Monday, December 07, 2009

The Perfection of Whitey Ball

Nobody’s Perfect: It was the bottom of the ninth…Kansas City…1985 World Series, game six between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. Whitey Herzog’s boys were about to win the World Series again for him. We had Ozzie, and Willie McGee, the great Jack Clark, and the perfect John Tutor. Not to mention probably one of the best second basemen ever to play the game, Tommy Herr.

There was a hit, and a “missed” call by an umpire whose name would go down in history as the worse call ever made by an umpire…Don Denkinger. The game would have been over, and the World Series won, if not for that call.

I remember it well. The year was 1985, and I had a big crush on the first baseman, Jack Clark. A replay showed that the ball thrown by Jack Clark to the pitcher Todd Worrell was in time. The batter was out. But the umpire called it safe, and the Royals went on to win the game. The psychological damage caused by that one terrible call, was so overwhelming that the Cardinals mentally gave up and lost the next game by 11-0.

Not even the great Whitey Herzog could muster the boys after such a criminal act.

Herzog, the Cardinals beloved coach, argued the call relentlessly, but to no avail. Jack Clark went into the dugout, took a bat, and demolished whole toilets off the locker room walls, or so it was rumored.

Everyone who watched that call knew it was wrong. Replays plainly showed the umpire's mistake. The Cardinals by all accounts had won. But, all it took was one man to steal it from them.

Was Denkinger paid off? Well, my dad always told me that some times baseball was fixed, and he would know. He used to work at the race tracks taking bets…and told many a story of how the rich always fixed the games. Any game, any sport. He quit that job because he just couldn’t do it any more. And that was years before…

But I want to say something about the great news today…that Whitey Herzog, a man who had coached the Royals, Rangers, Angels, and the Cardinals for so many great seasons was finally nominated into Cooperstown, and it’s about frigging time!

Here in St. Louis, we had Joe Torre after Herzog retired. Let me tell you, Joe was no Whitey. Joe was boring compared to a Whitey game.

Herzog would not only get the boys to be the very best at what they did, he could take any baseball game, and make it just--- damn well, unbelievably exciting.

That man could entertain. There were double steals, surprises, perfect pitching, and of course, the REAL home run before the lines came in. Whitey played chess. He played the moment. He knew what the fans wanted, and he delivered every single time---and we all loved him.

He WAS a master---- of men, and baseball.

Whitey had four rules: 1. Be on time 2. Bust your butt 3. Play smart 4. Have some laughs while you’re at it.

And for this nobody fan, Herzog was more than perfect. I don’t have time to look up his stats…but I can say, that as I looked back on that time of my life, when every game seem to be a lesson in life, I was so lucky, to have spent a good portion of my life, hooked on Whitey Herzog baseball.

Whitey, I love ya. You are the man.

Not many people in this world can claim to be perfect at much of anything…but in my book; Whitey Herzog was just about as perfect a man and a coach as one human can attain to.

Congratulations on your induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mr. Herzog!

Thanks for just being the very best, every single day of your life.

(Yeah, I know, I pretend that he can read me…give me a break, I’m tearing up.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its me again Joy. I can see why you Yanks dislike Royalty ! What I don't get is all the aristocratic names you give each other. King this and Earl that; even a Duke or three seem to be popular. The only honourific we have in Oz is for my very own dangly manly part, Viscount the Honourable Percy. And in case you wonder - yes it does have a little in common with baseball.


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