- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

Just wondering: Why couldn’t Maryland have opened the football season against Eastern Illinois? Or Western Illinois? Or Southern Illinois? Or plain old Illinois? Who was the genius who decided it had to be Northern Illinois?

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Hang on for a second. Jon Drummond, the Wronged U.S. Sprinter, is lying across my keyboard and refusing to let me type.

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Couldn’t help noticing that the band the NFL selected to play on the Mall before the Redskins-Jets game — Aerosmith — has a guitarist named Joe Perry.

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Who was on drums, Hugh McElhenny?

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Quote of the Week: “I think the fans of Boston have seen me grow from a 22-year-old snide-nosed punk into the man I am.”

— Lawyer Milloy to the Boston Herald on getting axed by the New England Patriots

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If you ask me, Brian Kingman’s 20 losses for the Oakland A’s in 1980 are far more ignominious than Mike Maroth’s 20 for the Detroit Tigers this season. After all, Kingman played on a team that finished with a winning record (83-79). Maroth’s club, on the other hand, might break the ‘62 Mets’ modern mark of 120 defeats.

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Jesse Orosco’s comment that he’d like to be the pitcher who gave up the last homers hit by Bobby Bonds (which he did in 1981) and Barry Bonds got me thinking: Who surrendered the Final Dingers to baseball’s all-time leading sluggers? Some determined research in places like BaseballLibrary.com and Retrosheet.org (more about that later) turned up the following:

Player (home runs) Pitcher Team, Year

Hank Aaron (755 home runs) — Dick Drago, Angels, 1976.

Babe Ruth (714) — Guy Bush, Pirates, 1935.

Willie Mays (660) — Don Gullett, Reds, 1973.

Frank Robinson (586) — Sid Monge, Angels, 1976.

Mark McGwire (583) — Rocky Coppinger, Brewers, 2001.

Harmon Killebrew (573) — Eddie Bane, Twins, 1975.

Reggie Jackson (563) — Mike Witt, Angels, 1987.

Mike Schmidt (548) — Jim Deshaies, Astros, 1989.

Mickey Mantle (536) — Jim Lonborg, Red Sox, 1968.

Willie McCovey (521) — Scott Sanderson, Expos, 1980.

Ted Williams (521) — Jack Fisher, Orioles, 1960.

Ernie Banks (512) — Jim McGlothlin, Reds, 1971.

Eddie Mathews (512) — Sammy Ellis, Angels, 1968.

Eddie Murray (504) — Bob Tewksbury, Angels, 1997.

Sorry, but I came up empty on Jimmie Foxx (534) and Mel Ott (511).

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Did you notice that five of the 14 hit their last homers off Angels pitchers? (Giving new meaning to the expression “Angel of mercy.”)

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Bobby Bonds’ final HR off Orosco, by the way, came in the bottom of the eighth and won the game for the Cubs (10-9 over the Mets).

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And Jackson’s parting shot was a classic. Four innings earlier, Witt had hit him with a pitch. So Reggie dusted himself off and … BAM!

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Although I wasn’t able to determine Foxx’s last victim, I did find out that he’s the only player to lead the league in homers after having his appendix removed and missing most of September. He pulled it off in 1939 with the Red Sox, when his 35 home runs through Sept.8 ended up being enough for the title.

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I also came across this item about F. Robby in my wanderings: “July 1, 1976: The Indians paste the Toledo Mud Hens 13-1 in an exhibition game in Toledo. Manager Frank Robinson, hitting as the DH, flies out to CF and, while returning to the dugout, exchanges angry words with Hens P Bob Reynolds. Suddenly, Robby flattens Reynolds with a right-left combination and is quickly ejected from the game.”

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So it’s just as well, I guess, that Toledo didn’t add Phil Mickelson to its pitching staff.

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Oops, almost forgot — retrosheet.org. Do yourself a favor and check out this Web site sometime. It’s got the box scores of every major league game going back to the ‘60s and assorted other cool stuff. For instance, you can click on Denny McLain’s name and get a game-by-game summary of his 31-win season for the Tigers in ‘68 (or, for that matter, his 22-loss season for the Senators in ‘71). I’ve never seen that anywhere else.

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Trivia question: What famous hurler currently active posted numbers like this in his second season (and lived to tell about it): 6-14 record, 5.61 ERA, 181 hits allowed in 155⅔ innings? (Answer below.)

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Watching the U.S. Open tennis — or rather trying to — reminded me of the best thing about the Sunday Column: No rain delays.

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As promised before my vacation, I’ve tracked down the particulars on Craig Kilborn’s illustrious basketball career at Montana State. To be fair, the “Late Late Show” host always has had a sense of humor about his hoops exploits. He once told Maxim magazine: “I [was] a slow white kid with a beautiful jump shot, but I wasn’t that interested in — what’s it called? — defense. There’s an old play called the give-and-go; my version was ‘give me the ball and go to [Hades].’ I shot a lot. And I sat on the bench a lot. Which has its advantages. You don’t have to shower after the game, so you can get out of the locker room and be back in the dorm by the time ‘Matlock’ comes on.”

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Kilborn also claims to have “[led] the league in turnovers — despite limited playing time resulting from a nagging groin pull.” But the sports information director at Montana State, Bill Lamberty, says this is impossible because “he never played enough to lead the league in anything.”

Anyway, here’s the Kilborn File:

• He played three seasons for Montana State, from 1981 to ‘84, before leaving to pursue his broadcasting dream.

• The Bobcats posted a record of 35-50 over that time and never finished higher than third in the Big Sky Conference.

• He appeared in 63 games, starting eight, and averaged 3.1 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.0 assist.

• He shot 42.1 percent from the field and 65.2 from the line.

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From the 1982-83 Montana State media guide: Craig Kilborn, 6-51/2, 190, Junior, Guard-Forward, Hastings, Minn.

Craig is a two-year letterman who saw action in 26 of the 28 games last season, starting in six. He averaged 5.1 points and handed out 33 assists. Craig has the ability to play either guard or forward. He is an outstanding shooter with good ball handling capabilities. …

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For a show two years ago, Kilborn filled the entire studio — OK, it was only 87 seats — with Montana State people. “I am thrilled about [it],” he was quoted as saying. “This will be the first time I’ve been in a room with Montana State students and faculty since I accidentally went to class my freshman year.”

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One last thing: Craig was No.43 for the Bobcats, a number worn by … no other basketball player I can think of.

(Much thanks to Bill Lamberty.)

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Answer to trivia question: Greg Maddux suffered through a season like that in 1987 with the Cubs.

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And finally …

FYI: The Cubs’ Randall Simon has been fined $432 for swatting a woman dressed as a sausage during a game against the Brewers. A 32-pack of Jimmy Dean pork sausages goes for $7.99, so Simon was essentially fined — according to my calculations — the cost of 1,730 sausages. Make of that what you will.

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