"I don't want to have to face either one of them," says Ken Forsch, who later this day would have his wish fulfilled by getting traded out of the league to the California Angels.
The third question may be painful. What has Horner done to you?
"I was behind on the count and gave him a hanging slider," says 20-game winner Joe Niekro. "He put it over the left-field fence."
"I threw him an outside fastball and he hit it out in dead center," says Randy Niemann.
"I gave him a pretty good pitch, a tailing fastball in on the hands," says Forsch, "and he just wristed it out of the park."
"The home run he hit off me was a slider," says Joaquin Andujar.
"Two years ago he hit my changeup into the upper deck of the Astrodome," says Ruhle. "That's a shot."
"He got me twice in '79," says LaCorte. "Once he just rolled his wrists on an inside fastball and put it out. The other home run was the hardest ball I've ever seen hit anywhere. I threw him a fastball right in his wheelhouse, and [LaCorte shivers in the 90° heat] you know how the fans in the leftfield stands will gather and wait for the home run ball to come down? Well, he hit the ball so hard that they scattered. I mean it. They got out of the way as fast as they could."
The Astros staff is a particularly good one to talk to about Horner. Its credentials are impeccable; last season Houston's team ERA of 3.10 and total of only 69 home runs permitted were the best in the majors. However, Horner touched the Astros for five of those 69 homers and 15 RBIs. Houston wasn't his only victim, of course; he also homered five times each against the Phillies and Dodgers. He hit 35 home runs after a horrendous start. In his last 90 games, he batted .302 with 30 homers and 76 RBIs. In July alone, he had 14 home runs, one short of the major league record. After three seasons, Horner has a .287 batting average and a .533 slugging percentage, and his ratio of one homer per 13.99 at bats easily surpasses the figures Henry Aaron (22.69), Joe DiMaggio (17.36), Willie Mays (17.78) and Ted Williams (17.38) had after three years.
And yet Horner has just been teasing. For a variety of reasons, one of them management stupidity, he has never played a full season. In fact, his career totals of 91 homers and 250 RBIs have actually been accumulated in the equivalent of two seasons. Hall of Famer Luke Appling, a hitting instructor for the Braves, says Horner will hit 70 homers some season. Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox predicts Horner will win the Triple Crown some year, if not this one. Braves Director of Player Development Henry L. Aaron offers the opinion that someday Horner will erase some of Henry L. Aaron's records.