Results tagged ‘ Hal McCoy ’

Good deeds by good men

The clubhouse staff is often the unseen backbone of a Major League team. They do everything they can to help the players — whether it’s getting their equipment together, putting stuff away, getting meals together — basically anything and everything.

Most Reds players appreciate what the clubhouse manager Rick Stowe and his staff do and on Thursday, Aaron Harang showed it in a very tangible way. Working with the Jake Sweeney dealership in Fields Ertel, Harang purchased an electric six-seat golf cart for Stowe and his crew to use. Of course, it’s all decked out in red. The price tag was $6,500.

ClubhouseCar2.JPG“That thing is awesome,” Stowe told Harang. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Stowe and others took turns taking the cart for a spin. Of course, they are already trying to figure out ways to trick it out with fat tires, stereo, etc. In the picture, Stowe is in the driver’s seat. Behind him is visiting clubhouse manager and brother, Mark Stowe.

“I had been thinking about it for a while,” Harang said. “I talked to a couple of other guys and I felt they have done so much for me. They don’t have one specifically for them and they’re always hunting for carts to run errands, take guys to the bullpen, load bags up or transport stuff. It should be something just for them to have themselves.”

Harang wasn’t the only player who did a good deed on Thursday. When reporters walked into the clubhouse, Jonny Gomes was at his locker and shouted “Hal McCoy, come into my office.” 

gomesbat.jpgGomes presented Hal with the bat he used to hit his 20th home run during Wednesday’s win on Hal McCoy Night.

“We were in the dugout yesterday and he said ‘I’m going to try and hit a home run for you,’” Hal said.

Gomes proved to be a man of his word and Hal was touched by the gesture. 

Above is the picture of that bat.

I can’t think of too many managers that would do this. With Johnny Cueto missing his start tonight because of the flu, Dusty Baker arranged to send him some chicken soup to feel better.

“I went by Izzy’s to pick up some matzah balls, some rice and some noodles,” Baker said. “The chef here is going to make some chicken soup.”

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Cheering in the press box

I’m guilty for violating the golden rule of media (no cheering in the press box)…couldn’t help it. My colleague and friend Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News was saluted on the field before he heads off into retirement at the end of the season. Quite frankly, anybody that works 46 years in one place — including 37 years on the Reds beat — deserves a standing O.

If a man’s wealth is measured by the number of friends he has, Hal would be a billionaire. During a reception at the ballpark, Hal’s colleagues at the Dayton Daily News, current and former Reds and sports writers all turned out. His family, including his wife Nadine, was on hand of course. 

0916_hal_nadine.jpgAnd there was former Reds star Aaron Boone. Now with the Astros, Boone caught Hal’s ceremonial first pitch (it was a one-hopper but a strong effort.) Hal credited Boone with saving him from quitting in 2003. That spring, Hal lost his vision and became legally blind overnight. Boone talked him out of giving up. He’s kept working the last six years and hasn’t let it stop him.

During the game between innings, there were video tributes from players Hal covered – such as Sean Casey, Lou Piniella, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn.

I’ve been fortunate to have known Hal the last four years I’ve covered the Reds. He’s always been good to me and even though I’ve competed for stories and scoops with him, I’ll never stop appreciating everything he’s done for me and I count myself lucky to be considered his friend. 

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Gomes' rebound season

Among the myriad of off-season decisions that need to be made will involve outfielder Jonny Gomes.

Gomes has resurrected his career in Cincinnati — he came into Sunday batting .276 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs. Not too shabby considering he’s done that with 243 at-bats after starting the season in Triple-A Louisville. He’s played well vs. right-handers (.255/14/31) and lefties (.317/5/17). He’s one of the best clutch guys on the club with a .323 average w/RISP. He’s also been a great addition, personality-wise, to the clubhouse.

“I wanted to get on track and back on the map,” Gomes said on Sunday. “I did have a couple of 20 homer seasons in the big leagues under my belt without a lot of at-bats. The other one where I didn’t hit 20, I hit 17. Last year I didn’t have many at-bats.”

Gomes is making $600,000 at the big league level this season. The Reds could offer him arbitration, which is something he said he would accept. If they don’t and he becomes a free agent, it becomes less of a guarantee.  

Getting a chance to play, without the help of roster attrition, would be a factor.

“I think I’ve earned that opportunity,” Gomes said.

“It depends on needs, what’s out there, which kids might be ready coming up behind these guys,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

OK like yesterday with center field — you’re the GM. Do you bring Gomes back for 2010 and if so, does he start in left field?

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
McDonald 9
Hanigan 2
Bailey 1

News of the day:

OF Willy Taveras and C Ramon Hernandez have started running the bases back in Cincinnati. There is a good chance that both players could be activated this week while the Reds are home.

LHP Matt Maloney threw on the side on Saturday but still has some soreness with the blister on his middle finger. It’s not known when Maloney might get another start yet.

With Louisville one game away from elimination in the playoffs, Baker wasn’t expecting a lot of call-ups since much of the 40-man roster is already up or on the DL. When asked if Yonder Alonso might come up, Baker responded “probably not.” Alonso might need a break to get ready for the Arizona Fall League.

And in the classy move of the day, the Cubs and their writers held an informal ceremony on the field for Hal McCoy on his last time working at Wrigley Field. Among the gifts was a No. 37 from the scoreboard — the number of years that Hal covered the Reds. Lou Piniella, Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Red Ryan Dempster were among those sent Hal off the right way.

Hal McCoy night at GABP is Wednesday.

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Dog days, toasted ravioli and Shaq

We’ve definitely hit a dog days of August lull at this point of the season. The Reds clubhouse, devoid of personalities like Jerry Hairston Jr. and David Weathers, seems a little quieter. Players just do their business and get ready for games, which is what they should be doing. It just makes for less interesting content for you to read about. With the Reds a season-high 13 1/2 games out of first place entering the night, there is obviously a lack of buzz around the team that contending would have otherwise brought.

I can tell you’re less interested, perhaps? The comment totals have nosedived in recent days.

The highlights of the day so far were two non-baseball related things. For lunch, I joined Hal McCoy and Enquirer writer Tom Groeschen at Charley Gitto’s — a downtown Italian eatery here and a good one. Hal introduced me to the place a few years ago and it’s a hit — especially the toasted ravioli appetizer. Toasted ravioli is to St. Louis what Skyline Chili is to Cincinnati. One great thing about the restaurant is the hundreds of photos on the wall — mostly of past generations of ballplayers. Tommy LaSorda, of course, is up there. So are guys like Steve Garvey, Whitey Herzog, Stan Musial and more. Once when I was there, I walked past Burt Young — who played “Paulie” from the Rocky movies.

 

Thumbnail image for 252vy7.jpgSo, there you go — an A-list establishment in St. Louis. Hal always eats there, and George Grande never misses a chance. I will continue to do likewise each time I come back.

From high up in the press box perch was a strange sight — basketball star Shaquille O’Neal in a Cardinals jersey. Shaq was around the batting cage with Albert Pujols shooting a future installment for his reality sports show on ABC, called “Shaq Vs.”.

A few Reds like Jay Bruce and Dusty Baker greeted Shaq with a handshake. Baker looked positively tiny standing next to the seven-foot plus O’Neal. I wished I had seen 5-foot-6 Daniel Herrera and Shaq together. I missed it.

Later, Shaq didn’t botch a ceremonial first pitch. He threw a solid strike to Pujols.

Hal McCoy's last season

Since I hooked on to the Reds baseball beat before the 2006 season, I’ve come into contact with a lot of good people. One of the more generous and classiest among those people has been Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.

Although all media colleagues are working the same piece of real estate and trying to compete for stories, Hal became a friend of mine as well. We often had dinner together, rode to and from the ballpark together and talked about the games we just saw.

Today, Hal announced on his blog that he is headed for retirement at the end of this season. What makes this news even sadder is that the move isn’t of his own choosing. With his age, the economy in the tank and newspapers fading, Hal knew the day was coming but it’s still stuns like an inside fastball to the helmet. After Hal’s departure, the DDN will no longer cover the beat like he did it for the past 37 years, which can only be considered sad for Reds fans everywhere.

It certainly won’t be the same in the press box, clubhouse or on the road without him and I will miss him.

Last day in Sarasota… ever

first things first — Congrats are in order to the usual author of this blog and his family. Mark Sheldon and his wife’s clan got bigger by one baby boy this morning. Everyone is healthy and happy. So Mazel Tov to the Sheldons and all their family.

On to some nuts and bolts…

Well, here we are at the end of a very long Spring Training. Before I wax nostalgic about anything, allow me to post the lineup for one last time:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Encarnacion  3B
Hernandez  C
Hairston  SS
Volquez  P

Pirates pitcher was supposed to be TBA, but he’s been traded for Jesse Chavez. The Buccos will be using a DH today, for whatever that’s worth.

The Reds head to Zebulon, North Carolina after the game to play a game on Friday against a “Futures team” in their new Double-A affiliate’s home. They’ll do that again in Dayton on Saturday with Opening Day within reach on Monday.

Still no word on the No. 5 starter (or other roster decisions). Homer Bailey hasn’t been told — “I don’t know anything,” Bailey said. Baker said, “We have to confer before I make any call on that. We have to confer with Walt [Jocketty] and Dick [Pole], my coaches and a couple advisors upstairs. That’s how you do things. I’m the one who’s usually talking to people about it, but it’s a joint thing. If not, why do you have advisors if you don’t use them. The President, he has his cabinet to advise him. That’s why you have a staff.”

“I don’t want it easy,” he continued about how Bailey certainly made it interesting. “Like I said real early, ‘I’m just going to give Homer the ball.’ I give other guys the bat. All you can do is give them opportunity and try to be as fair as possible to everybody concerned. The rest is up to them. You can hit for them or pitch for them. You can try to help them be better in those departments through instruction and coaching and you hope they get it or retain it, which is probably more important.”

OK, the nuts and bolts are out of the way… I wanted to take a few minutes to appreciate my surroundings. Today is the Reds’ final game at old Ed Smith Stadium here in Sarasota. I’ve only been down here for two weeks, but I have to say it’s a pretty nice location to be in for a long stretch of time. Sure, the facility could use some upgrading, but I’d think a team like the Orioles, who already have their Minor League facilitiy over around here, would do well to move across the state here.

All the folks that work here in the facility are top notch. I finally got over to Gus’s yesterday for breakfast and wish now I had made more time to stuff my face there. If ever you’re in the area, be sure to go by there for breakfast or lunch. That’s good eats.

The Reds staff has been great in making me feel welcomed. It’s not always so easy to come in as an outsider for a few weeks and take over a daily job like covering a beat, but the Reds, from Dusty Baker to the great PR staff, has made it exceptionally easy.

The guys on the beat here are fantastic. They’ve all been extremely helpful as I tried to catch up to what was going on here. John Fay, Hal McCoy and the AP team have been great to work with and they all do a fantastic job.

On a personal note, I’d like to say that spening the last two weeks working alongside, driving to and from the park with, dining with, just simply talking with, Hall of Famer Hal McCoy has been one of the highlights of my career. I’ve always known his work and have met him a time or two and my impression had always been that he’s a guy who works hard, is great as his job and is completely unassuming about it all. It’s so nice (and refreshing) when someone as a person surpasses expectations and he has certainly done that and more. Covering Spring Training is always enjoyable — if exhausting — but hanging with Hal has made it a real pleasure.

OK, I’ve taken up enough of your time with my sentamentality. Daddy Sheldon should be back in a little while to guide you through the 2009 season. Thanks for indulging me the last few weeks. Hope I didn’t bore you too much…

If there’s any news today regarding roster moves, Sheffield sightings, etc. I’ll be sure to let you know.

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