Baseball Legends Revealed #13

This is the thirteenth in a series of examinations of baseball-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous baseball legends.

This installment is a re-format edition, so these legends have already been posted on this site, just not in this format.

Let’s begin!

BASEBALL LEGEND: Los Angeles Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda has a rather…interesting response to a reporter’s question about the performance of Mets outfielder Dave Kingman.

STATUS: False

This is a really interesting situation, due to the serendipitous nature of it all.

Okay, now as the story goes, Dave Kingman of the New York Mets torched the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3 home runs and 8 runs batted in in an 11-0 Mets victory on June 4, 1976.

The great web site Dodger Blues has the story…

After a game in which Dave Kingman hit three home runs to beat the Dodgers (the first of two 3-HR games that Kingman would have against the Dodgers), Tommy Lasorda was asked by reporter Paul Olden what he thought of Kingman’s performance. The rest is history:

Reporter: Can you give us just a few basic comments about your feelings on the game?

Lasorda: Well, naturally I feel bad about losing a ball game like that, there’s no way you should lose that ball game. An’, it, uh, just doesn’t make sense.

R: What’s your opinion of Kingman’s performance?

TL: What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance!? What the BLEEP do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was BLEEPING BLEEP. Put that in, I don’t BLEEP. Opinion of his performance!!? BLEEP, he beat us with three BLEEPING home runs! What the BLEEP do you mean, “What is my opinion of his performance?” How could you ask me a question like that, “What is my opinion of his performance?” BLEEP, he hit three home runs! BLEEP. I’m BLEEPING pissed off to lose that BLEEPING game. And you ask me my opinion of his performance! BLEEP. That’s a tough question to ask me, isn’t it? “What is my opinion of his performance?”

R: Yes, it is. I asked it, and you gave me an answer…

TL: Well, I didn’t give you a good answer because I’m mad, but I mean…

R: Well, is wasn’t a good question…

TL: That’s a tough question to ask me right now, “What is my opinion of his performance.” I mean, you want me to tell you what my opinion of his performance is…

R: You just did…

TL: That’s right. BLEEP. Guy hits three home runs against us. BLEEP

Click here to hear the whole thing.

The story’s a great story, and I was just going to write it up as such, as “True.”

But then it occurred to me – hey, wasn’t 1977 Tommy Lasorda’s first year as the Dodgers manager?

And I checked, and yes, as the Sports Illustrated above shows, Lasorda did not become manager until 1977.

He WAS a coach in 1976, but that interview sure doesn’t sound like the interview a reporter and a third base coach would have, does it? That’s clearly a managerial Q&A.

So, of course, naturally, I checked Kingman’s game logs (at the great website baseballreference.com) and, sure enough, Kingman (as Dodger Blues does allude to) DID have another three homer/eight RBI game against the Dodgers on May 14, 1978 as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

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Obviously, in 1978, Lasorda WAS the manager.

In addition, in the 1976 game, the Mets won 11-0. In THIS game, however, the Dodgers lost in the FIFTEENTH inning, 10-7. How did they lose? Well, first off, Dave Kingman hits his second homer of the game, a 2-run shot, to tie the game in the ninth inning, 7-7. Then he hits a 3-run homer in the top of the fifteenth to win the game for the Cubs.

Now ask yourself – which scenario seems more likely that a guy would be irate over a question about Dave Kingman?

It’s clear – May 14, 1978 is when that recording is from, not June 4, 1976.

Now here’s the serendipitous kicker! So I’m working on this bit the other day, researching it, getting it ready to go. And what do I find?

THIS piece on a neat baseball site called Diamond Fans.

The guy Ted there had also made the same discovery. Only get this – do you know WHEN he made the discovery?

May 19th, 2009!!!!! Just TWO DAYS before I deduced it myself!!! That’s some freaky stuff right there, right? TWO DAYS BEFORE!!! Ted also got some extra info, including the fact that Lasorda has been asked about the incident, and while he confirms the 1976 date, he also describes the 1978 game! So clearly, he’s just agreeing with the people who tell him it was 1976 even though it’s obviously 1978.

Thanks to Dodger Blues for the transcript and thanks to Ted for making me feel a lot less special for figuring it out! :)

By the way, Paul Olden is now the stadium announcer for Yankee Stadium. That’s neither here nor there, but I found it interesting!

BASEBALL LEGEND: Shea Stadium congratulated the Boston Red Sox on winning the 1986 World Series before Game 6 of the 1986 World Series ended.

STATUS: True

The moment will live on forever in infamy, Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner allowing Mookie Wilson’s slow grounder to first go through his legs to allow the Mets to complete their improbable comeback in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

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The Mets comeback began after the Red Sox had scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning and the first two Mets batters had made out.

Then, with two strikes on the next batter, Gary Carter, the Mets came to life and scored three runs with two outs, the last two runs scoring on a wild pitch/passed ball (Rich Gedman and Bob Stanley will certainly defend each possibility as the truth in that instance – Gedman believes that Stanley through the ball wide, Stanley believes that Gedman should have had the pitch in the dirt) and the aforementioned botched ground ball.

But did the Mets really prematurely congratulate the Red Sox?

As Peter Weiss said in Baseball Digest…

The champagne was waiting in the locker room, the team’s octogenerian owner [Tom Yawkey - BC] had already been presented with a plaque, and Bruce Hurt, the Red Sox’ star lefty, had been named the Series MVP.

And, of course…

“Congratulations to the World Champion Red Sox” flashed on the Shea Stadium scoreboard.

As it turned out, it was just a glitch – it was not intentional, it was just an error in the system as they prepared for it to be used after the last out.

Still, it’s pretty hilarious!

If anyone has a picture of it, I’d love to see it!

BASEBALL LEGEND: Frank Thomas’ agents dropped him for skipping team workouts.

STATUS: True

Scott Sanderson always had a strong sense of morals. Whether you think his morals are misguided or not, you would still have to admit that when the man takes a stand on an issue, he really took a stand.

When he was a Major League pitcher, Sanderson actually refused to talk to female reporters in the locker room. As the pitcher noted in 1991, when he continued the practice even though he was now playing in New York and it was, you know, 1991 and not 1951:

It’s simple. I don’t believe women should be in a place where men are getting dressed. At the same time, I recognize they have a job to do and I don’t want to compromise their jobs. It’s a moral issue to me, not a constitutional one. I have to stand up for what I think is morally right.

Sanderson took that same sense of morals with him to the world of sports agency, where Sanderson partnered up with Mike Moye to run Moye Sports Associates.

In late 2000, Moye and Sanderson began representing Frank Thomas after his longtime agent, Robert Fraley, died in the same plane crash that killed Payne Stewart.

In early 2001, Frank Thomas had some issues with White Sox President Jerry Reinsdorf. Specifically, Thomas was irked at a “diminished skills” clause in the contract extension that Thomas had signed in 1997. When he signed his deal in 1997, Thomas was coming off an extraordinary run from 1991-1997 that put him at among the best hitters in baseball for every year, including winning him two MVPs in 1993 and 1994. After two down years in 1998 and 1999 (for Thomas they were down years, at least), Thomas rebounded to come in second in the 2000 American League MVP voting.

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So the following season, Thomas wanted the White Sox to waive the “diminished skills” clause in his contract that was built around the following: the White Sox could defer part of his salary if he failed to be an AllStar, win the Silver Slugger award, or finish in the top ten for the MVP. If they invoked it, they would still own him the money (a little under $10 million), they could just defer all but $250,000 of it.

In 1998 and 1999, Thomas failed to do any of those three, but in 2000, he won the Silver Slugger and came in second, so he wanted the White Sox to waive the clause. They were unwilling to do so.

So, as a form of protest, Thomas sat out a few weeks of mandatory workouts.

His agents were displeased, and dropped him as a client.

From the beginning of our involvement with Frank this off-season, we have consistently advised him to honour his contract, perform to the best of his abilities on the field and address any issues he might have with the White Sox privately. Based on recent discussions with Frank, we have concluded that we have divergent views on certain principles that we believe are fundamental in the representation of our clients.

After the 2002 season, the White Sox DID invoke the clause, although they chose to still pay him $5 million rather than the $250,000 they were entitled to.

In 2004 and 2005, they paid him $6 million and $8 million, respectively, then bought him out of his 2006 contract (a $10 million option) for $3.5 million.

Thomas mentioned at the time that he WAS being unfair to Sanderson and Moye, as they had just recently become his agent when they got caught up in the middle of his problems with the White Sox.

Sanderson and Moye’s agency made the news again last year when star slugger Josh Hamilton left his agent of the time to join Moye Sports Associates, citing the group’s Christian beliefs as a major reason for the move.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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One Response to “Baseball Legends Revealed #13”

  1. It is rather important to maintain your thoughts
    calm and quiet.

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