Their team may have died a painful death, but Don Mattingly and Rickey Henderson are shaking down some baseball history this season. Mattingly, with 140 RBIs, will be the first Yankee to lead the league in RBIs since Roger Maris had 142 in 1961. He's already the first Yankee since Joe DiMaggio (1936-37) to have back-to-back 200-hit seasons, and he's also the first Yankee with back-to-back 40-double seasons since Lou Gehrig did it in 1933-34. His 48 doubles are the most by a Yankee since Gehrig had 52 in 1927. "To be honest, I never heard of Gehrig until I came here," says Mattingly. "And honestly, at one time I thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. I really did. I mean, I wasn't born until 1961."
Henderson broke Fritz Maisel's 71-year-old club record for stolen bases in a season when he swiped his 75th. His 142 runs—Mattingly has driven him home 54 times—are the most in the majors since Ted Williams scored 150 for the Red Sox in 1949. And with 23 homers, Henderson is the first AL player to hit 20 homers and steal 50 bases.
Carlton Fisk is another player with historic numbers. His 37th homer, off the Angels' Ron Romanick last Wednesday, was his 33rd as a catcher, breaking Lance Parrish's 1982 AL record of 32. The home run was particularly satisfying for Fisk because Romanick had hit him with a pitch his previous time up, and Fisk did not think it was an accident.
"That's the second time this year he's done that," says Fisk. He went from a trot to a walk for the last dozen steps of the homer and admitted. "It was partly for him and partly for me. I did want him to know that, hey, I've been in this league awhile. I think I deserve some respect. I enjoyed the last 12 feet. I felt I had it coming."
The numbers are of MVP caliber, but Dave Parker, who has reached a career high in RBIs (120) and tied his high in homers (30), wonders if his involvement in baseball's cocaine scandal will cost him the award. "That was something that happened years ago. I hope it doesn't have any effect on the voting." ...What a difference a change of teams makes. Bill Madlock, who was going through the motions with the Pirates, is hitting .356 for the first-place Dodgers. He also has seven steals in 29 games after only three steals in 110 games for Pittsburgh.... So far the Pirates are happy with two of the players they got for Madlock—R.J. Reynolds and Sid Bream. Those two and Mike Brown, who came from the Angels in the John Candelaria deal, have combined to hit .317 with seven homers and 53 RBIs in 350 at bats as Pirates.... Doesn't Ted Turner ever learn? The Braves' owner is about to re-sign catcher Bruce Benedict, one of his favorites, to a big-bucks multiyear deal, even though Benedict can't throw and is hitting .207 without any power. Ted also wants to resign 270-pound Terry Forster. According to G.M. John Mullen, though, the Braves first want him "to show us signs he'll do everything to get in shape." ...Montreal's Andre Dawson had three home runs and eight RBIs in a 17-15 win at windy Wrigley Field. Two of the homers, a pair of three-run shots, came in the same inning and made Dawson the second player in history to hit two homers in an inning on two occasions. Willie McCovey was the first.... Astros manager Bob Lillis was ejected by umpire Dick Stello for arguing an interference call, his first thumbing since he was a Dodger rookie 27 years ago. His next thumb is not due until 2012.
In 1983, after seven years of too few homers and too many Ks, the Twins let Mark Funderburk go. A couple of months later, the Royals did the same thing. Funderburk's next stop in '83 was Mexico City. Last year he played for Rimini in the Italian professional league. "On a good day, you can see Yugoslavia from there," says Funderburk. At 27, he was being paid $1,000 a month plus expenses to play in competition he acknowledges is on the level of A ball. "I figured I'd see the world a bit, and that was going to be it. And it was fun."
But then a funny thing happened on Funderburk's way to becoming a carpenter in Orlando, Fla., his home. He finally succeeded in cutting down his looping swing and hit 38 homers in 70 games for Rimini. He talked the Twins into letting him play for their Double A team in Orlando, and he belted 34 homers while striking out only 63 times. He earned a September audition as the Twins' right-handed DH, and he has hit .345 with 13 RBIs in 58 at bats.
A hearty boo to the Cincinnati Bengals, who erased the white circle painted on the spot in Riverfront Stadium's outfield where Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit landed. Assistant G.M. Mike Brown claimed that the circle in left center with 4192 painted in the middle violated NFL rules prohibiting markings on the field that might confuse players or officials. But a check with the NFL determined that the rules do not apply if the markings are outside the playing field. The Rose marker, had it been left in place, would have been behind the visitors' bench.
Now we know a couple of the reasons why Baltimore's Mike Boddicker is 12-17. He was tipping his changeup, a key pitch for him, by shaking his glove before he threw it. The O's found out after a club official recently overheard two Brewers talking about Boddicker. Boddicker also pitched much of '85 with a sore left knee.... Wade Boggs finally did it. Last Thursday he popped up to the infield for the first time this year. Boggs has had a hit in 131 games, three shy of Al Simmons's AL mark and five behind Chuck Klein's major league record.... Bobby Grich may not have the greatest range as a 36-year-old second baseman, but boy. does he have sure hands. He has committed only two errors at second (and one at third).... Check out what Mariner owner George Argyros said in a public hearing on lease concessions at the Kingdome: "Never in the 100-year history of baseball has a team been competitive in its first 10 years." Let's see, the Royals were in the playoffs for the third time in their 10th year, the Mets won a World Series in their eighth year, and the Blue Jays, who came into existence in '77, the same year as the Mariners, should win the AL East.
BALL PARK FIGURES
INSIDE PITCH hereby presents the Iron Glove Awards, given to those fielders deemed to be the worst at their positions in a confidential poll of players and coaches:
C—Donnie Scott, Mariners. He once had a passed ball on a ceremonial first pitch.
1B—Glenn Davis, Astros. A converted outfielder, Davis has 11 errors in 93 games. "He doesn't think out there," says a teammate.
2B—Steve Sax, Dodgers. Twenty-one errors. "He's got it. hands down," says another Dodger.
SS—Julio Franco, Indians. "Making 40 errors a year [he has 37] is ridiculous," says one coach. "I'd try him at third or second, and if that doesn't work, get him to the outfield." Franco narrowly beats out Roy Smalley of the Twins, whose nickname. The Mummy, is self-explanatory.
3B—(tie) Wayne Gross, Orioles, and Ron Cey, Cubs. "The only kind thing to say about Gross is, he can hit," says a player. Cey, who never had much range, has 21 E5s this year.
OF—Lonnie Smith, Royals. Sample comment: "Absolutely the worst. Can't throw, can't judge a fly ball." Can't stand up, either.
OF—George Foster, Mets. An opponent says, "The worst in our league [pause] now that Lonnie Smith is gone." Somewhat lacking in hustle.
OF—Reggie Jackson, Angels. Seven errors in only 79 games. He used to be even worse.
P—Tommy John, A's. He can no longer move. According to one player, "He goes after bunts like they were live grenades."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
TOM BROWNING: The Reds' pitcher had two victories to become the first rookie to win 20 games since Bob Grim of the '54 Yankees and the first southpaw rookie since Harvey Haddix of the '53 Cards.
"I just wish they wouldn't put this year on the back of my baseball card," said Atlanta reliever Bruce Sutter, suffering through the worst season of his career with a 4.48 ERA and 12 blown saves in 35 opportunities. "Maybe they could use 'In military service."