Green Beret for a Redbird
During spring training, Cardinals utility man Rex Hudler, the most hard-nosed player in baseball, jokingly told St. Louis trainer Gene Gieselmann that if he didn't make the team, he would join the Green Berets. "I'd love the discipline, the honor," says Hudler. So Gieselmann bought him a green beret. "When I got it, I saluted, went to the ground and did push-ups," says Hudler. Now Hudler often dons the cap when he's at the ballpark. "But only after wins," he says. " Green Berets are winners." Adds St. Louis manager Joe Torre, "Hud could play himself in the movie, like Audie Murphy did in To Hell and Back."
At Least He's Consistent
The Giants' Bud Black has been labeled a .500 pitcher, but this is ridiculous. On the morning of Aug. 16, Black's career record was 92-92. The five teams he has pitched for—Seattle, Kansas City, Cleveland, Toronto and San Francisco—had a 796-796 combined record with him on the team.
Ground Rule Homer
The Padres' Jack Howell got his first National League home run, against the Braves on Aug. 16, and it was a strange one. His shot down the leftfield line at Jack Murphy Stadium rolled into the San Diego bullpen, coming to rest under a folding chair. According to Padres reliever Larry Andersen, who was in the bullpen, Atlanta leftfielder Lonnie Smith, thinking Howell would be given a ground rule double, "raised both his arms. He surrendered. He wasn't going under that chair. He must have heard there were rattlesnakes around here." Howell, who also thought he would be given a ground rule double, stopped at second, but third base coach Bruce Kimm screamed at him to keep running. Andersen says third base umpire Charlie Williams told Smith, "I can't get it. You have to. But Lonnie never did. It was like voodoo ball."
He'd Rather Be Fast Than Tall
Seattle pitcher Randy Johnson, who at 6'10" is the tallest player in major league history, had a no-hit bid on Aug. 14 stopped with none out in the ninth inning by Oakland's 5'6" Mike Gallego. Afterward, height wasn't Johnson's favorite topic of conversation. "People always make an issue of my height," said Johnson, who limited the A's to that one hit in a 4-0 win. "Before my first big league start [in 1988 with Montreal], I had to take pictures standing next to [5'6"] John Cangelosi [of the Pirates]. But I'm making a name for myself as a power pitcher. I threw eight pitches that hit 99 [miles per hour] against K.C. this year, and more than that reached between 95 and 98 against Oakland. I don't think Roger Clemens throws that hard, and he's known as a power pitcher. But I lead the league in strikeouts."
Of the first 147 career home runs hit by San Diego's Fred McGriff, only one was a grand slam. Then McGriff hit grand slams in back-to-back games against the Astros last week. He is only the third National League player since the turn of the century to hit grand slam homers in consecutive games and the first since Pittsburgh's Phil Garner did it in 1978. McGriff got his second slam off Jim Deshaies, who had not allowed a grand slam in his five full major league seasons.
By the Numbers
?When Mike Mussina struck out 10 Rangers on Aug. 14, he became only the second Baltimore pitcher in 440 games to fan at least 10 batters in a game. In his last 440 starts, Texas's Nolan Ryan has struck out at least 10 batters 123 times.