Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hot stove league

Blogging is kind of like baseball--one day you make the highlight reel, the next someone likens your head to a bowling ball with ears.

Only there's no highlight reel in blogging.

Let's talk baseball!

Oh, we already are. Here's an interesting fact or figure: I saw man-mountain Joey Meyer hit a 582-foot home run at Mile High Stadium (sixth graf). This was when Joey played for the gayly named Denver Zephyrs, the Triple-A (minor-league) baseball team Denver had before getting the "major league" Colorado Rockies.

I also, now that I think about it, saw the most incredible game in the freakin' history of baseball. Sorry, but I did. Difficult to find an account of it, but here it is in a history of the Buffalo (NY) Bisons (another triple-A team):

On the field (in 1991), with Terry Collins at the helm for the third straight year, the Bisons not only won their first Eastern Division title, set another minor league attendance mark of 1,240,951, but also, in the fourth game of the playoffs against Denver, staged the most dramatic last ditch rally in the history of Buffalo baseball, only to come up a run short. In the final series, after winning the first two games at home, the Bisons needed just one win in three games at Denver to win the title. In the first game at Mile High Stadium, they were beaten, 8-3.

In the next game they were shutout for eight innings without a hit and went into the top of the ninth facing a 9-0 deficit. Suddenly coming to life, the Bisons scored six runs and had the bases full with two outs. Late-season hitting star Greg Tubbs then lined a double to left. Runs seven and eight scored easily and it seemed certain that speedy Greg Edge would score from first with the tying run. But a brilliant relay by the Zephyrs nipped him at the plate, at least in the opinion of umpire Scott Potter. The Bisons did not agree.

The Zephyrs went on to win the third game for the triple-A championship. But to this day only one home-team pitcher has thrown a no-hitter in Denver--the legendary Ryne Duren in 1957:

Despite Duren's reputation and live arm, the powerful Yankees already had a well-stocked rotation and sent him to Triple-A Denver to gain more experience.

"I kind of objected to that," he said. "I thought I was pitching real well and (K.C. manager) Lou Boudreau said I was probably the best pitcher on his staff, and that he didn't have anything to do with the trade."

However, Yankee executive Larry MacPhail told Duren, "Just go down there, get your feet on the ground and we'll have you right up."

"I went down there and my very first start I threw a no-hitter, and it's the only one by a home-team pitcher in the history of professional baseball in Denver," Duren said.

Update: When Denver got the Rockies, the Zephyrs, God bless 'em, moved to New Orleans.

Update II: There's all kind of lying out there about the distances home runs have allegedly traveled, and since Meyer's was interrupted by a seat in the upper deck of (70,000-seat) Mile High, its distance is probably only an estimate.

Update III: Here's a brief history of Mile High. What doesn't kill you, dear reader, only makes you stronger.

Update IV: The "bowling ball with ears" article avoids mentioning why Bill Lee was called "Spaceman," but it was for his rather militant use of pot, mescaline, amphetamines, etc., in the 60s. This article discusses that, as well as the inspiring story of "Dock" Ellis, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter while (as the young folks say) "tripping his brains out" on LSD. Money quote: "The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes; sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't."

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