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Morning Briefing

Even If a Pitcher Needs Some Help, He May Not Want It

April 28, 1987

When a pitcher gets in trouble, does he appreciate it when a teammate comes to the mound to counsel him? Not always.

Said former catcher Tim McCarver, recalling his days with the St. Louis Cardinals: "I remember one time going out to talk to Bob Gibson. He told me to get back behind the batter, that the only thing I knew about pitching was that it was hard to hit."

Former Cleveland Indian third baseman Al Rosen will never forget a visit he made to Art Houtteman.

Houtteman told him: "If you know so much about pitching, then you do it." With that, Houtteman flipped the ball to Rosen and walked off the mound.

Then there was Lefty Grove who, after a teammate came over to remind him the bases were loaded, fixed the informant with an icy stare and sneered: "I didn't think they gave me three extra fielders."

Said Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox when asked his goal this season: "I want to hit within 100 points of Wade Boggs."

Providence basketball Coach Rick Pitino, who was one of the candidates for the Phoenix Suns' job, said he put it to a vote of the family whether he should take the job or stick with Providence. It was 3-2 for Providence.

But Pitino said: "When my 6-year-old son Christopher voted Phoenix because they have camels out there, I no longer thought that I should really rely on the family vote."

Trivia Time: Since the founding of the franchise in 1948-49, the Sacramento Kings have been known by what four other names and won an NBA title under which one? (Answer below.)

Five years ago, the father of Phil and Joe Niekro said: "I'm proud of them and happy they don't have to work for a living."

It still goes, and now along comes John Niekro, son of Phil, who could continue the tradition.

John, a 6-foot 6-inch senior at Shiloh High School in Lithonia, Ga., is 5-0 this season. He doesn't throw the knuckleball, but he has developed an outstanding curve and has hopes of making it to the majors.

"If that happens, I hope my father is coaching by that time," he says.

More likely, the old man will still be pitching. As Joe Garagiola says: "Phil Niekro will never make it to Cooperstown. You have to retire before you can make the Hall of Fame."

Add Niekros: They are on the verge of becoming the winningest brothers in history. They have combined for 526 wins, only three short of the record of 529 held by Gaylord and Jim Perry.

Boston Celtic Coach K.C. Jones, on Bill Walton's performance in Sunday's win over the Chicago Bulls: "That was the legend out there. He won championships in college and when he was healthy he won a championship in Portland. Now he's out there running the court and banging the boards."

Said Larry Bird: "We haven't been rebounding that well and the addition of Bill makes us a good rebounding team. He didn't give us 17 minutes, he gave us 17 quality minutes.

"That's the best Bill's played this year. If he can play that way night in and night out, we're going to be tough."

Trivia Answer: Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City-Omaha Kings, Kansas City Kings. The Rochester Royals, led by guards Bob Davies and Bobby Wanzer and center Arnie Risen, won the NBA title in 1950-51.

Quotebook

Texas Ranger reliever Dale Mohorcic, after committing balks in the first two games of the season: "You've got to lead the league in something."

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