Baseball, Pool But No Golf

Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
Trip End Jan 23, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Friday, January 20, 2012

Up real early...6:00 am. Coffee for Skip and a Diet Coke for me for breakfast in the bar area where all the White Sox Fantasy Camp attendees gathered. About 7:00 am, we headed to several vans to take us to the White Sox Training Camp facility. Skip and I got in the van with Bill Melton, Kevin Hickey and Art "Cave" Kusnyer. What a hilarious 15 minute drive to the facility. Jokes, jibes and humor abounded.

In the dressing room, all the guys got dressed, Skip ate breakfast (mine wasn't included, but I had a granola bar along with my Diet Coke, and I was fine). We headed out for pictures with the teams. There are six teams with 12-13 guys (and two girls) per team...sorry, I mean only two girls total, not, two girls per team. Anyway, pictures of all the teams were followed by pictures of the coaches and then back into the clubhouse. About 10:00 am, all the guys headed out to one of three different baseball diamonds for games.

The guys on all the teams range from twenty-somethings to guys who are older than me (61). Interestingly, many of them were limping as they walked or ran, being injured by errant ground balls, diving for ground balls or hustling down the line to beat out a ground ball. Skip himself, had turned his ankle the first day and was no more than 50% running...many others were the same. The pros pitch to the amateurs. That meant Harold Baines pitched for Skip's team and Ed Hermann pitched for the opposing team. Never heard of Ed Hermann? Let me enlighten you. Ed Hermann was a catcher in the late 60's and early 70's for several teams including the White Sox. He developed a knack for catching knuckle ball pitchers, of which the White Sox had a bunch...Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilbur Wood and Eddie Fisher. He was a good catcher and a great guy. Skip's team actually tied the other team 12-12 in 10 innings. They stopped after that!

As I say, some of these guys were struggling to limp to first base. Others were pretty good players. It was fun. Not 100% sold on doing this with the Cubs...I know if I did, I would need to head to a gym for three months to try to get back in shape.

Anyway, they were nice enough to let me eat lunch with the team, then Skip and I headed back to the hotel.

I decided not to play golf today, so we headed to the pool. I read the USA today and headed to the hot tub. Eventually the hot tub had 30 guys around it headed by Bill Melton and Ron Kittle. People talked and told stories and then Melton came over to us. I asked him, "Who led the American League in home runs in 1971?" He smiled and said, "I think it was Norm Cash." I said, "B.S." And he said, "Yea, it was me." Willie Stargel led the National League in home runs in 1971, but Bill Melton led the American League with 33 home runs. He was quite a hitter and now broadcaster with the White Sox. Most of these guys are pretty laid back about their success. I sort of like that.

Then Skip invited a guy by the name of Art "Cave" Kusyner over. That is a bellyache from laughing just waiting to happen. Never heard of Art Kusyner? Me neither. But he had quite a career as a player, mostly a coach for several Major League teams. He got his name from a guy who said he looked like a "cave man" behind that catcher's mask, and it stuck. If you look him up in Wikipedia, you'll find he was a somewhat error-proned catcher in the majors and his batting average was on .176. But he did catch Nolan Ryan's second no-hitter in 1973. And he was a bullpen coach for both Chicago and Oakland for more than 19 years, including some of the Oakland glory years. And can he tell stories?

Skip asked him to tell me the story about Ricky Henderson. Here goes: He was the bullpen coach for the A's when they won the World Series in 1989...nice World Series Ring. Anyway, the next year at spring training, he asked all the ballpalyers to sign bats for him...he kept them on his wall at home. When he asked Ricky Henderson to sign a bat for him, Ricky said, "No." Well, he didn't say, "No." He said, (adjective) "No." Cave told him he was throwing batting practice tomorrow and he was going to give him a, "Tony Roma special!" (For those of you who don't know, that's a shot to the ribs!!!") Ricky said, "FU!" But Ricky didn't show up to batting practice the next day. Cave asked him again the next day for a signed bat, and Ricky told him the same thing! Cave said, "I'm throwing batting practice again tomorrow and I'm going to hit you in the (adjective) head!" Ricky said, "FU!" Then, Tony LaRusa called Cave over and asked what was going on with him and Ricky. Cave told him he just wanted Ricky to sign a bat for him. He wasn't going to sell it. He could even write "To Cave" on it to make it worthless to other people. He didn't care. Tony said, "Cave, I'll take care of it." The next day, Ricky came to Cave with TWO signed bats. Cave said thanks. Then Cave went over to Tony and asked, "How'd you get Ricky to sign the bats for me." Tony said he went to Ricky, and told him, "You know Cave has a reputation for being (adjuctive) crazy and he told me he was going to wait for you outside in the parking lot for you and crush your (adjective) skull with a crow bar unless you signed the (adjective) bat for him!!!" (LOL!!!!)

Those are the kinds of stories you get around the pool or the bar from these White Sox baseball guys. I love 'em.

After that it was dinner at Red's and home to bed. Fun day!!!

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