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Yogi Always Was a Guy to Go Against the Grain


Everybody, it seems, has a Yogi Berra story. No exception was Frank Ryan, late vice president of Hillerich & Bradsby where he was in charge of supplying customized Louisville Sluggers to major league players.

The Sporting News said Berra once complained to Ryan that he was breaking a lot of bats and blamed the wood. Ryan went to watch him bat and noticed that he didn't keep the label up, as is customary, but turned it to one side. Berra always claimed the label distracted him.

Traditionally, Hillerich & Bradsby imprints its H&B trademark parallel to the grain and recommends that it be showing. On the next shipment to Berra, unbeknown to Yogi, Ryan had the trademarks imprinted on the side, against the grain.

So, when Berra turned the labels on the new bats, he wound up holding them like everyone else.

K-men: The greatest strikeout artist ever? If you figured by strikeouts per nine innings, it would be the man they called the Monster, Dick Radatz of the Boston Red Sox, with a mark of 9.7. He's followed by Ryne Duren, 9.6; Nolan Ryan, 9.5 and Sandy Koufax, 9.3.

That's for men who have pitched at least 500 innings. Otherwise, according to the Elias Baseball Analyst, the leaders are Cincinnati's Rob Dibble at 11.6 and Toronto's Tom Henke at 10.6.

Trivia time: Before Randy Barnes, who was the last American world-record holder in the shotput?

For the record: Ted Moriarty of Santa Ana, correcting a trivia item that stated that Alhambra High, led by Bob Boyd, won the 1947-48 Pacific League basketball title, points out that Whittier was the winner. One of Whittier's stars was Ed Hookstratten, the sports agent.

Would-you-believe-it-Dept.: From the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "The hottest rumor circulating around some NFL circles is that the Raiders mistakenly drafted Arizona defensive end Anthony Smith in the belief that it was his teammate, the Patriots' top choice Chris Singleton, rather than Smith who had had drug problems."

Big bluff: Said Baltimore Manager Frank Robinson, when told that shortstop Cal Ripken can break Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record of 2,130 in five years: "I'll sit his butt down in 1995. I'll say, 'Hit the pine, buddy.' "

Ripken could ask Robinson, "What makes you think you'll still be here in five years?"

Paying tribute: Said Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics after tying Ty Cobb's American League record for stolen bases: "I can steal bases because of Billy Martin. He's the one who taught me to be aggressive."

Of Martin's death, he said, "I lost a friend. He was a great manager to me, a great manager to the game of baseball. He treated me like I was a son."

Trivia answer: Terry Albritton, 71-8 1/4, 1976.

Quotebook: Dave Stewart, hoping he never has to pitch against A's teammate Jose Canseco: "I told him that if he goes free agent in a couple of years, I'm going to get traded to the same club."

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