Thirty years ago this month, Mariners manager Maury Wills tried to change the dimensions of the batters box before a game against the Oakland Athletics in order to assist outfielder Tom Paciorek hit against Rick Langford. Wills got caught by alert Oakland manager Billy Martin, and was subsequently fined and suspended by the American League. Wills attempt at batters box chicanery ranks high on the list of the dumbest things done or said by an athlete, coach or manager in the month of April, a partial list of which follows:
Marge Schott, 1996: Seven pitches into the Cincinnati Reds’ season opener, home plate umpire John McSherry called time out. He then collapsed and died of a massive heart attack, prompting the immediate postponement of the game. “Snow this morning, and now this! I don’t believe it,” the Reds owner said. “Why are they calling the game? I feel cheated. This isn’t supposed to happen to us, not in Cincinnati. This is our history, our tradition, our team.”‘
Jose Cardenal, 1974: The Cardinals outfielder, who had a well-earned reputation as a moody player, begged off playing on Opening Day, claiming he had slept wrong because “his eyelid was stuck shut.”‘
Scott Hoch, 1987: Hoch made a hole-in-one during the Las Vegas Invitational and won a $118,000 Rolls Royce. He declined to accept the car, saying, “It doesn’t fit through the drive-thru at Wendy’s.”
Tex Cobb, 1993: Cobb wrote a letter to the Florida Boxing Commission, offering his defense to the charge that he had tested positive for marijuana before a fight. Cobb wrote: “I was running on the beach and someone blew marijuana smoke in my face.”
Dave Concepcion, 1988: In one of the more unusual ejections ever, the Cincinnati infielder (he once shared the shortstop position with ex-Mariner GM Woody Woodward) was tossed for blowing kisses at umpire Dave Pallone.
Junior Ortiz, 1992: After a game in which the Cleveland catcher went 0-for-3 and allowed four baserunners to steal on him, he said, “I put my left contact into my right eye and my right contact into my left eye. So when I saw a fastball away, it was really a fastball in. And when I saw a fastball in, it was really a fastball away.”
Kimo Nakajimi, 1981: The Japanese long-distance runner entered the London Marathon and somehow got confused over what he was supposed to do. Specifically, Nakajimi thought he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The London Daily Mail reported that Nakajimi was now somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race.
Andy Russo, 1989: When Russo departed as the University of Washington basketball coach, he was given a $204,000 settlement. Then it was discovered he had applied for, and was receiving, unemployment checks from the state of Washington. The UW squawked, the case went to the State Unemployment Department, and Russo lost.
Steve Garvey, 1989: Shortly after the former Dodgers/Padres star married a woman named Candace Thomas, he admitted he had impregnated two other women. Said Garvey, “I was led to believe I wasn’t responsible for birth control.” Said Tommy Lasorda, Garvey’s former manager: “What’s he trying to become? The father of our country?”
William Perry, 1983: After the NCAA placed Clemson on probation for a variety of infractions — the probation included bowl sanctions and a two-year television ban — the future Chicago Bear said, “What makes this hard is that we can’t watch television for two years.”
The Rotations weekly schedule:
Monday: That Was The Week That Was A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
Tuesday: Wayback Machine Sports historian David Eskenazis deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
Thursday: Water Cooler Cool Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
Friday: Top 5 List The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as were concerned.