A few days ago I was at a Christmas party thrown by a client of my employer, and just like at any other social event, I tried to curb my baseball talk as much as I could because, well, not everyone is as enthusiastic about baseball as I. Some people even think I’m a weirdo.
But then I got to talking to a high school kid — a kid who has drawn attention in the Chicago area for perhaps having what it takes to someday get to the big leagues — and before long we were discussing the finer points of pitching. Like the Cardinalphile that I am, I had no choice but to reference the gutsiness of one Bob Gibson.
“Who?” the kid asked.
It took a lot out of me to not deck this kid in the face for not knowing who Bob Gibson was, but I took a deep breath and decided to educate him on the Hall of Famer the best I could: by telling a story.
“By 1975, Gibson had already lost much of what made him the baddest, scariest, most dominating pitcher in the National League, but he still had guts. Still had pride.
“The last batter he ever faced in the big leagues was a pinch hitter by the name of Pete LaCock. The Cardinals were playing the Cubs and LaCock came in with the bases loaded.
“LaCock hit a grand slam.
“Years later, in an old timer game, Gibson is on the mound and guess who comes to the plate to face him. Yep. Good ‘ol Pete LaCock.
“Gibson drilled him in the back.”
I finished my story and looked at the kid, waiting to see what kind of reaction I’d get, knowing that I had just hit a homerun in conveying what kind of bad^ss Gibson really was.
But the kid was laughing — a snicker at first, then a chuckle, then an all out cackle.
“What?” I asked. “What’s so funny?”
“Dude,” said the kid, “That guy’s name was LaCock?! LaCock! Hahaha! LaCOCK!”
Gotta admit: I snorted a little when I joined in the laughter.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.