SI Vault
Larry Colton
September 26, 1977
"You better think of something quick. Rook," bullpen Catcher Clay Dalrymple hollered at me as I completed my warmups and headed for the mound at Cincinnati's old Crosley Field on May 6, 1968 to pitch in my first—and last—big league game.
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September 26, 1977

This Hurler's Career Ended When He Left His Fastball In San Francisco

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"How would you know?" chided one friend as we sipped beers in a hilltop bar after the third game in San Francisco.

"Never mind," I replied. "Finish your beer and let's leave this place. I've got to hurry back. It's already past curfew."

"What are you worried about curfew for, Larry? You could miss the game tomorrow and Mauch would never know the difference," my friend said as we left.

Just outside the door we found three hostile-looking bruisers blocking our path. "Excuse me," I said, trying to use the polite approach to get past them. When I felt a solid right-hand crash into my ear, I decided that these boys had not been studying up on Emily Post. "What the hell did I do to you? I don't even know you" I moaned from my prone position on the sidewalk.

Stunned, I rose to my haunches, ready to fight back, and was immediately blind-sided by another blow that knocked me down. This time the fight was over. I suffered a shoulder separation when I hit the sidewalk the second time.

After spending the night in the hospital, I took a cab to the ball park to reveal my misfortune to Mauch. As I walked into the manager's office, I was convinced he was going to fine me heavily for missing curfew and being injured in a barroom fight. On my $8,000 a year—then the major league minimum—I could ill afford it.

"What the hell happened to you, Colton?" Mauch bellowed when he saw me. "You look terrible. Were you in a fight?"

There I stood, my arm in a sling, my eye swollen shut and my cheek puffed to twice its normal size. I could only stammer, ", sir. My shoulder popped out when I reached for the phone at the hotel, and a friend accidentally hit me in the face with his school ring while we were horsing around."

Mauch looked at me for a second, shook his head and said, "Oh." Fortunately he had other matters on his mind and had neither the time nor the desire to pursue the questioning. "I'll put you on the disabled list and tell the press you separated your shoulder answering the phone," he said. A story in a Philadelphia paper the next day reported: PHILLY PITCHER COLTON LOST A BATTLE TO PACIFIC BELL TELEPHONE.

Six weeks later—and five days before I was to receive a bonus of $6,500 for being in the big leagues for 90 days—Bob Skinner, who had replaced Mauch, called me into his office to inform me that I was being sent to the Phillies' farm in San Diego. "Get that shoulder into shape, and you'll be back up in no time," Skinner assured me.

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