There's a new name ringing through Dodger Stadium and echoing through Chavez Ravine.
That name is Puig, as in Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers’ hot rookie who's stealing hearts and hitting home runs.
Puig hit his first major league home run last week. In the same game, he had another home run AND a triple and five RBI. That was his second game in the majors.
He is 22 years of age.
He became the first Dodgers player to have a multi-homer game in one of his first two appearances. In his fourth game, Puig hit a grand slam. The following day, he hit another homer to become only the second player in the modern era to hit four home runs in his first five games. His 10 RBI tied the MLB record for most RBI in the first five games of a career.
Puig is from Cuba, a fertile ground for growing great baseball players.
In July 1965, Jim Murray wrote a column discussing a one-sided telephone conversation with Buzzie Bavasi.
THURSDAY JULY 1, 1965, SPORTS
Copyright 1965/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
"Hello, operator? Get me Buzzie Bavasi. What? Whom shall you say is calling? Better skip it, baby. Just tell 'im it ain't the tax collector. But don't give him any more hints.
"What? He's talking to his psychiatrist, Dr. Yes-And-No? I'll wait. (Oh, we ain't got a barrel o' money, maybe we're ragged and funny . . . tum-ta-ta-tum . . . but we're strolling along . . .')
"Hello, Buzzie? Buzzie, baby! This is Jim. Now, JUST A MINUTE, BUZZIE! I'm calling to help.
"Lissen, Buzzie. You know the stories going around is like listening to a silent movie — listening to the Dodgers bat is like watching radio. Frank Finch has a whole collection of them. The Dodgers aren't Murders Row, they're Murdered Row. Then, there's the riddle: How do you tell a Dodger from a Little Leaguer? The answer is, you can't. There is the suggestion that to speed up baseball they just have the Dodgers sign for three outs every inning and get on with it. What has 18 eyes and can't see? The Dodgers. The three most useless things in the world are a vacuum cleaner in the Arctic, a swim fin in the Sahara, and a bat held by a Dodger.
"Buzzie, stop sobbing! I know it's not funny! That's why I'm here.
"Lissen! Your club needs power. Right? O.K. I've got the answer. And believe me, I've checked this out carefully. Got a pencil? OK, now Gil Hodges at Washington owes you a favor or two. Right? Now, Buzzie, copy this name down. They've got a guy over there I swear could hit a ball farther than any guy I've ever seen. A big guy. Can't throw the ball over his lip but, what the hell, you can't have everything.
"His name's Frank Howard. Now put that down so's you'll remember it. He beat the Yanks the other day with a home run that hasn't come down yet. Buzzie, we NEED this guy! He's personally hit one-third as many home runs as your whole club. He might beat them out. He might beat Babe Ruth out.
"Now, I've been looking over your roster. You got a pitcher named Osteen who's been having his troubles. I mean, he sometimes allows as many as one run a game. Now, ask yourself how he's going to win on your club with a bad habit like that?
"Then, there's your third baseman. The good glove man Kennedy. Buzzie, your club needs a good glove like a Hottentot needs an overcoat. What I had in mind was to see if you could con this guy Howard out of Washington with Osteen and Kennedy. Now, wait a minute. Before you think there's no chance, remember a Kennedy counts for something in Washington these days. A fellow might think twice before he curves one with a Kennedy at bat. And this fellow can hit a fastball, can't he? Whaddaya mean, how would you know?
"There's another thing, Buzzie. About those fences. Don't you think you could put the right field fence closer than San Gabriel? And the center fielders shouldn't have to leave the state to catch a fly ball.
"Buzzie, just out of curiosity, what do you take a home run to be? What? Ah, ha, just as I thought! A line drive between two fielders which gets caught in a crack in the wall.
"Buzzie, when I tell you there are guys who hit home runs which go over fences on the fly, you'll think I'm kidding. Over in that other league they hit home runs where there's no play at the plate. I KNOW your team hits the fastest home runs in history. But you should have to put a tape measure on home runs, not a stop watch. I don't mind watching Willie Davis beat out a bunt. But to beat out a home run is ridiculous. Buzzie, Babe Ruth's turning over in his grave if he heard a coach saying 'Son, you'll never be a home run hitter until you learn to SLIDE!' And besides, Ron Fairly even beat out a home run the other day. Made it by an eyelash and they tell me they brought the ball back from Pomona by streetcar.
"Buzzie, any time an outfield relay starts in one county and the cutoff man is in another and you have to learn geography to report a game, you're running a track meet, not a ball game. I know why you don't paint ads on the outfield fences. Nobody can see that far. The guys in the radio booths keep lookouts. They get reports on long line drives like they were election returns from New Hampshire.
"Buzzie, now I'm just trying to be helpful! No need to take THAT attitude! Any time a team makes a home run obsolete, that's one thing. But to make a run obsolete. Well! Now, Buzzie, that name is Howard — H-O-W-A-R-D - and some nuts gave $108,000 for him when he was in college. So you KNOW you'll be getting a bargain. If you can get him for Osteen and Kennedy. They got a couple of good-looking kid pitchers there, too, you might get them to throw in for cash — Richert and Ortega. Buzzie, now, wait a minute, Buzzie, DON'T HANG UP, there's more . . . Buzzie? No operator, we weren't cut off. How much is the call?”
*Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.
Jim Murray Memorial Foundation | P.O. Box 60753 | Pasadena | CA | 91116
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