Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: As regular season winds down, time to clear the baseball notebooks
The Red Sox are counting down the days until they can go home. The Yankees are counting down the days until the Major League Baseball playoffs start.So, this is a good opportunity to clean out some items from my baseball notebooks.
Jim Corsi had a nice, 10-year career in Major League Baseball. Some of that success enables him to do what he did in Pittsfield on Thursday, play golf.
Corsi was a guest of Berkshire County Sheriff Tom Bowler for the annual Berkshire County Deputy Sheriffs' Association Golf Tournament, which was held at Berkshire Hills Country Club. This year's tournament proceeds went to the Boy Scouts of America Western Massachusetts Council, and the Berkshire Community Action Council.
"I'm fortunate that I did something locally and played professional baseball, and I get to pay it forward and give back," Corsi said. "I end up doing 15 of these a year."
Corsi played five years for Oakland, three for the Red Sox, and one year each in Baltimore, Houston and Florida. He is a Newton native, growing up in the Newtonville section, and played at Newton North High School. After baseball, he spent some time doing some studio broadcasting work on NESN.
He played in Boston from 1997-99, with his best year in 1998. He went 3-2 with a 2.59 earned-run average in 52 relief appearances.
"It was nice to just drive down the Mass. Pike to go to work," he said, when we met at Berkshire Hills. "I'm very fortunate that I finished here."
His best first memory of being a member of the Red Sox?
"The first time I had a Red Sox uniform, when we were standing on the [first base] line and they did the fly-over and the National Anthem, that's when it hit me," he said. "I had been in the big leagues and had played a few years. But that first National Anthem in a Red Sox uniform, that's what gave me the chills."
So, what does Jim Corsi think of baseball as it's now played?
"I get aggravated watching" games, he said. "I watch the pitching now and the way guys pitch now, it's like high fastball, high fastball. It's different. There's no hit and runs. When's the last time you saw guys pitch inside? Everything's away. That's why there are a lot of home runs.
"You've got to be able to pitch on both sides of the plate. Pitching inside is part of the game."
Jeff Reardon made a trip to Dalton last week for his induction into the Dalton CRA Hall of Fame. I don't think I had seen him in maybe two decades, so it was great to catch up.
I asked him if there was one game, or one season that stands out to him. I hated to put Reardon on the spot, but the former All-Star reliever did not have to think very long about it.
"That's a very good question," he said. "Actually, it's a game I couldn't even get in. It was called 'Blue Monday' in Montreal. They put Steve Rogers in instead of me."
Blue Monday was the fifth and final game of the 1981 National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Reardon's Montreal Expos. Los Angeles' Rick Monday homered off of Rogers in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie. That gave the Dodgers a 2-1 win, and they went on to face the Yankees in the 1981 World Series. L.A. ended up beating the Yankees 4 games to 2 in the World Series.
"We were both warming up. All the reports came out that I was hurt, but I wasn't hurt. The manager wanted to go with Rogers. They ended up hitting a home run off of Rogers and Rick Monday, that year, I struck him out four out of four times. That's the one I remember the most.
"Why didn't they put me in the game? That's what all the fans remember."
That, by the way, turned out to be the last time Montreal made it to the playoffs until the Washington Nationals did it in 2012.
"I thought Rogers was warming up besides me to get ready for Game 1 of the World Series," Reardon said. "The umpire came out and gives the beard call and I walked in because I was the closer. I said 'Are you sure?' He said yes, they wanted Rogers."
Baseball players always have the best stories.
Ronald Acuna Jr., he of the potential 40 home run, 40 stolen base season, has been tearing it up for the Atlanta Braves all year. But I bet you didn't know he has a Pittsfield connection.
His father is Ronald Acuna Sr., and the elder Acuna played for the Pittsfield Mets in 1999 and 2000.
"He was a tools guy," former Mets general manager Omar Minaya told MLB.com back in 2018. "We had a whole bunch of guys in that mode, that toolbox kind of guy."
Acuna Sr. was a solid 6-foot, 215-pound outfielder. He came up late in the 1999 season as an 18-year old and hit .225 for Pittsfield. But in 2000, the last year the Mets played in Pittsfield, the 19-year old Acuna Sr. hit .307, drove in 35 runs and stole 31 bases in 41 opportunities. He played both seasons in Pittsfield for Tony Tijerina.
He hit .300 or better in Class AA Binghamton in 2003 and 2004, but never made it past Triple A.
"I had talent. I knew how to play baseball," Ronald Sr. said in a 2018 interview with the website La Vida Baseball. "But I never cared about lifting weights. Nor did I have the best attitude on the field. Those two mistakes cut short my career. Otherwise, I would have made it."
Ronald Acuna Jr. is almost cookie-cutter copy of his dad. The younger Acuna is also 6-feet tall, but weighs in at a sculpted 180 pounds.
Just thought you'd like to know.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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