Lyons comes clean about playing in dirt

Long before his career as broadcaster, he used words to describe action

Sports Plus

August 25, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Baseball wasn't the only game Fox television analyst Steve Lyons played between the white lines.

As a first baseman, he used his spikes to leave messages in the dirt for opposing infielders, even challenging them to contests of hangman and tic-tac-toe.

"I played [tic-tac-toe] with anyone who played with me," he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Only two guys wouldn't play, Fred McGriff and a guy from Baltimore whose name I can't remember. I used to joke that maybe they didn't know the rules."

Lyons and the opposing first baseman would take turns making their marks, but they had to hurry because the infield would be groomed after the fifth inning, wiping out the board. "If it got close," he said, "I'd mark two X's and cheat."

One player Lyons didn't get anything by was Harold Reynolds, a former Orioles second baseman who is now an ESPN analyst.

While playing second base, Lyons drew a line to the back edge of the dirt, marked it with an "X" and wrote, "Can you get to a ball way out here?"

The next inning, Lyons hit a ball to that exact spot. Reynolds threw him out.

When Lyons returned to second, he found one word scratched in the dirt.


More fun with dirt

Not only did John Shulock eject Lou Piniella for arguing pitch calls in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on May 28, but the umpire also refused to clean off the plate after the Seattle Mariners' manager threw dirt on it.

Mariners catcher Dan Wilson borrowed Shulock's brush to sweep it.

Said Piniella: "If I was the catcher, we would have played with a dirty home plate. I should be in the landscaping business. If I was the catcher, I would have buried home plate. I would have gotten one of those wheelbarrows full of turf and dumped it on the plate. He [Shulock] would have needed a broom and a towel and some Windex."

More fun with letters

Don Ireland, who worked as the public-address announcer at University of Pittsburgh football games, tweaked some Mountaineers fans during a game by informing the crowd that a tractor with West Virginia plates had its lights on.

The license plate, Ireland said, was E-I-E-I-O.

Gone and soon forgotten

It was probably just a mistake, but the Network Associates Coliseum scoreboard listed departed Athletics free agent Jason Giambi as "Jiambi" when the New York Yankees' starting lineup was posted before a game in Oakland this season.

Maybe the scoreboard operator can take spelling lessons from the team's bleacher bums, who, instead of posting "K's" when Barry Zito strikes out a batter, hang up "Z's."

Sign language

When Andy Pettitte struck out 10 Minnesota Twins in one game, each strikeout was recorded with a picture hung on a Yankee Stadium facade.

It wasn't the pedestrian "K," or even a "P" for Pettitte, but rather a cartoon of a young girl with her hand on a sitting dog.

"Pet it" for Pettitte.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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