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Aurigemma tied string to a pair of Calvin Klein socks packed with cotton, stuffed the socks into Division Street's ears and ran the string back to Lachance in the sulky. The ploy has been successful. In his last 16 races Division Street has 12 wins and four seconds and earned $450,526. One of his biggest wins came at Yonkers Raceway against the alltime money winner, On The Road Again. The two were head and head at the top of the stretch when Lachance pulled the plugs and Division Street won by a nose.
Even around the barn, Division Street has changed. "He doesn't mope around the barn like he used to," Aurigemma says. "He acts like a tough guy, he screams like a stallion."
TIGERS AND BASS
When last we visited Japan (SI, Sept. 9), the country was engulfed in Tigermania as the Hanshin Tigers, the people's choice, battled the Yomiuri Giants and the defending champion Hiroshima Carp for the Central League pennant. Moreover, Tiger first baseman Randy Bass, a U.S. export, was trying to help right the balance of trade by becoming the first player besides Sadaharu Oh to win the Central League's Triple Crown since 1938.
The Tigers did not disappoint. Not only did they win their first pennant in 21 years, but last week they also won their first Japan Series ever, beating the Seibu Lions of the Pacific League four games to two. In the clincher, former major-leaguer Rich Gale pitched a seven-hitter as the Tigers defeated the Lions 9-3.
Bass did not disappoint, either. He won the Triple Crown, batting .350 with 54 homers and 134 RBIs. His home run total was one short of Oh's record. On the last day of the season he had the chance to tie or beat it against the Giants, but the Giants, now managed by Oh, intentionally walked Bass four times.
In the Series, Bass did well. He hit .368 with three homers and nine ribbies and was named the MVP.
AND HE HAS HARDLY EVER LOOKED BACK
The all-Missouri World Series brings to mind an old ballplayer named Mickey Owen, who lives in Springfield, Mo. Contrary to what many fans might think, life didn't end for Owen in Brooklyn on Oct. 5, 1941, when, in the fourth game of the World Series, the Dodger catcher made one of the classic mistakes in baseball history. The game had apparently ended in victory when Dodger pitcher Hugh Casey threw a third strike past the Yankees' Tommy Henrich with two out and none on in the ninth inning. But the pitch got away from Owen, and Henrich reached first base. The Yankees, given new life, scored four runs to win the game and take a 3-1 lead in the Series, which they won the next day. Rumor has had it for years that the pitch that got away was a spitter, but Owen, 69, says, "No, it was a curveball. It was as good a curveball as Casey had ever thrown, and it was my own fault. Casey had two curveballs, a big curve-ball and a short quick one. He'd been throwing the short quick one for five innings. We had just one sign for a curveball, I gave him the sign and he threw the big curveball instead, and I crossed myself up."
Owen has led a fascinating life. He was one of the major league stars who jumped to the Mexican League in 1946, and he was suspended for 3� years before returning to the majors in 1949. After retiring in 1954, he built a new career in law enforcement and served 16 years as sheriff of Greene County, Mo. He also ran a baseball school. In 1980 he ran for lieutenant governor and finished third in a five-man Democratic primary. To demonstrate his still-youthful energy during the campaign, he jogged the 250 miles from Royals Stadium in Kansas City to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He credits jogging with alleviating his arthritis and helping reduce his weight from 215 (he played at 190) to 155. Next year, he plans to run in the over-70 division of a marathon.