Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Rick Stelmaszek Saga:Part 4

Over the last month or so, I have written posts highlighting the career of my old neighbor and current Twins' bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek. Today, I am going to feature Rick's ability to hit the long ball.
In the major leagues, Stelmaszek had 108 plate appearances and 1 big home run. It did come off of a Hall of Famer, however (although not one of my favorite HOF'ers).
On August 20, 1974, the Chicago Cubs were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers. Don Sutton was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers and he had an 18-2 lead going into the 6th inning.
Andre Thornton started the inning with a groundout. Jerry Morales followed that with a single. Stelmaszek came up with 1 out and 1 on base. Stelmaszek took a mighty swing and crushed Sutton's pitch onto the catwalk in Wrigley Field.
The crowd went wild, with the Cubs now within 14 of the Dodgers, but Sutton recovered and retired the next 2 batters. The Dodgers hung on for an 18-8 win.
I find it quite fitting that Sutton gave up Stelmaszek's lone HR. I have debated Sutton's Hall of Fame credentials for a long time, but at least Stelmaszek can say all of his HR's were off of Hall of Famers.
In a sign of pure support (and lunacy), when my friends Jim Gekas and Chuck 'Cuzz' Gekas visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, they attempted to remove Sutton's plaque. This gesture still brings a tear to my eye.
Jim Gekas and Chuck 'Cuzz' Gekas in Cooperstown, NY-Summer 2004.

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