The Blue Jays' Tom Lawless doesn't have a hit this season. In fact, in three of the last five years he has been the last nonpitcher in the major leagues to get a hit. But, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog says respectfully, " Tom Lawless has gotten more out of his hits than anyone in history. He got 10 hits in three years for us, but he has two World Series rings." Actually, Lawless had 35 hits in his four years (1985 to '88) in St. Louis. In 1987 he waited until Aug. 12 for his first hit. which was on his 16th at bat. He finished the season with two hits and then hit a three-run homer off the Twins' Frank Viola in Game 4 of that year's Series. Now a utility man for Toronto, Lawless, 33, has 6� years service time and 109 hits in 519 at bats. Through Sunday he had been to bat only nine times in '90, but he still draws a salary of $250,000. He also has the distinction of being the only man ever to be traded for Pete Rose, which happened when Lawless went from the Reds to the Expos' organization in '84. "In 15 years I'll be an answer to a great trivia question," says Lawless of the trade. "Come to think of it. I could probably go into a bar right now and make a lot of money on that question."
WIFE OF THE YEAR
Reliever Tom Niedenfuer probably would have been picked up by the Cards anyway, but after he was released by the Mariners near the end of spring training, the first phone call on his behalf to St. Louis was made by his wife, actress Judy Landers. "I've always had a lot of nerve," says Landers. She called Herzog in the afternoon on April 7, and he finally got back to her at 1 a.m. the next day. She identified herself as Judy Landers. "I'm not sure whether or not he knew I was Tom's wife, but I just wanted to let him know Tom was available," she says. When she picked up Niedenfuer at the airport the next day and told him what she had done, says Landers, "he almost killed me. But when we got home, there was a message from Whitey. So maybe calling him wasn't such a bad idea after all."
Red Sox reliever Rob Murphy called it the weirdest outing of his career. It was almost midnight on June 27 at rain-soaked Fenway Park when he entered a game against the Blue Jays in the eighth inning with Boston ahead 9-5. Two of Murphy's warmup pitches slipped out of his hand and bounced into the stands, one on the first base side, the other on the third base side. "Just wanted to keep the fans alive," says Murphy, who was lifted after giving up a single to Fred McGriff and hitting John Olerud with a pitch. "See what the fans who went home early missed?"
Craig Grebeck, a 5'6", 145-pound in-fielder for the White Sox, has sized up the rest of the American League and determined that he is indeed the league's smallest player. Grebeck is the same height as the A's Mike Gallego, but Gallego weighs 173 pounds. "I gladly hand my title to him," says Gallego. Grebeck recently ordered a sweat suit from a sporting goods rep who had come to the Sox's clubhouse. When asked what size, Grebeck said, "Infant medium. If it's too long, I'll take up the hem."
BY THE NUMBERS
?Cub second baseman Ryne Sandberg hit 14 home runs in June, one short of the major league record for the month, shared by Babe Ruth (1930), Bob Johnson (1934), Roger Maris (1961) and Pedro Guerrero (1985). All other National League second basemen combined for 16 homers in June.
?Three active players have 2,500 career hits: the Royals' George Brett and the Brewers' Dave Parker and Robin Yount. The last two got number 2,500 off Yankee pitcher Jimmy Jones—Yount's on July 2, 1989, Parker's on June 27 of this year.
?At the end of last week the Twins' Allan Anderson, the Cardinals' Joe Magrane and the Orioles' Jeff Ballard were a combined 7-30. Last season the three finished 53-27.