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  1. #121
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    This is not from my book "Beating About the Bushes"

    After I retired in 1970 I had the opportunity to do Elmira Pioneers television broadcasts along with local high school football and basketball games on radio. With my inflated ego still intact, I could see my broadcasting NBC games of the week in the near future. One game during the 1972 season provided enough humility to turn away from this career.

    The major league affiliation had shifted to the Cleveland Indians and I didn't know any of the players or coaches making inside knowledge difficult to pass on to listeners. I was just another ex player trying to not sound bitter about not reaching the bigs.

    Jim Kern was a big right handed pitcher who would suffer a 3-11 season and a 4.33 ERA but very popular with the fans, often coming into the stands after leaving the game and talking to anyone with whom he came into contact. The 3-11 with Elmira was only matched by the 3-11 in 1981 with the Texas Rangers in the 1981 season during a 13 year major league career.

    Before the days of satellite feed for broadcasts, there had to be a shuttle of video tape from the ball park back to the studios. In our case, the time was one hour before anyone could view, without editing, putting the time at about midnight.

    Kern threw a no-hitter one night and this was the only no-hitter I ever witnessed except for mine during the 1966 season of winter ball in the California Peninsula League. At the end of the game I was so drained emotionally that I could hardly talk but the best was to come. Since we were live on radio, the news reached the tv station and a command to do an interview with Jim came immediately. The only way this could be done was to turn one of the two cameras we had inward to the press box on the top of Dunn Field. Jim was quickly brought up to this press conference in uniform and I sensed he was just as excited as I was. The interview was no more than 5 minutes since neither of us really knew what to ask or how to react. This was truly the essence of minor league baseball at this time.

    I rushed home to tell my wife about this great experience but had to awaken her without disturbing our 3 year old daughter. We waited through the broadcast until the interview arrived. After a commercial break, there I was with Jim. After a commercial and a brief into by someone at the studio setting up the interview, there we were. My opening statement was, “Jim, that's the best god damn game I've ever seen pitched!” Jim looked at me without expression for 15 seconds before offering “Thanks a lot”. End of interview, end of my broadcasting career.

  2. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldpro56 View Post
    From my book "Beating About the Bushes"

    One of the banquets I did attend without my family was when Rocky Blier was a key note speaker. Our connection went back to the 1964 season in Appleton, Wisconsin and sticks in the memory.

    Rocky was an all state star in three sports and Baltimore wanted to sign him desperately before any college could lock him up via scholarship. This was professional baseball and they were going to dangle money unavailable from NCAA regulated programs.

    I was Rocky?s personal tutor for practices because I was a starter only working every fifth day. My control was perfect and, more importantly, delivered batting practice pitches at the required speed and location for showcasing his talent in a positive way. Baltimore had put me in a difficult position since I was being told to do something that potentially could be harmful to my arm and career by throwing multiple days between starts.

    Blier powered everything I fed him in all directions and out of the park often. One of the toughest things to do as a professional pitcher is to throttle back. Adjusting the velocity upward to real game conditions would have shown Rocky lacking. Even in locker room conversations, I could sense baseball was not his game. Still, it was exciting to be this close to the person since he was a local athlete who had potential, even if it wasn?t in my sport.

    Blier?s Tavern was a great combination of food, drink, atmosphere, and Rocky?s dad behind the bar playing host most of the time. One exceptionally cold Saturday afternoon I decided to stop and be warmed by the usual weekend sports crowd. I was only overshadowed by Rocky in this establishment. This bar could have been ?Cheers? due to the diversity of the patrons.

    Rocky?s dad was called away to the phone and came back visibly agitated about something. Someone asked, ?Anything wrong?? His response was, ?It?s that *******ed kid of mine. He said some alum called and told him, ?Look out the window?. The bastard bought him a Mustang convertible and parked it out front of the frat house with the keys in the glove compartment.? Most were impressed with this generous gift, but I knew what was coming.

    ?I told him he couldn?t keep it and he got pissed at me. I reminded him of the NCAA?s strict rules and if he got caught, it would be the end of his scholarship and his football career.? Rocky never drove the car, pop knew better. Rocky went on to a NFL career after being the 18th pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the football draft and was the only one to survive from that level or below.

    Blier was drafted into the army and served in Viet Nam. During combat he was shot in the left leg and had a grenade explode under his right foot, blowing a portion away. Upon release from duty he was awarded a forty per cent disability because of these injuries. Imagine the drive within this person when he reported to football summer camp determined to succeed.

    Rocky became the starting fullback for the Steelers in 1974 and played during the period where the team won four Super Bowl titles in six years. Even though he was primarily a blocking back, he gained a thousand yards one season along with Franco Harris. After retiring, Blier developed into one of the countries best motivational speakers and now commands fees of $10,000 per appearance.
    Great Rocky Blier story. Loved watching that guy play for the Steelers.

  3. #123
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    A continuance of a segment about Billy Scripture from my book "Beating About the Bushes"

    HARD AS A ROCK

    As if my nerves weren’t bad enough about making a team my first camp, a strange group arrived during an afternoon lunch. Twenty plus unknown strangers were ushered into our cafeteria and treated like royalty. Word quickly spread they were the Wake Forest baseball team on a southern swing and would be playing the next day against one of our four groups. This initiated a feeling for how large my pond had now grown and the new bigger fish I had to battle for survival. The most intriguing member of the team was out of perspective with the rest. The shortest, stockiest, best dressed, baldest person was Billy Scripture. The disparity jumped out and I could identify with this person who didn’t fit the norm.

    Billy was to become an All American at Wake and has been inducted into their Sport Hall of Fame. This status was achieved even though he was almost expelled for practicing his batting stroke by chopping down beautiful old trees in the woods next to the football stadium. A negotiated settlement resulted in having Scripture chopping the felled trees into firewood and delivering the logs personally to professor’s homes on campus. Little did I know Baltimore would draft him and we would play together for five seasons.

    What comes to mind immediately was Billy’s unbelievable grasp as to the subtle nuances of the game. Also, he was one of the first instructors hired by Ewing Kauffman (owner of the Kansas City Royals) to staff his inventive idea for a baseball academy. The theory was to combine continuing education with intense daily baseball instruction within a college campus atmosphere. College level courses were provided along with a skilled baseball staff. Study in the morning and play in the afternoon. The plan failed after a few years with several million dollars of Kauffman’s money having been spent. The only graduate to reach the majors was Frank White with the Royals.

    Scripture’s skills carried over to his being hired to manage in the minor leagues at various levels but his many quirks got in the way of success. One night in 1984 I was swinging around the channels and caught a lead in to David Letterman’s show. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen we’ll have as our guest one of the legends of baseball.”

    Billy had his fifteen minutes of fame and it was fascinating. Letterman asked him if it was true that, after having been kicked out of a game, he had climbed the light towers and managed the game from high above, flashing signals as if he were standing in the third base coaches box and the answer was, yes. The opposing manager objected to the legality and after a long delay and consultation with the general manager of the club, it was determined the light towers were not part of the umpires jurisdiction. This story pales by comparison to my memories of this unique character.

    Early on Billy became infamous as to his being impervious to pain. My former roommate, Don Baylor, set a major league record for being hit by a pitch and if Billy had made “the show”, he would have given Baylor a run for that title. Both had the physique, mentality and reflexes which allowed a quick turn, head tuck and trot to first. Billy took this absence of pain to a different level producing a reputation that had to be seen to be believed.

    Every year Scripture would allow the latest hard throwing draftee to settle in with his cockiness well in place. Since Billy was always available for multiple duties, he occasionally would serve as a bullpen catcher. The greater the ego the better, especially if a large signing bonus was involved. At some point during the warm up he would simply throw the catcher’s mitt to one side and remain in position. The pitcher would stop the process and wait for Billy to retrieve the mitt. Scripture’s only move was to hold up his right hand and offer, “You don’t have **** on the ball tonight and I’ll catch whatever you want to bring with no glove”!

    The shock value was classic. Like a cartoon bull with smoke coming from both nostrils, the bonus baby would let loose with his best heat. Billy snatched it out of the air deftly and without a grimace. Being a master at this and not wanting to repeat the challenge, he would walk the ball up to the demoralized bonus baby, returning to the dugout without another word said.

    An enduring memory of Billy is his taking infield practice without a glove. Scripture’s reputation was so great that if he decided to perform on a particular night, the opposing club would come back to the dugout rather than relaxing in the clubhouse. Our coach launched ground balls with a thinly shaped instrument called a fungo. He knew what Scripture wanted and hit the ball as hard as he could, producing drives hit harder than most balls during a game.

    Billy would drop to his knees blocking the ball with his chest and casually throw to first base in a manner that would have resulted in an out every time. This was repeated until he knew a psychological imprint on the opposition had been established. Few knew this was not an act. It was part of Scripture’s meticulous preparation because this might happen during the course of the game and he wanted to be prepared.

    Scripture’s teeth were also legendary. To this day, my lament is that I didn’t ask him for x-rays because what I saw over the years couldn’t have occurred without implants attached to the jaw bone with titanium screws. Even Letterman asked him about this aspect. His teeth were large, perfectly formed and, like Billy himself, well maintained.

    During the years we played together, it was common to see Billy rip the cover of a baseball off with his choppers. He would make a gouge with incisors and then grab the cover with everything but his molars and dismantle the ball. This was always done to amuse and not out of anger. Anger he would take out on other things, mostly wooden items such as his bat that had failed him. But one Sunday afternoon in Elmira produced a memory.

    We had an unusually large crowd of about three thousand in the stands and we all wanted to put forth a little bit of extra effort. Fans do provide an incentive that is directly tied into a player’s ego. All professional athletes have something wired in totally different than the average person or, more importantly, their competition who won’t survive. The differences were very subtle, but noticeable to me over time. Billy had one of those unbelievably bad days and snapped. Even though this was our fourth season together, I had never seen this happen before.

    Scripture was an adequate third baseman but limited in range. His strength was anticipation on every pitch as to the variables and where he should place himself. Like a super computer, every factor was being processed constantly. Who was the batter, what type of pitch had been called for, was the pitcher tiring, what were the circumstances of runners on base, what direction was the wind blowing, how close was the dugout to his right, who was the umpire observing the line, was the popcorn salesman in the first row going to represent an interference problem if he had to lean over the railing, etc. This analysis occurred during each and every pitch.

    The analytical ability carried over into other parts of his life. When Billy was summonsed for an Army physical he prepared in the same meticulous manner because if he were to be drafted, it would be the end of his career just like every other player. Since he was slightly hard of hearing due to the firing of various weapons over the years, he came up with a plan. His examining office was very small and the physical would be over quickly.

    Scripture went to a friend’s farm and fired off several boxes of shotgun shells between two barns that produced a concussive effect on his ear drums. He hopped into his car and within a very short time underwent a physical and flunked the hearing test. Just borderline on the testing, but enough to put him in a category that could possibly get him drafted. Now comes the genius of the person.

    Several months later, the draft board called him back for retesting. This was not so uncommon for the time because all services were trying to come up with enough warm bodies to feed the war. No problem for Billy, he went between the same two barns, fired off the same amount of rounds and went in for the same examination, with the same results.

    This particular black day in Elmira he committed three or four errors allowing many unearned runs and every at bat was humiliating. The final straw came when he struck out taking a called third strike that was so hittable, the catcher started coming out of his crouch anticipating a certain base hit. Instead, the ball settled into his mitt and the umpire gave a delayed, almost apologetic, call of “Strike three!” This stuff happens all the time to the best of hitters and they just shrug it off and mentally prepare for the next at bat.

    Since this was the third out, the changeover started between innings but Billy remained rooted in the batter’s box staring toward center field with the bat on his right shoulder. Our catcher approached home plate but Scripture stood his ground. Slowly he turned and came towards the dugout dragging the bat as if he were plowing a furrow with everyone watching this action. Because the main body of the club had returned to the field I was one of the few remaining and Billy fixed his stare upon me.

    What I saw was frightening because it was that of someone completely out of control with his emotions. After a few seconds, he erupted with a scream that can only be described as animalistic. He leaped from the top steps and fell to his knees in front of the bench. From there he proceeded to bite large chunks out of the pine. Most in the dugout melted back into the clubhouse but I remained. I had to follow this to the end in order to understand what had happened to my friend.

    After chewing on the bench for thirty seconds he stopped. I was seated no more than three feet away and the only player crazy enough to be near. Slowly Billy turned and looked up at me with an expression that can only be described as that of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” when he broke through the front door of the hotel and offered, “Here’s Johnny!.” “I’m really having a crappy day”, was all Scripture had to offer.

    Since Billy had stopped feeding on the bench, it seemed appropriate to have some type of normal conversation. I asked, “Did the ump blow the call?” This was the only thing I could come up with. “No, the pitch was the best I’ve seen in a long time and I couldn’t pull the trigger. I had flashbacks to Wake when it would have been launched.” All of a sudden we were having a lucid, rational explanation as to what had just happened. Unfortunately, I was the only one who heard it. The manager’s daily report to Baltimore couldn’t have included this information.

  4. #124
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    A continuance from my book "Beating About the Bushes" about Billy Scripture

    Personal dress and appearance were very important to Scripture. Even though there was really no dress code below the AAA level, he dressed as if he were in the major leagues always wearing a sport coat, perfectly pressed trousers and gleaming wing tipped shoes. This was someone on his way to the show.

    We had a heavy overnight rainstorm in Elmira that possibly might cause a cancellation of the game but, with no actual rainout declared, we were obligated to show up and wait. Everyone was at the park except Billy and just minutes before the scheduled time, in he walked. The game had been called but he couldn’t have known. His attire was perfect except for one thing. Scripture was covered with mud from his wing tips to his tie.

    The house he was renting for the season was far out in the country and a personal vendetta had developed against a ground hog. When I saw the classic movie, “Caddy Shack”, Bill Murray’s character jumped out on the screen as Scripture. Billy was an avid hunter back in Virginia Beach and later went on, after his baseball career, to become on of America’s top skeet shooters. He had been trying to shoot this critter for weeks.

    Before leaving for the park his opportunity surfaced and without regard for his clothing, Scripture began a slow, belly down crawl for more than thirty yards. Just as he drew a bead on his target, a stray dog charged the hole and down went his quarry. Billy lay silent for more than half an hour until it was apparent his goal couldn’t be reached. The game came in second as to priority but, since we were rained out, no fine was levied. He dodged a bullet but added to his mystique.

  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldpro56 View Post
    A continuance from my book "Beating About the Bushes" about Billy Scripture

    Personal dress and appearance were very important to Scripture. Even though there was really no dress code below the AAA level, he dressed as if he were in the major leagues always wearing a sport coat, perfectly pressed trousers and gleaming wing tipped shoes. This was someone on his way to the show.

    We had a heavy overnight rainstorm in Elmira that possibly might cause a cancellation of the game but, with no actual rainout declared, we were obligated to show up and wait. Everyone was at the park except Billy and just minutes before the scheduled time, in he walked. The game had been called but he couldn’t have known. His attire was perfect except for one thing. Scripture was covered with mud from his wing tips to his tie.

    The house he was renting for the season was far out in the country and a personal vendetta had developed against a ground hog. When I saw the classic movie, “Caddy Shack”, Bill Murray’s character jumped out on the screen as Scripture. Billy was an avid hunter back in Virginia Beach and later went on, after his baseball career, to become on of America’s top skeet shooters. He had been trying to shoot this critter for weeks.

    Before leaving for the park his opportunity surfaced and without regard for his clothing, Scripture began a slow, belly down crawl for more than thirty yards. Just as he drew a bead on his target, a stray dog charged the hole and down went his quarry. Billy lay silent for more than half an hour until it was apparent his goal couldn’t be reached. The game came in second as to priority but, since we were rained out, no fine was levied. He dodged a bullet but added to his mystique.
    I love the Billy Scripture stories.

  6. #126
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    Additional on Scripture from my book "Beating About the Bushes"

    Our only stint living together was 1966 in Stockton, California. We had played the previous year in Kennewick, Washington, but Billy was then with his wife, Glenda. I can’t remember why he was alone at this point and somehow, we ended up with a stray roommate by the name of Neale Blas?. a local radio announcer. Neale went on to achieve major league status in his profession by working at some of the top stations in the country.

    For this summer, we were a perfect triangular odd couple. I cooked and Neale didn’t mind washing dishes. Billy gladly got out of our way and enjoyed gourmet meals. Our professions matched up perfectly since Neale’s night gig at the station allowed him use of the apartment after we left for the park at five. Occasionally we would find female undergarments left behind when we returned after the game. We just had a ball all summer long.

    The three of us decided we couldn’t handle normal housekeeping chores and wished to hire someone. Our landlady knew the perfect person who cleaned many of the units where we stayed. This merry maid arrived mid afternoon and we showed her where the cleaning supplies were. Because she was Hispanic and spoke little English, it took time to fully convey what we wanted. But with hand gestures and motions, the job requirements were established and we resumed our tanning by the pool.

    Fifteen minutes later, a scream came from our apartment and since the door was open it reverberated throughout the complex. Our maid was running down the stairway toward the parking lot with her hands flaying above her head. None of us understood her language and had no clue as to what had happened. Our first thought was some animal had attacked her, but this couldn’t be as the only thing we had seen were a couple of ants. It wasn’t until the following day, through our landlady, did we find out what had happened.

    Billy was not only a skilled hunter but also a master carver of wood. During the baseball season he would produce many beautiful heads of both ducks and geese. When we played together in Rochester, it was amazing to watch him whittle during flights and never harm himself. Heads would be mated with bodies in the off season. In our apartment the beasts had been stored in the linen closet and there were four shelves lined with sixty, perfectly aligned, eyeless heads facing forward.

    As our lady busied herself she opened the closet out of curiosity. The shock was too much to handle and her immediate judgment was we were all worshippers of the Devil. Off she went never to return even though we brought our landlady into the picture to explain. After this encounter, we collectively decided the apartment would stay dirty during our stay.

  7. #127
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    This is not from my book "Beating About the Bushes"

    This is not from my book “Beating About the Bushes”

    Jim Palmer landed in Elmira (AA) during his off year in the minors in 1968. We were the middle team after his starting in Miami and finishing with Rochester. In Elmira he was 0-2 with 19 BB's and 26 K's in 25 innings. There wasn't a thing wrong with his arm at this point and it carried over to winter ball when we had the chance to play together. George Bamberger had a theory that while Jim did have some form of minor injury, it was his insecurity about achieving the level of success at a very early age and needed an excuse for failure. This theory is born out by statistics for this entire year. Palmer averaged 8 K's at the stops along the way. You don't do this with a bad arm.

  8. #128
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    This is a response from Tim Wendel about the quality of my book, "Beating About the Bushes" and means a great deal to me. Tim is the author of nine books and his two most recetn, "Hight Heat" and "Summer of 68-The season that changed baseball and America-forever" are best sellers receiving critical acclaim in the book world.

    Tim Wendel finally checks in ...

    ----- Forwarded Message -----
    From: Tim Wendel
    To: Budd Bailey
    Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 12:55 PM
    Subject: Re: Beating About the Bushes


    Budd:
    Finished Tim Sommer's book last night and really enjoyed, especially the section on one of my favorites -- Steve Dalkowski. Please give Tim my best and tell him great job.

    Tim
    Last edited by oldpro56; 04-13-2012 at 10:32 PM.

  9. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldpro56 View Post
    This is a response from Tim Wendel about the quality of my book, "Beating About the Bushes" and means a great deal to me. Tim is the author of nine books and his two most recent, "Hight Heat" and "Summer of 68-The seasonh that changed baseball and America-forever" are best sellers receiving critical acclaim in the book world.

    Tim Wendel finally checks in ...

    ----- Forwarded Message -----
    From: Tim Wendel
    To: Budd Bailey
    Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 12:55 PM
    Subject: Re: Beating About the Bushes


    Budd:
    Finished Tim Sommer's book last night and really enjoyed, especially the section on one of my favorites -- Steve Dalkowski. Please give Tim my best and tell him great job.

    Tim
    Nice kudos.

  10. #130
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    Video of Dalkowski

    Hey everyone,

    I am researching for a film called, "Fastball." It studies and profiles the game's most legendary fireball pitchers. As of right now footage of Steve Dalkowski is very hard
    come by, so if anyone knows of any footage, or has even seen him pitch, your help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  11. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastBallFilm View Post
    Hey everyone,

    I am researching for a film called, "Fastball." It studies and profiles the game's most legendary fireball pitchers. As of right now footage of Steve Dalkowski is very hard
    come by, so if anyone knows of any footage, or has even seen him pitch, your help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
    This gentleman played baseball with Steve. His name is Tim Sommer. tims123@aol.com To my knowledge there is no film of Steve.

  12. #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by weams View Post
    This gentleman played baseball with Steve. His name is Tim Sommer. tims123@aol.com To my knowledge there is no film of Steve.
    Thanks!

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  14. #134
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    Thanks for the article. I always entire an article about Dalkowski, even if I know the stories by now by heart. Glad to see him doing well though.

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