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Morning Briefing

Yo, Frank: No Habla Espanol?

August 21, 1985

After a couple of players collided going for a fly ball during a New York Mets game, announcer Ralph Kiner recalled that Richie Ashburn, when he played center field for the Mets, was always having communication problems with shortstop Elio Chacon, a native of Venezuela.

"Finally," Kiner said, "Ashburn asked Chacon how to say 'I got it' in Spanish. Chacon said, 'Yo la tengo.'

"So, the next time a fly ball was hit to short left-center, Ashburn, getting a good jump, moved in quickly and yelled, 'Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!' Chacon moved out of the way, and Ashburn got set to make the catch. Suddenly, out of left field, along came big Frank Thomas running full tilt."

Thomas stood 6-3 and weighed 200. He didn't speak Spanish.

"Ashburn was flattened," Kiner said.

Add Mets: John Hernandez of San Francisco watches Met games on cable, thanks to son Keith, who bought him a TV satellite dish last year. It cost the Met first baseman $4,500, and already it's already paying handsome dividends.

Keith told Jack Lang of The Sporting News that after his average plunged to .256 early in July, he got a call from his dad, who had just watched him in a game.

"When I was hitting well in 1979 for St. Louis, my dad said when the camera was in center field he could see the No. 7 on my uniform and part of the No. 3," said Hernandez who wore No. 37 with the Cardinals and now wears No. 17. "This year, he could hardly see the No. 7. He knew right away I wasn't closed up enough, also that I had let my hands drop."

In his next game, Hernandez hit for the cycle against the Atlanta Braves. At the end of the month, he was hitting .291.

Trivia Time: When New York Jet owner Sonny Werblin signed University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to a record contract after the 1964 season, he also signed two other college quarterbacks to six-figure contracts. Who were they? (Answer below.)

What's-in-a-name dept.: William M. Stringfield of Long Beach submits a list of sports figures whose names or nicknames suggest that they would have been better suited in another sport:

Allie Reynolds (bowling), Spike Owen (volleyball), Bobby Del Greco (wrestling), Clint Hurdle (track and field), Dick Bass (fishing), Tank Younger (swimming), Birdie Tebbetts (golf), Eric Show (horse racing), Neal Walk (baseball), Bob Knight (chess).

Jim Dent (auto racing), Bo Schembechler (archery), Jim Kiick (soccer), Dave Stalls (college basketball), Bobby Hull (yachting), Spectacular Bid (bridge), Steve Sax (football), Irv Cross (boxing).

Trivia Answer: John Huarte, the 1964 Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame, and Bob Schweickert of Virginia Tech.

Quotebook

Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, saying the new attention isn't all bad: "I was in an amusement park and there was a long line for the show. The attendant recognized me, and I got to go right in."

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