Monday, January 13, 2014

The Layered Look

I believe that’s what they called it.  It was the male equivalent of the “feathered look” – you know, the one that Farrah Fawcett had. It’s what my hair looked like back in 1975, I know that much.

Suffice it to say, some ‘do’s just don’t go with a baseball cap. Here, let me show you what I mean.

Despite the classic name, Dick Pole was a pretty forgettable major leaguer. Over six years, he finished with a 25-37 record and a 5.05 ERA. In his one post-season appearance, he gave up a run without ever getting an out, for an ERA of ∞.

After retirement, Dick put in a number of years as a pitching coach. Greg Maddux cites him as a major influence, and shares this great story:

"I remember when Dick Pole told me one day, ‘Why don’t you stop trying to strike guys out? Just try to get them out, and you’ll probably strike out just as many guys, if not more. He was right. I’ve always tried with two strikes just to make a pitch and get the guy out. You get a lot of strikeouts just on accident."

Hans Brinker plays baseball?

Tom “Hans” Veryzer was up for 12 years, finishing just short of 1000 games and 3000 at bats. A good field / no hit type, he managed only 14 dingers and nine steals (to go with 23 caught stealings!). ranks him with the likes of Felix Fermin, Frank Duffy, and Johnnie LeMaster. 

The guy at Cardboard Gods goes so far as to call him “a measuring stick of inconsequentiality.” That said, he then goes on – after many sentences of rather purple prose – to conclude that, “To say Tom Veryzer is inconsequential is to say that this life is inconsequential.”  Well, huh!

Yes, that is indeed Jack Morris. As endearing as that teenage mug is, though, that’s not really why we’re here. Let your eyes wander a little north, to Tim Jones. Look at the hair! Dude should be out surfing!

Tim’s another middle infielder with a weak bat. Unlike Tom, though, Tim wasn’t able to translate his limited abilities into anything more than six years in the bigs and less than 500 at bats. His totals include a .233 average and one homer (one!), albeit a fairly respectable 15 steals.

He’s from my wife’s hometown of Sumter, SC. Heck, they were born in the same year, and may have even attended Alice Drive Elementary School together. Tim is one of only six graduates from The Citadel, South Carolina’s rather unique military school (vide Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline). 
I hate to break it to you, but the cheesy little mustache doesn’t really help any, Bill.

Bill Bonham’s career truly combined the highs and the lows. On the plus side, he was only the 14th player in MLB history to strike out four players in an inning. On the other side, he once led the NL in losses with 22. He was in the College World Series with UCLA. He also led the NL in earned runs. Overall, he was up for ten years, finishing with a 75-83 record and a 4.01 ERA. 

The guy at Cardboard Gods – again – manages somehow to get 1,500 words out of this card. I’d say about 10% of that is devoted to Bill. The rest discusses his marijuana use (the guy’s, not Bill’s), the TV show Weeds, several movie reviews, a sleepover at his friend Mike’s house from back in 1977, his mother-in-law …

So, how come this guy’s published a book and I haven’t (the guy at Cardboard Gods, not Bill Bonham)???

And Len …

Leonard Harold Barker III, better known as “Lenny,” had an overall career remarkably similar to Bill Bonham’s. Barker was up for 11 years, finishing 74-76 with a 4.34 ERA. 

Barker had more highlights than lowlights however, including:

  • Throwing a perfect game
  • Leading the AL in strikeouts twice
  • Winning 19 games
  • Throwing two shutout innings in an All Star game 

He’s currently the baseball coach at Notre Dame. That’s Notre Dame College, by the way. You know, in Euclid, OH? The Fighting Falcons?

It’s like a combination of Hans Brinker and a member of the Dalton Gang. 

Toby Harrah was up for an incredible 17 years, 2100-plus games, and 7400-some at bats. He was both a decent hitter and fielder, and was known in particular for a great on-base percentage. He was also a four-time All Star.

The author (front row, third from the left), Pancake Kitchen Fighting Flapjacks, Monroeville, PA, 1973.

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