Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The killer pick-off move(s)

Baseball has always been a big part of my life. I’ve played it, watched it, covered it as a sports writer and now watch it as a grandfather. Yep, my grand sons both play and I go watch them as much as possible.

Matter of fact, I can’t remember when I started watching and/or playing the game. I started thinking the other day and my thoughts drifted back to my playing days.

I can remember many of my teammates.

Dale Mead. He has tragically passed on, but he and I connected because he pitched and I played third base. What is so special about that?

Dale was a right-handed, side-armed, almost under-handed pitcher and he had a rare, suprising (to runners who reached third) pick-off move to third. So, we naturally caught plenty of runners standing flat-footed as they inched off base.

Not many coaches scouted in those days, but after a while word began to spread about Dale’s killer pick-off move to third.

Danny Blair played catcher, Tommy Haynes second, Ed Stinson first and John Ray shortstop. In the outfield Gary Hokit was in center, “Red” Miller in left and … well, I can’t remember who was in right. In American Legion ball, Corky Hokit, even though he was from Talihina, was the other starting pitcher.

In high school ball, Jim Tiffee played short, Jim Allinder first, Don Lewis center field, and Stan Wedge left. Dale played right. Larry Roop was a pitcher.

Dale and/or Corky relieved each other. Relief pitchers weren’t so specialized in those days.

Corky, Don and Larry have also passed on.

One game I remember in high school stands out. We played at Cameron on a Saturday morning, the night after our senior prom. Somehow, I reached first. I don’t remember how exactly.

The pitcher attempted a pick-off to first and the ball hit me right in the face. Probably, because I was in a daze (from the prom), I wasn’t paying at lot of attention. Needless to say, that was another killer pick-off move I can’t seem to forget.


At June 19, 2008 at 9:03 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

I faced only one submariner in my life. I was playing on the Bates, Arkansas pickup team and the opposing pitcher was a right-handed fellow who had been in the professional baseball system (about AAA if my old memory is correct). The first pitch he threw seemed like it was coming from third base and heading straight for my head so I hit the dirt. It was terribly embarassing to hear the umpire call out, "Strike!" He did hit me with the next pitch. Guess he thought he had my number for all time.

At June 19, 2008 at 11:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't, or didn't, think of the word submariner. Thanks. That best describes Dale.

At June 20, 2008 at 11:06 AM , Anonymous Jim Patterson said...

John, the thing that I personally remember most about Heavener baseball is the year that there were so many players out for the Legion team that we had to form a second team. I was on that second team and for some strange reason was playing center field in a game. I didn't normally play center because I was so slow, but somehow I was out there that day. Don't remember who we were playing or who else was on the team. I think John Marvin Wright was on the team and I thought you were, too, John, but you might have been on the main Legion team. Anyway, there was a runner on first with one out and a pop fly was hit to shallow center. The runner on first had to go halfway because he didn't know if I was going to catch it or not. Somehow I made a running catch and doubled the runner off first. The highlight of my baseball career!


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