The First Player-Commissioner
Pirate outfielder Andy Van Slyke talked with commissioner Fay Vincent before a game at Three Rivers Stadium on June 25. "I told him I had three gripes," said Van Slyke. "One, they should allow only one trip by the catcher to the mound per inning, to speed up play. Two, a runner on first should be allowed to score on a ground rule double if the umpire thinks he could have scored. And three, ban the DH." Asked how Vincent responded, Van Slyke laughed and replied, "He said I have too many gripes. But when I'm the commissioner in 2005, I'll get these changes made."
A Whole New Ball Game
The first major league at bat for Cardinals pitcher Willie Fraser, a six-year veteran, came on June 28 in the ninth inning of a game against the Cubs. Fraser faced Chicago outfielder Doug Dascenzo, who was mopping up in the 14-6 St. Louis victory, and struck out. "It never even dawned on me that I'd have to hit," said Fraser, who pitched for five years in the American League before the Cards picked him up on waivers last week. "I wanted to make contact, but really I just didn't want to get hit."
The Old Man and the Cycle
Last week the Angels' Dave Winfield, 39, became the oldest player ever to hit for the cycle. He completed it with a triple in the eighth inning off the Royals' Bill Pecota, an infielder who pitched the last two innings of California's 9-4 win. Pecota, meanwhile, became the third active major leaguer—joining the Cardinals' Jose Oquendo and the Red Sox's Steve Lyons—to play all nine positions at one time or another during his big league career.
By the Numbers
?Last week the Reds' Barry Larkin became the first shortstop in history to hit five home runs over two consecutive games. When he hit three off Houston's Jim Deshaies last Friday to complete the feat, Larkin joined Ernie Banks and Fred Patek as the only shortstops ever to hit three homers in a game.
?Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken got his 100th hit of the season last Friday; the next highest hit total by an American League shortstop was 64, by the White Sox's Ozzie Guillen.
?On June 26, Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere stole his first base since 1988. This season is the first in his seven-year career in which he has had both a triple and a steal.