"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/13/11
Devastating news came down last weekend as New Haven Register sports columnist Dave Solomon died in a one-car accident on his way home from UCONN's first football practice; he was 59. He was a friend/colleague and truly at the top of his craft. Whether we were sharing lunches at CSWA meetings, swapping stories at the Traveler's Championship, or occasionally catching up with each other at Yale football games, Dave was always willing to discuss the latest sports news in his usual, passionate manner. He was kind enough to appear on my cable TV show in the past where he exhibited the frankness that truly became his trademark. I missed seeing him at the golf tournament this summer--due to some surgery I had undergone that week--but last spoke with him in the Yale press box last fall. Yep--he was the same, passionate Dave on that cool, autumn afternoon. And he'd always kindly end our conversations with the same line: "Love reading your stuff, Bob--see you soon." The truth is that I learned so much from HIM over the years, folks--and Dave Solomon's memory will live on due to the countless, archived stories and words that he leaves to all of us who were privileged to enjoy his journalistic talents. You'll be missed, Mr. Solomon..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last member of the Cincinnati Reds to lead the National League in doubles? Answer to follow..........Courtesy of my good friend Dick Graham of West Haven: "Now that the Atlanta Braves have acquired speedster Michael Bourn from Houston, can we say that the team's pennant chases have been 'Bourn-again?' " (sorry, folks)..........This week in sports history, August 16, 1920: Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman becomes the first major league player to die as a result of injuries sustained during a game after being hit in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays of the Yankees. The 29-year-old Chapman was beaned during the fifth inning while Cleveland was leading the game 3-0; the ball rolled back to the mound where Mays retrieved it and threw to first--thinking it had hit Chapman's bat. After being rushed to the hospital, two operations were performed in order to address the player's massive head trauma. Sadly, Chapman passed away the following day..........Did you know that the 1980 Chicago Cubs--who finished 64-98 under managers Preston Gomez and Joey Amalfitano--were led in RBI's by Jerry Martin with a paltry total of just 73? Bill Buckner finished second on the team with 68 that year. However, an interesting fact is that Buckner led the NL in batting that season (.324) while hitting almost 100 points HIGHER than Martin (.227)..........Compliments of my "View From The Lone Red Seat" co-host Chris Mascaro: "Baseball is a funny game. Last Friday, Jon Lester--8-1 lifetime against the Yankees--faces off against an older, overweight, out-of-shape Bartolo Colon and was out-pitched. The following day, John Lackey, who can barely get out of his own way, faces CC Sabathia--who's a leading candidate for the Cy Young Award. CC gets rocked--giving up seven earned runs in 6 innings--the same number of total ERs he had given up in his last 60+ innings. CC is now 0-4 versus the Red Sox this season with a 7.20 ERA and 16-2 versus everyone else. Yes--it's a VERY funny game.".........Answer to trivia question: DAVE PARKER--who hit 42 "two-baggers" to lead the NL in 1985..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league infielder Greg Jelks--who blows out 50 candles on August 16th. Is the name as unfamiliar to you as it is to ME? That may be because Jelks spent just ONE season in the majors--1987 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Coming to bat 11 times that year, Jelks could muster just ONE hit--resulting in a lifetime batting average of .091. But the optimist would be quick to point out that Jelks' lone hit WAS a double--and that he also walked three times during his short major league stint. Jelks later played professionally in Italy and Australia--and was a member of the Australian national team from 1997-2000. Best wishes, Greg..........I was also very saddened to hear of the death of former NFL player-turned-actor Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith--who passed away recently in Los Angeles at the age of 66. Many people remember "Bubba" mainly due to his portrayal of Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movie series. However, schooled football aficionados will never forget what a fine defensive end he was during his career with the Colts, Raiders, and Oilers--one whose speed and quickness often resulted in "Bubba" being constantly double-teamed. Smith--a Michigan State product--was the #1 overall pick by Baltimore in the 1967 draft; he was a two-time All-American for the Spartans who'd go on to play nine NFL seasons (1967-1976). Yeah, Mr. Smith's Miller Lite commercials were great and he played some funny parts in various acting gigs following his playing days. But I'm one who will choose to remember the feared, talented defensive end who always put immense fear into opposing quarterbacks. Fans used to chant, "Kill, Bubba, Kill" when the 6-foot-7 inch Smith played at MSU; to me, he always seemed like a "gentle giant" when he was away from the gridiron. Thanks for the memories, "Bubba"--and may you rest in peace.