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Pirates' Blass Had His Own Designated 'Hittee'

June 24, 1989

Steve Blass, the Pittsburgh right-hander who completely lost his control only two years after pitching the Pirates to a World Series championship in 1971, told Rich Ashburn of the Philadelphia Daily News how critical his case was.

"I hit a lot of batters and scared a lot more," he said. "We had an outfielder we brought up from the minor leagues, Miguel Dilone, and he was the designated target, because when we tried to work this thing out, the Pirates would have me come to the park early and throw to a hitter.

"Dilone was the guy they always brought out to be the hitter. I remember one night I must have hit him 20 times. He used to hide when he saw me in the lobby. He must have thought he had a bull's-eye painted on his helmet."

Add Blass: "I tried everything," he said. "I threw from my knees halfway between the mound and home plate and then would work my way back to the mound.

"I got a letter from a guy who was a bowler and he told me he couldn't bowl when his underwear was too tight. I laughed when I read the letter, but the next day I went out and bought some shorts that were size 53. That didn't work, either."

Where there's smoke: From Mitch Williams, hyperactive reliever of the Chicago Cubs, contrasting his style to that of starter Rick Sutcliffe: "I'm out there throwing like my hair's on fire, and he's out there like he's sitting in a lawn chair."

Trivia time: What country did the United States beat to win the gold medal in ice hockey in the 1980 Winter Olympics?

He shoulda gone right: The Louisville Courier-Journal noted that CBS announcer James Brown, who worked the National Basketball Assn. playoffs, was an outstanding high school player. He was so good that he was among four players featured in a full-page ad in the Washington Post under a headline that said "Maryland Wants You."

"That was a brainstorm of then-new Coach Lefty Driesell," the Courier-Journal said. "It didn't work, at least in Brown's case. Instead, he went to Harvard."

Now-it-can-be-told Dept.: From Sylvia Tettleton, wife of Mickey, crediting the cereal, Froot Loops, with the Baltimore Orioles catcher's sudden display of power this year: "He ate them one time in spring training and hit a home run. When he was in a slump early this year, I suggested he try a bowl of Froot Loops again. He's been hitting ever since."

That tough! How tough was Vince Lombardi? Says former Green Bay Packers receiver Max McGee: "When he said 'sit down,' I didn't even bother to look for a chair."

Trivia answer: Finland.

Quotebook: Claudell Washington of the Angels, asked why he went out for track in high school: "Because the track coach was the biology teacher, and I had trouble with biology. I'm not crazy."

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