Monday, August 5, 2013

The Bald Eagle Eyes His First Victim

With summer Softball season in full swing, I thought this would be a good time to relate a Bob Monroe story that took place exactly 28 years ago today. You met Bob a little while ago with the "Ballad of the Bald Eagle".

In there I had mentioned that Bob had provided many memorable moments. This may not have been the first such moment, but it was close.

Bob joined the league in 1986. That year a couple of us (David [Copperfields], myself [Dem Rebels] and Dave [Ruffins]) belonged to a recreational softball team. So one hot, sunny day we had a game and if I remember this right, we were going to be a couple of players short. So we start calling everyone we knew to see if they could help out. One of those calls went to Bob who said, even at his advanced age, he would be willing to play.

I have no recollection about the game other than Bob played catcher and watching him kneel down on his aged knees and then stand up to throw the pitch back was painful and amusing at the same time.

When the game was over we were walking off the field. Did I mention it was hot and sunny? We were all pretty worn out. In my mind’s eye, David, Bob and I are walking across the dirt infield and Bob turns to me and says “Hey Rich. How would you like to trade me Dale Murphy for Lenny Dykstra?” David kind of laughed and kept walking, thinking who in the hell would agree to that trade? Murphy had just come off his fourth straight 30+ homerun, 100+ RBI season and Dykstra was a second year spray hitter who could run and hadn’t discovered steroids yet. No one agrees to that trade.

I would like to tell you that when he proposed that deal and we stood near the pitcher’s mound staring each other down that I realized my team had Von Hayes, Jeff Leonard, Tim Wallach, Andres Galarraga, Mike Marshall and Carmelo Martinez for power. I would like to tell you that I realized that Murphy’s salary was .44 and Dykstra’s was .10. I would like to tell you that I was concerned that Steve Sax, Mariano Duncan, Dan Gladden and Von Hayes wouldn’t be enough to keep me competitive in steals (remember, this was 1986 when steals were still a MAJOR part of the game). I would like to tell you all of that. But I can’t.

It was a blazing sun (think hot light bulb in an interrogation room). Bob was staring at me (think the snake in The Jungle Book, staring at poor, innocent Mowgli, hypnotizing him with those beady little eyes). I didn’t know Bob that well since it was his first year, but he was David’s boss and he was old(er) and I was raised not to challenge old people. So while my roster said “yes, this may make sense”, my mind said“No. Murphy for Dykstra? You’re an idiot if you say yes.” And so I said “Yes.”

David heard this from a few feet away and said “What? Did you guys just complete a trade? Did I hear right that it was Murphy for Dykstra?”

Bob just gave his little laugh, “Heh, heh, heh. Yeah, that’s the deal.”

I wanted to say “No” the minute I said “Yes”. But a deal’s a deal and Murphy left Dem Rebels and Dykstra entered the clubhouse.

The Bald Eagles finished 2ndthat year and Dem Rebels finished 4th. The stat line for Murphy and Dykstra played out this way:

Player (salary) Batting Average Home Runs RBI Stolen Bases

Murphy (.44) .265 29 87 7

Dykstra (.10) .295 8 45 31

Neither of us kept either player for 1987.

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