Bronx Banter Book Excerpt
Memory Lane: A Truly Blown Save
By Charley Rosen
Here’s the testimony of a onetime Yankee starting pitcher who wishes to remain anonymous:
“I’d pitched on Friday night and I’d partied with all my heart after my complete-game win. I was still hungover and feeling pretty blotto by the time I reported to the Stadium for Saturday’s afternoon game. So I hid from the skipper in the trainer’s room as long as I could, gulping down as many cups of black coffee as my already queasy stomach could take. Still, my eyes were bloodshot, my skin had a yellowish tinge, I felt like someone had driven a spike into my forehead, and it seemed that I was perpetually in danger of tossing my cookies. If the skipper saw me in this condition, his hard stare would be enough for me to vomit on his shoes. So, after cringing in the trainer’s room for about five innings, and squatting on the porcelain throne for two more, I decided to hide out in the bullpen.
“Now one of the team’s veteran relievers had a hard-on for the skipper, but only because he thought the skipper had a hard-on for him. It seems that the pitcher, let’s call him Joe, had one or two top-notch years coming out of the Yankees bullpen and racking up a modest but impressive amount of saves. But as Joe’s slider began to lose its bite, he was only being used in mop-up situations.
“Joe would sit in the bullpen and bitch about how he was being denied the chance to make the money he deserved. ‘Wins and saves,’ he’d say. ‘That’s what pays the big bucks. And here I am wasting the best years of my career only working in blowouts.’
“Anyway, on this particular afternoon, our best reliever had a sore arm, and two other guys had pitched long innings on Thursday night. The only other available relievers were Joe and some raw rookie who couldn’t be trusted to wipe his ass after he took a crap. Meanwhile, our starter was in trouble every inning. Walking guys, hitting two or three, giving up line-drive hits, but barely managing to survive because the other guys made some stupid baserunning mistakes. Plus he was the beneficiary of two outstanding fielding plays that resulted in bang-bang double plays. And our lineup was smashing the shit out of the ball, so we were up by a score of ten to five. It should also be noted that if a reliever pitched three innings to close out a winning game, he’d get a save no matter what the final score was.
“Anyway, I was ambling through the tunnels on my way to the bullpen, praying that none of my teammates would hit a homer while I was en route. This was because the fans overhead would then start stomping their feet and screaming at the top of their lungs, and my head would surely explode. Fortunately, we had a very quiet
bottom of the seventh.
“I was rounding the last turn and about fifty yards from the bullpen when I heard some big-time gasping and groaning coming from a nook where some maintenance equipment was stored. “Turned out that Joe was facing me in a kind of half-crouch with his uniform pants down around his ankles. And squatting in front of him was a redheaded groupie that at one time or another had serviced most of the guys on the team up in the Concourse Plaza, a hotel a few blocks away from the Stadium where all of the single guys stayed during the season. She was always hanging around the hotel bar just waiting for the chance to be summoned. We called her ‘Room Ser vice Red.’ But giving a blow job in the ballpark was something else again.
“Joe smiled when he saw me, and motioned for me to join in the fun. No, thanks.
“When I finally got to the bullpen, the phone from the dugout was ringing. The starting pitcher had already thrown about 120 pitches and was complaining about stiffness in his elbow. Skip wanted Joe to warm up in a hurry and take over in the top of the eighth inning. A save situation! But Joe was nowhere around. Not in the bathroom. Not in the private alcove in the corridor just outside the bullpen where we all snuck out for a smoke. Of course, there was no way I was going to rat on Joe. So the rookie was forced into the game and actually did a good job.
“When the skipper found out why Joe was really AWOL, he was pissed and fined him a hundred bucks, which was big money back in the day. Of course, Joe was then pissed at me for being a snitch and wouldn’t talk to me until it was discovered that a member of the grounds crew had come upon him and Red while looking for some tools to repair a broken rake. And he was the one who told the skipper.
“To make matters worse, the rookie had pitched so well that not only did Joe miss the chance to get an easy save, but he was cut the following week.
“I’ve heard of guys blowing saves, but that was the first time I ever saw a blow job blowing a save.”