The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on August 19, 1990 · Page 881
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 881

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Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 19, 1990
Page:
Page 881
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l; SUNDAY. AUCiUSI I'), iwn C17 HIS ASCI. I. IS IIMIS VALLEY SPORTS BASEBALL STIi V l-1 ! L-NSON Franco Doing His Part to liing and Lou Russell shifted uncomfortably in their scats, growing ever more irate as the heckler, a few rows back, continued his relentless diatribe. The target was the first baseman for the visiting Peoria ( III.) Chiefs. "Iley, number nine, hustle to your position," the man yelled in a thick Latino accent. "You're better than that, nine. Stay in the game." No. 9 happened to be Matt Franco, the Russells' grandson. Finally, they had heard enough. Lou turned to confront the loudmouth, then gasped in astonishment. It was her son, Kurt Russell, doing one of his better acting jobs. Russell, best known for his roles in such films as "Silkwood," "Escape From New York" and "The Best of Times," had only the best of intentions, however. He wanted to fire up Franco without revealing his identity. No one knew Kurt was at the game in Rockford, 111., not even his parents. "I heard him for a while, and when the inning ended, I looked up and it was Kurt," Franco said. "He was dressed to conceal his identity. He's gotta go incognito." Franco, whose mother Jill is Kurt's sister, rapidly is establishing his own identity. A 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter from Westlake High, Franco is challenging for the Midwest League batting title. With 13 games to play, he is batting .290, 15 points behind league-leader Scott Cepicky of South Bend, Ind. Franco has batted .382 the past month for the Chicago Cubs' Class-A affiliate after beginning the season in a horrendous slump. Like any 20-year-old from Southern California, Franco saw his spirits and batting average-rise along with the temperature. "The first few weeks were ridiculous. Some nights it was 18 degrees with the wind-chill factor," Franco said. "Who can hit when your hands are numb?" Bedeviled: They have used pitches rather than pitchforks, but two former Arizona State Sun Devils have helped toss former Camarillo High right-hander Travis Willis from Peoria's starting rotation. The Cubs assigned Lance Dickson, their 1990 No. 1 draft choice out of Arizona State, to Peoria on July 4. After four starts, Dickson was promoted. He is now with the Cubs. Replacing Dickson at Peoria was Troy Bradford, the team's third-round draft pick, also out of Arizona State. About the same time, Manager Greg Mahlberg decided to stick with a four-man rotation after using five starters much of the season. All of which left Willis in long relief. At first glance, Willis seemed an odd choice for banishment to the bullpen. The former Cal standout was 8-9 with an earned-run average of 3:18 in 20 starts for the Chiefs (49-77), who are last in the Midwest League. With five complete games he still ranks among league leaders and he has walked only 39 in 154 innings. "My control worked against me," Willis said. "They told me I'm a guy they can count on to come in and throw strikes. I was a better candidate for the bullpen than somebody who can't find the plate." Willis has been hit hard in relief he is now 9-11 with a 3.49 KRA and Mahlberg might be having a change of heart. Willis got a start against Waterloo (Iowa) on Friday night and gave up one earned run, getting the win in the Chiefs' 5-2 victory. Holy Toledo: How Scott Muckey made his professional coaching debut at age 37 is basically a travel story. Certainly, it's circuitous. The manager of the Toledo (Ohio) Mud Hens, John Wocken-. fuss, was afraid to fly, so he was told to hit the road. The lone coach, Aurelio Rodriguez, had family problems in Mexico, so he took off south of the border, never to return. ' Tom Gamboa, the new Mud Hen manager, called Muckey, a longtime friend, July 18 and asked if he had two months to spare. Muckey was on the next flight to Toledo. "It took me all of a few seconds to make the decision," said Muckey, who had planned to spend the summer in his. usual manner-coaching an American Legion team and helping put at baseball camps. Muckey, the Crcspi High coach, has been at the high school or junior college levels since his playing career ended at Pcpperdine in 1974. All of a sudden, he found himself pitching batting practice and coaching first base for the Detroit Tigers' triplc-A International League affiliate. In Muckey's first game, Toledo played Oklahoma City, which coin-cidentally is managed by Steve Smith, a friend of Muckey's. "He was kind of surprised to see me," Muckey said. The rookie coach trotted out to the first-base coach's box. The first Toledo batter singled . . . and was promptly picked off. The next Toledo batter doubled . . . and was picked off. Two innings later, a Toledo batter singled . . . and was picked off. "Old Smitty's over there in the dugout laughing at me," Muckey recalled. Muckey has earned respect with his understated manner and knowledge of the game. Yet he is a VIS Sjjj Hn Mon "oucu SAE 30 MOTOR OIL Limit 12 quarts at sale price. 10W-30, 10W-40 OR20W-50. O MAXfPOWnt STARTERS A ALTERNATORS Remanufactured. With exchange. REG. TO 49.99. 34.99 after rebate REGULAR OVER 49.99. 20 OFF STARTERS A ALTERNATORS Rebuilt. For most domestic vehicles. With exchange. REGULAR TO 33.99. 21.88 REGULAR OVER 33.99 20 OFF AMFM STEREO CASSETTE Auto stop, locking fast forward. Balance S tuning controls. i?KID581. SOUTHOATI 32IOBrwcwly Ave . SYLMAR 12629 Glerioolt Ava CANYON COUN1RY S73-1 1 34 19327 SoleJod Cyn. fid... CANOOA PARK m 347-7SS6 21703 Shoimon Wqv CHATS WORTH 21309 Dovooihito Si SANTA CLARITA 23546 lyontAva.41 corns II URIM KfeR7V.:, REG. TO 49.93 4AM I I IWMKMTYjp-y spy SALE PRICE. iKF j REBATE. J I IKRACOI me mp:l Deliver a Hit Performance for Peoria mere chick among the Mud Hens in terms of professional experience. "I've made all the rookie mistakes. Just trying to keep track of the time schedule is hard enough," he said, chuckling. "I was running out there with my uniform on when we were supposed to be in batting practice tops." Another day he forgot his cap. "If they were serious about fining me, they could have slapped me for $ 150 for not being in the right place at the right time." The fans have been less forgiving. During a game in Richmond, Va Muckey fielded a foul ball down the first-base line and tossed it to the ball boy. Oops. "The crowd was all over me," he said. "I don't know why. But now when a ball comes near me, I watch it roll by." m PER QUART... 93fW I 1 MAIL-IN REBATEtmnn L mr 0Hl2QTS......i m lKend' rrp-ri I gm Kendall V Kendall MOTOR OIL MOTOR OIL Limit 12 quarts at sale price.' GT-1 Turbo Oil. 20W-50. LIFETIME IMPORT STARTERS A ALTERNATORS Remanufactured. With exchange. vnnoFF 1000 teS'ed- ZmkqTT O.E.M.speci(icationsHX Limit 12 at sale price. , I REGULAR OVER 18. 99. . 1f CLUTCH COVERS... 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