YOU’VE GOT TO PROTECT YOUR TEAMMATES
When I heard that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told the press his pitchers were going to start retaliating for his batters getting plunked, I just shook my head. There is no way a manager should ever do that.
If you know the game, you know when a pitcher hits a guy on purpose. As the pitcher it’s your job to go out and have your player’s back. Believe me, your teammates will play harder for you if you protect them.
But with Ozzie talking about it to the media, now all of a sudden the umpires are looking for trouble and keeping a close eye on his pitchers. He should have taken care of it in the clubhouse and not in the media.
June 25, 1972, Twins at Royals
It was my third year in the majors, and the first time I was told by my catcher I had to hit somebody. Harmon Killebrew had hit a home run in the third inning, and a little later on, Royals starter Dick Drago hit Cesar Tovar with a pitch. It was clearly intentional.
So my catcher, Phil Roof, came up to me and said we had to get one of theirs. He was from the old school, so he knew how to handle these things. I was only 21, and I told Phil I’d never hit anybody on purpose. I didn’t know how to do it.
Phil said we were going to get Royals catcher Ed Kirkpatrick. “He’s a left-handed hitter,” he said, “and I want you to hit him in the right knee.”
So sure enough, Kirkpatrick comes up and Phil gives me the thumb, which was the sign for a brushback pitch. I aimed for his right knee and hit him square. Kirkpatrick went down, and Roof went over to him and said “we’re done now, right?” Kirkpatrick just got up and went to first base.
And I thought to myself: “I like this.”
IT’S ABOUT YOUR TEAM, NOT YOUR STATS
April 27, 1977, Texas at Kansas City
No matter how well, or badly, you’re pitching, you have to take care of business when a problem arises.
Ben Margot / AP
Dodgers catcher Russell Martin has some angry words for Giants batter Pablo Sandoval after Sandoval objected at an inside pitch.
Before the bottom of the ninth, my pitching coach came up to me and said “don’t do anything, you have a shutout.” Then, manager Frank Lucchesi came over and said the same thing.
Well that was a bunch of nonsense to me. So when catcher Darrell Porter came up to lead off the ninth, I hit him with a pitch right in the ribs. Here’s a guy (Beniquez) who hits a three-run homer for me, and I had to protect him. I still got my shutout, but the most important thing is I that I had Juan’s back and I had the respect of my teammates.
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