They can't shake Graig Nettles. The 42-year-old slugger hit three home runs for the Atlanta Braves Sunday and now they've put him on the roster to play both third base and first base this season.
So, three years after George Steinbrenner sent him from the New York Yankees to the San Diego Padres, Nettles has landed on his feet again.
He told Joe Donnelly of Newsday: "I think George's people told him that somewhere between 32 and 34 I was going to break down. One day one of his baseball people told George, 'Look at Nettles. He had a bad weight shift on that swing.' I think George thought my weight had shifted.' "
Another time, Steinbrenner alluded to Nettles being in the twilight of his career.
"I guess that makes this midnight," Nettles said. "Actually, I feel like a phenom. They might be making this up like that Sports Illustrated Syd Finch story. I've surprised myself."
Add Nettles: With the Yankees, he was better known for his glove and his wit than his homers. A couple of one-liners:
--"When I was a little boy, I wanted to play baseball and join the circus. With the Yankees, I've accomplished both."
--On being fined $500 for missing a welcome-home luncheon: "If they want somebody to play third base, they got me. If they want somebody to go to luncheons, they should hire George Jessel."
Trivia Time: The last time Graig Nettles played first base was in 1968, to accommodate a teammate who was playing all nine positions in the game. Who was it? (Answer below.)
Bobby Knight isn't the only coach who doesn't like the three-point shot. USC's George Raveling is another.
Said Ed Steitz of the NCAA rules committee: "I read where George said, 'Doc Naismith would roll over in his grave if he knew about the three-point field goal.'
"So I called him up. I said, 'Hey, George, I've got news for you. Naismith had three-point shots in his rules for the game in 1896 and 1904.' "
In the wake of the Darryl Strawberry incident and other clubhouse flaps, the New York tabloids are calling Mets Manager Davey Johnson "The Great Non-Communicator."
Marty Noble of Newsday quotes Johnson as saying: "I communicate better than a lot of those managers who chatter all the time and say nothing."
Noble: "Oops, now Tom Lasorda's mad."
Oops Dept.: After the Los Angeles Open, Golf World magazine mistakenly ran a cover picture of T.M. Chen instead of T.C. Chen.
In apologizing for the mistake in the next edition, the magazine bogeyed again. It said if T.M. Chen had won the Philippine Open, instead of blowing it on the final hole, it would have been the first time two brothers had won major tournaments the same day on two different continents.
That brought a call from a woman in Richmond, Va. who informed the magazine that on Oct. 22, 1978, Lanny Wadkins won the Victorian Open in Australia while Bobby Wadkins was winning the European Open in England.
The caller was Frances Wadkins, their mother.
Trivia Answer: Cesar Tovar of the Minnesota Twins.
Graig Nettles of the Atlanta Braves: "There ought to be a rule that when the temperature drops below your age you don't have to play."