In lieu of actual baseball, I’ll be posting snippets that were cut from The Baseball Codes as a way of amusing myself and, hopefully, you. Today’s theme: Part 2 of what and what not to do when your team holds a big lead late in the game.
With Tri-Cities in the Northwest League in 1967, future big leaguer Von Joshua was 19 years old and fresh out of college, and in a game that his team led, 14-2, he beat out a bunt for his fifth hit of the game.
Two batters later he advanced to third, at which point Tri-Cities third-base coach Don LeJohn asked him what the hell he’d been thinking. Joshua had no idea what the problem might be; the only thing running through his mind was his five-hit day.
LeJohn offered a quick summary of the things a player does not do while his team is sitting on such a lead, bunting included. When Joshua came back to the dugout, veteran teammates suggested that it would be a good idea to avoid getting too comfortable during his next at-bat.
When Joshua next came up, he didn’t need his teammates’ warnings, as the other team made its intentions unmistakably clear. Abandoning all pretense of accidentally hitting Joshua, the opposing manager called one of his outfielders to the mound, simply because he was the hardest thrower on the team. The next three pitches were all aimed at Joshua’s head, at which point he charged the mound and, in his own words, “all heck broke loose.”
“I learned the hard way,” he said. “You don’t do that kind of stuff.”