Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia third baseman, serves as host of The Scholastic Sports Academy, a children's TV show that delivers baseball tips. Last week Schmidt showed he also has helpful words for big league youngsters. In a Cincinnati Enquirer story, Schmidt was quoted as saying he thought the Reds should be patient with their 24-year-old third baseman, Nick Esasky, who was struggling at the plate. That night, Esasky hit a three-run homer. Two days later Braves rookie Brad Komminsk came across Schmidt in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium before a Phillies-Braves game. Schmidt spent 20 minutes talking to Komminsk about power hitting. That night the young Brave had two homers. Meanwhile, Schmidt himself hit four homers as the Phillies won five of seven.
The first eight innings of the Toronto-Seattle game in the Kingdome last Friday night were relatively pro forma. The only unusual event that occurred while the Mariners were building a 3-1 lead was that the Blue Jay manager Bobby Cox and two of his coaches, Jimy Williams and Al Widmar, had been ejected. Then, in the ninth, things changed—and how! Toronto got a triple, 10 singles, two walks and one obstruction call in its favor and took a 12-3 lead. But that wasn't all. In the Mariners' half of the inning, Alvin Davis hit a grand slam before the Blue Jays could close out their 12-7 win.
The 15 runs were an American League record for a ninth inning. Toronto got its 11 runs against four pitchers, and it used two pinch hitters—both of whom came through—and three pinch runners. Two of the runners, Alfredo Griffin and Garth Iorg, stuck around long enough to bat later in the inning.
"It was amazing," said Blue Jay catcher Buck Martinez, who caught in the bottom of the ninth after Toronto's starting receiver Ernie Whitt was replaced by a pinch hitter. "With all the confusion, I got in the on-deck circle twice and I wasn't even in the game yet."
"I'll play anywhere just to be able to play," says the Cubs' Keith Moreland, who has been a rightfielder, catcher and third and first baseman recently. "First I check to see if my name's in the lineup, then I look to see where I'm supposed to go." ...The Astros may have something special in Mark Bailey, their 22-year-old rookie catcher, who came up after only 16 games in Double A. He has seven home runs in 211 at bats, and his five home runs in the Astrodome are two more than all the other Astros have.... Everyone knows the primary reason the Mets are in first place in the National League East is pitching. But another reason is their running game: New York has succeeded on 99 of 126 stealing attempts (78.6%), and in the 54 times an opposing pitcher pitched out, only twice was a Met going. Credit manager Davey Johnson and his third-base coach, Bobby Valentine.... You've got to root for Phillie first baseman Tim Corcoran, who spent most of the last three years in Triple A. Corcoran, 31, got a chance to play as the lefty first baseman when Len Matuszek broke a finger, and he's hitting .367 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 126 at bats.
Last December, the Phillies drafted Jay Tibbs, a 22-year-old righty, from the Mets. Tibbs was impressive in spring training, but there was no room for him on the roster, and the Phillies had to return him to New York. That happened during the last week of spring training. Tibbs hasn't stopped moving since.
He went from the Quality Inn Royal in Clearwater, Fla., where the Phillies train, to the Edgewater Beach Inn in St. Petersburg, where the Mets train. He spent a week there before moving to the Hickory Knoll apartments in Jackson, Miss., home of the Mets Double A team.
Three and a half weeks later Tibbs was promoted to New York's Triple A club based in Norfolk, Va. After four weeks in the Pembroke Square Apartments in Virginia Beach, he had to move again, having been traded to the Reds for Bruce Berenyi. Next stop: the Normandy Square Apartments in Wichita, Kans., home of Cincinnati's top farm team.
Four weeks thereafter, Tibbs made what he hopes was his final move of the season, to the Holiday Inn Downtown, Cincinnati. "It gets a little hectic," says Tibbs, who allowed four runs over 15‚Öî innings in his first two starts for the Reds. "I've got money in three different cities, and I probably still owe some bills somewhere."
Last Thursday night in the Bronx, the Twins turned a 5-4-3 triple play on Yankee Rick Cerone's sharp grounder down the third-base line. So far, that's moderately unusual: A fan can go a lifetime and not see a triple play that begins with something other than a line drive. But this, believe it or not, gets much, much better.
For the Twins, the play made this the third straight year that they've pulled off a TP—over that span there have been only nine other triple plays in the majors—and third baseman Gary Gaetti and first baseman Kent Hrbek have been involved in all three. For Cerone, it was the second time in his career that he has grounded into one of these suckers; he also did it against the Orioles in 1978.
"The play gave me the grand chill deluxe," Gaetti said. "I wasn't thinking about a triple play. I was thinking about an out. But the outs just kept on coming."
"I hit the ball hard," Cerone said. "You have to hit the ball hard to wind up in a triple play. I know."
Since June 1, the Tigers' Jack Morris, whose temper has earned him the nickname Mount Morris, is 2-5 with a 6.55 ERA. Since June 29, he's 0-3 with an 8.86 ERA. And after Morris blew his cool over some ball and strike calls during his latest effort, a 10-6 loss to the White Sox, he got ripped—by his own pitching coach, Roger Craig.
"He's acting like a little baby," said Craig, who has been one of Morris's biggest boosters. "Obviously, he has a lot of growing up to do. He has to pitch better and act more like a man. It's upsetting to the entire club when he does something like that."
Brewer manager Rene Lachemann has picked up a new nickname, Captain Nemo. "I don't really like it," says Lach, "but it's kind of funny, and so far it's true." The Brewers, at last gurgle, were 24 games out and still sinking.... Angel coach Jimmie Reese had a choice last week: He could have either the bat or the ball from Reggie Jackson's 493rd home run, which tied him with Lou Gehrig. Reese, who's 78 and played with Gehrig, chose the bat. "You catch up to a guy like Gehrig," Reese said, "you almost become a legend yourself."...Mariner Alvin Davis is a near lock for American League Rookie of the Year, and teammate Mark Langston, another newcomer from Class AA, has quietly become one of the better lefties in the league. He's 8-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 87 Ks in his 80‚Öî innings, and he has won six of his last 10 decisions....
Kingman's clouts are killing the concessions.
KINGMAN'S COMING UP—YOU WANT MUSTARD OR KETCHUP?
If you were a Yankee fan growing up around New York in the '50s, you probably spent a lot of time trying to con your old man into letting you stay up for just one more at bat by Mickey Mantle. After all, who knew when The Mick was going to hit one 500 feet? Much the same thing is happening in Oakland this season with Dave Kingman, a fellow who knows a thing or two about 500-foot home runs.
It's gotten so that even Kingman's Oakland teammates will delay a trip to the clubhouse between innings if it means there's a chance they might miss one of his at bats. And there's minimal movement in the rest of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum when Kingman, who leads the majors with 28 homers, is about to take his cuts.
But not all the fans stay glued to their seats. "My sister was at the park the other day, and she said she had a tough time trying to get a hot dog because the lines were so long," says Kingman. "She said the best time to get a hot dog was when I came to bat." There's nothing like a sibling to prevent a swelled head.
BALL PARK FIGURES
It's the ninth inning, the bases are loaded, two are out, and the Royals have a one-run lead. We asked Dan Quisenberry, who paced the majors with a record 45 saves in 1983 and again leads with 25, to name the five hitters he'd least want to face in that situation.
5—Any of the first five hitters in the Red Sox lineup (Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Tony Armas andMike Easler)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WILLIE HERNANDEZ: The Tigers' ace reliever earned saves in four of Detroit's six victories. He pitched 5‚Öì innings, and allowed only two hits, no bases on balls and no runs while striking out six.
"I've got a World Series ring that was appraised at $4,000 but it's in my safe-deposit box, and it's never touched my finger and it never will," says Cubs righthander Rick Sutcliffe, who was 2-2 during the season but wasn't on the Dodgers' postseason roster in their 1981 championship season. "I've been a Rookie of the Year and I've won an ERA title, and now the only thing that means anything to me is getting a World Series ring I can wear."