We are now down to nine able bodies including mine. After a lunch break, and thinking about how things were going in Hollywood, we took our 2-0 record and finished our division schedule against the only winless team in our same division coached by two of my 1960 heroes Bill Virdon and Elroy Face.
Mr. Virdon was my coach in 2010. You will not find a nicer gentleman. Face was the Pirate stopper in the bullpen for the 1960 World Champions following his 1959 season when he posted an 18-1 record as a reliever throwing his trademarked forkball. That will never happen again in this era of inning specialists. Face would come in as early as the sixth inning in a tie game or maybe one the Pirates trailed and come back and get the win. The game was different back then. Roy Face is 84 years old but you’d never know it.
If there ever was a trap game this was it. We are unbeaten, they are winless and you know the rest of the story. Almost. We trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, games are seven innings, and with some real aggressive base coaching by LaValliere and a key two out, two run single by Dean DeLuca, 60, (yes Dean DeLuca not Dean &…) this team held together by an Ace bandage rallied to score three runs and take a 5-3 lead to the seventh.
I was 0-1 with two walks at the plate and really didn’t contribute much until the top of the seventh. The game was played on the only Pirate City field with artificial turf and the ball comes off so much faster and cleaner than on dirt and grass. It tends to skip along. The Wagner’s put runners on first and second with nobody out in the seventh and a sharp ground ball to our third baseman Jay Petruska, 50,resulted in a force at third and the long throw over to me which skipped off the carpet into my glove for a double play. The game ended in almost identical fashion one batter later as shortstop Todd Rowley, 48, fielded a grounder that I had to pick up out of the dirt to get the runner by about a half step as we preserved the 5-3 victory.
And my first ever handshake with hero Roy Face was in the post-game ‘nice game’ line. Who would have thunk it?
The day started with TheBat and ended with TG, TheGlove, and we have to be the most fragile 3-0 team in camp. By sweeping our division we have already qualified for Thursday’s playoff round (if we have enough bodies left) and tomorrow will be nice for the nine of us as we have only one game in the morning. We can use the afternoon in the whirlpool.
Back in 1969 while the New York Mets were stunning the baseball world with their very improbable World Series championship, the pop group Three Dog Night recorded what turned out to be their top single a tune called “One”. You remember that ‘one was the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one.”
Perhaps they were right. Not in baseball however. Number’s 1 and 2 are well worn and many of them have a place in the baseball Hall of Fame. Arguably the loneliest number in baseball has to be number 60.
Nobody in baseball wears number 60. Unless you are a 28th round draft choice, invited to major league camp, given number 60 for a day or two and then shipped out to baseball purgatory in Dubuque or Paducah or Moline. If you ever come back you have proven your mettle and given a ‘real’ number to wear.
In fact in the annals of sport there is only one number 60 of any renown. For some reason NFL Hall of Famer and Cleveland Browns quarterback (yep QB) Otto Graham wore 60 during his playing years in the late 1940s and 50s. In today’s NFL quarterbacks are forbidden to wear a number that high. About as close as you can come these days–and believe me this is a stretch–is Florida Panther goalie Jose Theodore who is a #60.