After Sunday’s Ozzie Guillen-Bryce Harper Hey, Are You Showing Me Up? staredown, some members of the Nationals brought a touch of levity to the situation.
On Monday, Edwin Jackson and Adam LaRoche had Harper sign a bat (not an unusual request in a big league clubhouse), then, without his knowledge, added the phrase “To my hero, Ozzie. Love you.” After slathering it with pine tar, and also without Harper’s knowledge, they sent it down the hall to the Marlins clubhouse as a sort of twisted peace offering.
(Why those two players? Jackson played under Guillen with the White Sox, and LaRoche—whose father, Dave, was a White Sox coach when Guillen played for them—has known the Miami manager since childhood. Both obviously harbor some fondness for the guy.)
Guillen received the bat with a laugh. The incident had already started to fade, but this was as happy a bow as one could have put on it. Still, not every such gesture is taken so lightly.
In 1987, after Mets slugger Howard Johnson had homered twice against St. Louis in two days, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog suggested that corked bats might be involved. Johnson was in the midst of a breakout year—he had never hit more than 12 homers in any of his five major league seasons to that point, but his second blast against the Cardinals, on July 31, was his 26th in about four months. Herzog had the umpires check Johnson’s bat, which they determined to be clean.
It took just three days before Johnson found the perfect opportunity to respond. The Mets had wrapped up a series in Montreal, leaving town on Aug. 2. The next team to visit Olympic Stadium was none other than the Cardinals.
Knowing this, Johnson conspicuously left a bat in the visitors’ clubhouse, adorned with 20 wine corks dangling from strings. St. Louis pitcher Bill Dawley, who had served up one of Johnson’s home runs the previous week, wasn’t laughing.
“Very funny,” he said when the bat was discovered. “He’s going to get drilled.”