A bow to bleacher bums everywhere

April 04, 1994|By Phil Jackman

Season's Greetings. . .

Joe Holman was a publicist way back when. He did all sports, amateur and professional, and, until baseball came along, he used to say the best athlete he ever worked with is Spartacus.

Joe's gone now, but each spring when the voice of the turtle (and umpires) is heard across the land, his tribute to the game comes to mind:

THE BLEACHERITE

I wanna go sit in the bleachers

And root for the home team to win

And join in the boos, with good pallies like youse

And "kill" me an ump, now and then.

I know that those box seats are special

And folks who sit in them are fine

But the bleachers, you see, are more suited for me

The friends who sit in them are mine.

I gotta go sit in the bleachers

Where peanuts are sold by the bag

The hot dogs they got, may not be very hot

But as fans can talk baseball, and brag --

You say that these seats where I'm seated

Leave plenty of room for the knees?

But I still gotta go, to the bleachers, first row

And escape stuffy seats such as those.

I'm gonna go back to the bleachers,

Where finest of English is spoke

Where we jockeys all ride

Yes, and tear off their hide

As opposing ballplayers go broke.

Applause from this blue-blooded section

Is much too subdued, and refined

I just ain't polite, I'm a born bleacherite

So I'm gonna go back to me kind.

* Pitching, it is estimated, constitutes anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of baseball. That's why recently there has been much consternation regarding Orioles moundsmen, who are either coming off arm injuries, experienced some discomfort during spring training or are long of tooth.

Not to worry, faithful Bird watchers.

So the flinging prospects for the coming campaign aren't up to the consistent flow of 20-game winners and Cy Young Awardees of decades past. A pitching dearth seems apparent throughout the American League East.

Besides, harken back to the very first of Baltimore ballclubs, and note that the staff was bereft of a big winner -- or even a couple of medium-sized victors. The staff with records coming out of St. Louis in 1953:

Don Larsen, 7-12; Dick Littlefield, 7-12; Duane Pillette, 7-13 (at least the starters were consistent). Mike Blyzka, 2-6; Lou Kretlow, 1-5; Bob Turley, 2-6. The bellwether of the staff that pitched to a somewhat lofty 4.47 ERA while going 54-100 was Marlin Stuart, who was 8-2 with a 3.95 ERA in 60 appearances.

The above information was gleaned from the initial Orioles press guide, which numbered a compact 10 pages back in 1954. Conversely, this year's edition contains 348 pages, a total of 17 being devoted to Cal Ripken alone.

That first treasure trove of information was a hoot. Listen to these ticket prices: bleachers, 75 cents; general admission, $1; reserved seat (upper), $1.75; reserved seat (lower), $2; regular box seats, $2.50; mezzanine and field box seats, $3.

Three dollars! Highway robbery!

* A retired sportswriter, who goes back a couple of eons writing baseball out of Washington, penned his annual lament about D.C. not having a team last week, once again blaming Baltimore for the city's plight.

"Only the hopelessly naive would believe the Orioles ownership has not obstructed the return of Washington to the major leagues," he sermonized.

It's conceivable such might have been the case recently with the Eli Jacobs regime, but as far as Jerry Hoffberger is concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth. For openers, the Orioles voted against Bob Short's hauling the Senators off to Texas in 1971.

Hoffberger, Orioles owner from 1965 to 1979, says once when the prospects of D.C.'s return to the game came up, "I volunteered to switch to the National League, leaving the area open for Washington to join the American League."

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