Ah, Pittsburgh, he says. For a young zany, there was no team like the '74-75 Pirates. "You're talking about a team of giants" he says. "The Lumber Company. Everybody had a 37-ounce bat. If you couldn't put nine out of 15 balls in the stands every day in batting practice, they didn't talk to you. I got so bad trying to imitate 'em I was swinging before I got out of the dugout. I learned absolutely nothing about hitting in Pittsburgh."
But, my, what wonderful crazy guys, he says. One afternoon in Pittsburgh half a dozen playful Pirates—including Willie Stargell and Dave Parker, "two of the largest specimens in America that do not have carburetors"—got him down eight minutes before a game, stripped him and lathered him up with a variety of edible spreads, hot sauces and toilet creams. Released barely in time to shower, a still-stinging Bevacqua played first that evening smelling of peanut butter and jelly.
He admits to being the one who subsequently sent Parker and Stargell to an empty warehouse in New Jersey on the pretense of a free dinner, and would do it again if he had the chance. But becoming a sophisticated Californian, he says, requires more creativity. As might be the case, say, in San Francisco, where the team bus regularly passes a place where derelicts lounge on the sidewalk, drinking from bottles in brown paper bags. One afternoon the bus turned down the street and there, in scrounged clothes and an old hat, waving a bagged bottle of Thunderbird wine was—Kurt? Could that be Kurt?
The Williams impersonation, he says, emerged one night in Montreal "when Dick had gone to Tampa to attend the graduation of one of his children. I was in the locker room after the game started, and I had this can of baby talc, and I just kinda dabbed some on my mustache, then on the temples of my hair below the cap line. And there he was! I stuffed a couple of towels around my waist under my shirt, put on a pair of those little reading glasses Dick wears down on his nose and walked out. Norm Sherry [then the pitching coach] was sitting on the bench. He turned and said, 'Oh, hi, Dick.' Then he did a double take.
"Terry Kennedy was catching, and he was so surprised he had to call time out. I did it again last year in San Diego when Dick was suspended for 10 days and we needed something to stop a losing streak. When I came up to the plate to give the umps the lineup card, they were stunned. Dick was up in the press box. I gave him a big wave. We won."
Bevacqua laughs whenever he retells the story. (He says he wanted to do Lasorda "but I couldn't find enough towels.") Here he is retelling it on his patio in Carlsbad as the gorgeous Carrie serves midmorning coffee. As you can see, the patio is an ideal place for Kurt and Carrie to sit drinking coffee and laughing at the golfers hacking by on the 4th hole.
Bevacqua knows about golf. He says he once shot a 69 in a round with Jack Nicklaus at Doral in Miami, beating the Bear by two strokes. He says that in 1973 there was a lawyer in Boston who offered to sponsor him as a pro, but he refused because he figured he could make more money hitting larger balls and still win a bet or two on the side playing golf. He says he's now listed as an "eight handicap, but I'm actually a five."
Note, please, that the gorgeous Carrie's nose isn't large at all. "Saved me $3,000 when she realized it," says Kurt. She has, however, broadened out in places to indicate the coming of their second child. Her loose-fitting jersey shift is pulled into a knot on one side, and obviously neither the dress nor her pregnancy detracts from her figure. Before being a bunny, Carrie was a model, and after that an airline stewardess and drama teacher. She was singing in a lounge in Honolulu "just for fun—I have a kind of husky voice that they liked, and the tips were great"—when Bevacqua met her. She says he was an immediate hit. "On our first date, he borrowed a team van and knocked out the overhead sprinklers going into the garage of the hotel."
Carrie has a reputation among the San Diego writers of being one of the sweetest of the players' wives. Phil Collier of the San Diego Union says she was the only one who visited him when he was hospitalized for a recent operation. She is Bevacqua's second wife and now, in their renewed state of grace, his "biggest fan" as well as an active Tee Ball mom for their son, Tony, 7. Bevacqua also has a 14-year-old daughter, Natalie, from his first marriage. Carrie says the sentimental side of Bevacqua is usually missed in depictions of her husband. For their anniversary he bought her, among other things, an I LOVE YOU, CARRIE ad on the San Diego scoreboard. When they were separated for four months, he sent her bubble-gum cards.
The separation put Kurt in a deep blue funk "for months," he says, and led directly to a confrontation with police at an apartment where Carrie was visiting a male friend. "I went through a window," Bevacqua explains.