Ask Hal: Former Reds’ Nasty Boy Dibble involved in my top-ranked brawl

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: After watching Derek Dietrich pose and admire his long home run, I wonder how does a baseball writer celebrate a praiseworthy editorial? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: First of all, baseball writers don’t write editorials, we write game stories and columns. I celebrate after every story I write, mostly because it is finished. It has been estimated that I have written 22,500 baseball stories in my 46-year career. The next time I ‘celebrate’ one in admiration will be the first time. I usually hate everything I write at the time until I read it later and think, “Hey, that wasn’t too bad.”

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Q: Which do you rank better, Yasiel Puig trying to fight the entire Pittsburgh team or Pedro Borbon biting off a piece of a New York Mets cap in the 1973 playoffs? — RON, Vandalia.

A: Neither one. Puig seemed to be all yak while his teammates held him back and when he got loose he didn’t do any damage. And Borbon biting a hunk out of Cleon Jones’s Mets cap at the end of a fight was humorous. But my top ranking goes to a brawl the Reds and Houston Astros had when Rob Dibble threw behind the Astros Eric Yelding during a game in 1991. There was a skirmish on the mound, a huge pile-up with Dibble on the bottom. Houston first base coach Ed Ott had Dibble in a choke hold and Dibble’s face turned red, blue and black. He nearly became only the second on-the-field baseball fatality. (Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians died after getting hit by a pitch from Carl Mays of the New York Yankees in 1920).

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Q: Do you think Turner Ward’s job could be in jeopardy because after nine games there didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm in the hitting? JIM, Dayton

A: Your question was sent the day the Reds scored 14 runs on 16 hits against Miami, so do you wish to retract your question? Just remember a season is 162 games long, not nine. Also remember that the 1995 team started 1-8 and still won the division. Fortunately, nobody is going to lose their job as hitting coach after nine games unless they are caught lifting wallets out of the clubhouse lockers.

Q: Will Danny Murtaugh ever be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame? — ALAN, Pittsburgh.

A: Until you asked, I never gave him a thought. But it sent me scurrying to the record books and, well, wow. I was surprised to discover that Murtaugh won 1,115 games and lost 950, a .540 winning percentage. Plus he won two World Series with underdog teams, including 1960 against the New York Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 home run. Again, wow. His winning percentage is better than several Hall of Fame managers, including Earl Weaver. I guess Danny didn’t yell at enough umpires. I’d say he deserves it, but if he hasn’t been considered by now I doubt you’ll ever find his bust in The Hall.

Q: I have asked the Reds and social media if the Reds took down the statue of Pete Rose sliding head first and nobody answers me? — RICHARD, Cincinnati

A: I’ll answer it. All you have to do is walk in front of Great American Ball Park and there he is, sliding head first. I even made one quick last check before answering and Pete is still there. And it is right next to the street named Pete Rose Way and there is no move afoot to change that, either. In addition, Rose is in the Reds Hall of Fame and his number 14 is retired. If Pete hadn’t gotten into so much trouble they might have changed the name of the Ohio River to the Rose River. Of course, folks in Pittsburgh want to name it the Clemente River.

Q: If MLB is not going to move back the start of the season to avoid warm weather, why don’t they schedule more day games in April so they can at least play in the sunshine? — DAVE, Dayton.

A: For sure MLB is not going to shorten the season and lose TV revenue, which is what they would have to do to start the season later. Times to start games is determined by the Reds, but Fox prefers night games for better viewership and when TV tells MLB to jump, MLB asks them how high to jump on their way up.

Q: I saw in a newspaper where major league salaries were listed, both the median salary and the average salary, so what is the difference? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: That’s something my wife, Nadine, teaches in the seventh grade and the difference for major league players is about $2.6 million. The median is the exact number in the middle. Take all 750 players and the median salary is halfway between the No. 1 player and the No. 750 player. For MLB this year it is about $2.2 million. The average salary is determined by adding up the salaries of all 750 players and divide it by 750. The average MLB salary is about $4.8 million. I’ll take either one and be one happy camper, but I never could hit the breaking pitch.

Q: I wonder why teams spend so much time playing 30-some spring training games, wasting a lot of hits. Why don’t they just practice a couple of weeks at home and then start the season? — RANDY, Brunswick, O.

A: For the most part, spring training is for the pitchers. Hitters can get ready quickly, but pitchers need the games and the time to build up arm strength. And I don’t think the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers would appreciate a couple of weeks at home working out in knee-deep snow and knuckle-cracking cold.


Q: How many foul balls have you snagged in the press box and what is the most famous one? GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Not as many as I could have because the press box in old Riverfront Stadium had permanent windows that wouldn’t open. I caught one in Dodger Stadium, but it knocked my World Series ring into the stands. Fortunately, after they passed it up and down the row looking at it, they returned it. When Jim Edmonds played for the Cardinals he fouled one right at me. I had my head down and didn’t see it and it parted my hair. If I had looked up it would have hit me right between the eyes. Most famous. I caught a foul ball in 1998 World Series in Yankee Stadium hit by Derek Jeter. I should have had him sign it, but I didn’t. I do, though, still have the ball.

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