Sometimes the best anecdotes just don’t fit the story you’re working on. Every writer knows and laments this. Fortunately, I have a blog with no logical theme or format. I can simply dump stories on here and tell you to read them!
Like these Tom Kelly stories. You know Kelly. He’s the guy who managed the Minnesota Twins for 16 seasons and led them to two World Series championships. Now he’s a studio analyst for Twins games. Has a dry wit.
I spoke to Kelly recently for a story concerning baseball ejections (coming in Sunday’s Press Democrat). And sure enough, he spun a couple funny tales that didn’t make the story.
Story No. 1, in Kelly’s voice:
“A long time ago, I was managing A ball in Visalia. We were playing up in Fresno, and our farm director was in town to watch the team play. In those days you were by yourself, no coaches. And I ended up throwing the bats on the field.
“There was a pitcher for the Fresno Giants. He was very good. I think his name was Faulk or Falk, and he was pretty good for that level. He had a slider. If you were in A ball and you had a good slider, you probably did fairly well. We begged our hitters to try to stay back and wait for the ball to get there. We told them, don’t pull it.
“Three innings go by, and we got nothing. Nobody is making even an attempt to hit to the other field. So I grabbed all the bats, and I throw them into right field. We’re in the first base dugout. The umpire starts looking at me: What are you doing? I’m not arguing or anything. He says, ‘What’s going on?’ I said I’m trying to make a point.
“This banter is going on, and he said you can’t be doing this. I said I’m trying to teach my players a lesson. Now the farm director, he leans over the railing and starts screaming at the umpire, ‘Let the man do his job!’ He ends up throwing me out of the game. The farm director says after the game, I know what you were doing. But I don’t pay you to get thrown out of games, I pay you to manage the team. I never forgot that.”
In fact – and maybe you know this – Kelly was ejected just five times as an MLB manager. In 2,385 games. As a point of reference, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy has been thrown out five time THIS SEASON. And Bochy has replay reviews to help get plays overturned.
So fast-forward a few years. Kelly has firmly solidified his reputation as a paragon of diamond decorum. And…
“Now I’m in the big leagues, and the ump was John Shulock. He had three young guys with him. He was the veteran. Somebody was sick, another was on vacation, so he has these young guys. So I hand him the lineup card at home plate – he’s doing the plate. He introduces me to the three new umps, I shake their hands. And he says, ‘Now, you young men. You see this man, Mr. Kelly? If he comes out on the field, you stand there and wait for him to get there. Don’t run away. And he’s gonna tell you how you f***ed this up.”
Tom Kelly, you’re the best.