There is something beautiful about the mind of a ballplayer. For all the flak they might get for being dumb jocks, these guys occasionally flash steel traps the likes of which would make an elephant proud.
Case in point: Jose Bautista. On Sunday, not only did he recall years-old bad blood with Orioles pitcher Darren O’Day, but he remembered exactly what happened and how it played out.
On June 21, 2013, O’Day struck out Bautista to end an inning, then skipped his way toward the dugout.
On Sunday, Bautista homered off of O’Day, then skipped his way toward first base. (It didn’t hurt that O’Day threw a pitch behind him earlier in the game.)
These two have history:
- After O’Day struck out Bautista in 2013, the two exchanged words on their ways off the field. (Examine the video here.)
- That same series, Bautista went deep against O’Day, then shouted at him as he rounded the bases.
- Last year O’Day drilled Bautista, ostensibly as retaliation for an earlier incident in which Marcus Stroman threw a ball over the head of Caleb Joseph.
“Emotion, the moment, there’s history there,” Bautista said in an MLB.com report. “He’s hit me a few times, he’s thrown behind me a few times and I’ve gotten him a few times.”
It’s merely the latest in a litany of stories involving long ballplayer memories, from Billy North decking Doug Bird in response to being beaned by the guy several years earlier in the minor leagues, to Bob Gibson drilling Pete LaCock in an old-timers’ game because he never got the chance to do it when he was still active. Today, however, we look at an incident from the playing career of Chuck Tanner.
It started in 1955, when Tanner was a rookie outfielder with the Braves. He was on first base against the Phillies one day when Philadelphia second baseman Granny Hamner low-bridged him—throwing a relay to first base at the runner’s chin level, forcing him to the ground before he reached the base—in the course of turning a double play. As Tanner lay in the dirt, Hamner walked past. “Hey kid, this is the big leagues,” he said dismissively.
Fast forward a couple seasons. Tanner is traded to the Cubs. Again he finds himself on first base against Philadelphia. A double-play ball is hit to Phillies shortstop Chico Fernandez, who feeds Hamner for the relay. This time, however, the second baseman bobbles the ball, giving Tanner all the opening he needs. Tanner hits him high even as he throws his spikes into Hamner’s knee, knocking him backward toward center field.
That night, Tanner was out to eat when Hamner approached and offered to buy him a beer. “You know, Chuck, when you hit me I remembered what I said to you when you were a rookie,” he said.
Two years later, Tanner was sold to Cleveland—whose utility infielder was a guy named Granny Hamner. Tanner takes it from here himself:
“I go in the clubhouse. We had Granny, Johnny Temple, Billy Martin, Vic Power, Jimmy Piersall—a bunch of tough guys. I walk in the door, he sees me and I said, ‘Hi, Granny.’ He said to the guys, ‘Hey, be nice to that guy. He never forgets.’ They all laughed when he told them what happened. It took me a couple of years, but I never forgot it.
“That’s the game. That’s the way the game is.”
[Gif via Deadspin]