By Ed “Peachy” Calhoun
BIRMINGHAM, AL—Sure was nice of that Seamus character to give me a day pass to attend this Blue Jays-Mariners exhibition at old Rickwood Field. Legalistically, I’m not really part of their traveling freak show from the future, but I have kind of enjoyed their company and it beats sittin’ around Jewett day and night. Besides, this Rickwood place is like trippin’ over a rare buffalo nickel. They built it in 1910, kept all these old advertising signs on the walls, and you can just about feel all the old-timers and Negro players who sweltered here.
They’re calling this the Hall of Shame Game, but that ain’t fair. Hell, every team’s gotta be born sometime. I even remember the first Rangers game in Arlington after they moved there from D.C. back in ’72. We made four errors and still beat the Angels 7-6 with Dick Bosman getting the win. Matter of fact we swept them Californians three straight, before the Tigers came in and kicked our be-hinds.
Whoops—Sorry, game’s on.
It’s Jerry Garvin for Toronto, Glenn Abbott for Seattle, and here’s the lineups:
Who the hell are these guys? Lee Stanton is the cleanup hitter for the Mariners, and at least he was an AL all-star a few weeks ago. Biggest name on the Jays is cleanup hitter Ron Fairly, who’s gonna end up being one of the only fellahs to play in four decades, so Lester told me yesterday. Anyhow, Dave Collins leads the bottom of the 1st with a single, Garvin boots a dribbler by Carlos Lopez, and Stanton knocks in the first run with a single past something at second base called Steve Skaggs. There’s about five or six actual Mariners fans here wearing those goofy pitchfork hats, and they make a pretty big ruckus.
But then Abbott lobs up a curveball to Fairly without much curve and Ron tattoos it high into the trees past the right field fence. There’s about three times as many Jays fans here but I can hardly hear them because I don’t think they’re drunk ones.
From here on, Garvin and Abbott team up to give out nothing, the afternoon heat bakes its way into our brains, and the ball seems to be going in slow motion. Toronto gets a first and second, one out situation in the 5th but Ashby and Howell do nothing. Collins doubles with two gone but Lopez whiffs. I can kinda see why these teams weren’t invited to the big two-step.
Fairly walks to start the 9th, though, and Al Woods singles him to third. Vicente Romo is on for Seattle to face the sometimes-dangerous Doug Rader, and gets him to line out. Here’s Sam Ewing, a good ol boy from Lewisburg, TN, who I’m also told is going to Japan after next season (Gosh, it’s sure fun learning this future stuff ahead of time. Oughta win me some bets over at Milt’s Barber Shop one of these days.) Anyhow, Sam rips a single into right to score Fairly and put the Jays up 2-1!
Garvin gets Meyer out to start the Mariner 9th, but with lefty-masher Stanton due, Pete Vuckovich staggers in from the pen. He whiffs him! Bob Stinson pinch hits a single and a little guy named Jose Baez runs. He can’t get a lead, though, Larry Cox bounces into a force, and the Expansion Team Slapping Party is over! The mayor of Seattle owes the Toronto one a crate of Dungeness crabs, and this old boy’s getin’ back on the bus before these wild Canadian fans break out some cheers or something. Next stop tomorrow is KC, for the opening game with the Red-hot Sox.
TOR 010 000 001 – 2 6 1
SEA 1000 000 000 – 1 5 1
W-Garvin L-Abbott SV-Vuckovich HR: Fairly GWRBI-Ewing
BY THE WAY: It was pretty awful them having to play this thing on a humid 103° day, but the Jays probably had a good old time after what they had to go through on Real Opening Day in ’77. Check out this automatic TV clip below. My jowels get cold just lookin’ at it.