It is conceivable that if the Boston Red Sox make it to the World Series, no one will get to see one of the players most responsible for getting them there. He is Jim Rice, the Red Sox designated hitter, who is batting .323 with 30 home runs and 79 RBIs.
Because, at the insistence of the National League, designated hitters are permitted in the Series only in alternate years, Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer has a problem on his hands—what to do with Rice, besides using him as a pinch hitter. If Zimmer put him in left field—and Rice is somewhat less accomplished as a fielder than as a hitter—Carl Yastrzemski would go to first base, and then what would happen to George (Boomer) Scott, the Red Sox No. 2 home-run hitter? Fred Lynn is in center, so that's out; and the Sox have .286 hitter Dwight Evans, if his troublesome knees hold up, and Rick Miller, also a superb fielder, available for right field.
Another alternative is benching Rice, but how can you bench the team's best hitter? In addition to the obvious disadvantages, it would not sit well in Boston, where according to Herald American columnist Tim Horgan, "...people refuse to go home, even at the stroke of midnight, during an 11-1 game until Jim takes his final turn at bat."
Other AL contenders would also suffer by losing their designated hitters, but none has a DH nearly as good as Rice, one capable of a 50-home-run season. In fact, Henry Aaron has said Rice is the only hitter who could pose a threat to his 755 career home runs.
The following item appeared on the Reuters news wire last week, datelined London: " Kuwait has placed an order with a British firm to supply 25,000 soccer balls—but has stipulated that they must be delivered inflated.
"Mercury International of Longton, northeast England, said it would ship out the balls deflated to save cargo space, but would send out a special team to blow up the balls after they have been unloaded."
It is a measure of the regard that San Franciscans, nay, Californians, have for Willie McCovey that there are not one but three McCovey festivals on the Giants' late-summer social calendar.