"Some of the players were sitting around having a beer one night," Bresnahan says, "and I told them I had read somewhere about the potato trick. They said, 'Let's do it.' "
On Aug. 31, Bresnahan peeled a potato, and during that night's game against Reading he kept it in a mitt in the dugout, waiting for the right moment. With Reading's Rick Lundblade on third in the fifth inning, Bresnahan told plate umpire Scott Potter that he was having trouble with his mitt and needed to get a different one. When he came back from the dugout, the potato was hidden in his glove.
While setting up for the next pitch, Bresnahan switched the potato to his free hand, caught the ball and immediately fired the potato wildly over the head of third baseman Oscar Mejia. When Lundblade saw what he thought was the ball fly into leftfield, he came trotting home, only to be tagged out by a smiling Bresnahan.
Because Bresnahan had deceived the runner, Potter ruled Lundblade safe, which didn't particularly please Bills manager Orlando Gomez. The flinty Gomez yanked Bresnahan from the game at the end of the inning and fined him $50; the next day the Indians gave him his unconditional release. "You can't fool around with the integrity of the game," huffed Jeff Scott, Cleveland's director of player development. "Once you get on the field, the game is sacred." Surprised by the team's reaction, Bresnahan said he was "just trying to put some fun into the game. I mean, it's not like it was the seventh game of the World Series."
A 25-year-old backup catcher hitting .149 in the minors isn't exactly a prospect, and as one Indians official said, "I guess he just decided to retire himself." Still, Bresnahan said he had no idea he would be treated like Mr. Potato Head. "Bresnahan took it pretty hard when I told him he was released," said Gomez, sounding faintly satisfied with himself. "But I won't tolerate that kind of stuff."
Two days later Gomez allowed Oscar Mejia to play every position, including pitcher, in the Bills' final game. The club had the nerve to promote that game as Potato Night, allowing any fan with a potato in for a dollar instead of the customary $2.75. In lieu of paying his fine, Bresnahan dumped 50 potatoes on Gomez's desk, and he then went into the stands and autographed potatoes, adding the inscription, "This spud's for you." When last heard from, Bresnahan said he was thinking he might run for governor of Idaho.
There's no need to panic, but we just thought we would let you know that Gary Cohen, who was the Bird for the Baltimore Orioles last year, is now working as an air traffic controller in Virginia.
NOT GETTING OLDER, JUST BETTER
At the NBA'S summer league a few years ago in Los Angeles, some assistant coaches and a reporter slipped away from the airport hotel where the teams were billeted to take in the sights at Manhattan Beach. They were applying suntan lotion and staring wistfully at the scenery when suddenly Jack Ramsay, then the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, burst from a crashing wave and strode majestically out of the sea. He couldn't have looked more like Neptune if he'd been carrying a trident.
It was immediately obvious that Ramsay, who was then in his late 50's, was in considerably better shape than anyone in the by-then-slack-jawed gathering on the beach. He stopped long enough to say hello and then went loping off on a run along the strand. Ramsay was in the midst of one of the grinding workouts that have now made him, at age 62, one of the top senior triathletes in the country. He plans to compete for the first time in the U.S. triathlon series national championship on Sept. 27 in Hilton Head Island, S.C.