- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

Tom Holster's Washington Baseball Historical Society put on another Nats Fest memorabilia show Saturday at the Bethesda Holiday Inn, and Chuck Stobbs was among the ex-players signing autographs.

Stobbs, 71, lives in Sarasota, Fla., but any trip to this area is sure to remind fellow old-timers of his dubious niche in baseball history. On the afternoon of April 17, 1953, the left-hander yielded Mickey Mantle's historic (and approximate) 565-foot home run that cleared the distant bleachers at old Griffith Stadium, ticking the corner of a beer sign on its way to a neighborhood alley.

Ralph Branca has spent 50 years cheerfully telling how he gave up Bobby Thomson's ninth-inning "Shot Heard 'Round the World" that won the 1951 National League pennant playoff for the New York Giants. Stobbs, though, is tired of hearing about his date with ignominy. It is understandable; the classy southpaw from Tidewater, Va., won 107 games in a 15-year big league career after he made his debut at 18 with the Boston Red Sox.

"I won't even talk about it anymore," Stobbs said between visits from young and old autograph seekers. "I get letters from people who include blank sheets of paper and want me to tell them about Mickey's homer. I just send them back."

Besides, Stobbs said, that wasn't exactly the only homer he yielded to Mick during the 11 seasons they opposed each other. "Oh, he hit a few others," Chuck acknowledged. "If you made a mistake on him, it was gone. But one season he was like 2-for-22 against me, [and nobody remembers that]."

So was Mantle the best hitter Stobbs faced? Not exactly. There was a fellow named Ted Williams, a k a Teddy Ballgame, who first was Stobbs' teammate in Boston and then a feared rival.

"Mickey was the strongest man I ever faced," Stobbs said, "but Ted was the best and smartest hitter. Funny thing, though, he only hit one homer off me."

Which goes to prove, we suppose, that you can't lose them all.

Can Knight pick 'em?

Do you care what team Bobby Knight picks to win the NCAA tournament? An Internet company in Reston called Sandbox.com obviously thinks you do. It will pay the former Indiana coach about $50,000 to pick the winners of the 64-team field.

In a prepared statement has anybody ever issued an unprepared statement? Knight said, "I look forward to matching wits against millions of college hoops fans." Right, except most of the others lose money doing so.

The company, which runs a variety of fantasy sports leagues, has another contest in which anyone who picks all 63 NCAA tournament games correctly gets $10 million. The odds of that would seem roughly the same as those against Indiana rehiring Bad-Tempered Bobby.

Not so tough

New York Mets pitcher Rick Reed apparently is an old softy at heart. He broke down in tears last week at the Huntington, W.Va., junior high school he attended as he told students to listen to their parents.

Reed, who pitched in last fall's World Series, was temporarily unable to speak to the crowd of more than 200 students and teachers gathered in the West Middle School gym for Rick Reed Day. His parents, Sylvia and Don, were seated behind him as he stood in the middle of the gym floor, struggling to regain his composure. Finally, he saluted his folks by saying, "They did a great job."

It's nice to report that the students undoubtedly startled by Reed's emotion applauded long and loud. Said one sixth-grader: "He's pretty cool."

Eminently quotable

Bob Costas, on veteran sportscaster Marty Glickman, who died last month at 83: "He was so good, so distinctive. You couldn't separate the sound of his voice from the event you loved so much." …

Indiana basketball coach Mike Davis, on how his life has changed since he replaced the fired Bobby Knight in September: "Everywhere I go, people recognize me. It's nice. I'm able to go to the store now and buy something and not worry about how much it costs. I don't have to worry about how much a salad weighs any more or buying a sandwich or pinching pennies."

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