A sunflower seed shell caused a big stir at a youth league tournament in rural Craig, Colo., over the weekend.
Roger Clemens, scheduled to pitch tonight for the Houston Astros against Atlanta, was there to watch son Kacy and his 10-and-under team play.
According to Associated Press reports, Kacy appeared to be safe on an attempt to steal second base against a Bakersfield team but was called out. When the young umpire came over to the dugout to discuss the play, he felt a sunflower seed hit his pants cuff.
He pointed at Clemens, who was sitting in his own chair behind a fence, and said, "He's out of here."
Witnesses said Clemens hadn't uttered a word.
"There was a pile of 250 to 300 sunflower seeds there," said Doug Hanson, manager of Kacy's team.
"I don't know how the umpire knew that was the one."
It was probably the first time Clemens was tossed out of a game for a spitter.
A good sport: Clemens, who was signing autographs at the time of the controversial call, left the field and watched the rest of the game from the parking lot. But not before signing a few more autographs.
One request came from Bakersfield second baseman Ryan Stapp, who was involved in the play.
"He signed my son's ball," said Ron Stapp, the boy's father. "He was real respectful and nice."
Stapp said his son admitted missing the tag.
Bakersfield won the game, 11-5, then, after two more victories, left town with the championship, several Clemens autographs and a story to tell.
Trivia time: In 1918, the American League home run champion hit 11 homers. Who was he?
What about Rickey? Monday's trivia item about Paul Molitor and the four other major leaguers to finish their careers with at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases left out Rickey Henderson.
Henderson, who was with the Dodgers last season, has 3,055 hits and a record 1,406 stolen bases. But technically, Henderson, 43, hasn't finished playing.
He is currently with the Newark (N.J.) Bears of the independent Atlantic League, batting .292 in 56 games with 24 stolen bases.
"He's still hoping to get picked up by a major league team for the playoffs," said Dennis Gilbert, formerly Henderson's agent.
Note: Willie Mays finished his career with 3,283 hits and 338 stolen bases. Rod Carew had 3,053 and 353.
Trivia answer: Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox. Ruth had a 13-7 pitching record that year.
And finally: Kathy Schloessman, president of the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission, last year started "NFL 101," a fund-raising "class" for women interested in learning more about football.
This year's gala, to be held tonight at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, is titled "NFL 101 and 201." The difference is, men are now included.
"We didn't want to discriminate," Schloessman said.
Larry Stewart can be reached at email@example.com.