MAJOR LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME : Notebook : Plesac’s Job Ends Quickly
Milwaukee relief pitcher Dan Plesac knew the score: Eighth inning, American League leading, 2-1, National League has a runner on first, two outs, New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry at the plate.
But more important than that, he knew the score .
“They were bringing me in to face one batter, just one batter,” Plesac explained. “All this All-Star game buildup and waiting around, for one batter.
“I knew what I had to do. I had to air it out. I had to let it go. One batter. I had to give it everything.”
And so he did. Just ask Strawberry, who didn’t see anything.
In the 59th All-Star game’s most important confrontation, Strawberry struck out on three pitches, struck out flailing.
“Ninety-eight,” Plesac fairly whispered. “Do you know they clocked my last pitch at 98 miles an hour? That’s as high as I go.”
Said Strawberry: “He was throwing hard. And I was doing what you have to do in these situations. I was hacking. Sometimes you get it. Sometimes, you don’t.”
When the left-handed Plesac was summoned into the game by Manager Tom Kelly--replacing Cleveland’s Doug Jones after New York Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly had allowed St. Louis’ Willie McGee’s grounder to bounce out of his glove for an error--Plesac, a second-year All-Star, was thinking one thing.
“I knew Strawberry hits the low fastball, that’s all I knew,” Plesac said.
So what was his first pitch? A low fastball. Strawberry swung and missed.
“So I made a mistake,” Plesac said. “So I got lucky.”
The next pitch was a little higher, nearly down the middle, and Strawberry swung again and missed.
“You have no idea what these pitchers have,” Strawberry said. “You’re just guessing.”
It ended, as strikeouts often do, by Strawberry guessing wrong. It was a high fastball, nearly in his eyes, and he swung wildly and missed for strike three.
“And it was ball one,” Plesac said. “I’m just glad to get an out.”
It was three hours before the first pitch, and Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott and entourage were riding in the press elevator to her office when she noticed a posted note that the elevator would be closed from 7 to 7:30 p.m. in order to accommodate the arrival of Vice President George Bush.
Schott was concerned. Schottzie, her St. Bernard, had to be transported from the Reds office to the field. Schott ordered the elevator operator to inform Secret Service agents that the closure was unacceptable.
“I don’t care about the Vice President or anyone,” Schott said. “I just got to get to the dog.”
No All-Star game is complete without newcomer embarrassment, and Tuesday’s was no different.
In the seventh inning, after Cincinnati rookie Chris Sabo pinch-ran for the Mets’ Gary Carter, and promptly stole second base, he did something he’ll never forget. Something he may even remember longer than the game-long chants of “Sa-bo, Sa-bo,” from a partisan crowd of 55,837 who wanted him in the game.
After a Rafael Palmeiro foul ball into the left-field stands, Sabo turned and ran nearly completely off the field. He finally realized, a player has to catch a ball for the third out, not a fan.
“Did you see that?” asked the Yankees’ Dave Winfield. “Do you think he was hyped up or anything? It reminded me of me a long time ago.”
Sabo was a bit embarrassed afterward and said only, “This whole thing was a great experience, I’m just sorry it has ended so quickly.”
The other embarrassment happened in the seventh inning, on the pitching mound, when San Diego reliever Mark Davis was replaced by Pittsburgh’s Bob Walk.
As soon as NL Manager Whitey Herzog arrived, Davis flipped him the ball and left. Before NL catcher Carter could get there, and long before Walk could get there. Carter had to nearly shout his traditional “Nice job” to Davis as the pitcher ran off.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t know what to do,” Davis said later. “I’ve never been here before, and all of a sudden Whitey is out there, and I forget everything. I say ‘Fine, now what do I do?’ So I just leave.
“I guess I should have stayed, huh? Who knows. I don’t remember much about what I did out there anyway.”
For the record, he retired the Yankees’ Don Mattingly on a groundout and then Boston’s Mike Greenwell on a lineout before allowing a double to Minnesota’s Tim Laudner. Walk retired Oakland’s Carney Lansford on a first-pitch groundout to keep Davis’s slate clean.
Thirty players were first-time All-Stars Tuesday, the most since the inaugural game in 1933. . . . The Cincinnati Reds groundskeepers were dressed in tuxedos with tails, which looked fine except when they were raking and shoveling. . . . The Dodgers’ Orel Hershiser, one of four National League pitchers who pitched Sunday, retired the side in the eighth inning. Hershiser, who threw only seven pitches, said he feels fresh enough to pitch Friday in Chicago, as scheduled. “If Tommy (Lasorda) still wants me to, I’m ready,” Hershiser said. “I don’t know the plans. I felt good tonight--for all seven pitches. “I’ve done this before (pitch an inning on one day of rest). It’s just like throwing on the side. Actually, I think I threw more in the bullpen tonight than on the field.” . . . Chicago Cubs All-Star pitcher Greg Maddux, who leads the National League in victories (15) and is second in earned-run average among starters (2.14), was asked if he was the league’s best pitcher. “No way, I’ve just thrown the ball good for three months, not four or five years,” Maddux said. “The best pitcher in baseball is Dwight Gooden, and everybody knows it.” . . . Minnesota All-Star third baseman Gary Gaetti, talking about the increase in his batting average from .257 last season to .307 this season: “This year I’m swinging with both eyes open.” . . . Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, age 27 and already in his sixth All-Star game, was asked if he felt old in his present young company: “These days I feel old just getting dressed,” he said.
Times staff writers Ross Newhan and Sam McManis also contributed to this story.
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