Bernhardt gets good news on family Dominican relatives safe in Georges' devastation

Orioles notebook

September 26, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

BOSTON -- An anguished wait ended for Orioles first-base coach Carlos Bernhardt yesterday when he received word that his family had survived Hurricane Georges' assault on his native Dominican Republic.

Bernhardt, a resident of San Pedro de Macoris, had tried unsuccessfully to learn about his family's fate for four days, but heavy winds had knocked out phone lines to much of the country.

"I got good news today," said Bernhardt, who learned of his family's health from a police official back home. "They are all fine. That's all that's important."

Before the storm, Bernhardt's wife and three children had gathered about 70 friends and relatives in their cement-block home. When the storm arrived with winds gusting more than 150 miles per hour, the windows in the home were blown out, but there was no structural damage. However, his mother and mother-in-law had to be hospitalized after returning to find their homes obliterated.

"You can replace homes; you can't replace lives," said Bernhardt. "That was my only concern, my family's safety."

While official reports have listed the death toll from the storm in the hundreds, Bernhardt said he understood it to be in the thousands just in the Dominican Republic alone because of widespread flooding and landslides.

"Not knowing is the hardest thing," he said. "They are your life, and when there is no way of knowing it is hard. Family is everything."

Bernhardt plans to return home as soon as possible, but has been told that the central airport will be closed for at least another four days.

Smith realizes dream

As a native of nearby Burlington, Mass., Pete Smith had long dreamed of playing at Fenway Park. However, his career with the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies never afforded him the opportunity. Thursday night, he appeared in the fifth inning in the Red Sox's wild-card clincher.

"It wasn't exactly like I thought it would be. I wasn't so nervous," Smith said. "But it was kind of neat sitting out there [in the bullpen] seeing the people. My high school coach stopped by. It was neat."

Smith has now played in every major-league stadium. Before making his appearance Thursday he toured the Green Monster and went inside the hand-operated scoreboard. Several years ago, he had another close encounter with the facility, but his credentials as a Mets pitcher weren't enough to get him inside.

"They weren't impressed until I told them my brother worked at the press gate for five years," Smith said. "That was enough."

Standing 'O' for Cal

Boston justified its reputation as a serious baseball town Thursday night. With the Red Sox poised for their first postseason berth in three years, there was still room for a tribute to Cal Ripken before the second inning. A sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation during the video and when he came to bat several minutes later.

Earlier, as part of an "Ending The Streak", two-city tour, Ripken obliquely acknowledged the politics that came to be attached to his run of 2,632 consecutive games. He admitted that The Streak's momentum influenced how his managers may have constructed their lineups. "Everybody gave me this power that I shouldn't have had," said Ripken. "By taking a game off, I've put that power back where it belongs, because the manager's job is clearly defined."

Ripken intends to remain an everyday player next season. Manager Ray Miller said intends to rest the third baseman 10-15 days. "I come to the ballpark with the expectation of playing. In a perfect world, none of this would have ever been an issue. But it was, and it was time to change the subject," said Ripken.

Miller said he will start Ripken today and tomorrow. However, the rest of the lineup will include liberal doses of youth. An infield of Calvin Pickering, Jerry Hairston, Jeff Reboulet and Ripken is likely. Danny Clyburn, Lyle Mouton and, perhaps, even Eugene Kingsale, will get time.

Palmeiro named MVP

First baseman Rafael Palmeiro was overwhelmingly selected as the Orioles' Most Valuable Player by a vote of media members who regularly cover the club. Palmeiro outpolled right fielder Eric Davis, who received the only other first-place votes.

It is the third time Palmeiro has won the award, presented by the Sports Boosters of Maryland. He also earned it in 1995 and 1996. Orioles bench coach Eddie Murray won the award a record seven times. It is also the second straight year a pending free agent has won, as closer Randy Myers was a unanimous selection in 1997.

Around the horn

After last night's four errors, the Orioles have made 80 this season, four fewer than the major-league record set by the Minnesota Twins in 1988. Roberto Alomar was a late scratch from last night's lineup and was replaced by Hairston. No reason was given, but the switch was not injury-related. The latest loss to the Red Sox left the Orioles 34 games out of first place, threatening their 34 1/2 -game deficit of 1988. Since the All-Star break, the Orioles have gone 28-11 when scoring first, 12-21 when they haven't. Scott Erickson will make his 36th start today. Barring a one-hitter, Erickson will break Dennis Martinez's record for hits allowed in a season. Martinez yielded 279 hits in 1979.

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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