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Reprising a wild, wacky and weird look at baseball

Posted Apr 28, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 28, 2012 at 11:01 PM

I still have my original copy of “The Baseball Hall of Shame,” which was published in 1985. It was funny, irreverent and entertaining. The books continued with various updates until 1992, when authors Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo discontinued the series.

Now they are back with fresh material. They haven’t changed their focus and haven’t lost their touch, remaining as puckish as ever. In “The Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best of Blooperstown” (Lyons Press, $14.95 paperback, 280 pages), the authors induct a new generation of “stars” into their blooper pantheon.

The standards remain the same.

“For each incident we asked ourselves such questions as: Is it true? Does it make us laugh? Is it so outrageous that we shake our heads in disbelief? Does it make a good yarn?” the authors write.

There is plenty of new stuff. Several Tampa Bay references too, back when the Rays were known as the Devil Rays.

There’s the time Rays catcher Toby Hall hit a grounder to Red Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand during a spring training game in 2003. Hall was safe when the ball lodged in Hillebrand’s jersey.

Or how about former Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro, who was credited with two putouts on one play when the Mariners ran themselves into a 2-6-2 triple play in 2006?

An updated Hall of Shame book would not be complete without Randall Simon and Bo Wyble.

Bo Wyble?

He’s the guy in Houston who moved out of the path of a foul ball and allowed it to hit his girlfriend (who is no longer his girlfriend).

Simon, of course, is the Pirates player who hit a 19-year-old woman in an Italian sausage costume during the Brewers’ popular costume race in 2007 at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

Speaking of running, there is the case of Ronny Cedeno, who joined Lee Lacy as the only players ever to be thrown out at second base after a walk.

There is so much new material, and even the manufactured stuff is funny. The authors include Brett Myers’ 2008 prank on Phillies teammate Kyle Kendrick, in which he got manager Charlie Manuel and assistant GM Ruben Amaro to convince the pitcher he had been traded to a team in Japan. I saw that video, and it is incredibly funny. Not sure it qualifies for “shame,” but definitely does for effectiveness.

Paybacks can be fun, too. Ken Griffey Jr. once lost a bet to Seattle manager Lou Piniella. The bet was for a steak dinner; Piniella won, and Griffey paid up — by leaving a cow in the Tampa native’s office.

And finally, it takes some talent to do this: Reds pitchers Jeff Austin (2003) and Phil Dumatrait (2007) once gave up back-to-back-to-back homers to start a ballgame, matching the feat Roger Mason set in 1987.

There are plenty of other stories, old and new. Many are good for a chuckle or even a laugh-out-loud reaction. They all adhere to the motto Nash and Zullo established in 1992:

“Fame and shame are part of the game.”


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