"B.B. Eyes sizes him up and says, 'Go——in your hat, Rook.'
"Well, you know you can't fight real good in a bus. I mean you can wrestle, but you really can't fight anybody on the floor with 15 ballplayers on top of you. So I slam on the brakes and say, "O.K., boys. There's the parking lot. Go to it." Well, these two big lugs put on the damnedest fightin' match you ever saw. They were goin' at it like bullmastiffs. Bip! Bam! Boom! Really poppin' each other. I let 'em go on maybe 10, 15 minutes before I break it up. Both have black eyes and split lips. I call it a draw, but Ronning won a moral victory. B.B. Eyes called him Al from then on.
"And, baby, that's not even one of my best bus stories."
Getting traded for a bus didn't bother left wing Tom Martin. Neither did getting tagged with the nickname Bussy. What bugged him was the taunt an opponent made on the opening shift of his first pro hockey game. "Hey, Martin," the guy said, "maybe we can get you for some garbage cans."
Martin and buses became inextricably linked in the year 1983. The Spokane Flyers of the Western Hockey League had bought a bus from Trail-ways for $60,000 and sunk another $15,000 into refurbishing it. Then the Flyers folded. The Victoria Cougars picked up the bus, only to discover they needed another $20,000 to cover the Canadian duties. Finding this too much to pay, Victoria dealt the bus to the Seattle Breakers, whose own bus had blown an engine only days before. In return for the bus, the Cougars got $35,000 and the rights to Martin, a Victoria native who had refused to play for Seattle.
Martin quickly signed with Victoria and amassed 80 points that season despite the fact that he missed 20 games with a broken foot. The bus fared far less well than the man it had been traded for. On the Breakers' first trip to Canada, the team tried to sneak a Dutch player without proper immigration papers across the border. He got nabbed by alert customs officials, who immediately impounded the bus for the rest of the season.
HOW HIGH THE MOON?
Lots of athletes have mooned on buses, but only Greg Minton has Mooned a bus. Minton, the California Angels reliever, earned the moniker Moon Man while with San Francisco. Maybe it was because he learned to pitch by winging avocados at swallows. Or perhaps the name marked the time he dived into the shallow end of a hotel pool from a second-story balcony and nearly became deceased. Whatever, Minton was never more moonstruck than when he hijacked the Giants' bus in Houston during the 1982 pennant race.
The Giants were two games out of first. "Everybody's posterior was real tight," Minton says. "Mine was a little looser."