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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota • Page 63
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota • Page 63

Star Tribunei
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Issue Date:

1Q Major league baseball Minneapolis Star and Tribune Thursday, September 20, 1984 Christmas homer no joke to Twins Dodgers 3, Astros 1 the Chicago White Sox to their third straight win over the Twins, this time 7-3. Who is Stephen Randall Christmas? And why did the left-handed-hitting catcher do such a Scrooge-like thing to the Twins? He's a life-long Twins fan who grew up in the shadow of the Minnesota spring training complex in Orlando, Fla. He spent his childhood watching his favorite big league player, Harmon Killebrew, preparing at Tinker Field. And he was a 33rd-round draft pick of the Twins in 197S after being named Florida's high school player of the year as a third baseman. But, Christmas said, the Twins offered him so little money he would not say bow much that he decided not to sign. Besides, "Some guy from the Twins told me, 'We don't think you can play in the big leagues' Yeah, he actually said that." So Christmas, who grew up just 3 miles from no kidding Christmas, went away to Oklahoma City Southwestern Junior College, after which he was not drafted by any other big league team. He went, instead, to a Cincinnati Reds tryout camp in Tampa, in 1977, where he was signed as a free agent for absolutely nothing. Zero casheroo. It was a matter of principle. "I was a lot happier (signing with the Reds)," said Christmas. "It was a thing where I thought I was worth more (than the Twins thought)." Last night he sought revenge. "It feels good," said the 6-foot, 190-pounder, "coming back to haunt a team that really didn't want me." The haunting occurred in just the 23rd at-bat of his big league career. He had 17 at-bats late last year with the Reds after spending seven years in their minor league system behind Dave Van Gorder. Then he was traded to the Sox for Fran Mulltns, an lnfielder. After spending most of this season in Denver, hitting .266 with two homers and 22 RBI and nine days with the Sox in mid-July Christmas was recalled for good on Sept 4. Last night was his first hit since then. He's 3-for-6 with the Sox this year, all as a pinch hitter, although he spent two Innings catching last Sunday. Houston. Texas Jerry Reuss pitched a four-hitter and Dave Anderson had three hits, including a triple, as Los Angeles ended Houston's six-game winning streak. Reuss (4-7) recorded his second victory since returning July 12th from the disabled list. He struck out six and walked two. Bob Knepper (14-10) was the loser, going seven innings and giving up all three runs. The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth after Steve Sax led off with a single and went to third on Anderson's single. Sax scored when Bill Russell grounded into a double play. Staff Photo by John Croft Greg Walker hit a double for the White Sox In the first Inning Grow Continued from page ID By Jay Welner Staff Writer There are all sorts of jokes to be told about a guy named Christmas who hit a ho-ho-homer Wednesday night that, from the Twins' perspective, was not exactly a thoughtful present. All sorts of jokes. "I've heard them all, all the regular ones," said Steve Christmas, whose nickname since high school has been "Tree." But the Twins weren't laughing last night Christmas, 26, made it another relatively silent night for Minnesota with the first homer of his short major league career, a lofted, three-run, 373-foot, pinch-hit job over the right field fence in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie and pushed Twins Continued from thought It was a fly ball." page Gardner was more inclined to wonder about his absent offense that produced only three runs for the third straight loss to Chicago. Even though Kent Hrbek was sidelined by a strained forearm, Gardner said there should have been more than five hits off Floyd Bannister (13-10, 4.73) and Ron Reed. Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the first when Jerry Hairston and Harold Baines hit solid singles and Greg Walker reached out to poke a two-RBI double Into the left field corner. Smlthson picked off Walker and retired the next 14 batters. The Twins pulled into a 2-2 tie In the fifth when Bannister walked Chris Speier with two outs and Tim Laudner bashed his ninth home run of the season. Law barely cleared the wall in the top of the sixth, ending the Smlthson out streak, and Tom Brunansky matched that solo homer with a towering fly to left in the bottom of the Inning. Brunansky's had a chance to be more potent. But Mickey Hatcher hit into a double play, his first of two, after Ron Washington started the inning with a single up the middle. "We've got to try to get a little offense going," Gardner said. "We got two home runs, but one was a solo job. We can't get things together. FIRST INNING While Sea Witt one out. Jerry Halrston and Harold Balnea got tingles oil Mike Smltnaoa and (cored when crag Walker lined a double Into the left-field corner. While Soil, Twin. 0 FIFTH INNING Twine With two outs, Floyd Bannister walked Chris Speier and Tim Laudner homered to left (No. 1.405 feet). Twins I White Sail SIXTH INNING White Soi Rudy Law lined a homer over the right-field wall with one out (No. 5, Ki feet). Twlos Ron Washington led off with a single to center but Mickey Hatcher hit Into a double play third to second to first Tom Brunansky hit a fly-bell homer to left (No. 32, 356 feet). Twins White Soi I SEVENTH INNING White Son-Walker led off with a single to right. Ron Kiltie and Vance Law struck ouL Walkerstole second and Roy Smalley, batting for Scott Fletcher, got an Intentional walk. Steve Christmas, barling for Marc Hill, hit a home run to right (No. 1, 373 feel). Julio Cruz hit a bouncing triple to right-center and scored when Rudy Law poked a double down the lett-Ileld line. Ed Hodge came In to pitch. Chicago Minnesota rhW eb bl Puckett, ef 4 0 10 Walhingtn, dh 3 0 I 0 Hetcher, lb 4 0 0 0 Brunensky, rf 4 I I 1 Geetli, 3b 3 0 0 0 R. Lew, cf 4 Heirston, 3 Peciorek, ph 1 Skinner, 0 Beines, rl 4 G.WeHter, lb 4 Squires, lb 0 Kiltie. Oh 4 V. Lew. lb 4 Fletcner, is 2 Smeaev, ph 0 Ovbtinski, I M. Hill, 2 Christmes, ph I Boston, 1 Crura. 1 Totsls Teutel.2b Meier, Bush, ph Speier, St Laudner, 3 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 10 0 0 2 10 0 112 2 Chlceae Mlnnotefa 000 011 000- Geme-winning Bl Christmes 0). DP Chiceoo 2. LOB Chicago I. Minnesota 4. 7B G. Walker. R. Lew. Laudner. SB J. Crul. HR Leudner ft), R. Lew (S). Brunansky (32), Christmas (I). SB Puckett (13), G. Welker IS). ip in an so F. Bennlsler.ChllW. ll-N) 7 5 3 4 1 Reed, Chi 2 0 0 0 0 0 Smlthson, Minn (L. 15-131 ft 7 7 I 0 Hoooo. Minn 2 0 0 0 0 2 2:31. (Through Wednesday) FOR A WILD WEEKEND call 1-800-248-5708 Michigan's 24-hour recorded line for Information on camping, fishing and fall color. MICHIGAN He approached the plate last night' with men on first and second. They were there because Greg Walker' stole second base with two outs and former Twin Roy Smalley was Intentionally walked. MM With the count 0-1, Twins starter and. loser Mike Smlthson threw In tight to Christmas. With the count 2-2, Smith-son moved him off the plate again. "That kind of woke me up," said Christmas. On the next pitch, a high, Inside slider with the count full, the soft spoken guy gave himself the hlgtw light of his 16-game major league career. i "We figured the guy got here on fastballs," said Twins catcher Tim Laudner. we tried to stay away from anything he could get the bead of his bat on. But that was the ball-game." Christmas crossed the plate with a smile as broad as hmmm, rein' deer. "There are days that you work at this game and there are days that you play it," said Sox manager Tony LaRussa. "In Tree's mind, he was playing today Did you see how: happy he was?" "I think this team just wants to finish strong," said Christmas, who hopes to find a permanent spot on the White Sox roster next spring. "I wouldn't say we're out to spoil any-' thing for the Twins. It's Just working out that way." KONDA ALL ATC MOTORCYCLES ON SALE! TRX200 SUMMER SNOW THROWER SALE I 1U Id? -r 4L. 6k i MASTERCARD Los Angela Houston irbbl 51? 0 0 I 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 III 0 I 0 0 0 0 Oorert, 3b 4 Bell, cl 4 Corner. 3b 4 Crul.ll 4 Devil, lb 4 Puftl, rl 4 Boiler, 3 C.Rovnotdt, 4l2 Cobell, Dh 1 B. Peno, 0 Kneoeer. 1 Penkovltl, ph 1 Dowiev, 0 Teleli 31 Artderton, 3b 4 RuMell. 2 Brock, lb 1 Guerrero, lb 4 Maktonedo, rl 3 cf 3 Amelurta, It 0 Sclotcle. 3 Brewer, If 2 Rivere. ID 1 Reutt, i TeUK 0 10 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 I 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 too 0 0 0 III 0 0 0 0 0 0 eoe in Game-winning RBI Anneron (I). Guerrero, B. Rutiell. OP Lot Angeles Houston 3. LOB Lot Aneekn Houston 4. IB Bess 2. Puhl, Sex. 38 Anderson. BRussew. IP SO Reuss, LA (W, 4-7) 9 4 10 2 0 Knepper, Hou (L. 14-101 7 7 110 1 Dexlev, Hou 2 10 0 0 1 2:00. a Brooklyn Dodger) to get ready to pitch his first game." Junior won that first game, allowing a run in his seven innings. Papa beamed and went home, not knowing hard times would follow. Junior, as it turned out, would be 4-10 in his rookie year and 7-15 last season. Although he seldom showed his discouragement on the outside, the calls home were filled with frustration. "I remember once last year he said, 'Ma, I just can't understand it I just don't know what's going I'm so thankful that Podres and Gardner stuck with him." "I could call them," said Frank "and get a lot off my chest. I'd talk to them bow I was making the same mistakes over and over again. I knew my ability was showing to the max. You know what I mean? My ability just wouldn't come through." "When things were the roughest," said papa, proudly, "he stuck with it when another kid might have broken." And this year, all the potential the live arm, the hook, the intelligence have come together. Junior attributes a lot of his success to his wife, Kathy, whom he married -in the offseason. Married life, he said, has given him a sense of responsibility, not to mention the fact it has gotten him off the streets earlier. That Kathy had to undergo gall bladder surgery a few weeks ago has, he said, also renewed his sense of priorities. "I want," he said, "the same things I had. I have found somebody I love and care about and baseball is secondary. That's the way I was brought up and I'll never change." Life is as it was and ever more shall be, and that has led to confidence. "I want the ball In my hand," he said. "I feel so good about this year. The confidence is the biggest factor. Outwardly, I may not seem much different, but inwardly I'm just flowing with confidence." And why not? He's got a 17-12 record, he's the ace of a contending team, he's been quoted In the major sporting journals in the country and he even made an appearance on "Good Morning, America." And just when the Violas were adjusting to all of that, along comes today's game with Tom Seaver. Even junior, a veteran now, admits to being pretty excited about the matchup. "Here I am," he said, "starting out my life as far as baseball goes. To go against Seaver, well, remember the two biggest names when I was growing up were Seaver and Koosman. I told him that when I introduced myself. I said, 'You're not gonna like this, but I remember you from when I was a little He was very nice." Of course he's nice. He's Tom Seaver, a Viola family hero. "As bad as I am about all that's happened this year," said mama Viola, "his dad is just beside himself. And now Seaver. Oh my gawd, this Is going to be a Thursday." PACKING TW If ID They've got (right-hander Tom) Seaver going (next), so I'll probably make a few changes In the lineup. A lot depends on how Herble is." Some numbers: Hatcher is 3 for 16 in his last four games, Gaetti is 1 for 16 in bis last five, Chris Speier Is 2 for 10 over four and Tim Teufel 2 for 17 in five. Laudner, despite a homer and double, is 5 for 29 since his 4-for-4 game against Texas on Sept 8. Some thoughts: "Personally I'm disappointed in the way my season is going now," said Gaetti. "I got one tonight (that should have been hit hard) and fouled it back. It was after Bruno went deep." Hatcher "We can't afford to get swept by anybody right now. These guys, the way they're playing in our park, if this was their home court, they'd probably have the same record as Detroit" Smlthson: "I figured if I had a good-pitched game, we'd win. The first Inning was a big inning. (Walker) hits a good fastball down the line and there's nothing you can do about it." Hatcher had a solution: "Good 4 for 4, score four runs, hit four grand slams I think what this team really needs is a big inning. We need to score 10 or 12 runs In a game. We also need it quick." Attendance watch Yesterday 16,442 1984 attendance), Including buyout 1 .496,897 1984 attendance), without buyout 1,352,681 1983 1967 attendance) 1,483,547 After 77 gameo, the Twins are averaging 19,427 fans a game. They would draw 1 ,673,587 for the season at that rate. Without the buyout, the Twins are averaging 17,587 fans a game and would draw 1,422,927 lor the season at that rate. The Twins drew 858,939 last veer and 1 ,483,647, the previ-out season record, in just 76 dates in 1967. Royals Continued from page ID apiece. They threw the Royals' fifth combined shutout of the season, helped by five double plays. Dane Iorg's solo homer in the second inning gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead and the Royals rallied for four more In the third against Jim Slaton (7-6). A double by Willie Wilson, a walk to Sheridan and George Brett's single loaded the bases before Wilson scored on Jorge Orta's fielder's-choice grounder. Frank White followed with a sacrifice fly and Bal-boni with his 26th home run of the year. Sheridan's two-run single in the sixth off reliever Curt Kaufman made It 7-0. Sheridan singled for another run in the eighth after Onix Concepcion beat out an Infield hit and moved up on a grounder. Biancalana's home run, in the ninth inning, provided the final runs. Kansas City ab bl 5 111 0 10 0 Wilson, cf PuWv Shertdon. rf Brett. 30 Pryor, 3b One. dh Leeper. pr Ben-ouei. rf 2 Scooters, lb 1 Lvnn. ct 4 DeCinces, lb 2 Downing, 4 Re. Jacksn. dh3 Grich, 2b 3 Boone, 2 Narron. 1 Schotleid. ss 2 Thomas, ss 0 White. Zb Biancalana. 20 1112 Balboni. lb I 2 7 Wainon. lb D. lOrp. II L. Jones, cf Stauent. Roberts. Conceocn, ss Totals 10 10 1111 2 0 10 110 0 i 5 110 42 IS 10 Game-winning RBI O. torg 14). irlch, Wilson. DP Kansas City S. LOB Kansas City 9, California 5 2B Wilson HR-0 Urg 15). Balboni (22). BiaiKalene (2). SF White IP 1R BB SO Saberhaoen. .7 Beckwitn. KC 1 Quisenberrv. KC 1 Slalon, Cal (L. 7-S) 1 Kaufman, Cel 1 John. Cal 2 D.W. Smith. Cal 1 JJ4 BLOW OUT PRICES Example TRX200 Was $2098 NOW $1698 AS pricas phis Tx. DOC. Prep little Frankle was growing up in Hempstead, N.Y. "We'd go to nine Met games and one Yankee game a year," recalled papa -Frank in a telephone interview. "We'd go to that Yankee game because I didn't want my son to think I was prejudiced. But you can only brainwash a boy so much. He was a Met fan, but his favorite player was Cleon Jones. Frank didn't think about being a pitcher in those days." In those days, Frank Jr. was a first baseman and a basketball player. "You're not going to believe this," said Helen Viola, Frank mother, "but when he was 2 years old, he could hit. I remember we were over at a friend's house for a backyard barbeque. There was this little ball and he took a broomstick and hit It all the way across the yard and up to the house next door. I looked at my friend and said, 'My gawd, he's an Mama and Papa Viola can go on and on about junior's childhood athletic exploits. "Anything he tried he was good at," said mama. "You should have seen this kid with a basketball." "Until he was 15, he didn't show that much potential in baseball," said papa. "He went to this Christian day school and they played Softball there. He just wasn't accustomed to the hard ball. I thought he'd be a pro basketball player." Junior laughed when he heard the mama and papa scouting reports. "Pro basketball?" said Frank Jr. "No way. Couldn't jump at all. But that's what moms and dads are for." They are your basic, devoted parents, the parents of the Twins' Cy Young candidate. When junior began pitching at St. John's, pop, an accountant for a New York radio station, switched his work hours so he could be done in time to get to junior's afternoon games. And even now papa would bust the family budget for the chance to see junior pitch more often. "He wanted to fly to Texas last weekend," Helen Viola said of her husband. "Can you imagine that?" She laughed. "I guess you could say I'm from the old school," she said. I felt sorry for Mr. Griffith. I i understood why he was doing the things he was doing. He was trying to run a business. Old school. There's a bit of old school economics in papa, too. "I see pictures of Griffith now and he's always smiling," he said. "You know why he smiling? Because he doesn't I have to pay all those players now. I'd I smile too." But old school economics disappear when papa thinks of his kid pitching, when he thinks of the rush It was to see his kid in a big-league uniform for the first time. That was June 16, 1982. "We went to Kansas City," said papa. "Frank against Vida Blue. I just can't tell you the feelings that were going on inside of me. Here he was, my son, walking down to the bullpen with Johnny Podres (an old only at HOPKINS SPORTS CENTER EXCELSIOR AVE. W. AT SHADY OAK, 935-3363 T7TTrCS EV ill! iZ tl DUdDKfllD I S25.00 HOLDS TIL 1 1-15-84 HS30T Better Av. AB la MR RBI SB Brown .278 2SS 71 9 3 I 19 4 Brunansky 2S9 524 70 134 19 0 32 SI 3 Busn .227 27S 43 43 I 9 37 1 Caslino .444 27 5 12 1 0 0 1 0 DaviO .241 44 12 2 0 I 5 0 Engle .264 391 54 104 20 1 4 30 0 Espinoie O00 00 000000 Gaelti 2S9 S4S 47 147 24 4 41 10 Gaone .000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hatcher .304 531 55 t2 12 4 41 0 Hroek .310 519 72 145 27 1 26 91 I Jimenel .201 29S 2S 60 It 1 0 19 0 Lauoner 200 230 24 44 12 1 9 30 0 Meier .229 140 17 32 7 1 0 10 0 Puckett SOS 54 147 II 4 0 25 13 Putnam 0S4 35 I 1 1 0 0 4 0 Putnam. .179 190 12 14 7 0 3 20 3 Reed 154 19 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 Speier .212 33 3 7 0 0 0 1 0 Teutel .264 533 72 142 29 3 14 59 I WasninaW 2S0 150 17 42 9 4 2 14 I Totals .244 iISS 414 1377 233 2S M4 590 14 PrUher ERA SV IP BB SO Model Description This Fol NOW HS35 314 H.P.,20indi, 1 ttoge S359.W '346'' HS5QW i 24 iodi, 2 itogi, wheek $799.93 '734 HS50T 5H.P.,22imh,2itooo,troc $849.95 '774 1 Butcner Castillo Oavis Pilson Hodge Lvsander O'Connor Schrom Smilhson Viola Wardie Wallers Wnilenouee WiUiems 219 50 76 13 17 4 72 34 44 102 50 55 110 26 54 57 24 21 1 4 0 131 34 41 231 51 137 205 65 116 3 0 5 11 14 10 29 17 IS 71 21 21 75 I12'l 94 50 4i I21VJ 240 233'i Totals 74 75 1SS 14 IU9 13H 424 469 MMttOt STOP raj SHOP WtatAMY i 4WifaaalMeaWV rAaffl.t1ftt4MAs t.saUsWllillssJ 0k 'a'tpW4ata

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