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A GREAT ROLE PLAYER
John Underwood
July 01, 1985
Whether he's impersonating his manager or coming off the bench to get a hit in a crucial situation, flaky Kurt Bevacqua of the Padres is indeed a good man to have in a pinch
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July 01, 1985

A Great Role Player

Whether he's impersonating his manager or coming off the bench to get a hit in a crucial situation, flaky Kurt Bevacqua of the Padres is indeed a good man to have in a pinch

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Bevacqua knows about police. When he was a Brewer living with his first wife in Milwaukee, they were right across the street from the Berlin precinct, and in a month and a half he accumulated three speeding tickets, "all for going about nine miles over in a 35-mile zone." Facing a jail sentence, he got a lawyer to fight it, claiming harassment, and a wig to wear so that he could pose as his wife driving out of the garage every day.

Eventually he was traded to Texas, but on a return to Milwaukee he was arrested and held for sentencing until he produced a $350 bail check. The next day he stopped payment on the check and fled, deciding he was a marked man who wasn't going to take it anymore. But on a subsequent trip to Milwaukee, he gave himself up, paid the fine and spent six days in jail. "I don't recommend it," he says. "Jail's scary. For six days in there I didn't say a word to anybody."

The incident over Carrie made the San Diego papers, but only in passing. Bevacqua enjoys an agreeable press, being eminently quotable. But there are "times." He says one writer "always hangs around the batting cage picking up stuff without checking it out," and "on my reputation alone he wrote that I was doing 90 when my Corvette blew a tire and went off the road in Arizona this spring. There was a lot of damage, but no one was hurt. I told him the accident report said 65. I told him I was gonna sue his fat ass."

"Did he print a regression?" says Carrie, innocently.

"You mean a retraction," says Kurt.

"Oh, yes," says Carrie, unfazed. "I'm always doing that with words."

Clearly, the Bevacquas are now one with California. Carrie, who was born in Santa Monica, says her own family came west "in covered wagons." Kurt is always being sent west. The Indians sent him to Portland during his sixth year as a pro. Four years later the Brewers shipped him to Spokane, and in 1979 the Texas Rangers traded him to San Diego. Obviously he was being told something.

Bevacqua actually was raised in Miami. His stepfather, Mario Bevacqua, was chief bellhop of the Fontainebleau Hotel for 23 years. He not only loved baseball but also could teach a boy the value of a well-bet two-iron shot. Kurt's father, Larry DeFreitas, is a New Jersey district manager for Adidas athletic shoes. Adidas used to provide him with his shoes, "but this year I thought I ought to get some money for wearing 'em, and they wouldn't give it to me, so I went with Tiger. It's amazing how much better a shoe feels when you're getting paid to wear it."

He says he's now earning $140,000 in his option year of a three-year contract as a Padre, but "the major league average is $337,000 and the better pinch hitters like Staub and Gross make a lot more than I do, so I'm looking. I think I'm average. I've worked hard to achieve this degree of mediocrity. But I have to say when I started I never really thought of making money. I just wanted to play. Baseball was my home."

Bevacqua played high school ball two classes behind Steve Carlton at North Miami Senior High, then joined Mainieri at Miami Dade-North, where he led the nation's junior colleges in home runs and RBIs in 1966 and endeared himself to his coach with his outrageous hustle and ridiculous cockiness. "He'd run to the plate to hit," says Mainieri. "Nothing intimidated him. We'd be playing the best teams, against the best pitchers, and he'd be yelling, 'Give us your ace! We wanta see your ace!' "

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