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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Notes on Rick Camp



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Jason, I watched that game with my two brothers and had no problem staying up the whole time. Of course, back then I was a proofreader at a law firm, working the midnight-to-6 shift.

* According to my lovingly preserved 1984 copy of The Scouting Report (rather patronizingly discussed here), “Rick Camp is absolutely, unquestionably one of the worst hitters you will ever see in a major league game. Fortunately, as a reliever, he rarely comes up to bat.” Indeed, over his first six major-league seasons, 1976 to 1982, he was a combined 2 for 78 (both doubles, oddly enough), with 44 strikeouts. In 1983 his bat caught fire and he went 3 for 39, doubling again and even driving in two runs. And after his home run in 1985, his OPS for the season was a whopping .821. In fact, if you’ll pardon my being gauche enough to quote such a retro statistic as batting average, Camp’s BA increased over the previous season in each of his last four years. If he had stuck around, who knows? He could have become another Brooks Kieschnick . . .

* When Camp came up in the bottom of the 19th, Gary Carter stood up and trudged out to the mound, and the Mets’ announcer said, “I don’t believe this — it’s the bottom of the 19th and they’re changing signs because there’s a runner on second base.” Carter went 5 for 9, by the way, despite spending six hours squatting behind home plate. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame.

* Camp was as incredulous as anyone else when the ball went out, but as he rounded the bases he pulled himself together, and by the time he reached the dugout he was like, “Yeah, I do this all the time.” But everyone else on the Braves was cracking up. Dale Murphy, in particular, could barely contain himself.

* Back in the long-lost days when there used to be two leagues (and when, if you joined one league, you stayed there, damn it!), the AL and NL had different policies on late-night extra-inning games. The AL had a curfew of 1:00 AM; you couldn’t start any inning (i.e. the top of any inning) after that time. If 1:00 came and went and it was still tied, they suspended the game and picked up where it had left off the next time the teams played. The NL, by contrast, had a Rose Hartwick Thorpe policy, which is why the Mets and Braves were still playing baseball at a time when only cops and milkmen and legal proofreaders should be awake.

* Believe it or not, this was only the second-most memorable sporting event with a 16–13 score that I saw during Reagan’s second term. The most memorable was the 16–13 victory over Princeton in 1988 that broke Columbia football’s 44-game losing streak (and 47-game winless streak).



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