Monday, June 4, 2012

Grandma & Jim O’Toole

I’ve mentioned that my Mom’s Father, Daddy Con was a big baseball fan.  So was my Dad’s Mother.  Grandma’s team was the Cincinnati Reds and if they were playing you could be sure that either her radio or TV would be tuned to their station.

Four generations of Reds Fans!
Dad, Grandma, Great-Grandma & me
Grandma was more than just a casual fan.  She knew the game.  Here is a short story that illustrates the depth of her understanding.

In 1964 she and I were at her house listening to a Reds’ game (I was 14).  Jim O’Toole was pitching for the Reds and doing a great job.  I don’t remember the actual numbers, but it was a low-scoring game which the Reds were winning.  Late in the game the score was 1-0 or 2-1, something like that.  O’Toole’s batting position came up.  A lot of times, late in a close game the manager, (Fred Hutchinson in this case), would pinch-hit for the pitcher and bring in a reliever to finish up.

In this case, O’Toole was doing such a masterful job against the opposing team, Fred let him hit so that he could stay on the mound.

Before I tell you what happened next, let me tell you a little about Jim O’Toole.  For a few years there in the early 1960’s O’Toole was one of baseball’s premier pitchers.  He’d started an All-Star game, had pitched well in a Pennant Race and a World Series and had received MVP votes.  He was one of my favorite pitchers and he was Irish.

So O’Toole came up to bat in the 8th or 9th inning.  After this at bat he would only need three more outs to wrap up a stellar performance.  He hits a triple!  I was ecstatic!  Triples are exciting!  Lots of running, throwing, sliding, close plays.  This is cool!  Maybe we’ll get another run.

Grandma did not share my excitement.

“Grandma, don’t you think that’s great?  A triple!”

“Well,” she said, “it was a good hit, but he’s already pitched almost a whole game and now he’s just had to run hard around the bases.  I hope he doesn’t run out of gas next inning.”

So, what do you think happened?

The Reds were not able to get O’Toole home, so he stood at third base for the rest of the inning.  When he took the mound again, he quickly found himself in trouble with a walk and a base hit. Suddenly the game was tied.  Hutchinson relieved him and O’Toole was off to the showers with, at best, a no-decision.

I don’t remember how the game ended, but that I learned that when it came to baseball, Grandma knew exactly what she was talking about.

1 comment:

  1. Great story Tom..I remember sitting on her front porch listening to the radio with her ...She loved her "Red Legs"
    Cathy Coehick Short-Papp