Posts Tagged ‘2013 MLBPAA Dinner’

The Great Rollie Finger is Also a Great Guy

April 22, 2013
Rollie Fingers, Bill McCurdy, and Larry Miggins dining at the Masraff's MLBPAA event in Houston on April 21, 2013. - Photo by Jim Foor

Rollie Fingers, Bill McCurdy, and Larry Miggins dining at the Masraff’s MLBPAA event in Houston on April 21, 2013.
– Photo by Jim Foor

Last night I was honored to have been invited to the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Dinner at the wonderful Masraff Restaurant at 1753 Post Oak near the Galleria by my old Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal friend, Larry Miggins. As a bonus, and as a tribute to the outgoing nature of the sociable Mr. Miggins, the next thing I knew we were having dinner with the only Hall of Famer in the house, the great reliever, Rollie Fingers. If Brooks Robinson, or any of the other HOF inductees, was present, we never laid sight upon him – or them.

Go figure.

At age 66, Rollie Fingers now lives in one of those homes that borders a Las Vegas golf course. He is in town to play in the big league group’s golf tournament that raises money and awareness to the need for early detection and treatment of prostate cancer through cause championed by the Masraff family that hosts the dinner activity.

A number of familiar Houston baseball figures and several out-of-towners were in attendance: I personally spoke with Bob and Ken Aspromonte, Carl Warwick, J.R. Richard, Phil Garner, and Larry Dierker, and spotted, but never caught up with Bob Watson. Also back in Houston from their extended time in Asia were Jim and Sandy Foor. Jim is a former MLB pitcher with the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates, and, we’re also proud to say, a former player for the Houston Babies vintage baseball team. As GM of the Babies, and now that I know he is back, we have invited Jim Foor to rejoin our Babies club, starting with our next big game day, May 18th in Galveston. Hope he takes us up on it. We miss his ability, we miss his smiling sense of humor and presence on the field, and we definitely miss Sandy, the best cheerleader we ever had.

As for Mr. Fingers, We can only wish the Babies could recruit him too. His numbers speak for themselves: 17 years in the big leagues (1968-85); 114 wins, mostly in relief; a career ERA of 2.90; 1,299 K’s in 1701.1 IP; and 341 saves. He took the Cy Young Award in 1981; he registered numerous seasonal awards as a reliever over the years; and he played on seven All Star teams. Oh yeah, Rollie Fingers was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is all of that and a man who takes on company as a very nice guy to break bread with for one unlikely paths crossing night on the road of life too. Thanks for being the kind and friendly person you are off the field, Mr. Fingers. I’m sure the experience wasn’t the same for all those batters that had to face you on the mound in the 9th inning of so many critical games during your playing career.

Rollie hasn’t yet seen “42”, the new movie about Jackie Robinson, but he is 100% behind the need to keep people’s awareness clear on the contributions and trials of the great Dodger color line breaker. Fingers recalled that even in 1967, when he and fellow future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson both were playing for Birmingham on assignment by the MLB Athletics, that there were still numerous restaurants in the South that refused service to blacks – and that Jackson would be turned away.

That old world is never that long ago or faraway. Sometimes, with some people, you simply have to listen to them talk long enough to realize that it’s still sadly here. “42” is a well-done blow against ignorance and the hatred it spawns.

Rack up another golden memory in the getting-longer meandering life of the Pecan Park Eagle. We will keep this one forever.