Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud

13) NBA TV showed an old documentary the other night on the 1983 NBA Draft, the one with Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, but they also had some stuff about Rick Carlisle, who surprisingly made the Celtics as a rookie.

They also did a piece on the last player taken in that draft, a guy who played D-III ball at Clark University in Massachusetts— he wound up playing pro ball in Ireland for a while, became a stockbroker in Manhattan, then tragically passed away on 9/11.

If you come across the documentary on NBA TV, it is worth your time.

12) When you live in the house you grew up in, the upstairs (at least in my case) is kind of a big storage locker of my life. Was foraging up there the other day, and found the 1975 Baseball Handbook, a paperback book I would buy every year- it had all the rosters, and write-ups on the 10 or so best players on each team.

I have about 25 years of those books, but this one is special, because on July 19, 1975, my dad took me to Shea Stadium to see a Mets-Braves game, and four Braves signed the book.

11) When you’re 15 years old, a huge baseball fan and your first name is Biff, then the Braves have a backup catcher named Biff Pocoroba, you become a fan, a big fan. I’d clip out all of his good boxscores (he made the 1978 All-Star Game) and keep them in a scrapbook.

My dad surprised me with these tickets; they were right by third base, third row off the field, tremendous seats. Never found out how he got such good seats.

As it turns out, that was the first game Biff Pocoroba started in a week, so I met Vic Correll, the starting catcher instead, as he walked down past us to the left field bullpen. Also met Buzz Capra, Elias Sosa and best of all, an injured outfielder named Dusty Baker.

10) Dusty Baker had a broken wrist, so he took a lot of time signing for fans; when he signed my book, he read the paragraph the guy wrote about him, which I had not read. Turns out the guy ripped him for always being hurt; Dusty laughed it off: “this guy don’t like me!!!”

Anyway, it was a fun day; Biff Pocoroba flied out to the fence in right field against Tom Seaver (ball would have gone out in Atlanta), and to this day, I root for Dusty Baker. Good guy.

9) There was a 1986 Mets-Astros playoff game on TV the other night; Houston was in the National League back then. Astros had those great rainbow-colored jerseys, but the thing that stuck out about this game, played 34 years ago— Joe West was one of the umpires.

Joe West is 67 years old; he was a major league ump when he was 23. Quite a career. 

8) Mets were going to retire Jerry Koosman’s #36 on June 13; Koosman went 48-28 for the Mets from 1968-70, but was only 140-137 overall for New York— he was their #2 starting pitcher for the ’69 Miracle Mets, behind Tom Seaver.

Here’s the thing; how do the Mets retire Koosman’s number before Dwight Gooden’s?

Gooden went 157-85 as a Met, from 1984-94; the ’86 Mets won the World Series. You can say Gooden had a lot of problems off the field, but Koosman did six months in the big house for tax evasion back in 2009, so he’s no angel off the field, either.

7) Last season, Toronto Blue Jays’ rookie Bo Bichette became the first player EVER to hit a double in nine consecutive games, and he did it in his first 13 major league games, which is a pretty impressive feat. 

6) Positive sign for baseball season starting up in a month or so; the factory where they make Louisville Slugger baseball bats re-opened this week.

 5) How is it that Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson has never gotten one vote for NFL MVP? Guy won a Super Bowl, lost another one on the last play- you’d think he’d at least get a vote from a writer in Seattle. Seahawks’ LB Bobby Wagner even got a vote, but not Wilson. 

4) Mid-American Conference made some changes to its basketball tournament format; no more divisions during the season, and only the top eight teams make the MAC tournament.

3) One of the weird consequences of the pandemic seems to be a comeback for drive-in movie theaters, especially in areas with nice weather. There are still one or two of those around here; good way for people to get out without being near other humans.

2) Andre Dawson was a great ballplayer, hit 438 homers in a 21-year career, mostly for the Expos/Cubs. An 8-time All-Star, Dawson was the 1987 MVP, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010— so whats he doing now?

Turns out that Dawson owns a funeral parlor in Richmond Heights, FL; 23 people work for him. Its a business where you never run out of customers, but a bit unusual for a guy who made close to $30M in his playing days to be running a freakin’ funeral parlor. 

1) RIP to the great comedian Jerry Stiller, 92, who passed away over the weekend; he had a great career, first as part of the Stiller & Meara comedy team wth his wife, the late Anne Meara, then later on as part of the cast of Seinfeld. He was married to Ms Meara for 60 years.

RIP, sir; I’m guessing St Peter and the folks up above are about to hear a lot about Jay Buhner. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.

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