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was nicknamed “Greek.” He held the record for putouts by a catcher because of Feller’s striking out so many batters in his prime. Greek was behind the plate when Feller struck out 17 batters in a game in 1938. Feller, Greek said, had a powerful fastball, but that his curve almost made him almost unhittable—when he had control of his pitches.
Greek had a journeyman career in which he made the roster of four different Major League teams: Cleveland, Brooklyn, Chicago (Cubs) and Philadelphia(A’s). Hehad a lifetime batting average of .177. He was most famous for a 90-game suspension for slugging an umpire while playing for the Philadelphia A’s in 1945. The umpire, Joe Rue, according to Greek, who took his story to his grave, called him an unprintable name after which Greek slugged him. Joe Rue had another version of what happened, but Greek’s story is one he stuck to all his life. On several occasions to St. Simons Island, I would meet up with Greek at his nephew’s popular restaurant, “Poor Stephens,” and talk baseball. One thing is certain, Greek George never suffered for lack of an opinion. He admitted that hitting an umpire was wrong, but justified his poke based on the words that Rue used. Greek said the umpire called him an s.o.b with a couple of demeaning adjectives attached.
What will managers do if umps become mechanized? If one should become as provoked as Greek George, then there would be nothing to slug except thin air. Technology, for all its good, is tampering with our traditions. Just because it might be good for addressing the overhead, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for the game. When I go to Truist Park again, I am going to say kind words about the men in blue and will, for sure, pull against all designated hitters in memory of Sparky Anderson.