Of hooked ray and Cinderella

Dan Rodricks

June 26, 1992|By Dan Rodricks

Pieces of column too short to use:

Waydago, Junior! . . . Who isn't glad to see Cal Ripken Jr. on a tear? Every batting average point over .280 drives home the point that he's worth what he demands in a new contract with the Orioles. Still, a lot of people are amazed that he turned down $30 million over five years. A man called me recently to say it was obscene, and that such money should go to the poor. I told him that was a nice thought but the money probably would not go to the poor; it would go to either Eli Jacobs or Cal. And, given the choice, who would he rather see get it?

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Drill one to short . . . Anthony H. Schwartz, mild-mannered Baltimore dentist, observed the news of Cal's contract with grand humor. Realizing that the Orioles might need a shortstop -- should, horrors, Cal not sign -- Schwartz volunteered his services. He called the office of Oriole President Larry Lucchino and announced his availability. "I said I was 42 years old and weighed 220 and had trouble getting up the stairs, but if they needed me, I'd take the $30 million," Schwartz says. "I thought [the secretary] would slam the phone down, but she had a big laugh. I even said I'd take 10 percent off, give them a discount." Don't laugh too hard, folks. Years ago, while a high school first baseman in Wheaton, Schwartz was actually scouted by the Senators. He was a switch-hitting first baseman who once hit a measured 430-foot home run. Schwartz chuckles at professional athletes who refuse to sign multimillion-dollar contracts because they're insulted by the "meager" offers. "I told [Lucchino's secretary] I want to be equally insulted."

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Let there be no substitutes . . . There wasn't a whole lot of luck aboard a certain charter fishing boat out of Chesapeake Beach Monday. As fine as the captain was, he couldn't locate fish for his party. At one point, however, a large ray was hooked by one of the fishermen. There was great excitement on board as the creature was pulled from the water. The captain estimated its weight at about 30 pounds. Even so, he decided to remove the hook and release it. A member of the party, a successful Baltimore restaurateur, protested, "Are you crazy!?" He asserted that ray, when fileted and cut into chunks, makes excellent imitation scallops. His pals talked him out of keeping the ray. "We told him," one of them says, "that it probably would not behoove him to have it known, even among friends, that he thinks ray makes great scallops."

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Yo, JoJo! . . . In case you haven't noticed, 1992 is the 30th anniversary of JoJo Vitale's Top 40 hit, "My Little Cinderella." And, in case you didn't know or can't remember, JoJo Vitale was a child star from Dundalk who scored big on national television in the 1950s when he sang "That's Amore" on Ted Mack's "Original Amateur Hour." "It's almost like I've lived two lives since then," JoJo says. "My Little Cinderella" was his biggest hit, but he did so much else -- played Atlantic City, the "Buddy Deane Show," sang on Arthur Godfrey's "Talent Scouts" (1957), sang on the "Jackie Gleason Show" (1958), toured with Lawrence Welk (1959), toured with Dick Clark (1962). At one time or another, he was a drummer for Ronnie Dove, Johnny Tillotson, Bobby Vee, Neil Sedaka, Bobby Rydell, the Dovells, Bobby Vinton and Gene Pitney. All these years later, JoJo is still performing. Catch him on the Fourth of July at the Dundalk Heritage Fair for a reprise of "My Little Cinderella." Be advised: JoJo's voice has changed a little since the original recording.

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Overheard at Camden Yards . . . How intense is the demand for Oriole tickets? Quite intense, is the official word. But there is other evidence, albeit anecdotal, that this might be the year Oriole fans really get carried away. A colleague who attended Sunday night's game against the Yankees heard a man in upper box seats brag loudly that he had had another man, a co-worker, led off in handcuffs for stealing his tickets. Officially, the police have no record of such an arrest. So perhaps what my colleague heard was just a lot of talk. Or maybe the beer was talking. Still, he was convincing. He claimed he had summoned a police officer to the stands, that the officer was reluctant to get involved, but did so only at the alleged ticket-theft victim's insistence. "It's the principle of the thing," the Offended One said, adding with glee that he couldn't wait to go to work Monday to tell everyone his co-worker had been caught red-handed. I'm told that when the alleged thief saw his co-worker show up in the stands with a police officer, his first utterance was: "I was going to pay you tomorrow." Cost of the tickets: $10. If that's what happened it hardly seems worth the risk of a night in jail. Watch this space.

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