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Traber's Startling Statistics Food for Thought

August 31, 1986|THOMAS BOSWELL | The Washington Post

Many players will not have an at-bat like that in a whole career.

"I don't mind 'em comin' inside on me," explained Traber. "If they hit that corner all night, I may go oh for four. I'll tip my hat to them. But they better not miss by two or three inches, because a good hitter's weakness is often right next to his strength."

To Traber, success and failure are one inch apart. Last week, he argued a called third strike, then went back to watch a replay on TV. In his next at bat, he told the home plate umpire, "I was wrong. I'm sorry."

Usually, rookies listen. But when the Orioles face any pitcher Traber has seen, Robinson, a Hall of Famer, and Crowley, one of the greatest pinch-hitters, are off in a corner picking Traber's brain to relay to the team.

Maybe having the stage presence of a professional singer and the poise of a big-time college quarterback helps Traber feel at home in the batter's box. Maybe knowing that he has the same genes as his brother the doctor and his sister the lawyer gives him confidence. Court room, operating room, home plate--what's the difference? You take your education into pressure and perform.

Maybe Jim Traber will prove that what he's got from the neck up is more important than the extra chin he has under it.

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