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When He Was in Minor Leagues, Cone Was a Junk-Food Pitcher

Ah, the memories of youth. Baseball players away from home for the first time, on their first leg of a hoped-for trip to the major leagues.

It’s only a dream come true if you haven’t lived it.

“It was the first time I really had to live on my own,” New York Met pitcher David Cone told Newsday of his second season in the minors, at Charleston, S.C. “I had a couple of roommates, and we stayed in a bad part of town. We had absolutely no furniture. Nothing. We’d go to bed at night on the floor, using our clothes as pillows.

“There were a lot of military families there, and one day, one of them, our next-door neighbors, threw out an old love seat, an insect-infested piece of junk. Well, we jumped all over it in a flash. We got a can of Raid, sprayed the thing down and that was our bed. We took turns sleeping on it. That was when we were paying $200 a month in rent.”

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With a diet to match.

“It was real hard to get good food to eat,” Cone said. “I remember toward the end of the month, we’d be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a case of Old Milwaukee. That’s what we ate. Then the paychecks would come, and we’d move up to Burger King.”

Trivia time: Who was the last former Brooklyn Dodger to play in the major leagues?

Double bogey: The United States may have reclaimed the Walker Cup from Ireland and England last week in Portmarnock, Ireland, but Phil Mickelson, the American amateur star, stepped right into a sand trap when describing an errant drive for ESPN.

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“Ireland is a beautiful country,” he said, “but the women aren’t that attractive. You want to hit it in the fairway.”

Mickelson later apologized and said he meant no harm or disrespect.

Playing for keeps: Al Campanis, the Dodgers’ former vice president, recently visited Dodger Stadium and picked up a copy of the team’s alumni news. On the cover was a picture of the infield of first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and third baseman Ron Cey, who together set a major league record for longevity.

“At least, they can’t take this away from me,” he told the Pittsburgh Press, pointing at the cover. “Garvey was a third baseman, Lopes and Russell were center fielders and we converted them.”

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Brave old world: If Dodger fans are looking for a good omen heading into this weekend’s crucial series in Atlanta, look no further than history. Eight years ago today, the Dodgers beat the Braves in one of the team’s most memorable games of the recent past.

It began in 101-degree heat in Los Angeles and lasted 3 hours 48 minutes for nine innings. That final inning will last forever, the Dodgers coming from three runs down to win, 7-6, and lead the National League West by three games instead of one, the same margin as in the final standings.

The most memorable play was the one-out suicide squeeze by R.J. Reynolds, just up from double-A San Antonio, that scored Pedro Guerrero with the winning run.

P.S.: Atlanta’s center fielder that day was Brett Butler.

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Chip shots: Washington Redskin kicker Chip Lohmiller is five for five on field goals and 12 for 12 going back to last season, including playoffs. He hasn’t missed in a game that counted since the second quarter of the 15th game of 1990. Since midseason of ’90, he is 25 of 28, and all the misses have been from at least 50 yards.

Trivia answer: Bob Aspromonte, with the 1971 New York Mets.

Quotebook: The three ugliest words in golf, according to TV commentator Dave Marr: “Still your shot.”


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