We all hear people say “you see something new at the ballpark every day”.
Continental League fans certainly can say they saw something rare in Corpus Christi, TX Monday night when 4-foot-6 midget wrestler Chris Dube took a turn at bat for the Beach Dawgs. We will tell you more in a few paragraphs.
I saw a play while watching the American Association game between newcomer Wichita, KS and the home-standing Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs that happened so quickly at the start of the Memorial Day weekend it took a moment before it hit home that I could not ever remember witnessing a similar play in my many years of baseball, either in person or on television.
Wingnuts first baseman Steve Pearson ranged to his right for a nice stop on a hard hit bouncer. The unusual part was that Gates was slightly ahead of the runner, probably 40 feet toward second base. He was able to turn and make a quick tag before throwing to first base where Wichita barely missed out on a double play.
I don’t know if I was the only one to think how rare the play was, but there you have it.
That game, won by Wichita 6-3, wouldn’t normally be considered an artistic success because of seven errors and a few other gaffes, but it was played under wicked wind conditions. Too bad the errors have to go on the player records because of the chilly and strange late May night.
And I definitely tip my fedora to the decent sized crowd that turned out and stayed around with the wind blowing in toward home plate.
I would have liked to see Lincoln first baseman Dustin Yount, one of the American Association’s top early-season run producers, but he had taken a nasty bounce in the face from a stray hit during BP one night earlier.
Robin Yount’s son was replaced on this night by burly Mario Delgado, who had joined Tim Johnson’s team earlier in the week. Delgado had been released by the Northern League’s Kansas City (KS) T-Bones, for whom he had driven in 81 runs in 94 games with a .341 average and 15 homers in 2007. Rumor had it the move came about because of salary cap issues. Delgado also has played Indy baseball with Schaumburg, IL of the Northern League.
The combo of Yount and Delgado will add considerable wallop to Lincoln’s offense, as the Saltdogs build for yet another strong season.
Veteran Felix Jose had been signed by Lincoln to help the offense, but the Saltdogs did not see enough in nine starts (1-6-.282) so the 43-year-old was released, then re-signed as a coach. It turns out the coaching role was short-lived. We learned Wednesday the Golden League's Calgary Vipers have signed Jose so he can keep adding to his hit total which already is above 2,100, including 747 in the major leagues, in a pro career that started in 1984. Jose's other Independent stops have been in Nashua, NH when the Pride were in the Atlantic League, and at Lancaster, PA of the same league for a time last season.
LITTLE KATO NOT AS SUCCESSFUL AS EDDIE GAEDEL
When Bill Veeck signed Eddie Gaedel in a highly-publicized stunt between games of a doubleheader for his St. Louis Browns in 1951, the 3-foot-7 pinch-hitter walked in his only appearance.
Chris Dube, knowning in wrestling circles as Little Kato, did not do as well in his brief Continental League "career". He led off the bottom of the first inning Monday against Bay Area Toros righthander Brandon Sisk. The 114-pound Dube got the count to 1-2 before swinging and missing strike three.
"My goal was to get on base and score a run, and I was hoping the next batter would hit a homer so I wouldn't have to run that hard around the bases," Little Kato told the CBL's Director of Baseball Operations, Bob Ibach.
"It was a gas having Kato play in our league," Ibach and Commissioner/Owner Ron Baron said in a joint statement, and as a result the Beach Dawgs are acknowledging the country's high fuel prices by announcing three full tanks of gas will be given away at every Wednesday home game this season. Fittingly, the nights will be called "It's A Gas" Wednesday.
As a postscript to his baseball appearance, Kato wrestled his brother Bobby in a post-game Midget Wrestling match. Bobby pinned Kato. I guess that means Kato was 0-for-2 for the night.