouse when he injured the arm of pitcher Dwight Gooden (see #1). This according to Wikipedia.

Vince also had an unfortunate mishap while playing for the Cardinals. During pregame warm-ups at Busch Stadium, the automated tarpaulin began to roll onto the field and rolled right ontoVince’s leg. He was trapped for 30 seconds, then freed and taken away on a stretcher. He would miss the NLCS and the World Series (Baseball Library).

2. Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich Swap Wives

In the spring of 1973, Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich decided to trade wives. They also traded houses, families, and dogs.

From left: Marilyn Peterson, Mike Kekich,

Susan Kekich, Fritz Peterson

The two had been best of friends for some time, and both families lived in New Jersey. The trade worked out better for Peterson, who married the former Susan Kekich. The two remain together and have four children (Peterson was also the better pitcher and his 2.52 ERA is the lowest ever for a starting pitcher at the old Yankee Stadium). Mike Kekich’s relationship with Marilyn Peterson lasted only two years, and his career similarly faltered. (Wikipedia, Fantasy Baseball Dugout)

1. The 1986 New York Mets

I realize that a year with a team after it doesn’t necessarily make a moment, but the 1986 Mets season was so amazing that someone could write a book about it. Actually there are a number of books on the subject, the free parts of which I skimmed on Google Book Search and will quote from heavily. I can hardly summarize the whole season, so I’ll just provide some highlights:

After defeating the Astros in the NLCS, the Mets and wives/friends boarded an Ozark Airlines chartered flight back to New York. They began to drink so heavily that a few of the wives were soon throwing up.

In his autobiography, Heat, Dwight Gooden recalls his most vivid image of the flight. “At one point the partying was so out of control, the lavatory door accidentally flew open and there was one of my teammates, his face in front of lines of cocaine,” he writes. “I wasn’t shocked that he was using, I was shocked that he was so high, he didn’t even realize the door was open.” (Pearlman)

(On another trip from New York to Los Angeles, according to an ex-Ozark official, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, the team's two marquee stars, exposed their penises and were inviting the [flight attendants] to "lick this and that.")

Later, the Ozark crew mistakenly served cake to the team and a food fight ensued. From Pearlman:

Meanwhile, the airplane was a disaster area. Upon landing, two or three wives had to be carried off the jet. Others weren’t quite sure of their whereabouts. Half the team exited wearing T-shirts and ties. Sisk wore one shoe. Fans who had waited hours at Kennedy Airport to greet the team were shocked at what they saw. “To have the wives in their snazzy North Beach Leather outfits, covered in vomit, it didn’t make for a pretty picture,” says Mets pitcher Ron Darling. “And the guys were coming off in various forms of disarray of dress. We were gross.”

The flight resulted in $7,500 in damages and a lifetime ban from Ozark Airlines. General manager Frank Cashen was furious, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team.

Dwight Gooden (T) and Darryl Strawberry

Cocaine and alcohol were staples for Mets players in 1986, and their habits continued throughout their careers and beyond. MVP, future captain, and Seinfeld star Keith Hernandez described cocaine as “a demon in me,” and also claimed a “love affair” between baseball players and cocaine in the 1980s. The careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry accounted for seven positive tests for cocaine. (The most memorable moment to me is when retired Darryl Strawberry went missing from a rehab center for four days, and his former coke buddy Dwight Gooden went on the search to find him.) In addition, Mets centerfielder Lenny Dykstra crashed his Mercedes into a tree after a bachelor party. He had BAC of .179, over twice the legal limit. (Lenny has since gone on to better things.) During a nationally televised game, pitcher Roger McDowell was filmed with his uniform on upside down – his pants over his head with his shoes on his hands.

Then there was pitcher Kevin Mitchell, who, in 1986, according to Gooden’s Heat, got into an argument with his live-in girlfriend and decapitated her cat.

I think it is safe to say that nearly all of the 1986 Mets engaged in heavy drug use, alcohol consumption, and sexual debauchery (except for Gary Carter because he was a herb). They could be considered the most dissolute team on record. Oh, and they won the World Series.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Nomar is his middle name. He started going by it in kindergarten because there were multiple Anthonys in his class. And, it is true that the name came from spelling his dad's name backwards.