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A fastball can burn into your memory too

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There are certain news flashes that fly by like a robin in a field, unnoticed and unremarked upon. But there our others that hit like a sparrow in a mall. They make you stop and take notice. One of the latter occurred yesterday. Read on.

••••••••••

• Looking back on it, probably the most fun five years of my life occurred between 1975 and 1980. (The most fun, not necessarily the best.) Call them the college years. Living on the beach. Taking classes I enjoyed. Practicing – and rarely playing – baseball. Meeting, wooing and finally marrying the person I have spent my life with. Halcyon days for certain. But not all perfect. Nope. During that time frame, the Dodgers, my team, the team I worshiped as a youth, lost in the World Series twice. Both times to the Yankees and that – what's the right word here? – jerk, Reggie Jackson. (I wrote another adjective but decided it was too truthful for a family friendly column.) But there was one moment in 1978 that almost made it alright. It came late in game two of the series, and it included Jackson, the one-time A's star who had taken George Steinbrenner's money and helped rebuild the Yankees to glory. On the mound for the Dodgers was Bob Welch, who was just a few days younger than me. I was fresh out of college, trying to figure out what to do with my life and here's Welch, pitching in the cauldron that is the World Series. He was doing what I always wanted to do but never had the ability to experience. In a sense he was my surrogate. And when he fired what seems to be a 128-mile-per-hour fastball past Jackson, who almost screwed himself into the dirt trying to catch up, I exploded. Damn Yankees indeed. Welch became my new hero. Of course, Jackson went on to lead the Yankees to another series title with a well-placed hip-check on a throw, the Dodgers had to wait a few years for their revenge and Welch, who helped Los Angeles win that 1981 World Series, finally left, pitching the A's to the Series as well and winning 27 games in 1990. Welch became a pitching coach when his career ended, but that's not what one would call a high-profile position. When he disappeared from view, I didn't even notice. Yesterday the news broke that Welch, 57, had died of a heart attack. I hadn't really thought of Welch much in the past 20 years or so, but yesterday I did. And I thought of that one pitch. Thanks for the memory Bob. It won't ever be forgotten.

• Speaking of memories, it's time for me to start putting your Father's Day ones together. Today's the final day I'll check the email machine for your thoughts. Well, maybe tomorrow morning as well. But that's it. Still we want you memories. Of times good – and bad – you spent with your father playing catch, watching golf, playing Hoopfest. Whatever. The time he yelled at an umpire or told you he was proud of you or embarrassed the heck out of your brother. We'll put them together and run them in their entirety here on SportsLink. Some might even be featured in the Review. Don't worry about polish, just share what's in your heart. Send them to me at vincegrippi55@yahoo.com. I'll take care of the rest. Make sure to include your name, as the newspaper needs it for confirmation purposes.

•••

• WSU: ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog ranks the upcoming non-conference football games and the Cougars matchup with Rutgers makes the list. ... I passed on this yesterday and that was a mistake. I should have mentioned the end of USC's NCAA sanctions. ... Bud Withers has a column on the end of the Rick Sloan era in Pullman.

• Gonzaga: The Zags' Haiden Palmer was named the WCC's female scholar-athlete of the year. ... BYU has released its non-conference schedule.

• EWU: It's not often the Eagles send three athletes to the NCAA track and field championships in one year. OK, it's never happened before. Jim Allen has the story.

• Shock: You know Andy Olson means business when he takes the players' practice music away. Jim Meehan look back at another defeat in his weekly Shock notebook.

• Indians: It must be summer. Finally. The Spokane Indians are beginning to prepare for the Northwest League season. Chris Derrick has a story on their first day (pictured).

• Preps: Greg Lee was at the inaugural Spokane Youth Sports Awards last night and has this story.

• Seahawks: Richard Sherman can't stay away from the spotlight these days. He's bought a big house in Seattle and he's asking the Madden folks to include the entire Legion of Boom on the game's cover. ... The OTAs yesterday were closed to the media. ... Running back by committee? Don't count on it. ... Derrick Coleman did a really nice thing on a flight the other day.

• Mariners: So much for the winning streak. The Yankees – damn Yankees if you ask me – come to town, Derek Jeter is honored – his first hit came in the Kingdome if you didn't know, when he still had hair – and the Yankees pin a late 3-2 loss on the M's. The loss was Seattle's first in six games. ... The M's spent a bunch of money to sign one of their draftees.

• Sounders: With the World Cup beginning, the Sounders are on a bit of break. But they have ensured their spot in the Seattle consciousness already.

•••

• Sorry this is a bit late but I wrote a lot more about Bob Welch's passing and decided not to use it. It was bit too morbid for a Wednesday morning – or for any morning for that matter. I kept it though so I can read it again later and remind myself not to be such a dumb ass. So it has a purpose. Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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