Elliott on baseball

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Over the years, we've told you many Mother's Day stories.

About Charlie Lea's giving his mom a special present, pitching a no-hitter for the Montreal Expos in 1981.

About Kelly Gruber playing in front of his mother, Gloria, a former Miss Texas, in Arlington in 1989.

About Paul Molitor homering as a tribute to his late mom in 1994.

About pitching coach Gil Patterson worrying about his 75-year-old mother battling cancer in hospital.

Today on Mother's Day, the best story there is are the pink bats you will see when the Blue Jays face the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Vernon Wells, Shea Hillenbrand, Alex Rios and Gregg Zaun plan to use pink Louisville Slugger bats, each with their mother's name burned into the wood. Players will wear pink wrist bands throughout the majors.

The pink bats will then be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komer Breast Cancer Foundation.

Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox; Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox; Richie Sexson and Carl Everett of the Seattle Mariners, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and David Eckstein of the St. Louis Cardinals are some other players planning on using the pink bats.

It's not anything like the grand undertaking of Terry Fox, but it is a good step towards fighting an awful disease on a great day. For where would anyone be without their mother?

HIYA, MOM

Markham catcher George Kottaras, formerly of the Ontario Blue Jays, tells Baseball America in a Q and A explains everything from his recent power surge at Double-A Mobile to his mother's pastitsio (baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/261245.html).

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Name the most recent minor-league phenom, who delivered the way lefty Cole Hamels did (five scoreless, one hit, seven strikeouts) in his first start with the Phillies ... If the Jays tried to replace Russ Adams from within the organization on an every day basis, who would get the second shot after Aaron Hill? ... Think the Yankees would take Eric Hinske to play left? Hey, he's a left-handed hitter.

LONGEST HOMER I EVER SAW

"Either 1978, Rich Murray, Eddie Murray's brother, hit a ball straight away over the Green Monster at Phoenix Municipal Stadium that was a monster. Or, in '72, I saw Jack Winchester hit one at of Sicks Stadium in Seattle. That place had heavy air. No one could hit a homer and he almost hit it out of the building to left." -- Larry Corrigan, assistant to Minnesota Twins vice-president, Terry Ryan.

BLING, BLING

Former relief pitcher Bill Scherrer was at the Rogers Centre recently sporting an original oval-shaped World Series championship ring.

"It shows you what a class guy Jerry Reinsdorf is. He had the same style of ring for everyone," said the special assistant to Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams.

The White Sox gave out about 432 rings, at an estimated cost of $20,000 US apiece, and 163 pendants were presented. This beauty is 14-karat gold with the Chisox logo in diamonds on a black onyx stone encircled with two rows of diamonds.

Scherrer, a Grand Island, N.Y., resident, knows all about the class system of rings. He was acquired by the soon-to-be World Series-champion Detroit Tigers on Aug. 27, 1984 -- just days before the trade deadline without waivers -- from the Cincinnati Reds for Carl Willis.

In 18 games, he wound up with a 1.89 earned run average, pitching 19 innings, walking eight and striking out 16.

Early the following season, after a game against the Anaheim Angels out west, Scherrer, Kirk Gibson and Milt Wilcox adjourned to Mr. Stox, a restaurant near Anaheim Stadium, to discuss the game and unwind.

A woman with diamonds on each hand made a fuss over "the beautiful rings" Gibson and Wilcox had.

Then, looking at Scherrer's, asked: "Why is your ring different?"

The next stop on the Tigers trip was Seattle. Gibson and Wilcox accompanied Scherrer, with writer Vern Plagenhoef, who paid to have a jeweller appraise the ring.

The jeweller told Scherrer his stone was glass and was worth somewhere between $90 and $250.

The Tigers had three levels of rings and, since Scherrer was only there two months, he received a glass bauble and not a diamond.

Gibson, in protest, mailed his own ring back to the Tigers.

Team president Jim Campbell told the reliever he should ask his teammates why. When players cast ballots to decide how to split post-season bonuses they allotted Scherrer a one-third share and the least expensive of three rings. However, the players did not vote on the rings.

"What did he expect? We only got him two days before the deadline for post-season eligibility, which was Sept. 1," Campbell said.

"If the players wanted him to get a full share, they should have voted him a full share."

CANUCK OF THE WEEK

Catcher Chris Robinson of Dorchester is the winner of our first Canadian minor league player of the week honours. Robinson hit .450 with three RBIs at single-A Lakeland (Tigers).

The runners-up are: Aldergrove, B.C., right-hander Scott Mathieson, who pitched six innings in a no- decision and hit a two-run homer for double-A Reading; Etobicoke's Joey Votto, who hit .400 at double-A Chattanooga (Reds) and Cambridge's Scott Thorman, who hit .333 with triple-A Richmond (Braves.)

SHOWING WELL

Jonathan Waltenbury of Bowmanville and the Ontario Blue Jays was the best bat at the Major League Scouting Bureau camp this past week. A total of 16 scouts representing 13 different teams were at the Pro-Tech indoor facility in Etobicoke.

Waltenbury is the top Ontario prospect for the June draft. Righty Tyler Binkley of Sault Ste. Marie also opened eyes on the mound.

Waterloo's Terrell Alliman, of the Intercounty league Terriers and Belmont lefty Shane Davis of the St. Thomas Tomcats, were the best at the Burlington camp.

THE BEST RUNNER

Gene Glynn, third base coach of the San Francisco Giants, coached Larry Walker during the latter's rookie year at single-A Utica.

Glynn once told the Maple Ridge, B.C., native to retreat to first on a hit-and-run on a liner to centre. Walker picked up Glynn's late, saw the sign and cut across the mound sliding in ahead of the throw.

"First, Larry argued with the ump and then I got there and he argued with me that he beat the throw," Glynn said.

"I told him that he beat the throw at first, but he hadn't re-touched second on the way back."

So, in all his years coaching third base for the Giants, the Colorado Rockies and in the minors with the Expos, who is the best base runner he's ever encountered?

"Walker without a doubt," said Glynn. "He had the ability to watch guys and pick up what they did. He was not the fastest, but he was the best I ever coached."


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