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INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

His Outlook Was Uniquely Ashburnian

September 14, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Richie Ashburn, a Hall of Fame player for the Philadelphia Phillies and a longtime broadcaster for the team who died Tuesday, is recalled fondly by Steve Jacobson of Newsday.

" 'When you build a ballpark,' [Ashburn] once said about the perpetual dusk of the unlamented Colt Stadium in Houston, 'you should put in lights. Especially if you're going to play at night.' "

The dry wit of Ashburn is also recalled by longtime friend Hal Bodley in USA Today:

"Once, in a game in which just about all the Phillies were used, his [broadcast] partner mentioned there was just one player left on the bench.

"After a long pause, Whitey [Ashburn's nickname] said, 'Well, if they use him, I hope he has a long bat. They sent him to the minors yesterday.' "

Add Ashburn: He was known for his bat control. Nonetheless, he once hit a foul ball that hit a spectator between the eyes, breaking her nose and glasses and cutting her face. As they were carrying her out on a stretcher, Ashburn hit her again and bruised her thigh.

"That," Ashburn said, "was not bat control."

Trivia time: Which pitcher holds the major league record for walks issued?

Pennant fever: C.W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle, commenting on the small crowd at 3Com Park that watched the Giants win an extra-inning game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday:

"Only 12,623 showed up--Steve Young has more neurologists than that--and nowhere near that many were around at 3:30 p.m. when it ended."

Whoa, Mrs. Jackson! ABC's Keith Jackson recalls a fan, a college professor no less, once approached him and his wife, Turi Ann, to ask if her name was Nellie.

"I thought she was going to hit him with her frozen yogurt," Jackson said.

Add Jackson: He says he can't remember when he first used the phrase "Whoa, Nellie!" and says he never really used it very much. "I don't have any pet phrases," he said. "But for some reason, it got hung on me."

Slighting Jackie: Publicist Al Franken points out that the September issue of the UCLA Alumni News reports that Jackie Robinson won letters in football, basketball and baseball.

Omitted was the letter he earned in track. He won the NCAA long jump in 1940 with a leap of 24 feet 10 1/4 inches.

Looking back: On this day in 1987, catcher Ernie Whitt hit three home runs to lead a Toronto assault that produced a record 10 homers and an 18-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles.

Trivia answer: Nolan Ryan, with 2,795.

And finally: Jay Mariotti in the Chicago Sun-Times, commenting on the end of the Lou Holtz era at Notre Dame:

"It was sad to see Holtz grow old before our eyes, from the vibrant little leprechaun of the late '80s to a lost, creaky soul whose health deteriorated and mind wandered.

"By the end, there was no direction, only a desperate man lashing out at the priests for running him out the door."

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