I won my last start of the 1980 season in Chicago 5-1. I always liked pitching in Chicago. I liked the restaurants, the bars, the nightlife, and after winning what I thought was my last game of the season I took advantage of all Chicago had to offer. Our last two games of the season were in Milwaukee. I planned to catch up on my sleep and watch Mike Norris (22 wins) and Rick Langford (19 wins) close out the season.
Rick Langford started the very last game of the year in pursuit of his 20th win. It was a cold October day in Milwaukee. Rick was having an amazing
year. He had completed 28 of his 32 starts including 22 consecutive compete games prior to this last game of the year. Going for his 20th win you
knew there was no way he would be coming out of this game. Most of the guys, especially those who knew they wouldn’t be playing had been out
until the bars closed, since it was our last night of the year on the road. This included most of our relief pitchers, and all of the starters except for Langford.
After a couple consecutive nights of heavy drinking I wasn’t feeling too good. As the game wore on the temperature dropped and wind blew harder. I remembered from the year before that there was a ladder that you could climb and get to a catwalk inside the giant scoreboard in right field near our bullpen. I knew I would be the last person called into the game having just pitched a couple of days earlier. Not only had Langford completed 90% of his games, we had a bullpen full of able bodied relief pitchers. Well, perhaps I should say able bodied, but hung over relief pitchers.
Somewhere around the 4th or 5th inning I started to feel worse, and decided I needed to lie down. I climbed up the ladder and into the giant scoreboard.
I rested on the narrow cat walk shielded from the wind, and warmed by all of the electrical stuff inside the scoreboard. The guys in the bullpen would occasionally let me know what was happening in the game. I dozed off a couple of times only to be awakened by the sound of a baseball rattling
County Stadium (R.I.P.) scoreboard. What’s that smell??
around the catwalk that someone from the bullpen had thrown to playfully harass me.
After puking somewhere deep in the bowels of the scoreboard I felt a little better. It was now he 8th inning and the bullpen kept teasing me that Billy
wanted me to warm up. The game was tied 4-4, Langford had men on base, but I knew they were kidding me. Langford would not be coming
out of this game unless it became a lost cause, and I would be the last person to be used in relief!
Langford pitched the 9th and the 10th inning. After finishing the 10th inning Jeff Jones who was my roommate on the road and is now the pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers got my attention and said that I needed to get ready to pitch the 11th inning. He said Art (Art Fowler our pitching coach) had called down to the bullpen and said get Kingman up. It was no joke.
The first batter I faced was Ben Ogilvie,he got a base hit. The next batter grounded out. This was followed by an intentional walk, and then an unintentional walk. There I was in a game I had no business being in, on the road with one out and the bases loaded facing loss number 21! Fortunately the next batter hit the ball back to me and we turned a double play to mercifully end the inning. Dave Beard came into the game to pitch the 12th inning. The team didn’t score much when I pitched, and they didn’t score any for Beard who threw 3 scoreless innings and then took the loss in the 15th inning.
Rick Bosetti was a flashy fielder who, with Toronto in 1979, led AL outfielders in putouts, assists, and errors. Recognizing his own modest talents as a player, Bosetti had other goals – notably to urinate in the outfield of every major league park, a goal he was able to achieve!
Hard to believe who ever wrote this thought Rick had no other goals. He was a decent ballplayer. Rick went on to become the Mayor of Redding CA. not too long ago. I had no idea about his goal to urinate in every MLB park until he told me in 1981. I am sure if Billy would have been pissed off he had caught Rick in the act!
Bruce Robinson was my catcher in Chattanooga. He also caught for the A’s and Yankees.
We had a day off in Montgomery and decided to check out the state capitol. Bruce struck up a
conversation with Wendy as we were wandering around the rotunda. She turned out to be George Wallace’s receptionist, and her family had known the Wallace family for years.
When Wendy learned that we were in town to play baseball she mentioned that Governor Wallace
had played baseball at the University of Alabama. I told Wendy that my father had played baseball with the Governor at Alabama.
With that, Wendy said that she was sure he would want to meet us. We were ushered in to his office ahead of several people who had appointments to meet with him, one of them was Harvey Glance who had won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics.
George was happy to see us and remembered playing with my father who he said was a fine shortstop. This was very interesting since I don’t think my father has thrown a baseball in his life and may have never even set foot in Alabama!
I remember a game in Toronto when Billy Martin put Mike Edwards
in to pinch run at third base, late in the game with the score tied. With his speed he would be able to tag up and score on a fly ball. Instead he got caught off third on a ground ball to the infield. He was so mortified that he exited the field through
the Blue Jays dugout in order to avoid the inevitable confrontation with Billy in our dugout!