Has Klesko unfurled new wave of injuries?

Padres All-Star displayed patriotic stripe, then needed to flag down a trainer

Sports Plus

September 30, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

There's a price to pay for patriotism.

Ryan Klesko, the San Diego Padres' All-Star first baseman, might be out for the rest of the season in what could be the first flag-waving ailment in baseball history.

On Sept. 17, Klesko joined his teammates and the Los Angeles Dodgers in spreading out a huge American flag in pre-game ceremonies at Dodger Stadium to honor people killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Klesko and Padres manager Bruce Bochy both stumbled as they backpedaled across the outfield grass toward home plate.

Klesko had injured his back on Sept. 11 while moving an object in his garage, and the flag-unfurling fall aggravated it. He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test that revealed irritation near a disk in his lower back.

"We were taken by surprise because we were told we were going to walk [the flag] back and they said, `Go!' and some people started sprinting," Bochy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Ryan almost went down."

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says it's fitting that Klesko was injured at Dodger Stadium, where in 1976 outfielder Rick Monday rescued an American flag from two on-field trespassers who were about to light it on fire.

Changing their tune

There have been many changes in ballparks across the country since the terrorist attacks, including music normally played when players come to bat and relievers enter the game.

San Francisco Giants reliever Robb Nen no longer runs to the mound to the sound of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water," for obvious reasons. And teammate Jeff Kent no longer steps to the plate to the strains of AC/DC's "TNT," for similar reasons.

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson has requested that Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" be played when he steps to the plate at PNC Park. Previously, he heard the Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash" before he batted.

"I'm born in the USA and proud of it," Wilson said. "I'm proud to be a part of this country, especially after what has gone on in the last week."

There was considerable surprise Sept. 19 at The Ballpark in Arlington when the Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb On Me" was played over the public-address system before the bottom of the third inning.

Gift bounces back

Donna Anderson, a single mother of five in Tucson, Ariz., didn't have money and couldn't give blood because of her health, but wanted to help people stricken by the terrorist attacks.

So she took a prized possession to a Red Cross blood center on Sept. 18: a basketball signed by the 1988 Arizona men's team that made the Final Four.

Richard White, executive director of the Red Cross in southern Arizona, said he planned to auction the ball and give the money to disaster relief.

Instead, an unidentified donor who learned of Anderson's gift and precarious financial situation, gave the Red Cross $1,000 on the condition that Anderson receive her ball back.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Steve Kerr, a member of the 1988 Wildcats team, also was moved by the story. Kerr, 35, whose father was killed during a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984, personally handed the basketball back to Anderson on Sept. 20.

"He felt it was the least he could do," a grateful Anderson said.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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