CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ye olde notebook: When Stan "The Man" Musial died earlier this week, it brought back a delightful memory, courtesy of Cross Lanes resident Gary Kolb.
Musial, of course, was one of baseball's greatest hitters. He was mentioned in the same breath as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. He won seven batting titles and pounded out 3,630 hits.And the man to pinch run for Musial in the legend's last at-bat was none other than Kolb.If you're new to the area or state, Kolb was the last to wear No. 20 for the St. Louis Cardinals before Lou Brock. He joined the Cardinals in 1960 and played there in 1962-63 before being traded to the Milwaukee Braves and then the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.
But it's that '63 season and a moment within that will keep Kolb ingrained in baseball history.On the last day of that season, Musial singled to the right of a young Cincinnati Reds second baseman by the name of Pete Rose. In his second at-bat, Musial hit one to the right of Rose - who would break "The Man's" National League hit record 18 years later.On that second hit, Musial drove in Curt Flood, who had previously doubled. Then St. Louis manager Johnny Keane sent in Kolb to pinch run for Musial and allow for the legend's farewell ovation.
At first, there were boos as Kolb ran to first. Then, when the crowd caught onto the significance of the moment, it cheered. The cheer turned into a thunderous ovation.Musial, according to Kolb, waited for his replacement, then looked at the Cross Lanes resident and smiled."They love ya, kid," Musial said.Musial was known not only for his hitting, but his wit. After that last game, it was repeatedly pointed out to him at a postgame party he recorded two hits in his first game and, 22 years later, his last game.
"No improvement," Musial said.While on the subject of baseball (and in these parts, why the heck not center on baseball?), the Cincinnati Reds caravan is hitting the Town Center at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Usually that would be just a nice note with mascot Rosie Red and infielder Todd Frazier visiting. But astute Cincy fans might want to go and check out the future in Billy Hamilton, who will also be in town.The Reds apparently are grooming the 2012 minor league player of the year for a 2014 outfield job. His strength is his speed. In 336 minor league games, Hamil-ton has 306 steals in 372 attempts. On the scouts' speed scale of 20 to 80, Hamilton's grade is an 80.I tweeted the other day that in one game we might have seen the old Randy Moss and the new Randy Moss. Of course, I was referring to Atlanta's Quintorris Lopez "Julio" Jones and, well, San Francisco's Moss.
Atlanta, you might remember, surrendered five draft picks to Cleveland in 2011 in order to draft Jones sixth overall. And it seems the Falcons are still the winners there.
But Jones has a long way to go to match the career of Moss, a Kanawha Valley legend, sure-fire Hall of Fame player - and 2013 Super Bowl participant.Marshall University fans, by the way, have much for which to cheer in this Super Bowl. Besides Moss (who, you might know, really graduated from Rand University), Herd fans can cheer on former MU players C.J. Spillman, a safety for San Francisco, and Albert McClellan, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. Also, safety Omar Brown is on the current Baltimore roster.In case no one has mentioned it, Jim Justice has landed a somewhat popular athlete to speak at the Big Atlantic Classic basketball tournament banquet in Beckley this coming Sunday.
His name is Robert Griffin III.And finally . . .
Charleston Catholic athletic director Bill Gillispie is using social media in an innovative way: to select teams for the 2013-14 Capital City Showcase basketball event.Gillispie signed on to the WVPreps.net message board recently and asked fans to propose games - boys or girls - they'd like to see in next season's event.Neat idea.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.