Dostal's cup of coffee can't keep him up


June 15, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Outfielder Bruce Dostal was on the Orioles' 25-man roster for four days but never appeared in a game.

He will report back to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings today.

"I got a cup of coffee, but I didn't get a chance to sip it," Dostal said. "It was too hot. The pennant race made it too hot."

Consider all that Dostal went through to be a major-leaguer for four days.

Playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers' rookie-level affiliate in Great Falls, Mont., Dostal and his teammates had bus rides as long as 16 hours, from Medicine Hat, Alberta, to Salt Lake City.

But that was nothing compared with the bus ride he took a few years ago during winter ball in Mexico.

"We were on a trip from Mexicali to Hermosillo," Dostal said. "It was 98 degrees, there was no air conditioning on the bus that was supposed to hold only 40 people and there were 52 people on it. The drive shaft fell off the bus, and we broke down in the middle of the desert. It was so hot we all took off our shirts, even took off our pants, threw our luggage on the ground and lied down on it."

After nearly five hours, they hit the road again.

"The bus driver fixed the drive shaft with a stick and a rock," Dostal said. "He didn't have a flashlight, so he built a fire for light."

Dostal has played winter ball in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

"I've got one more to hit," Dostal said. "If I play in Puerto Rico, then I've got them all. It's been an education for me. Now that I made it to the big leagues, I would definitely, definitely, do it all over again. Now that I got there, I don't have to ask myself anymore if I've wasted the last eight years of my life."

Dostal started his career in 1987 with Great Falls.

"God's country," he said of Montana. "I love to fish and hunt. I went trout fishing a lot with the late Jim Brewer, who was our pitching coach."

Dostal would catch and clean brown trout and rainbow trout.

"We'd put them in a crock pot with onions and peppers and saute them up," Dostal said. "That's a couple of meals right there you didn't have to pay for. When you are making $700 a month, that makes a difference."

Especially when you have to pay for your equipment.

"Spikes, gloves, batting gloves, unless you are a prospect, you have to buy your own," Dostal said. "Then, when you get to the big leagues and you can afford it, everything is free."

After Great Falls, it was on to Bakersfield, Calif.

"I felt a long way from home there," the New Jersey native said. "It was a country town in the middle of the desert. The bus rides weren't as long, but we had some eight-, 10-hour trips."

Vero Beach of the Florida State League was the next stop.

"By far the best A-ball league to play in," he said. "Three hours is the longest trip, and you can go to the beach on your off day."

In the middle of 1990, he made it to Double-A San Antonio.

"I got to see my wife about once every two months, which was tough," he said.

After being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies off the Dodgers' Triple-A roster, Dostal reported to Reading, Pa.

"It was great being back on the East Coast," he said.

From there, he went to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"Nicest facility I've ever played in," Dostal said.

Fenway Park and Camden Yards are the nicest facilities Dostal has ever been in, but he didn't play in those. Didn't play his way into The Baseball Encyclopedia.

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