Hal McCoy: Is this the year that Billy Hamilton wins a Gold Glove?

Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton dives but can’t catch a line drive against the Brewers on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton dives but can’t catch a line drive against the Brewers on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

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 halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: Can you think of a sport with more hand signals than your every day baseball game? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Have you seen any football games lately? Most teams have three players standing side by side flashing signals before every play. They use three players so the other team has to guess which one is giving the correct signals. What is humorous about baseball signals is that so many are missed by players. Barry Bonds once hit a bases-loaded double on a 3-and-0 pitch and was asked if he was given the hit away sign. He said, “Who said I know the signals?”

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Q: Could Billy Hamilton’s over-the-wall catch on Matt Carpenter in St. Louis be the signature catch that propels him to a Gold Glove? — JOHN, Oxford.

A: A signature as big as John Hancock’s. Billy Hamilton has more signature catches than there are Pete Rose autographs on baseballs. But the Gold Glove voting is done by National League managers and coaches. Unless they watch the MLB Network who knows how many saw that catch, or any others Hamilton has made. Hamilton has deserved a Gold Glove the last two seasons but didn’t get one. I fear it won’t happen. Again.

Q: Which prospects the Reds have acquired in trades have shown the most promise to contribute to the Reds? — BARRY, Kettering.

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A: Prospects are just that. Prospects. Or in many cases they are suspects. There have been so many the last three years that it is impossible in this space to list them all. However, contrary to what many fans believe, some already are contributing — Eugenio Suarez, Scott Schebler, Luis Castillo. Some are struggling like Cody Reed and Brandon Finnegan. And John Lamb already is gone. With the Reds it seems to be if you throw enough goo against a wall, some of it will stick.

Q: If Homer Bailey is not in the Reds’ long-term plans, then is it not in their best interests to release him and give his starts to young pitchers so they can determine whether they will be part of a successful future? — GERRY, Middletown.

A: The same can be said of Matt Harvey. He certainly is not in the Reds future. And it depends upon how far down the road you consider the Reds future. Homer Bailey is only 32 and his last two starts indicate he is alive and well. For the next two years of his contract he can be a strong, positive influence on the younger pitchers on the staff. And despite the fact some people believe his $105 million guaranteed contract is lost money and the Reds should write it off and release him, they are not going to do that.

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Q: The Reds have had many uniform combinations that include white hats with red brims, black hats with red brims, sleeveless jerseys inspired by Ted Kluszewski cutting off the sleeves to accommodate his huge biceps, pin-stripes on road uniforms and red jerseys, so what is your favorite? GREG, Beavercreek.

A; My favorite was before my time and I never saw them in person, just photos. It was the mid-60s and they were sleeveless. But the uniqueness was that the player’s name on the back was under the number instead of on top of it. The Reds were the only team to do that and it didn’t last long. I loved it and wish they’d bring it back.

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Q: Why is Dave Concepcion not in the Hall of Fame and what is the voting process after a player has been retired for a long time? — DAVID, Cincinnati.

A: I get this question at least twice a year and if fans voted he might be in right now. I’m not guilty of holding him out because I voted for him every year he was eligible. As I’ve pointed out many times, his numbers are better than Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio, Peewee Reese and Phil Rizzuto and Ozzie Smith. I’ve often kiddingly told him he should have learned the back flip that Ozzie did and he would be in. His only recourse now is a veterans committee that can consider a player after he has been retired 15 years. Concepcion qualifies but is getting no traction in that venue either.

Q: Why did the National and American Leagues do away with having a president? — RICK, Vandalia.

A: In 1999, then commissioner Bud Selig decided to centralize the game. At the time the two leagues had separate offices and separate presidents — Len Coleman in the National League and Gene Budig in the American League. The presidential offices were disbanded and the commissioner (Selig) assumed their duties. And at the same time MLB did away with American League and National League umpires, melding them into one group that umpires all MLB games. It was also the year Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was banned and her $65 million ownership shares were transferred to Carl Lindner. The Reds are still looking for their first World Series appearance since Schott was defrocked.

Q: If an outfielder catches a ball and then fall over the fence, but holds on to the ball, is it an out or a home run and I ask because I once did this in a softball game and the umpire ruled it a home run? — RON, Vandalia.

A: The umpire blew the call. If an outfielder catches a ball and then falls over the fence and holds the ball, it is an out. But an outfielder cannot jump over the fence and then catch the ball. That’s a home run. Cleveland outfielder Austin Jackson caught a ball in Fenway Park last year and toppled over the low wall. Out. And this year Boston’s Mookie Betts caught a ball and fell over the same Fenway Park wall and dropped the ball when he landed on the other side. Home run. That won’t ever have that problem in left field in Fenway Park, where The Green Monster is 37 feet high.


Q: Do you think the Reds will retain Jim Riggleman as manager or go in a completely different direction? — GAIL, Cincinnati.

A: I’m steering the wheel on The Jim Riggleman Bandwagon. What he has done with this once moribund team is remarkable, notwithstanding last week’s miserable fundamentals display in Detroit. That isn’t Riggleman’s fault. That’s something that needs to be taught and learned in the minor league system and emphasized in spring training. If Riggleman is retained that will be Priority A for him. He is a stickler for playing the game right. Will he get the chance? Only the guys sitting in the front office swivel chairs can answer that.