With one big name after another closing in on milestones this year, Carlton Fisk has sort of been lost in the shuffle, but the Chicago White Sox catcher is on the verge of making some history himself.
If Fisk wins the American League home run title, he will be the first catcher to accomplish the feat. Also, at 37, he will become the oldest player to win the title, at any position.
The closest a catcher has come was in 1952 when Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees hit 30 homers. Larry Doby of Cleveland won the title that year with 32 homers, followed by teammate Luke Easter with 31.
Rudy York of the Detroit Tigers hit the most homers by a catcher, 35, in 1937. The leader that year was Joe DiMaggio with 46. In 1943, when York won the title with 34 homers, he was a first baseman.
The oldest players to win the title were Babe Ruth of the Yankees in 1931 and Reggie Jackson of the Angels in 1982. Both were 36. Ruth hit 46 homers, tying teammate Lou Gehrig for the title. Jackson hit 39, sharing the title with Milwaukee’s Gorman Thomas.
Trivia Time: As collegians, what NCAA titles did former Ram quarterbacks Bob Waterfield, Zeke Bratkowski and John Hadl win? (Answer below.)
Idle Thought: As one NFL coach after another wonders how his team can survive this year with only 45 players, one wonders what the members of the 1933 Oregon State team are thinking.
That year, the Beavers tied USC, 0-0, ending the Trojans’ 25-game winning streak. Oregon State’s starting 11 players, going both ways, played the entire game.
From Coach John Mackovic of the Kansas City Chiefs: “If we do as well on the field as our players have done in the maternity ward, we’ll have a heck of a year.”
In the off-season, 13 Kansas City players became fathers.
George Hendrick of the Angels doesn’t talk to the media and he’s been labeled a malcontent by some critics, but he’s a hero to St. Louis outfielder Willie McGee, the National League batting leader.
McGee told the Sporting News that when he broke in with the Cardinals he would be depressed after bad games, but after riding home with Hendrick, he’d feel better.
“George helped me a great deal,” McGee said. “It was like he thought more about another person than himself. I’d leave the park and I’d be down, but by the time we got home, I’d be laughing and looking forward to the next day.”
From catcher Clint Hurdle of the New York Mets after watching teammate Howard Johnson ground out repeatedly to second base: “Howard’s making a movie. It’s called ‘The Summer of 4 to 3.’ ”
With Eric Dickerson still missing and Barry Redden injured, how could Charles White look so calm the other day when told he might have to start for the Rams in the opener?
Maybe it’s because he’s been there before. As a freshman at USC in 1976, he had to step in for Ricky Bell, the 1975 NCAA rushing champion. When Bell went out of the Rose Bowl with an injury, White stepped in and gained 114 yards to lead USC to a 14-6 win over Michigan.
Said defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan of the Chicago Bears when asked how William (The Refrigerator) Perry looked after the last exhibition game: “It depends on what speed you run the projector.”
Trivia Answer: All three were NCAA punting champions. Waterfield won at UCLA in 1944; Bratkowski at Georgia in 1953, and Hadl at Kansas in 1959. Hadl still holds the Kansas record for longest punt in a game, 94 yards.
Rice football Coach Watson Brown, 35, reflecting on the team’s 1-10 record in his first season last year: “I went from a great, young coach to a dumb, old coach in 11 games.”