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Morning Briefing

On the First Pitch, Guidry Realized He Was Off to Bad Start

April 08, 1986

If the New York Yankees lose to the Kansas City Royals today at Yankee Stadium, it won't be an upset. Ron Guidry, the Yankee starter, has yet to win on opening day.

In six openers, Guidry is 0-2 with four no-decisions. His earned-run average is 4.32.

He last pitched an opener in 1984. It also was against Kansas City and also against Bud Black, today's starter for the Royals. Guidry lost, 4-2.

Leading off that day for Kansas City was shortstop Onix Concepcion.

"In the reports that we went over before the game, it said he was not a home-run hitter," Guidry told Tom Verducci of Newsday. "He didn't have much power. I figured, well, you want to throw a strike on the first pitch. And you figure the guy is not going to swing at the first pitch. But he was swinging, and he hit a home run. Right then I figured, 'Uh-oh. What a way to start.' "

It was the only home run Concepcion hit all year.

Twelve Years Ago Today: On April 8, 1974, in the home opener at Atlanta, Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career record by hitting his 715th home run off southpaw Al Downing in the fourth inning. The Braves beat the Dodgers, 7-4, before a crowd of nearly 54,000.

Trivia Time: The shortstops committing the most errors in the major leagues last year were Julio Franco (Cleveland) 35, Rafael Ramirez (Atlanta) 32, Alfredo Griffin (Oakland) 30 and Tony Fernandez (Toronto) 30. What do they have in common? (Answer below.)

The family of Kevin Pritchard, blue-chip basketball guard in Tulsa, found this message on their answering machine from onetime Temple football player Bill Cosby: "If Kevin doesn't take a visit to Temple, I'm going to have Fat Albert come sit on his dribbling hand."

Would-you-believe-it dept.: Only two starting pitchers in the big leagues averaged more than a strikeout per inning last year, and neither of them was Dwight Gooden. Ex-Dodger Sid Fernandez, Gooden's left-handed counterpart on the New York Mets, led in strikeouts-per-game with 9.5. The Oakland A's Jose Rijo was next at 9.2, followed by Gooden at 8.7.

The all-time career leader is Nolan Ryan at 9.33. Sandy Koufax is next at 9.28.

Lafayette Stribling, coach of the Mississippi Valley State basketball team which gave Duke a scare in the NCAA tournament, said he would like to bring his Delta Devils out here to play UCLA and USC.

How good is his team?

"My players are like half-baked potatoes," he said. "Not perfect, but good enough that you want them."

Where They Are Now: Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Morning News reports that Tommy Prothro has retired to Memphis, Tenn., where he is recovering from cancer surgery.

Sherrod: "He makes frequent European tours where he struts his card table stuff as a world-class bridge player."

The most consistent player in baseball? Mookie Wilson of the New York Mets has hit exactly .276 in each of the past three seasons. His lifetime average is .275.

In practice for the Masters, the foursome of Ben Crenshaw, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and David Graham drew the biggest crowd Monday.

After Ballesteros hit a monster drive on the par-5 15th, Norman turned to the crowd and said: "Does anybody want my driver? I don't want it after seeing that."

Trivia Answer: All are from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Note: Mariano Duncan of the Dodgers, from the same city, had 27 errors, third most in the National League behind Ramirez and Montreal's Hubie Brooks with 28.

Quotebook

Announcer Al Michaels, on Bob Uecker: "Reggie Jackson wouldn't get in the batter's box until he knew we were back from a commercial. Of course, Uecker wanted to hit during the commercial."

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