- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
While waiting for a teammate in the lower lobby of the Dodgers' hotel in Cincinnati, Niedenfuer felt excruciating pain from a kidney stone. Wanting to return to his room to lie down, he got on an elevator that happened to stop at the next level, the hotel's upper lobby. Waiting to get on was Terry Johnson, the Dodger beat reporter for the Torrance Daily Breeze.
"I'm in trouble," Niedenfuer told Johnson. "I'm losing it." Then he passed out in Johnson's arms.
"I was yelling, 'Get a doctor!' " Johnson said. "Then, about a hundred feet away I saw Charlie, and I yelled for him. He was the only person I knew there."
Metro rushed over, saw that Niedenfuer had stopped breathing, and started to give him artificial respiration. Then Metro realized that Niedenfuer had swallowed his tongue. He pried open Niedenfuer's mouth, and while Johnson kept the tongue free, resumed the artificial respiration.
"For what seemed like 100 years," Johnson wrote later, "Niedenfuer didn't breathe."
Niedenfuer regained consciousness a few minutes later and, after receiving treatment from a Dodger trainer, was taken to the hospital, where he spent the night. Three nights later in Atlanta, he worked a scoreless inning in the Dodgers' 10-4 win.
After a month of persuading, baseball's Player Relations Committee boss, Lee MacPhail, finally got the owners to ratify a drug abuse plan that had been worked out by a group of owners and players eight weeks ago. That's good news, to be sure, and MacPhail's victory may have significance beyond the drug issue.
If next year's negotiations on a new Basic Agreement are to proceed smoothly, MacPhail, who will head management's team, must be able to operate with an understanding that the owners will ratify the deal he makes with the Players Association. That MacPhail won over the hard-line owners holding out for a tougher program is a promising sign.
Because he has learned to stop chasing so many pitches out of the strike zone, Baltimore's Eddie Murray is knocking in runs at a 135-a-year clip. Murray, who has had 111, 110 and 116 RBIs in the last three 162-game seasons, has 63 RBIs in 253 at bats, a league-leading 51 walks and only 35 Ks. In his seven previous seasons, he never had more walks than strikeouts.... The Rangers' Larry Parrish is off to the best start of his career with a dozen homers and 50 RBIs. He had a streak of 11 straight games with an RBI broken last Friday night by the A's.... The White Sox' Britt Burns, a short reliever the first five weeks of the season, is having problems in the rotation. He has lost seven straight starts after winning his first.... On the other hand, the Rangers' Charlie Hough, after a 2-6 start, has been the best starter in the league the last month. He's 5-0 with five complete games and an eight-inning no-decision in his last six starts and has allowed seven earned runs in 53 innings (1.19).... When Dave Kingman came back from the DL (knee) recently, he was wearing a light knee brace for support. He thinks it has helped his hitting. "It forces me to keep my weight back," says Kingman, who has five homers, 13 RBIs and only 7 Ks in 39 plate appearances since his return.... When the Royals, losers of 10 of their last 14, sank to last place last week, it was the first time in their 16-year history they had been in the cellar so late in the season.... Red Sox rookie Roger Clemens, who struggled in his first six weeks as a big-leaguer, is starting to live up to his advance billing. Last Friday night Clemens struck out nine and allowed six hits while beating Toronto 8-1. " Clemens is the hardest thrower of any starter in the league," says Houston scout Gordon Lakey, "and no other hard thrower has that good a curveball."