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THE SECRET LIFE OF ROCKY PERONE
Eliot Asinof
June 18, 1979
The author tells the story of one Richard Pohle, who at 36 felt he could still play ball well enough to make it to the majors. Knowing that no team would take a chance on a rookie that old, Pohle, with the help of a friend, hit on a scheme to step backward in time
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June 18, 1979

The Secret Life Of Rocky Perone

The author tells the story of one Richard Pohle, who at 36 felt he could still play ball well enough to make it to the majors. Knowing that no team would take a chance on a rookie that old, Pohle, with the help of a friend, hit on a scheme to step backward in time

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Then I got on the field and in 15 minutes everything changed. It was like in the movies when some slob comes off the street into a fancy nightclub and sings like Mario Lanza. They hit me ground balls, and I dug them out as though I owned the ball park. I covered the ground like I was on skates. Then I hit clotheslines to all fields and from both sides of the plate. I gave them such a show that the college kids not only stopped laughing at my rube appearance, but they also stopped practicing to watch. I was so hot that I told myself to be careful or Marshall would smell a rat. So when he told me to lay a few down, I asked him what that meant.

"Bunt," he said. "Let's see you bunt."

Richard Pohle can bunt like Ty Cobb, but Rocky Perone looked like a bum. And sure enough, it made everything else seem right.

"I heard you came to the States for an education," the college coach said as he pulled me aside.

"That's right, mate," I said.

"Well, why don't you consider coming here?" We'll take care of you, son. Everything you need.

Marshall took me to dinner and told me he was convinced I was a big league prospect, that he was going to call Robert Fontaine, director of player personnel for the Padres. "I don't know, mate," I conned him. "I came here to get an education."

"You can always get an education, Rocky," Marshall said. "I'm giving you a chance to play pro ball. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

And sure enough, Marshall appeared the next day with a contract in hand. If this was a movie, great music would be soaring in the background. It didn't matter that I was to report to Walla Walla, Wash., a Padre farm club, or that I'd be getting a lousy $500 a month with an incentive bonus if I stayed through the season. I didn't care about such trivia. What mattered was that this was a professional baseball players contract and that I was signing it.

So it was that the big day came in San Diego when I was asked to work out with the Padres before a game with the Reds. Like I said, I wasn't feeling too sure of myself. Lister tried to reassure me. "Enjoy it," he said. "Remember, you're a kid playing with the big boys for the first time. It's a thrill, Rich, a great big thrill!"

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