Homage to Maury Wills, Terrance Gore
This is why I love baseball:
No matter how hard the new analytics types try to invent a new sport, the ashes of the old game, the real game, spark into flames again.
On the day before Maury Wills passed, a current major-league player performed some derring-do worthy of the old master.
Terrance Jamar Gore is not dashing into the Hall of Fame or even a steady spot on a major-league roster. But when a contending team needs what sports broadcasters like to call “foot speed,” plus “smarts,” Gore is often hailed from the minor leagues to bedevil pitchers, catchers and whoever is supposed to be covering the next base.
Maury Wills did the bedeviling on a daily basis for 14 major-league seasons, winning three World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His life – the ups, the downs – was described by Rich Goldstein in the NYT on Tuesday.
Before I get to Terrance Gore, Wills’ spiritual descendant, I will share two visions of Wills:
---At the peak of his career as brilliant leadoff man for the light-hitting but championship Dodgers, Wills threw his smallish body at the next base and its surrounding dirt paths – enough to incur red abrasions, known in the trade as “strawberries,” on his hips. The off-season was not long enough to heal them, so by the following March Wills would be grinding his skin all over again. (Some old-timers wore sliding pads inside their uniforms but Wills and other players preferred uniforms tailored for their slight builds, hence perpetual strawberries.)
---Wills did not merely steal bases. He borrowed baseball wisdom from ancients like Casey Stengel, when the Old Man managed the new team in New York in 1962. I cannot pin down when and where this happened, but I heard about it since 1962:
Casey was giving a pre-game sermon to some Mets about the value of the “butcher boy” – slashing the ball downward, better than a bunt. The Mets seemed bored by the lecture but Casey noted one astute pair of eyes belonging to Maurice Morning Wills, the Dodgers’ shortstop, at the edge of the circle. The Old Professor was happy to have one student.
So that was Maury Wills. Baseball has since evolved into a perpetual home-run derby, with would-be sluggers armed by details like “launch angles” and “exit speed.”
Speaking of home runs, both New York teams had long-ball frolics Tuesday evening—Aaron Judge hitting No. 60 and Giancarlo Stanton hitting a walk-off grand-slam homer for, yes, you got it, the Bronx Bombers, and the Mets coming back from a 4-0 deficit on a 3-run blast by Pete Alonso and a grand-slam by Francisco Lindor.
Quite a night for “exit speed.”
Before that, the Mets won a game last Sunday on the legs and wits of Terrance Gore, all 5 feet, 7 inches and 160 pounds of him.
Gore is 31 and with a ball cap on his head he looks half that age. He has a .217 major-league batting average, higher than that of some lugs lunging at every pitch. He is a stolen-base specialist, used in vital circumstances in big games, and already has three World Series rings and would not mind running and sliding the Mets into this year’s Series.
The Mets picked him up from the minors in August, and he got into the tie game when Tomas Nido led off the eighth inning with a single. Everybody knew why Gore was out there. The pitcher threw several times to first base to keep him close, but Gore confidently edged back onto the dirt basepath, busting for second as soon as the pitcher threw home. The catcher’s throw flew into center field and Gore scrambled up and darted to third, and he scored the tie-breaking run on a single by Brandon Nimmo.
Home runs are fine. But even with the gigantic pitching staffs of today, the game should have room for a running specialist.
And if you are not yet charmed by the concept of the running specialist, ladies and gentlemen, the professional pride and knowledge of Mr. Terrance Jamar Gore:
Edwin W. Martin Jr
9/21/2022 03:11:31 pm
Old Bklyn Dodger fan. I saw Jackie on the bases, and while Maury Wills, RIP, stole more, nobody bothered pitchers more than Jackie.
9/21/2022 07:03:18 pm
Ed, we favored few who saw Robinson play can attest to his physical skills. Part of his talent was that he had been a great football player -- a big man who could run. Bo Jackson. I was at a reception for the JR Foundation 10-12 years ago and before the program they showed old films of Robinson playing tailback at UCLA -- faking inside, going wide. He was so elusive. I was standing with a few reporters plus Joe Morgan and Willie Randolph. At some of JR's escapes, we started roaring and giving high-fives. Plus: Robinson was a thick, strong athlete -- he could slide hard. He took out Davey Williams of the Giants -- actually hurt Williams' career -- and the next time Brooklyn met the NYG, Alvin Dark (running back at LSU) crashed into Robinson at 3B. Robinson wasn't hurt; he got up and dusted himself off. By the code, he knew it was coming.
9/21/2022 06:20:48 pm
Dear George: I love your pieces on baseball. Yesterday, in the Yankees game, in the ninth inning, I had my thoughts on the World Cup of 1982, with Brazil versus Italy. But now my team won. Terrance Gore reminds me a bit of a Brazilian soccer player, full of glee and pranks.
9/21/2022 07:08:06 pm
Dear Altenir: You know, as a Yankee fan, that I root for the Queens team. But -- big but -- I have been a Judge fan from his start, and I also like Stanton from his Marlins days...some of the shots he hit in their ballpark. As for Italy-Brazil, you know I was there (Barcelona)....my first World Cup...and I was stunned when Italy upset that great team. Socrates. Falcao.Zico. etc, Best team to qualify for World Cup and not win it.
9/21/2022 07:57:51 pm
Ed and George,
9/21/2022 09:15:00 pm
9/21/2022 10:15:14 pm
I seem to remember that Mickey Mantle could drag a bunt as well as almost hit a few out of the park out of which none's been hit.
9/21/2022 11:04:10 pm
classic example of how the game has changed.
9/23/2022 03:30:59 pm
Randolph, Bruce , Andy. Thanks for your notes. Yes, Andy, Mantle could drag a bunt like a player with no power....Andy, side note: I covered a game in Baltimore 1962 (my first trip with Yanks or Mets) and Mantle broke a foot in a chain-link fence in CF, He later said of his injuries, he was just learning to play the game after a decade, when he got hurt often.
9/23/2022 03:35:20 pm
Bruce, just noticed your mention of Big Al. Yes, I often think of his fervent Yankee posts. He was a piece of work., I also miss Hansen Alexander, longtime contributor., Both Lawyers who could point out "discrepancies." . RIP
9/22/2022 09:26:41 am
9/23/2022 03:36:33 pm
Peter: Good point, in the broad picture. But as a Noo Yawker, I add, we are, after all, the center of the universe. Cheers. GV
9/23/2022 12:48:03 am
George, great piece on Maury Wills and Terrence Gore.! Maybe someone should tell MLB’s analytics geniuses that “speed never goes in a slump”!
9/23/2022 03:40:08 pm
Jerry, good, as usual. Glad to have a ball player adding his experience.
9/23/2022 12:35:28 pm
frank lary was pitching,canazaro catching and i do not remember the third baseman .wills was on second.the next dodger bunted,as all 3 mets coverged ,wills never stoped running and scored from second followed by his third base coaach leo durocher.have a happy and healthy new year.ahron
9/23/2022 03:42:34 pm
Ahron, great to hear from you. I have checked out the Retrosheet tallies for Wills vs. NY Mets in 1964-65, and think I have a likely game....I have consulted a friend who was in the Mets bullpen that day. To be continued. Meantime, to you and yours, L'shana tova. GV
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.