Friday, May 5, 2017

Flashback 2009 - Between Here and There Big Heads Can Get Deflated

SPORTS DIGEST with Bill Byham

Bill Byham, Sports announcer, writer and famous for "That's 30"
Bill Byham, Sports announcer, writer and famous for “That’s 30”
BETWEEN HERE AND THERE BIG HEADS CAN GET DEFLATED – We are attending a college baseball game. Hillsborough Junior College is hosting Tampa University JV’s. The UT head coach has sent several of his varsity players “down” to get them some extra innings.Some of those sent down were pitchers from the highly rated UT program which, to me, meant they should be able to compete with the JUCO batters.

Not so in this outing. By the time we found a bleacher seat Hillsborough was up by six runs as every batter in the line up had produced base hits resulting in runs. Before the carnage ended the scoreboard read 17-5 by mid game.

The UT JV coach, probably taking control of the issue, benched all of the varsity players and put his own kids on the field. The final score closed out 17-14 with UT threatening in the ninth with two on when the third out came.

For some unexplainable reason my old mind jumped into a day just like that when I was a ton younger and cockier than I should have been. I was just home from my first year of pitching professional ball. I had not set the world on fire out in Springfield, Ohio but the people in Kane/ Ludlow, Pa. did not know that so when Jiggs called to have me come down to Ludlow Park to pitch I was on my way in a hurry.
The word went out that Buck was coming to pitch! A real pro pitcher! Wow!


Ludlow is just a few people bigger than a blink of an eye community but it had this great park. It was where all of the churches in McKean County held their summer picnics. It had a pool, swings, sliding boards and a lot of picnic tables. In the middle of the park was their baseball field. An all dirt infield and a rather large covered grandstand. The people up there loved their small town baseball so they came to games played by the hometown Ludlow Wildcats.

I had played for the Wildcats. They were a good ball team as teams go. We all wanted to play there because they paid pitchers a buck an inning and hitters could take home five bucks a homer and three for a 3-hit day.

When you play professional baseball there are those people who are being paid to teach you a pitching art. Keep the ball low, work the corners, never throw an 0-2 pitch in the strike zone, if the hitter stands away from the plate pitch him away, if he crowds the plate pitch him in on his hands, make the curve to go through the strike zone and a lot more.

So I go down to the park with all of this professional stuff in my head. When I had pitched there before I was just a hard thrower. Beat the bat with a fast ball and a home made curve. But now I am a pro, so these small towners were going down! I got clobbered! Big time! Here I was, working with all of those professional tricks of the trade. It seemed that those old country boys didn’t care about my pro finesse. They just brought their bats to the plate, picked a pitch and drove it some place. They were scoring runs in bunches.

This game I was watching just last week told the same story. Those varsity pitchers who were assigned to the JV team seemed to be pitching with the attitude “I am varsity at a four year D-2 nationally ranked baseball program so lets get this over with.”

Turned out the other way. Hillsborough hit everything pitched their way. Big heads can get deflated.

PAT DANEKER – Had my Florida chat with Pat Daneker the day of the Hillsborough JC game. Turned out to be his first day off since he arrived at the Yankee spring training complex in early February so he was headed to a movie to get away from baseball for a day.

Pat is in his second year of being the pitching coach for the Staten Island Yankees and this coming season he will come to historic Bowman Field for an August 3-game series with the Crosscutters. When he does get here he will be able to recite some good and bad moments about Bowman since he had played in there as a high school player for Loyalsock Twp.

About his 2009 Yankees he said, ” I have some of the guys here now that could become part of our club. The bulk of our team will come from players out of the baseball draft and college.”
Staten Island won their division of the NYPEN League last year. They advanced to the final league championship round before bowing out.

GOTTA GET HOME – There are a lot of spring sport events I look forward to seeing when we get back in the Valley but there are two specials in my book.

I told you a couple of years back about my deep feelings for the late Dr. Joe Calder. Since his death, I have been able to meet and enjoy the rest of the Calder family.

This week daughter Beth has the Regis University women’s lacrosse team at home for an Eastern trip. Regis is in Denver, Colorado where Beth is working on becoming a licensed physical therapist.
She is the assistant coach but one of the persons responsible for adding women’s lacrosse to the Regis athletic program.

They are to play the Bloomsburg University team at 2 P.M. Saturday afternoon.

On the weekend of April 25-26 the Penn College Archery team, a nationally ranked program of many years, will host the Eastern Regional Intercollegiate Championships on the PCT campus.

The Wildcats are coming off a super winter ending season in which they had individual and team firsts at the Adam Wheatcroft Memorial in Virginia. Coach Chad Karsteller , a PCT 3 time All American, will field seven All Americans for the Easterns.

I personally have never seen an archery competition but have scheduled my calendar to see this one. I have no information at this time as to costs involved in gaining admission but will have that in this space next week.
THAT’S 30