Met rookie carded for his ageDoug Simons made it to the...

Off the beat

May 26, 1991

Met rookie carded for his age

Doug Simons made it to the majors easily enough. Making it into the ballparks has been the hard part.

A security guard in San Diego thought Simons was too young and too little to be a pitcher for the New York Mes. So he blocked to rookie reliever, then pulled him away from the clubhouse door.

Later, a parking attendant at Dodger stadium wouldn't let him in, either. Until Simons pulled his baseball card out from his briefcase.

"I tell the guards I'm Doug Simons, and they say, 'So?' Then I pull out the card, and it's OK. But I still feel like a kid playing in the men's league," he said, "until I'm out on the mound."

Simons is 24 years old, but his baby face makes him look like a teenager. He's officially listeed at 6 feet and 170 pounds, admits to 5-11 and 165 pounds.

"Aw, you're only 5-foot-5," teammate Gregg Jefferies jibed as he walked past Simons this week. "You don't belong here."

John Kruk of the Phillies thought he was a bat boy. At least until Simons made Kruk his first career strikeout victim. Still, Kruk's nickname of "Bat Boy" has stuck.

These kind of mix-ups occasionally occur. Last season, a ticket taker would not let B.J. Armstrong of the Chicago Bulls into an R-rated movie because he thought the NBA guard was to young. And Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers once couldn't get into the All-Star locker room because a guard thought he was too little.

Running afoul of district officials

A prank gone awry has cost a chicken its life, a coach his job, and two junior varsity baseball players their positions on the team.

Officials at Newfound Area School District in New Hampton, N.H., fired junior varsity baseball coach Tom Bucklin recently after he told them he was with several team members when they killed a chicken that had been stolen for a good luck sacrifice.

The players got the idea for the sacrifice from a similar idea suggested by a character in the 1989 movie "Major League."

Bucklin told district officials that he told team members not to kill the chicken, but when some of them headed across town with the fowl, he felt he should accompany them.

They took the chicken to a bridge, and he said they killed it out of mercy after someone accidently hit the chicken and injured it.

Marilyn Bucklin of Briston went before the school board Monday night to defend her son.

"His main concern was that someone might get hurt; that's why he went with them," she said. "If he hadn't gone, we wouldn't be discussing this now, but if someone had gotten hurt, you might have a different problem."

But without taking a vote, board members said they supported the high school administration's decision to fire him. Some parents said they were surprisend the school district waited a week to fire Bucklin and had threatened to pull their sons off the team if he remained the coach.

The quote

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Lee Smith, to the Chicaago Sun Times on why he began the season weighing more than his usual 250 pounds: "I had my 2-year-old counting sit-ups for me. He can count to 10, and he skips some of the numbers."

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