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Slumping Gagne Scares Up a Home Run

September 27, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Greg Gagne has been mired in such a deep slump, having struck out 17 times in 38 at-bats, that he was desperate enough to throw away his own bats and start from scratch Friday night.

His first two times up, he used a bat borrowed from teammate Brett Butler. But that didn't work.

"It was too small," Gagne said of the Butler bat.

"I've got a bat for you," reserve outfielder Wayne Kirby said.

Actually, Kirby had a pair of bats, one black and one orange.

"That orange one looked like a Halloween bat," Gagne said. "I wasn't going to bring a Halloween bat up there. But it felt good."

And it certainly felt good when Gagne used that bat to crack his ninth home run over the center-field fence, a blast that carried 423 feet.

Be assured of one thing: Halloween bat or no Halloween bat, Kirby will never see it again.


The Dodgers are disputing a ruling by the Elias Sports Bureau that catcher Mike Piazza did not break the major league record for hits by a catcher in a single season as previously announced.

After independent research by the Dodger public-relations office, it was determined the record for a catcher was 193 hits in a season, held by Joe Torre and Ted Simmons.

Including his two hits Friday night, Piazza has 197.

But Elias, guardian of baseball records, has a strict interpretation. It only counts those hits collected while the player was catching.

According to those standards, Yogi Berra set the record with the 1950 New York Yankees. He had 191 hits as a catcher. He also had one hit as a pinch-hitter, which does not count toward the record.

Officially, Piazza, who was the designated hitter in interleague games, has 182 hits as a catcher.

"I'm not going to lose any sleep over it," he said.


Add Piazza: There are marks no one can take away from the Dodger catcher.

With his current batting average of .359, Piazza has the best average of any catcher since Bill Dickey hit .362 for the Yankees in 1936.

Unless Elias determines that Dickey didn't really catch all those games.

Piazza is also certain to record the highest average in Los Angeles Dodger history. Piazza and Tommy Davis currently hold the mark at .346, Piazza getting his last year, Davis in 1962.



(9-5, 3.79 ERA)



(12-11, 5.53 ERA)

Coors Field, 1 p.m.

TV--Channel 11. Radio--KABC (790), KWKW (1330).

* Update--It'll be back to the scoreboard this afternoon as the Dodgers watch the San Francisco Giants play the San Diego Padres at 3Com Park. It'll be the first time that even a Dodger victory will not stave off elimination. The magic number for the Giants to win the National League West is one. One Giant victory, or one Dodger loss. The Dodgers are unbeaten at Coors Field this season, having won four times here with only today and Sunday remaining. Martinez was the ace of the staff when a torn rotator cuff took him out of the rotation in mid-June. He has not been that since returning, going only 3-2 with a 4.88 ERA in six starts.

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