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Zaun’s Homer Recalls Babe’s Shot

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With a .233 average and only 12 home runs in 752 career major league at-bats, Gregg Zaun will never be a candidate for the Hall of Fame.

But the former St. Francis High standout placed an indelible stamp on Cooperstown lore last week.

On Monday during the Hall of Fame game, Zaun pointed his bat toward the right-field bleachers, then slugged the next pitch from Jeff Austin of the Kansas City Royals over the fence at Doubleday Field.

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In recent years, it has become tradition for fans to urge the right-fielders in the annual exhibition game to call their shot, as legend says Babe Ruth did against the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series.

Until Monday, no one backed up the gesture with a home run.

“I can’t believe I did it,” Zaun told the media in Cooperstown. “I just hope the guys on the other side didn’t think I was trying to embarrass anybody.”

When he returned to his position the following inning, Zaun received high-fives from the fans along the right-field line.

“I was doing my best Sammy Sosa imitation,” he said.

Zaun broke in with the Baltimore Orioles in 1995 and was a member of the Florida Marlins’ World Series championship team in 1997.

There has been little opportunity for Zaun to play his natural position, catcher, the last two seasons.

In Florida last season, he spent most of the season behind Charles Johnson and Mike Piazza.

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In Texas, Zaun backs up Ivan Rodriguez, another perennial all-star.

The fact that Zaun was even in the Ranger lineup Monday was a surprise.

Moody superstar Juan Gonzalez, the Rangers’ regular right fielder, refused to play in the game because, he told the media, his uniform pants for the game were too baggy.

Last month, Gonzalez refused to play in the All-Star game because he wasn’t voted in as a starter.

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Dan Phillips is having little trouble adjusting to wood bats and professional pitching in his first season.

The former Chatsworth High and Cal State Northridge outfielder, drafted by the Colorado Rockies in June, is playing for the Portland Rockies and tearing up the short-season Northwest League.

Phillips leads the league with 39 runs batted in, 12 doubles, 52 hits and 23 extra-base hits.

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Anyone who has played summer baseball in Southern California during the last two decades likely has faced right-hander Jon Secrist.

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Secrist, a Westlake Village resident, and his knuckleball have been fixtures on the local baseball scene since before many current college players were born.

Secrist, 42, was rewarded for his patience two weeks ago, when he was signed by the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League.

The payoff was brief, however.

Secrist was released last week after posting an 0-1 record and 9.35 earned-run average in two outings and 8 2/3 innings.

Signing a 42-year-old rookie pitcher might seem odd, but not for the Saints, who are owned by Mike Veeck, son of renowned baseball showman Bill Veeck, and comedian Bill Murray.

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Team USA will play Mexico today in the semifinals of the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, after defeating Panama, 5-2, on Saturday.

Adam Kennedy, an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals’ triple-A affiliate in Memphis who was an All-American at Cal State Northridge, was one of the tournament’s top hitters.

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He was seven for 16 (.438) through three games, including three-hit games against Canada and Cuba.

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Infielder Torey Lovullo of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, formerly of Montclair Prep, was hitless in three at-bats against Durham on Wednesday, ending a 19-game hitting streak.

The streak could still grow to 20 games, however.

On Sept. 3, Philadelphia Phillies’ affiliate Scranton will resume a July 5 game that was postponed because of rain.

Lovullo was zero for 2 at the time of postponement.

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At midweek, three pitchers with ties to the region were among the American League’s leaders in earned-run average and another was among the best in the National League.

Joe Mays, who pitched for the Lancaster JetHawks in 1997, was eighth with a 3.77 ERA for the Minnesota Twins.

Mays was part of a 1997 trade that sent Roberto Kelly from the Minnesota Twins to the Seattle Mariners.

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Jeff Suppan of the Kansas City Royals, former Crespi right-hander, was ninth with a 3.80 ERA and left-hander Jim Parque of the Chicago White Sox, from Crescenta Valley, was 10th at 3.92.

Russ Ortiz of the San Francisco Giants, a right-hander from Montclair Prep, was seventh in the National League at 3.30.

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Outfielder Gabe Kapler of the Detroit Tigers, formerly of Taft High and Moorpark College, will sign autographs on Aug. 22 at a sports collectibles show at the Van Nuys Airtel Plaza Hotel.

Prices will range from $18 to $25, depending on what he signs.

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Infielder Kevin Millar of the Florida Marlins, who attended Hart High as a freshman, leads the major leagues with a .460 average (29 for 63) when batting with runners in scoring position.

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Keith Evans, a right-hander from Crespi, is closing in on a dubious record for the Ottawa Lynx, the Montreal Expos’ triple-A club.

Evans, 2-10 with a 4.52 ERA, is trying to avoid setting the team’s season record for losses, 12.

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The Milwaukee Brewers placed Bobby Hughes, former Notre Dame catcher, on the 15-day disabled list Friday with an inflamed right elbow. He was replaced on the Brewer roster by infielder Eddie Zosky, who played for the San Fernando Valley Dodgers’ summer team in 1987 and ’88.

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