Late Night, Early Morning
Saturday, March 24, 2012
In case you missed it because of sleep or other priorities, last night’s White sox game featured the best in baseball drama – an inside the park home run. And you’ll never guess who delivered!
“You gotta go, Tubby,” with that Dbacks thirdbaseman Geoff Blum exhorted and mocked former teammate A.J. Pierzynski as he rounded third and headed for home as his shot off the center field wall ricocheted around the outfield.
AJ beat the throw home, sliding safely across the plate. It is an around-the-bases dash well worth watching again.
And you can bet that catcher will be in downtown Phoenix today rooting on his Florida Gators.
It was pretty late last night, so understandable if you missed it, but Nate Jones threw the ball VERY well in his two-inning stint, striking out five and reaching 97 mph with his fastball. It was an impressive way to end a long day.
Roland, One of A Kind
I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with former White Sox GM Roland Hemond last night. Hemond, who now works for the Diamondbacks but was also at the game to talk about this year’s celebration of Dick Allen and the 1972 team, reminisced about his time with the Sox with some great stories.
During Allen’s heyday, the Sox had a driver whose daily responsibility would be to get Allen to the ballpark in time for the game, but not by much.
“At 7:30 before an 8 p-.m. game he’d be eating ribs at the Hickory Pit,” Hemond recalled, “and then he’d hit a three-run homer.”
When Hemond became GM of the White Sox, one word of advice he received was to avoid getting tangled up with Dick Allen. So when Hemond acquired both Stan Bahnsen and Allen in a trade at the winter meetings of 1971, the same guy told him … “Congratulations on Bahnsen. Good luck with Allen.”
The next offseason, Hemond received the Executive of the Year Award. When he saw the very same “advisor,” he called out … “Thank you, Dick Allen!”
Hemond recalled that he once almost traded Wilbur Wood. “It really is true that the trades you don’t make are sometimes your best ones,” he laughed, in talking about Wood’s importance and durability to those Sox teams.
Hemond disclosed that he talked Steve Stone into returning to baseball after the sore-armed pitcher was ready to move on to a career in restaurants.
“You shouldn’t be hanging it up,” Hemond told Stone at the Pump Room one day before the 1973 season. Stone returned, pitched well, and had a chance to become a free agent.
“But he showed a lot of class,” Hemond recalled. “He could have been a free agent but instead, he said, ‘You guys showed faith in me, I owe it to you to stay here.’”
The next year, Stone again was a free agent. This time, owner Bill Veeck said Stone owed it to himself to try the market. Stone went on to win the AL Cy Young Award that season with the Orioles.
Hemond has nothing but good things to say about his seasons with Veeck.
“We used to go around Chicago, attending dinners and meetings,” he recalled with a smile. “Bill told me to never leave early, to always stay and talk to everyone. Finally, after five dinners a night, night after night, I said, “Bill, look around. I’m talking to you. You’re talking to me. Everyone else is gone.’
“I wouldn’t trade those five years with him for anything,” Hemond said.
There was one moment Hemond might like to forget. It came when the conversation switched to old Payne Park in Sarasota, Fla. The team worked out of trailers. Hemond was inside on the phone one day when he heard BAM! BAM! BAM!
“What was that?” everyone wondered.
“Keep the door shut!” someone yelled. The loud BAM ringing through the trailer was a disgruntled, recently released player trying to sledgehammer his way inside to reach Hemond.
Hemond left laughing at Ron Leflore’s famous, four-base error on a ball that bounced off his head.
“He blamed it on Mount St. Helens,” Hemond joked decades later.
Honoring the 1972 Team
Here is the info about how the White Sox and the Chicago Baseball Museum plan to celebrate Hemond, Dick Allen and members of that famous 1972 team in June:
WHITE SOX TO HONOR DICK ALLEN
Former White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond and Other Members of 1972 Team
Scheduled to Attend Tribute on June 24
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox will honor former White Sox first baseman and 1972 American League Most Valuable Player Dick Allen at U.S. Cellular Field prior to the game on Sunday, June 24. The seven-time All-Star and White Sox fan favorite is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game vs. Milwaukee (1:05 p.m.), with other embers of the 1972 White Sox team and legendary former Sox general manager Roland Hemond in attendance.
During the June 24 game, and all 2012 Sunday home games, the White Sox will wear red pinstriped throwback uniforms and red caps to honor the 1972 team. The first 10,000 children (13 and under) in attendance on June 24 will receive youth XL 1972 replica jerseys, presented by Pepsi.
“The 1972 White Sox team stands out in franchise history. Personalities and stars like Dick Allen, Goose Gossage, Bill Melton and many others changed this franchise and deserve to be recognized,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Seeing Allen throw that first pitch and those pinstriped jerseys will bring back a lot of memories for fans of that generation and create new memories as well.”
On Monday, June 25, Allen and other members of the 1972 White Sox will be honored by the Chicago Baseball Museum at their fundraising dinner at U.S. Cellular Field. The festivities for the museum’s dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the Stadium Club,
For more information about the Chicago Baseball Museum’s tribute dinner, visit ChicagoBaseballMuseum.org.