"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 5/28/11
I was saddened when I heard about the passing of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew--who died recently of esophageal cancer at the age of 74. Most important? He was a better person off the field than he was a player ON the field. Column reader Dan Santoro, a former Valley resident, recently weighed in on Killebrew--who was his favorite player growing up. "I was a 4th-grader browsing at the Lincoln School library in Derby--in 1968. Stuck between the Hardy Boys books and Nancy Drew Mysteries on the shelves was The Harmon Killebrew Story; it was my first baseball book. I went home and read it TWICE--and then Killebrew became my favorite player. I remember being so excited at the time while reading it--because I finally KNEW something about a big-league ball player. I'll never forget him."..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1993 Cleveland Indians--who finished 76-86 under manager Mike Hargrove--were led in victories by a pitcher with a modest total of just 10. Can you name this former starter who later found success as a reliever? Answer to follow..........I've read that some people have been critical of lovely actress Jennifer Aniston's new fragrance. I'll STILL go out on a limb and say that it smells MUCH better than the Dolphins locker room following a game played on a warm September Sunday down in Miami..........This week in sports history, May 31, 1986: In the closest three-car finish in the history of the Indy 500, Bobby Rahal holds off Kevin Cogan and Rick Mears to claim victory. Rahal slipped past Cogan with two laps remaining after a green flag was restored and would end up winning the race by 1.4 seconds. Rahal's average of 170.22 mph was a new race record--ironically beating third-place finisher Mears' old record of 163.712 set back in 1984..........Did you know that the 2000 Houston Astros had three players who drove in more than 113 runs apiece--but the team finished FOURTH that year in the NL Central? Pitching seemed to be the Astros main problem as Scott Elarton was the only starter who finished with a record over .500. The team's cumulative ERA that season? A robust 5.42--dead last in the National League..........ITEM: Former New Mexico guard Dairese Gary is arrested in Albuquerque on suspicion of driving drunk after he allegedly smashed into mailboxes at an apartment complex. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that basketball great Karl Malone DID NOT get his nickname "The Mailman" due to being involved in a similar predicament..........Answer to trivia question: JOSE MESA--who led the team in wins that season (10) and later saved 321 games over a 19-year career..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league catcher Larry Owen--who blows out 56 candles on May 31st. Drafted by the Braves in the 17th round of the 1977 amateur draft, Owen went on to play parts of six seasons with the Braves and Royals between 1981 and 1988--appearing in 171 games. Perhaps the reason why the name 'Larry Owen' may escape you is this: In 352 career at-bats, Owen could muster only 68 hits--resulting in a lifetime batting average of just .193. Yes, he was another one of those players who fell just short of the famed "Mendoza Line." An optimist would point out that Owen DID hit eight home runs during his playing days--and was intentionally-walked three times. Here's hoping that you have many more birthdays to celebrate, Larry--best wishes..........Finally, sincere condolences go out to my "Monday Night Sports Talk" co-host Tony DeAngelo; his wife of 20 years, Jeanne, passed away last week from an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 51. Jeanne, Tony, and I spent many good times together over the past decade or so; I'll surely miss her radiant smile and unassuming nature. I'll always remember Jeanne as being so loyal to her husband, and Tony would be the first to tell anyone that he was the luckiest man in the world to be able to call Jeanne his "better half." She was a soft-spoken, highly-intelligent woman--having been educated at Marymount College. I wouldn't call Jeanne a "huge" sports fan, but this conscientious woman always kept up on the latest sports news in order to be an active participant when our dinner conversations would ultimately turn to athletics. You see, it was all about OTHERS to Jeanne DeAngelo. Each time I was in her presence, I could never get my first 'hello' out before she'd chime in with, "Hi, Bob--how's the family?" Without doubt, she was one of the most kind, selfless individuals I've ever had the pleasure of being around. The way she lived her life should be a lesson to all of us: it's not the AMOUNT of time you have on this earth but the IMPACT you have on it while you're here. Yeah, I surely learned a lot from this remarkable lady. To use a baseball term, a team of "angels"--in some better place--just bolstered their line-up BIG TIME with the addition of Jeanne DeAngelo. Also, those lucky individuals like my late Mom just acquired one TERRIFIC teammate. Rest in peace, Jeanne; you'll surely be missed but never forgotten.