|Hal McCoy writes column for TCN|
|Written by Editor|
|Friday, 15 January 2010 21:28|
Editor's notes: Times Community Newspapers is pleased to announce that it will now be offering columns by former Cincinnati Reds sports writer Hal McCoy to its readers on a weekly basis. McCoy, who covered the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News for 37 years before retiring at the end of the 2009 season, is enshrined in the writer’s wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is the reigning Ohio Sportswriter of the Year, an honor bestowed upon him by a vote of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He is a 10-time winner of the award. He is also the only non-Cincinnati journalist in the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. Each week McCoy will write about the Cincinnati Reds and Major League Baseball.
For most of the 37 years I covered major-league baseball, the Cincinnati Reds needed only two shortstops — Davey Concepcion and Barry Larkin. Type the word Hall of Fame shortstops into Google and their pictures appear (well, they should).
Those of us, the 51 percent who voted this year for Larkin on the Hall of Fame ballot, wonder what the 49 percent who didn’t vote for him were looking at, whether they have 20/20 vision or wear glasses or are legally blind.
I’m legally blind and I could easily see that Larkin is a Hall of Famer. I had 20/20 vision when I covered Concepcion and could see even better why Concepcion is a Hall of Famer.
Officially, neither one is because other voters don’t see it that way. To my thinking, if Phil Rizzuto and PeeWee Reese are Hall of Fame shortstops, so are Concepion and Larkin..
Rizzuto and Reese played in media-thick New York and received the attention that Concepcion and Larkin never received. And Concepcion played for The Big Red Machine and was submerged under the publicity aimed at Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey Sr. and George Foster.
And if Ozzie Smith is a Hall of Fame shortstop, so are Concepcion and Larkin. I once told Concepcion when he was still on the Hall of Fame ballot,
“If you had learned to do a back flip you’d be in the Hall right now.”
He didn’t see the humor in it.
Despite playing in the shadows of The Machinists, Concepcion was, by far, the best shortstop of his era for more than 15 years.
And he was a character in his own right, earning the nickname Bozo from Rose, as in Bozo the clown, for some of the garish suits he wore in the 70s. Rose should have looked in the mirror.
One time Concepcion became disgruntled for something written in the paper about him and when I approached he said, “I’m not talking to the press.”
All the writers covering the Reds at the time decided that was fine with us and we’d let Davey stew in it for a while.
After about three weeks, I was walking past Davey’s locker when he said, “Hey, Mack-Coy (he always called me Mack-Coy), I’ll talk to you now.”
We ignored him for another few days to let him think about it, then we asked him questions again. And we never had any more trouble.
There was a time — and in Davey’s case it was many times — when he encountered a batting slump and he decided to try anything to snap out of it.
We were in Chicago and on the way to Wrigley Field there is a state in a small park of World War I soldier General John J. Pershig, perched upon his rearing horse.
For year, it was tradition for the rookies of whatever team came to Chicago to sneak to the statue in the dead of night and paint the team colors on the horse.
On this day, on the way to the park, Concepcion had the team bus driver stop his rig at the statue and Davey ran to the statue and kissed the horse.
Upon arrival at the ball park, Concepcion climbed into an industrial dryer in the clubhouse. It had a large glass door and as pitcher Pat Zachry walked past he snapped the ‘on’ switch. And there was Davey’s petrified face going around and around the windowed door.
He singed nearly every hair on his body.
That didn’t stop him, though. Before the game, he walked into the shower with his uniform on, “To wash the slumo and evil spirits out of it.”
And how did he do that day? Well, he had kissed a horse statue, scorched the hair on his body in a dryer and taken a shower with his uniform on — so he went 0 for 5.
(Hal McCoy is a Times Community News columnist.)
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 14:42|