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The Diary of a Camp Follower

I drive by night.

Crawling down Florida’s spine. Along A1A. Bound for Key Largo. Just like Bogie. Then across the Everglades. Just like Pogo. Over from the ocean to the gulf. Don’t pick up any hitchhikers.

Turn north toward Tampa-St. Pete. Veer east to Mickey-Donald-Goofy country. Brake for that big mouse. Splat. Minnie’s a widow. Better get out of here. Floor it like Jose Canseco all the way to Vero Beach. Tom Lasorda runs out of the dugout to meet me, greet me, hug me, spindle me, mutilate me.

Around the grapefruit circuit I squirt. Et citrus, et citrus, et citrus. From camp to camp I tramp. It is spring, so I am in training.

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To Port St. Lucie. Home of the Mets. Darryl Strawberry says if club won’t renegotiate his contract, he will sign with the Yankees. Gregg Jefferies autographs, now worth $100, will go up to $1,000 as soon as he gets 100th career hit. Mookie Wilson says he is suing Oklahoma basketball player for plagiarizing name. David Cone, seen with pen and notebook in hand, is beaten to pulp by teammates.

To West Palm Beach. Home of the Braves. Dale Murphy latest victim of substance abuse. Hurts tooth on crunchy Skippy while eating PB&J; sandwich. Ted Turner announces team’s slogan this season will be: “Another Crummy Summer.” Bruce Sutter says he expects to be ready by turn of century.

To other side of West Palm. Home of the Expos. Mayor explains to pitcher Bryn Smith that the only “working girl” he will find in this town is a movie. Pascual Perez gets lost en route to rehab clinic, ends up in Atlanta. Tim Raines says if Dodgers had signed him as free agent, they would have won World Series in four games instead of five.

To Fort Lauderdale. Home of the Yankees. Rickey Henderson says if club won’t renegotiate his contract, he will sign with the Mets. George Steinbrenner signs Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Whitey Ford and the late Lefty Gomez to one-year contracts, says Dallas Green otherwise has final say on personnel. Dave Winfield claims Steinbrenner steals milk from hungry children. Steve Sax is told to shop on Fifth Avenue, doesn’t get joke.

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To Miami. Home of the Orioles. Local high school players invited to come-as-you-are tryout. Frank Robinson purchases new hat, out of which he will pick lineup. New owner announces winner of Name Five Orioles contest. Ken Howell says he was only with team two or three days, but nevertheless is expected to make full recovery.

To Port Charlotte. Home of the Rangers. Nolan Ryan says he honestly believes he can continue to win as many games as he loses. Edward Gaylord, who wants to buy franchise, gets head examined. Nothing found. A very nervous Bobby Valentine has heard rumors that the University of Miami baseball coach was seen talking to the Ranger owner.

To Sarasota. Home of the White Sox. Team announces that it will wear same uniforms two years running, tying club record. Fred Manrique asks management to negotiate new contract. Management asks contract negotiators if they know which player is Fred Manrique. Carlton Fisk goes into squat, too old to get up.

To Bradenton. Home of the Pirates. Record-high season-ticket sales skyrocket well into triple figures. Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla believed to be bothered by boo-boos. Pirate pitching coach still not certain whether he has Don Robinson, Ron Robinson or one of those Jeff Robinsons.

To St. Petersburg. Home of the Cardinals. Trade bait Tony Pena being offered to Pittsburgh for any former Cardinal. Pedro Guerrero insists he is 162-game player, intends to prove it over next two years. Todd Worrell insists he is not 162-game player, says he wishes Whitey Herzog would pitch someone else once in a while. Vince Coleman goes tarpon fishing, says he thought tarpons only came out when it rained.

To Clearwater. Home of the Phillies. Manager puts Von Hayes, Juan Samuel and Chris James in outfield, considers trying Mike Schmidt in short relief. Ken Howell says he feels great, hasn’t been traded in days. Batboy falls down, skins knee; Philadelphia fans boo.

To Dunedin. Home of the Blue Jays. George Bell says he will demand to be traded if manager continues to force him to play all nine innings and bat right-handed. Pat Gillick circulates another rumor that Yankees will deal Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield to Toronto for Silvestre Campusano and $500 in traveler’s checks.

To Tampa. Home of the Reds. Pete Rose still wondering if Dave Pallone secretly wanted to bump him. Club is denying reports that owner’s dog has substance-abuse problem. Marge Schott says she always makes sure she scoops up substance whenever dog abuses. Eric Davis says if club won’t renegotiate his contract, he will sign with Darryl Strawberry.

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To Lakeland. Home of the Tigers. Owner Tom Monaghan says that except for regular season and postseason, Kirk Gibson is never missed. Manager Sparky Anderson has repeated his boast that pitcher Jeff Robinson is not only better than Cy Young, but considerably younger. Anderson will pencil in Gary Pettis as leadoff hitter, but pencil has eraser.

To Winter Haven. Home of the Red Sox. Wade Boggs says he has been reading quite a bit about sex addiction, and has decided to give up reading. Oil Can Boyd apologized to Boggs and yelled at reporters. Oil Can is down about a quote.

To Baseball City. Home of the Royals. Bo Jackson reportedly will take up a second sport soon, possibly baseball. One of three players being paid $1 million this season by Kansas City, Dan Quisenberry wishes he was still playing for Kansas City. Bob Boone and Buddy Biancalana believed to be bothered by boo-boos, too.

To Orlando. Home of the Twins. Manager Tom Kelly is working out twice daily on fundamentals, like learning how to smile. Kent Hrbek called reports that he was larger than the Metrodome “out and out lies.” Reports persist that if Kirby Puckett hits .400 with 62 home runs this season, somebody might actually give him a commercial endorsement.

To Vero Beach. Home of the Dodgers. Orel Hershiser bet Tom Lasorda $10,000 yesterday that $10,000 wasn’t what it used to be. Vin Scully says he doesn’t see Kirk Gibson in the dugout anywhere, so he probably won’t play this season. Pat Riley has been forced to guarantee that the Dodgers will repeat, because Lasorda’s a chicken.


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