Hall of Fame Manager Dick Williams Shared A Laugh And Autograph With Me!

Posted October 31st, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Dick Williams, Hunter Pence, Joe Buck, Johnny Bench, Rollie Fingers, Tim Lincecum, World Series
BOO! Scary airbrushing!
The facsimile autograph
looks haunted:

Happy Halloween!

Today is about how much you get, right? Or, how much you give? As in, so many kids trick-or-treated here, there’s no candy left for me!

Here’s another take on giving and getting.

I’ll never forget sitting on the couch with my dad, watching the Oakland-Cincinnati World Series. He fell off the couch laughing his a– off (yes, it’s hard to sit without one of those!) when Johnny Bench fell for the fake intentional walk.

I wrote to Dick Williams long before he was a Hall of Famer, long before he charged for autographs. I never asked for an autograph. I just wanted him to have another perspective on the classic moment.

I related my dad’s comments. I thanked him for making my dad laugh.

Dick sent back an Expos postcard of himself, thanking ME for a great story. He added a note that Rollie Fingers later told him he hadn’t seen that play work since Little League!

As I watched this World Series with my wife, she saw a close-up of Tim Lincecum.

“He looks like a sad Pee-wee Herman before he pitches.”

As oh-so-dramatic Joe Buck recounted upcoming Giants batters, my wife asked for a clarification.

“His name is Hunter Pence? I thought Joe Buck called him UNDERPANTS.”

Future letters? Hmmm…

All I know is that humor can make a difference!

Fred Kipp: An Overlooked Dodger

Posted March 11th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Dick Williams, Fred Kipp, Sparky Anderson, Walter Alston

No wonder Fred Kipp is a member of the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame.

Signed in 1953, the left-hander won 15 games and a Tri-State ERA title his first year as a pro. Kipp missed most of 1954-55 in the Army, only to distinguish himself with a team-leading 20 wins for the 1956 Montreal Royals. His teammates included Sparky Anderson and Dick Williams, who watched Kipp snatch league Rookie of the Year honors.

After a one-game debut with the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers, Kipp joined the team in Los Angeles. His season in the sun came in 1958, going 6-6 in 40 appearances.

Kipp had mixed feelings about the team’s Los Angeles home, the made-for-football Coliseum.

How did he feel in the “ballpark” with a left field screen just 250 feet away begging for home runs?

“I didn’t get to pitch a lot (there), due to being left-handed,” Kipp wrote. Still, his assessment of manager Walter Alston took only two words:

“Good man.”

Ironically, Kipp relished swinging the bat in Los Angeles and elsewhere. His 9-for-36 offense wasn’t typical for any pitcher.

“The first time up in the Coliseum,” Kipp remembered, “I hit one off the screen in short left-center.”

After a partial season with the 1959 Dodgers, Kipp’s big-league days ended with an abbreviated stay with the 1960 Yankees. Without the interruption for military service, without being buried in the talent-deep Dodgers farm system, the Kansas lefty’s fortunes may have been far different.