THE APPELLATIONS OF OUR EYE
Not many baseball fans have heard of George Bone, but that's no surprise. In 1901 George played twelve games at shortstop for last-place Milwaukee, hit a very respectable .302 and promptly dropped off the face of the earth--or went back to New Haven. So there's not much reason to remember George Bone.
Not so fast. If you're picking inductees for Cooperstown, that's one thing. But if you're a general manager in the Hot Stove League and you're putting together your All-Human-Body-Parts Team, George Bone is an absolute essential. So is Dave Brain, a utility man who hit just .252 in seven years of big-league ball between 1901 and 1908. And let's not forget Barry Foote. He's the catcher on the All-Human-Body-Parts Team, and even as this is being written, he's strapping on the shin guards and speaking sweetly to his battery-mate: Rollie Fingers.
Want to meet the rest of the guys? Some of them are playing out of position today, but what can you do? There's Elroy Face, the old Pittsburgh righty. Say hello to Johnny Temple. And Pat Duff. That's Jim Ray Hart over there, playing catch with Ted Beard. Bill Hands will be up from the clubhouse in a moment, along with Three-Finger Brown and a certain Milwaukee Braves slugging first-baseman whose name it would be unseemly to mention. Suffice it to say that he hit .308 in the 1958 World Series. Hey, wonder if Maurice Cheeks and I.M. Hipp ever played baseball.
Should be quite a game. The Body Parts are playing the All-City Team, and you probably know what that means: Kelly Paris, Elmer Cleveland and Rudy York, with Orlando Cepeda hitting cleanup and Daryl Boston representing the East Coast. Robin Ventura's in there someplace, and the manager is, inevitably, Dallas Green. We can name the team MVP even before the game starts: It's the guy with two consecutive city names--Orlando Merced. Watch out, though: After Whitney Houston sings the national anthem, Dallas might have to use her in right field.
Look. Anyone in this league (which has no salary cap and no labor strife) can rattle off an All-Colors Team--Pumpsie Green, Bill White, Joe Black, Vida Blue, Red Faber, Pete Gray, Gates Brown, Jimmy Lavender, Pinky Whitney. And who would forget, for Pete's sake, that a Rose by any other name still belongs in the Hall of Fame. That's right: The All-Colors Team is a piece of cake, like hitting batting-practice fastballs.
Try something a little tougher--like the All-Tough-Guy Team. Art Maul, Bill Stoneman, Ted Lasher, Fred Savage, Jack Harshman and Vic Power, among others. This is definitely no place for Dolly Stark, Bitsy Mott, Bubbles Hargrave and Chris Short.
Here's a real softball for you: the All-Occupations Team. Given three seconds, you, too, would come up with Ed Farmer, Chuck Tanner, George Baker, Brett Butler, Bill Plummer and Andy Merchant. Hick Carpenter and Darrell Porter might not immediately spring to mind, but the guy on the third stool from the left is sure to think of Billy Brewer. Want to add someone named Smith or Miller to the roster? Be our guest.
Meanwhile, fans, how about a little help with the All-Cosmos Team? That's Wally Moon roaming around in the outfield, Billy DeMars is going to play shortstop, and Blue Moon Odom is warming up down in the bullpen. But that leaves an awful lot of positions for Memo Luna to fill. We might even have to use the sportswriter Terry Pluto in middle relief. What are the rules, anyway? Are we allowed to draft Mercury Morris and Bart Starr from the NFL?
Elsewhere in the league, the Fish will be playing the Birds this afternoon. To wit: Randy and Kevin Bass, Steve and Dizzy Trout, Catfish Hunter, Chico Salmon, Lip Pike, Preacher Roe, Art Herring and a couple of other guys will conduct a battle of nature with George Crowe, Pete Falcone, Goose Gossage, Ducky Medwick, Robin Roberts, Sam Crane, Ed Hawk, Craig Swan and, yes, Colorado Rockies fans, Jayhawk Owens.
Of course, that does not begin to exhaust the animal world: Bob Moose, Rob Deer and Buck Weaver represent the big-game contingent, but let's not forget Spider Wilhelm, Doggie Miller, Snake Deal, Nellie Fox, John Lamb, Rabbit Maranville, Birdie Tebbetts, Possum Whitted and Bill Hogg. You could go on with this one, couldn't you?
Instead, how about a Things-You-Find-Around-the-House Team? Start with Mickey Mantle, of course. Then Jim Davenport. Bobby Doerr. How about Mel Hall, Chuck Churn (no kidding), Johnny Couch, Alan Bannister, Phil Roof, Stan Wall, Ben Tincup and--the name on everyone's lips--Kettle Wirtz. Think we josh? The Kettle played four years for Chicago back in the Twenties and hit .163 lifetime.
Watch out. Here comes the All-Speed Team--Jim Quick, Darcy Fast, our own Bill Swift, Zip Collins, Bob Hasty, Dasher Troy and Bob Rush. Meanwhile, get outta here, Sam Trott and Elmer Klumpp. You, too, Randy Lerch. And you, Tub Welsh. Go have another pastry with Allyn Stout.
Looking for a good double-play combination? How does Billy Sunday to Rick Monday sound? Too bad we can't find someone named Tommy Tuesday to fill in at first base. Otherwise, let's hear it for Pickles Dillhoefer and Steve Gerkin. No, we are not making this up: Get out your Baseball Encyclopedia.
While you're up, here's the All-Sports-Bar Team: John Boozer, Pedro Borbon, Clarence Beers (a close friend, no doubt, of Ed Pabst, Bob Miller and Germany Schaefer), Jack Daniels, Bobby Wine, Norm Sherry, Brandy Davis (Pirates, 1952-53), Juice Latham, Gene Schott, Harmon Killebrew, Johnny Lush (Phils and Cards, 1904-10) and the last name you'll ever hear if you keep playing along: Mickey Finn.
Quick. Name the All-Food Team.
There you go. Darryl Strawberry, Coot Veal, Chili Davis, Oyster Burns, Bill Peppers and Spud Davis. And, in the essential-grains department, Jim Rice, Zack Wheat and Johnny Oates. Don't forget Billy Beane. Care for some dessert? Cookie Lavagetto. Pie Traynor. Ken Berry. And leave some room for our personal favorite: Mark Lemongello.
It's high time that baseball itself had a Baseball Team. Start, of course, with Neal Ball (who played from 1907-13) and John Strike (who didn't throw many of 'em for the 1886 Phillies), and move on to Roy Hitt (a righty who gave up lots of those in service of the 1907 Reds) and Matt Batts, a catcher from 1947-56. They called Joe Start "Old Reliable" when he played first base for the old New York Mutuals, and Dave Philley really was a Philly for a spell in the 1950s.
What can we say, baseball fans, except that Frank Chance, Charlie Spikes, Gene Alley, Johnny Hopp, Johnny Bench (who never sat on one) and Jay Hook all have perfect handles for the game we love? So do Bob Walk (who was cursed to be a pitcher), Cecil Fielder (a pure hitter), Stan Hack and--but for the absence of a "T" in the middle of his name--Jim Bunning. Charlie Pick, Jim Field, Earl Battey and Ken Singleton were all playing the right game, too.
But two players say it all--complete with ironies. The St. Louis Cardinals' Taylor Douthit may have been stuck with the least fortunate surname for a non-pitcher in the history of the game, but he played eleven seasons in the Twenties and Thirties and hit .291. Meanwhile, outfielder Homer Summa played ten years with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Philadelphia A's, but he hit fewer than two homers per summa--eighteen in all.
Stick around for another minute, willya? Because here's a start on the All-Colorado Team. We must call on Rocky Colavito and Rocky Bridges, of course, along with Elias Peak (who played in 1884) and Hi West (1905 and 1911). Alejandro Pena makes the club in grudging honor of a man who doesn't know squat about airports but helped bring major-league baseball to town, and Skeeter Webb is a bow to Denver's mayoral incumbent. J.T. Snow plays on this club, as do all the players whose names end in "ski"--from Dick Tracewski to Ted Kluszewski. Frank Mountain (Troy, Columbus and Pittsburgh, 1880-86) dresses for our team, along with Mike Vail, Rocky Ford, Lamar Hoyt and Malachi Kittredge.
Twenties hurler Sheriff Blake fits the LoDo bill, while Brian Downing and Dwight Evans represent constituencies in other parts of town. And because a great club needs great pitching, our Opening Day starter will now and forever be the one, the only, Sandy...Colfax.
That okay with you?
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.