- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
You speculated that former Houston Astro pitcher James Rodney Richard would have been a shoo-in Hall of Famer had he remained healthy, and I agree. I watched him for a couple of years before I finally got a chance to bat against him, at the Astrodome in 1979. I was pitching for the San Francisco Giants at the time. Before my first at bat, I asked a teammate, Bill Madlock, who at that point had won two of his four batting titles, what I should look for off Richard. He said my eyes weren't that good. Three pitches later I was looking for a seat on the bench.
What was it like batting against J.R.? I saw two fastballs, but I could have watched a hundred of them and never gotten my bat around in time. The third pitch, which I did swing at, was a slider. I mistook it for a fastball and missed by the length of a bat. That's what I remember most about J.R., that he had a wicked slider to go with that high-90's fastball.
I applaud Gary Smith for his human and touching inside look at baseball and also for showing that it is nothing compared with family and life. Behind all the glory, money and fame, athletes are as mortal as the rest of us. Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove is a shining example of what a man should be, somehow finding the strength both to grieve and to continue with a dismantled pitching staff. I was touched by pitcher Kevin Wickander's devotion to his friend and teammate Steve Olin and am pleased that Wick has found some peace in his trade to Cincinnati. I am also glad that Bobby Ojeda will return to the game.
I grew up with Kevin Wickander in Phoenix and played Little League, high school and college baseball against him. The bond that sports builds between teammates and rivals is unbreakable. I have never lost someone as close to me as Steve Olin was to Kevin, and I cannot truly feel the pain that he is feeling, but I cried as I read the article. My thoughts and prayers are with Wick and all who have been affected by this tragedy.
Let us keep in mind that Tim Crews was legally drunk and driving a boat at more than 25 mph at night. I feel very sorry for the Olin and Crews families and hope that this tragedy will serve as a reminder to all that boating and alcohol don't mix.
Spreading America's Pastime