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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Have you ever been asked to leave a restaurant because you are associated with the Cincinnati Reds? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: As Bob Uecker said during his speech at our Hall of Fame induction, “Unlike Hal McCoy, I have been asked to leave many places.” So that answers your question. No, I haven’t. In fact, because of my association with the Reds I have been treated kindly and with respect in many restaurants and some of them even included free adult beverages and hors d’oeuvers. It might have had something to do with Johnny Bench being with me.
Q: How about the Reds do something very un-Reds like and package Nick Senzel to the Mets for Noah Snydergaard or Jacob deGrom, and if they make that deal, sign a mid- level starting pitcher in free agency and they can compete in 2019, right? — RICK, Loveland.
A: Nice to have it all figured out, except it takes two to mamba, rumba or tango. Don’t know what your ‘package’ would be, but it would have to be hefty for the Mets to send one of those two guys for Senzel. And I don’t think they Reds are interested in dealing Senzel, a guy they project as a superstar. Whom do you consider a mid-level starting pitcher? Getting an established starting pitcher to come to Great American Small Park is a problem. Extra money probably would be involved, something the Reds don’t have.
Q: I attended a recent game at Great American Ball Park and couldn’t find a box of Crackerjacks anywhere in the park, so how can that be? — DAVID, Dayton.
A: Perhaps you were asking for the wrong thing. My wife, Nadine, and I have this argument often. It is not Crackerjacks. It is Cracker Jack — two words, no ‘s.’ But you are right. No Cracker Jack in GABP. That’s un-American. It is part of the song ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’ Of course, you can get a fried bologna sandwich and a $10 beer. But no surprise in a little box.
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Q: The Reds acquired a young outfielder last week, Lorenzo Cedrola, and was the move made with the intention for him to eventually (and hopefully) to finally get rid of Billy Hamilton once and for all? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: First of all, Cedrola is an outfielder, not just a center fielder. Secondly, he is only 20 years old and is playing in Class A. If you are waiting for him to replace Hamilton you have about a four-year wait and that’s if Cedrola proves he is a major leaguer. Before Cedrola arrives, Hamilton probably will be gone via free agency.
Q: With Michael Lorenzen’s three home runs in three at bats I recall Art Shamsky of the Reds hitting four straight so can you provide details? — RON, Vandalia.
A: I can and will. Shamsky was a reserve outfielder and on August 12, 1966 he didn’t start the game for the Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He entered the game in the eighth inning and the game went extra innings. Shamsky hit three straight home runs, two in extra innings and the Reds still lost, 14-11. A few days later he again entered a game late and hit his fouth consecutive home run. Shamsky hits a fourth consecutive home run days later, also in a reserve role. If you watch the TV show ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ you know that Raymond’s brother, Robert, loves Art Shamsky and named his dog ‘Shamsky.’
Q: Could you tell a story about Brad ‘The Animal Lesley? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: The Animal was an imposing guy on the mound at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. He pitched in relief for the Reds for three seasons in the early 1980s. And what a showman. When he struck out a batter, a spread his arms wide and screamed, “Arrrrgh.” He did it, as always, against the Houston Astros one day. The usually quiet and sedate Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Astros. Ryan struck out a Reds player and suddenly spread his arms wide and screamed, “Arrrgh.” It was hilarious. After Lesley retired he went to Japan and became a game show star. And he did a few films in the U.S. as a bit player. Sadly, he died of heart disease at 54. But Ryan’s impression of The Animal lives on and can be found on YouTube.
Q: I know you don’t travel with the team any more, but what are your five most-missed restaurants on the circuit? BRYAN, Oslo, Norway.
Q: My all-time favorite was a steakhouse in Chicago called The Saloon. The first time I went I saw Joe Nuxhall and George Clooney sitting at the bar, so I knew this must be THE place. Sadly, it closed a couple years ago. I’m a simple guy and my tastes are simple. I hit lunch every day at Charlie Gitto’s (Italian) in St. Louis. I loved Donovan’s Steakhouse in Phoenix. Famous Phoenix sportscaster Al McCoy was a regular and had his own booth with a bronze plaque above it that said ‘McCoy.’ When I went there they let me sit in that booth. I always hit Bookbinder’s (seafood) in Philadelphia, Pappasito’s (Mexican) in Houston and Scoma’s (seafood) in Sausalito (San Francisco). That, of course, is a partial list.
Q: What is your most memorable player/coach or team fight? — AMANDA, Dayton.
A: Most baseballs ‘fights’ are what I call GMA, just general milling around with lots of words, finger-pointing and no punches. My favorite, though, was in 1991 when Reds’ Nasty Boy Rob Dibble threw a pitch behind Houston’s Eric Yelding and a brawl broke out. Dibble ended up at the bottom of a big pile of humanity on the mound. Houston first base coach Ed Ott had Dibble in a choke hold that turned Dibble’s face red, yellow and blue. And, of course, there was Pete Rose’s famous slide into New York Met shortstop Bud Harrelson in the 1973 playoffs that touched off a melee. After it ended, Reds relief pitcher Pedro Borbon picked up a Mets cap and put it on his head. When he realized it, he tore the cap off his head and bit off a chunk of the bill.