September 2, 2012
Bob Elliott's 'Why didn't I mentions'
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
Six weeks ago this weekend, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle introduced me on stage at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Almost seven months of thoughts, drafts, dry runs and edits had boiled the original 29-minute J.G. Taylor Spink acceptance speech to 15.
It went OK for someone unaccustomed to public speaking, someone like myself who mumbles.
Life was good ... couldn't be better.
A week later it began ... waking up at night with "Why didn't you mention ...?" thoughts
Not to try to do a Field of Dreams impression, but maybe this will ease the pain.
Trying to touch 'em all, I missed a bunch, for I should have mentioned ...
Dr. Ron Taylor. And not for the 11 years pitching in the majors or two World Series rings, but for all the injured sandlot players he made time to examine, whether it was a banged-up knee, a sore shoulder or an aching ERA. It could have been a player in his draft year or a peewee with dreams. His coverage area was Windsor-Ottawa and everything in between.
Howard Starkman, former crack P.R. man of the Jays. Now in charge of Jays' special, secret projects, only his president Paul Beeston knows what Howie does. Howard and I battled over the years. Howard: "How could you write that? Wait until we announce it?" Me: "I'm supposed to try and find out before announcements." Howard: "YEAH, WELL IT'S MY JOB TO KEEP IT A SECRET."
John Vukovich, the late Philadelphia Phillies coach. I met him in 1981 with the Phillies and he was a friend until he passed in the spring of 2007. He played 10 years and had 559 career at-bats, yet his plaque is on the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. Why? Because everyone loved him for his 26 years with the Phillies. Pal Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register would ask me to deliver messages each spring as the Jays played the Phillies what seemed like every third day. "Tell Vuke I stayed in John Vukovich suite last night in Winter Haven ... room 161." Vuke was a career .161 hitter.
Clubhouse guys like Harvey Stone, who worked with the Milwaukee Braves and told stories of guys wearing uniform No. 347, John Silverman of the Montreal Expos and Jeff Ross, a Day 1 employee with the Jays. Problem on the road? Those guys solved it.
Mike Flanagan. A decision was made not to put players into the speech. Wallace Johnson, Jerry White and Steve Rogers from Montreal, Jim Acker, George Bell and Tom Henke from the Jays could have been in. I enjoyed all of their answers and humour. Flanagan, who took his life last year, I miss dearly.
Skip Caray, the late Atlanta Braves announcer, was one of the funniest men I ever met, on or off the air.
Claude Raymond, the reliever and Expos broadcaster, who told me stories about life on the road with Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn and Bob Buhl. As a 10-year-old I had pictures of those Milwaukee Braves on my bedroom walls and now Claude was bringing them to life over dinner in Chicago after day games at Wrigley Field.
Dave Van Horne, and Jacques Doucet, Expos broadcasters, as well as Jays broadcasters Jerry Howarth and Buck Martinez. Van Horn won the 2011 Frick award. Hopefully the others will too.
And I could have mentioned Thomas Cheek.
The pool of Hall of Fame voters is over 500, so I didn't have a problem lobbying for Jack Morris, Tim Raines or Larry Walker.
The voting pool for the broadcasting award is 21 people, all but a few are former Frick winners.
I voted again for Thomas, who worked 4,306 consecutive games, and so should you on the Hall of Fame's Facebook site (www.facebook.com/baseballhall). You can vote early and often until Sept. 7.
I'll also vote some days for Jerry and Buck too.
The top 40 in voting advance to the Fan Finals to determine three of 10 spots on the ballot which goes to Frick Award committee.
St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon, Cheek and Doucet advanced last year, when FOX's Tim McCarver was chosen the 2012 winner.
Now, I'll be able to sleep ... oh, wait, there was Jimmy McLaughlin, who coached the Kingscourt Little League Tigers in Kingston ...