Great Bathroom Moments, Vol. 217: The Travails and Ultimate Glory of Jeff Francoeur

So this is the kind of thing that happens to you when you’re the nicest guy in baseball. First, the deaf thing, now the bathroom thing.

During a minor league stint in the San Diego Padres system, Jeff Francoeur was the target of more than a few hijinx. In one of them, captured on film below, he was locked into a clubhouse bathroom for an hour. (The video was released by a teammate in honor of Francoeur’s recent call-up to the big leagues.)

In case one needed further proof of Frenchy’s character: This is not something one does to an asshole, because an asshole would not have fun with it the way Francoeur had fun with it. Clubhouse pranks are an ongoing way to deal with the pressures of a long season and, and ideally, bind teammates together. In this regard, Francoeur is a perfect target. There is obviously a code about what is and isn’t appropriate, and this one falls well within the safety zone.

It also harkens back to another locked-in-the-bathroom story, one with a grander scope and far greater consequences. I posted about it just last year (spurred by Fernando Rodney getting inadvertently stuck in the visitors’ dugout bathroom at the Oakland Coliseum), but with a lead-in as perfect as this, it bears repeating. It involves current Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure, during his playing days with Kansas City.

From The Baseball Codes:

Bob McClure was a fun-loving reliever for the Brewers in the 1970s, some­one who proved, if nothing else, that he could take as good as he gave. The story started with his Sunday routine before day games, for which he holed up with a newspaper in the long cinderblock outhouse behind the outfield fence at Milwaukee County Stadium. It was a cool place for an American League pitcher to pass the morning in the shade of the bleachers, escaping the summer heat while his teammates took batting practice.

When the door slammed shut on McClure in the middle of one of these siestas, the pitcher attributed it to a gust of wind. But when he tried to exit, the door wouldn’t budge, even though it had no lock. With just a hint of panic, the pitcher pushed again . . . and again. Soon he was exert­ing so much energy in his frantic bid to escape that he had to stop for peri­odic breathers. The day was growing increasingly more sultry, and McClure worked up a sweat; eventually he kicked the air vents from the walls and stripped down to his underwear. “I bet I lost about seven or eight pounds in there,” he said. “It was hot.”

After a half-hour, the pitcher was able to wedge the door open just enough to squeeze through (“I still remember the scrapes across my chest”), whereupon he saw that someone had taken the rope from a flag­pole on the other side of the outhouse and pulled it so taut to reach the doorknob that the pole had bowed under the pressure. Once it was affixed to the handle, the rope’s tension kept the door from opening; it was only as the fibers started to give that McClure was able, finally, to free himself. (He found out later that members of the visiting Minnesota Twins, com­ing out for their own batting practice, had been told by his mystery assailant to watch the flagpole, that someone was locked in the lavatory and it would bounce every time he tried to get out.) He put on his clothes and returned directly to the clubhouse, as if nothing had ever happened. “I would say that, if someone gets you, never let them know that they got you,” he said. “I think it’s inappropriate, if someone really gets you good, to overreact. Don’t get mad, just get even.” The problem was that he had no idea upon whom to visit his revenge.

Before a game several days later, McClure got his answer. As the pitcher loitered in the outfield during BP, a fan called him over to the bleachers. “Do you want to know who locked you in that room?” she asked. His instinct was to play dumb, but when the woman told him she had pictures, he couldn’t resist. She handed them over in exchange for a ball autographed by Robin Yount, and McClure saw exactly what hap­pened: It had taken two men to pull the flagpole rope tight enough to trap him, and their uniforms were clearly visible. It was pitchers Mike Cald­well and Reggie Cleveland.

McClure immediately set to plotting his revenge. Six weeks later, when the Brew­ers had an off-day in Kansas City before a series with the Royals, he struck.

While many players, including Caldwell and Cleveland, spent the after­noon golfing, McClure opted for a hunting trip with a local friend. On the way back they stopped by a farm, where the pitcher bought a small, live— and exceptionally filthy—pig. “It had so much pig dung on it that you couldn’t even hardly tell it was a pig,” McClure said. “It was perfect. We put it in a burlap sack in the back of my buddy’s pickup.”

When the pitcher returned to the hotel, he saw that his teammates hadn’t returned, and figured they’d be out until the wee hours. McClure bribed his way into the room that Caldwell and Cleveland conveniently shared, and let the pig loose atop the bed. “When that pig hit the sheet, it looked up at me and started projectile shitting everywhere, like a shot­gun,” he said. “That pig was alive. It jumps off the bed, and it’s squealing and going nutty. There’s shit on the bed, on the floor, on the curtains. It was so loud that I had to get out of the room.”

He was staying just across the hall, and hours later was roused by the sounds of his returning teammates. Caldwell was the first to enter, and nearly as quickly lit back into the hallway, shouting, “There’s someone in there!” As McClure listened with delight, his teammates rushed the room, then spent the better part of an hour trying to corner the pig. Finally, the noise quieted and McClure went back to sleep.

The next morning, the pitcher veritably bounced across the hall to see how his victims had held up. He entered the room under the pretense of rounding up breakfast companionship, but wasn’t at all prepared for what he saw. The place was spotless. The walls, the drapes, the bedspread, and the carpet had all been cleaned. Caldwell was lying on his back in bed, shirtless. Also on its back, in the crook of Caldwell’s right arm, was a freshly washed pig. It sported a red dog collar. Caldwell was feeding it French fries dipped in ketchup.

Feigning ignorance, McClure asked why there was a pig in the room and was told the entire story, up to and including an early-morning trip to a nearby pet store, where Caldwell bought collar, leash, and industrial-grade pet shampoo. The pig joined the team at the ballpark that day, serv­ing as the Brewers’ mascot. It ended up living on Cleveland’s farm, of all places, dreaming recurrently, no doubt, of room service and burlap.

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1 Comment

Filed under Practical Jokes

One response to “Great Bathroom Moments, Vol. 217: The Travails and Ultimate Glory of Jeff Francoeur

  1. Sti

    I always feel a little sorry for Francoeur being pranked. Also, that pig story is simply the best thing I have ever read.

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