Don’t be afraid to take a pitch; salute to Harry Kalas & The Bird
LOS ANGELES — At the risk of sounding like a “Moneyball” proponent (not that getting on base is a bad thing), the Giants aren’t supplementing their offense with walks. At all.
They’ve gone three consecutive games without drawing a free pass, the first time that’s happened since June 4-6, 1976 against Philadelphia.
Manager Bruce Bochy admitted that this factoid demonstrates that his youngish hitters are overanxious, not selective enough, etc.
“That’s part of the evidence that shows they’re getting out of their game a little bit,” Bochy said.
Rest in peace, Harry Kalas and Mark Fidrych.
I met Harry fleetingly a couple of times, and once I joined a group of Philadelphia writers for dinner that Kalas also attended. My enduring memory of that evening is of a nice, graceful man who was comfortable with himself and his celebrity (some guys at dinner made friendly jokes aboiut his Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials). Moreover, though I was essentially a stranger to him, he treated me like one of the boys. May God bless him and his family.
As for “The Bird,” Mark Fidrych — my gosh, the excitement he brought to baseball in that summer of 1976 was remarkable. As I recall, the only road crowd he drew below 30,000 was in Oakland — 25,659 on Aug. 29, 1976 (thank you, baseball-reference.com). I actually attended that game, sitting in the top deck behind home plate at the Oakland Coliseum, and it was riveting. Fidrych and Mike Torrez threw darts for 11 innings until Rollie Fingers took over for the A’s in the 12th. Every time Fidrych went into his little act — smoothing the mound with his hand, talking to the ball — the crowd buzzed.
The A’s finally scored the game-winning run off Fidrych in the 12th, but I went home knowing that I had just witnessed one of the best regular-season games I’d ever see.