Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Do we know if Pete Rose was safe or out on the play used to create his statue? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Somebody said they should have included umpire Eric Gregg on the statue. Gregg, who was on the plus side of 300 pounds, once called Rose out at third base on a head-first slide. Rose thought he was safe and said to Gregg, “If it had been a hamburger you wouldn’t have missed it.” The statue is an amalgam of all Pete’s head-first slides and it is awesome.
Q: What is Todd Frazier’s future and is the trade the Reds made with him involved panning out? — JOHN, Oakwood.
A: My source in Chicago, a pizza vendor working section 118, tells me the White Sox will try to trade Frazier at the deadline. He is hitting home runs (11) but striking out a lot (52) and not hitting for average (.205). Like most Reds fans, I hated to see the ultra-popular Frazier and his Frank Sinatra walk-up music leave. But the Reds received Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza and were able to place Eugenio Suarez at third base. So far, so good.
Q: Have you ever seen umpires warming up their arms before games so they can throw the ball to the pitcher? — LARRY, Piqua.
A: No, because they don’t. Mostly before games they rub Delaware mud on the baseballs to remove the gloss or they warm up their lungs in front of a mirror. Some umpires, the young guys, like to throw new balls to the pitcher. The older, wiser guys merely hand a new ball to the catcher and let him throw it. I’ve never heard of an umpire undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Q: The Pete Rose statue at Great American Ball Park is awesome. Will the next statue be of manager Sparky Anderson pointing to the bullpen in his Captain Hook pose? — CHARLEY, Centerville.
A: GABP has almost as many statues as Rome or Athens, and the pigeons love it. The Reds love to live in the past because, as Pete Rose said, “The past is rich.” And it distracts from the mess they are in right now. Adding Sparky makes a lot of sense, but before you know it they’ll be adding one of Champ Summers.
Q: I enjoyed watching Bronson Arroyo pitch for the Reds over the years, but who was the greatest pitcher you ever saw? — JAY, Englewood.
A: In my time the Reds have had few outstanding pitchers, but the ones who stand out are Don Gullett, Mario Soto and Jose Rijo. But the greatest pitcher in my time was, without hesitation, Nolan Ryan. He pitched for 27 years, struck out 5,714 batters, threw seven no-hitters and I am amazed he never threw one against the Reds. He was throwing pitches over 100 miles an hour in his 40s. And as Robin Ventura discovered to his dismay, a player should never charge the mound with Ryan was standing on it.
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Q: Do batters ever ask umpires if a pitch was a strike after the batter swung and missed a pitch or would umpires consider that a challenge and eject them? — DAN, Beavercreek.
A: They do it all the time. I’ve seen Joey Votto do it, although he seldom swings at a pitch out of the strike zone. And umpires answer that, yes, it was a strike or, no, it wasn’t. It isn’t considered a challenge because the batter swung and missed so the strike was not a bad call by the umpire. Now if the batter says, “I swung at that pitch in the dirt because you’d probably call it a strike,” that player might be standing under the showers in the third inning.
Q: Didn’t Johnny Bench hit three home run in one game against John ‘The Count’ Montefusco? — JEFF, Troy.
A: Not three, just one. But it traveled 500 feet. Before the game, the brash San Francisco pitcher predicted he would strike out Bench four times. Bench hit the ball 500 feet. While Scooter Gennett is the only Red to hit four home runs in a game, Bench once hit four in four at-bats. He homered in his last at-bat on May 8, 1973. Then the next day, facing Cy Young winner and Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, he hit three in his first three at-bats. Amazingly, the year before, Bench hit three in one game off Carlton. That’s why, to this day, Bench calls Carlton “my cousin Steve.”
Q: If they used brightly colored baseballs in Tropicana Field wouldn’t players see the ball better against that white roof? — JOHN, Dayton.
A: Wouldn’t it be apropos to use orange baseballs in Tropicana Field? They could use yellow baseballs in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, too. Former Oakland A’s owner Charley Finley once proposed orange baseballs but he was laughed out of the room. Using different colored baseballs in different parks isn’t something MLB would like. They prefer standardized baseballs, the same for all. Next thing you know they’d want to use red, white and blue baseballs in Washington and red baseballs in Cincinnati. Players in Tropicana just need to concentrate hard and prepare to duck.