Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1991 · Page 79
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 79

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Monday, July 1, 1991
Page 79
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MONDAY. JULY 1. 1991 THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS SPORTS PAGE 79 g to nam fo by Ted Silary Daiiy Afeus Sports Writer Does the name Moonlight Graham mean anything to Ruben Amaro Jr.? Yes, unfortunately. "It's so funny that you mention him," Amaro said. "I saw that movie, 'Field of Dreams,' just a short time before I got called up. "When I came back, I swear that was the first thing I thought about. I was thinking, God forbid. 2Pf3fS Something should happen. I don't go back up. I'll be Moonlight Graham.' " Actually, Amaro, 26, a product of Penn Charter and Stanford, went Graham Amaro one worse. Graham, a substitute rightfielder, never batted in one game with the New York Giants (in 1905, though the movie changed the year to . 1922). Well, Amaro didn't even get a chance to play the field. Amaro, whose father, Ruben Sr., was once a shortstop and coach for the Phillies (he's now a scout with Detroit, based in Miami), spent eight days with the California Angels, June 4 to 11. He appeared only in a June 8 loss to Detroit as a pinch-runner. Before long it was back to the Edmonton Trappers of the Triple A Pacific Coast League. Imagine. A guy waits all those years to make The Show, then he's quickly shown the door. No putouts, no assists, no at-bats, no walks, not even a sacrifice fly. "If you remember," Amaro said, laughing, "that's what the young Moonlight had. He got a chance to bat with Shoeless Joe and the other guys in that one late scene, and he hit a sacrifice fly to right A sacrifice fly, that doesn't count. That's not a time at bat Officially, he still hasn't batted." In this century, approximately 80 players non-pitchers, of course nave appeared in a major league game without getting a chance to bat. About 35 did nothing more than pinch-run. The most famous non-batter was Herb Washington, who "played" in 105 games for Charlie Finley's Oakland A's in 1974 and 75. He went 31-for-48 on stolen base attempts, scored 33 runs and never had a bat in his hands. There was also Eddie Phillips, of the '53 Cardinals. He made nine pinch-running appearances and never batted. And Jack Cassini, of the '49 Pirates. He pinch-ran eight times and never batted. And how about Robert Leroy Powell, of the White Sox? He pinch-ran once in '55 and once more in '57. He's still waiting to swing the lumber, too. At least one pitcher also has an amazing story. On Sept. 15, 1971, Larry Yount, Robin's brother, came in to pitch for the Astros. While warming up, he hurt his arm and had to leave the game. That was his first and only ML appearance. "No way," young Ruben said. "That really happened? Tough to take." Ditto. "We were on the road, in Vancouver, when I found out I was going up," Amaro said. "In Triple A, lots of guys go up and down. I was always asking them, 'What the hell's it like to be called? I had the chance to experience the feeling. It's something you can't describe. I was super excited. "I called up my dad. Ever since I was a batboy with the Phillies 11980 through '82, and I first got excited about wanting to play baseball at the major league level, I always wanted to make that call 'Dad, I'm in the big leagues.' What a great feeling it was to be able to tell him that My whole family was excited, of course, but my dad, he was pumped." About two weeks later, the duo talked again. "He'd been trying to reach me," Ruben said. "His reaction? 'What a bunch of bleep.' He was ticked off that I didn't get a chance to bat. He said he has a good chance of being involved with that new Miami team, maybe as a troubleshooting scout He told me, 'Hang in for another year, son. If I go with this Miami team, your butt is going to be with me. Amaro, a switch-hitting leftfielder in his fifth year in pro ball, was batting .370 at the time of his recall, down from a high of .413. He did his pinch-running stint, for Dave Parker, in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to Detroit. Amaro ran for Parker at first base. He was bunted to second by Luis Sojo, then Donnie Hill sent a humped-back liner toward pitcher Mike Henneman. "I froze," Amaro said. "Henneman stabbed and missed and it went into centerfield. John Shelby came busting in and they held me at third. Max Venable hit into a doubleplay. I'm not sure they were really happy, but I feel I did the right thing. It was an instinctive reaction. I thought Henneman had a chance to catch it" In his own estimation, Amaro did not receive actual playing time with the Angels because manager Doug Rader was worried about the confidence levels of Parker, Venable and Luis Polonia. All three were struggling at the time, Amaro said, and he surmises that Rader was worried how they'd react to being supplanted by a rookie. "I was very disappointed I didn't get a chance to play. Kind of surprised, also," said Amaro, who hopes to increase his value by mixing in some games at second base. "When I got sent down, I spoke with Rader and the general manager IMike Port. They basically apologized for not giving me a chance. It sounded like I was going to get another chance to come up, if not soon! then maybe when they make September callups." In "Field of Dreams," Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), in a flashback scene, asks Moonlight Graham (Burt Lancaster), a doctor in Chis- holm, Minn., what he would have liked to have done on a baseball field. "I never got to bat in the major leagues," Graham said. "I'd have liked that Just to stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down and, just as he goes into his windup, HOW LITTLE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND ON A STERLING? We wrote the terms of our financing arrangements the way you might well have. They're all interest-Jree. They're all for 48 months. One of them doesn't a down pay ment. Accommodations RAYMOND STERLING Glen Mills, PA 215-358-5100 VS.KP. Offered by participating deakn to qualified retail buyers on I9'l Sterling S.'7 SI through 71191. Finance program bated on 0 APR available through Chait Manhattan. Customer responsible jor taut, registration, title, insurance, and optional equipment. Some restrictions apply. Dealer contributing to final con. wink. Make him think you know something he doesnt That's what I'd wish for. "A chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it To feel the tingle in your arm as you connect with the balL To run the bases, stretch a double into Kill, fipiJU U J 0 FINANCING $0 DOWN T pe of Monthly ftut n Program Payment Term Payment Rate finance Si99 4S Mm. 20 0 Finance S449 48 Mm. 70 0 Finance $499 4S Mot. 0 0 even require Jeatures. All in XJ3 r -mm It vr-rtmiWff"viiin-WMiiniini7-'TiTiMiaJ iir-imi i - ' - ...llll. . 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