On Aug. 30, 1983, Detroit's Dan Petry hit Twins slugger Gary Ward in the face with a fastball. Six days later Ward returned to the lineup and went 4 for 4. But for the rest of the season Ward hit no homers and drove in only seven runs in 84 at bats.
Last December Ward was traded to the Rangers for pitchers Mike Smithson and John Butcher. While the two new Twins prospered. Ward continued to struggle. "I wasn't ever afraid of getting hit again, but I was making damn sure that I wasn't, and maybe that had something to do with the first half I had," says Ward, who in the last six weeks has raised his average 52 points to .271 and doubled his home run total to 16.
"I wasn't going to let the ball hit me again, no matter what," he says. "Whenever I thought it was going to be close, I was down. But now when they throw the ball up and in, they better not throw the next one for a strike."
Detroit's Jack Morris leads the AL with 17 wins. He may also be leading the majors in another category: teammates and coaches ticked off. Earlier this season pitching coach Roger Craig knocked Morris for losing his temper on the mound. Recently Kirk Gibson knocked Morris for pouting after a come-from-be-hind Tiger win in which Morris had pitched badly and didn't get the W.
Last Thursday night in Seattle, Lance Parrish, Morris's catcher, took his turn. It seems that Morris, cursing himself because his eighth-inning throwing error let in the go-ahead run, didn't back up home as the play continued. When Gibson's return throw from right sailed over Parish's head, no one was there to keep another run from scoring. Oops! When the Tigers scored in the ninth, Morris's faux pas became Seattle's winning run.
"I think it [Morris's behavior] reflects on the whole team," Parrish said. "That's why it's as——as it is. It has an effect on the rest of the club."
Parrish also said he won't go to the mound to talk to Morris when the pitcher gets upset. "It's not my job to go out and reprimand Jack every time he acts like he shouldn't. He's a big boy. The coaching staff thinks I shouldn't go."
It's that time of year again. Managers are being replaced or, worse, given a vote of confidence. Even general managers are biting the dust.
Bill Virdon, who said he was going to retire at the end of the season anyway, was replaced as Expos manager by his immediate predecessor, Jim Fanning, the team's vice-president of player development. Fanning is expected to serve only until the end of the season. The leading candidates to succeed him are former big league managers Steve Boros and Buck Rodgers.
Seattle manager Del Crandall got the ax last week, too. According to one West Coast source, earlier this season the Mariners discussed the manager's job with Steve Greenberg, an agent and former minor league player and the son of Hank Greenberg. Greenberg wasn't interested. Third base coach Chuck Cottier is the interim manager.
Angel G.M. Buzzie Bavasi, who drained his farm system and spent billions of Gene Autry's trillions to win two division titles, is retiring after the season. His replacement is Mike Port, who as Bavasi's right-hand man since 1977 has rankled some players in contract negotiations. "From my experiences," says third baseman Doug DeCinces, "he doesn't have much integrity. Now I hope Buzzie doesn't retire."
Joe Klein, the Ranger G.M. who was the toast of Texas for a while in '83 because the Rangers were in first at the All-Star break, resigned under pressure. Tom Grieve, the club's 36-year-old farm director, will succeed him.
The votes of confidence went to Braves manager Joe Torre and to Pirates manager Chuck Tanner and G.M. Harding Peterson. Stay tuned.
The Platoon Move of the Week came in Minnesota with Rance Mulliniks, the lefty half of the Blue Jays' third base team, batting against righty Mike Smith-son. Mulliniks had eight straight hits at the time and a 3 and 1 count in his favor. But when lefty Pete Filson came in, Bobby Cox sent up Garth Iorg, the other half. He grounded out.... Dick Howser on the possibility—how dreadful—that the Royals could win the AL West with a sub-.500 record: "I wouldn't mind spending the winter thinking about being the first manager to finish first with a losing record."...Sparky Anderson, baseball's King of Hyperbole, outdid himself after Mariner rookie Mark Langston beat the Tigers on a 12-strikeout two-hitter just 10 days after he struck out 11 Tigers in 8‚Öì innings. "He's the very best pitcher I've seen since I came into the American League," said Sparky.... California's Jim Slaton and Don Aase combined to beat the Orioles 4-2 and tied a major league record by getting 19 outfield put-outs. Slaton, who sent his outfielders to the warning track six times in eight innings, said after the game, "I'm going to the trainer's room to ice my outfielders' legs."..."I think I get more upset when I lose a fish," says Twins' stopper Ron Davis, an ardent fisherman. "In baseball there's always another game tomorrow, another chance to be a hero. That's not true with a big fish."...Most Honest Answer of the Week: After Don Sutton, 22 wins shy of 300, saw his bullpen blow a 6-1 lead for him in a game the Brewers ultimately won, he said, "If we were in a pennant race I'd be happy that we won, but now I'm struggling to be happy."
For Al Holland, the Phillies' stopper, the decline began in the middle of June. He lost a foot or two off his heater, a terrible fate for a reliever who throws fastballs on almost every pitch and for a contender that is 8½ games out with 27 to go.
Through June 17 Holland was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA and 15 saves in 15 opportunities. Since then he's 1-6 with a 3.95 ERA and 13 saves in 19 chances.
Last season Holland was on the disabled list until April 29. But was he ever fresh—and effective—in September. This season he's already worked 96‚Öî innings, five more than last year, and as he points out, "This is the first time in my career I've pitched the whole season as the No. 1 relief pitcher. You get tired. But this isn't the time to get tired."
Steve Garvey set a one-season major league record last Friday with his 132nd straight errorless game at first; the major league consecutive-game record is Mike Hegan's 178.... The Cubs aren't forgetting their great fans. During Chicago's last home stand, Gary (Sarge) Matthews passed out SARGE caps to the Bleacher Bums in leftfield, and then Keith More-land, Bob Dernier, Ryne Sandberg, Leon Durham and Jody Davis kicked in $800 apiece for 3,500 T shirts for the fans in rightfield. The message on the shirts: IT'S A BLAST IN THE BLEACHERS.... Expo reliever Gary Lucas ripped Bill Virdon after the manager was fired last week. "Virdon was outmanaged this year, especially in the late innings," Lucas said. "The starters would take him to the seventh and eighth innings, and instead of using a fresh bullpen, he would stay with the starters."
Bowie Kuhn's solution to the Wrigley Field postseason dilemma—the playoff schedule won't be changed, but any Cub World Series games will be played on the weekend—was the least objectionable compromise possible. Of course, there are those of us who think schedule tampering to prevent a massive rebate of network money is a bad precedent.
But what White Sox owner Eddie Einhorn had to say on the matter two days before Kuhn's decision was scary. And it's even scarier when you realize other owners feel exactly as Einhorn does.
"I want the Cubs to play whenever they want to play, but that's not the real world," Einhorn said. "The real world is money. I'm not telling them to put in lights, but somebody better find a way to pay fast." Einhorn also said he had "absolutely no sympathy" for those Cub fans who didn't want the schedule changed.
PLAYING THE HITS
Tito Jackson is a serious baseball fan, and the guitar-playing brother of Michael Jackson is letting everyone know it on the Victory Tour. He has been using this guitar onstage. Offstage, he coaches his sons' Little League teams.
BALL PARK FIGURES
As the season draws to a close, here are some firsts that could happen and records that could be broken:
•If the Mets' Dwight Gooden and the Mariners' Mark Langston hold onto their leads in their respective strikeout races, it will be the first time each league's strikeout leader is a rookie.
•Gooden, with 224 strikeouts in 184 innings, seems a cinch to break the major league record for strikeouts by a rookie (Herb Score, 245, 1955). With 10.96 Ks per nine innings, Gooden, 19, also has an excellent chance to top Sam McDowell's 1965 major league mark of 10.71 Ks per nine innings.
•If the Cubs' Ryne Sandberg gets three more triples, two more homers and 23 more hits, he'll become the first major-leaguer to amass 200 hits and 20 doubles, triples, homers and steals in one season.
•If the Tigers win 12 of their last 25 games, Sparky Anderson will become the first manager to win 100 games with two different teams...unless the Padres' Dick Williams beats him to it. Williams needs 22 wins in San Diego's last 25 games.
•If the Pirates stay in last place but keep their NL ERA lead, they'll become the first team to finish first in ERA and last in the standings.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CHILI DAVIS: The Giants' outfielder went 12 for 29, scored six runs and had four homers, 10 RBIs and two steals as San Francisco won six of eight to climb out of the National League West cellar.
"We aren't going to finish last, and we aren't going to lose nine of every 12 games," said rookie manager Pete Rose on Aug. 29 after the Reds lost nine of his first 12 games as skipper to fall into last place. "I'm showing patience, I'm sitting back and waiting. Guys don't think I'm watching closely, but I know who's hustling and who isn't. It's easy to hustle when you're winning. I'm watching to see how guys react when we're playing bad. They better not be accepting defeat."