Not even the Rally Monkey can rally to save its creator’s Angels 2002 World Series ring

i-a30445a56c90b3b189e2b2854b48cd30-Angels2002_display_image.jpg

Robert Castillo, the Angels production manager and creator of the Rally Monkey, was let go from the team in 2007. He hasn’t had any work since.

As a result, he’s selling his 2002 World Series ring through a ring dealer (linked here). The asking price is $19,995.

Castillo told CNBC that the ring is the “only item I own of value,” and he’s on “the brink of total financial ruin.”

The ring is made of 10-Karat gold with diamonds and rubies and comes in its original wood presentation box. The ring weighs 46 grams and is a size 12.

More on Castillo’s story (linked here).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

What’s Magic next act?

It’s out of the question …

i-c836c84cd0007318f7f6da0c9600366e-magicjohnson_narrowweb__300x540,0.jpg

Magic Johnson means business, with a Midas touch that appears to be hands free of any prestidigitation.

But then — poof — things start to disappear from his portfolio. And we shouldn’t be alarmed?

Is he cash-poor? Does he have a time-sensative itch to scratch? Are his meds being monitored?

Knowing that Magic always provides great theatre — with ownership of local movie houses to profit from it — why would he in turn be giving us the business when were inquiring about what his next business venture could be?

You don’t just divest yourself from two of the most stimulating, recession-proof operations — a lump of the Lakers, and a stable of Starbucks franchises — because $100 mil is great walkin-around money.

So, what’s up his sleeve?

He’s going to be the new point-man in the NFL coming to L.A.? Why not. It’s good long-term local business scheme.

He going to play a little defense and steal the Dodgers from the McCourts? Why not. It’s a business long-shot worth stepping behind the 3-point line and waiting for the pass.

He’s going to fight through the smokescreen and be part of the group buying his hometown Detroit Pistons? Why not. It’d be a good family business idea.

Then there’s Plan ZZZZ: Could Magic buy out Donald T. Sterling and anchor the Clippers with a tethered rope around his statue sitting outside Staples Center?

No possible way. Why? Because the Better Business Bureau would be better to block it.

i-0795c74d9c4f27d845b83507f01906f9-2577074850_6df98cc09d.jpg

== Sasha Vujacic couldn’t have waited for the Lakers’ opening night ceremony on Tuesday to slip Maria Sharapova a nice engagement ring?

== The Dodgers can afford to just let Larry Bowa blow out of town?

== Remember that day — April 13, 2006 — when Dodgers manager Grady Little put backup outfielder Cody Ross into the starting lineup, and he responded with a three-run homer with a go-ahead grand slam at Pittsburgh for 7 RBIs? And then he was released four days later because new GM Ned Colletti thought he needed an extra backup infielder?

== Use your head here: Is the NFLs message now about eliminating violent hits slanted toward the concept that it’s OK to tear up someone’s ACL as long as you aren’t inflicting pain with the crown of the helmet? After all, we’ve two knees, but only one brain, eh?

== If you’ve dumped Brett Favre from your Fantasy Football team, who might he be dropping and picking up for his personal fantasy squad at this point in the season?

== What would compel Roger Goodell to consider suspending Favre this weekend, for his final game in Green Bay, and thus ending his consecutive-game playing streak for something that isn’t injury-related, is hardly legal-related, and at the end of the day, far more stupid-flirtation-related? Why not just let Deanna Favre dish out the dangerous-hit punishment?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The Media Learning Curve: Oct. 15-22

i-a774b6cdf9c984b4dca67e51cdfb3d3c-MZ23899_swim_team_full-lpr.jpg

An ESPN The Magazine subscriber has issued the ultimate surrender. He’s making the cancellation walk of shame.

Don Ohlmeyer, the ESPN.com ombudsman for the network, relayed a letter in his latest column (linked here) that explains how Shane N. from Oakley, Calif. (we’re not sure if Shane is a guy or girl, or whether Oakley is the place where they make the sunglasses that players like to put on the bill of their baseball caps) is bailing out because of the latest “Body” issue, which he calls “your SKIN issue.” Shane says that because he has “young kids in our house and if I wanted them to see soft-core porn, I would have bought Playgirl or Playboy.” (Again, this is no help in detecting gender of authorship. Not that it matters. But it kinda does.)

“You have sunk to a brand new low in journalism when you have to rely on sex or a naked human body to sell your mag,” Shane continued. “Maybe you ought to fire your writers because it’s obvious that you no longer have confidence in them, and therefore I have no further need of you.”

i-d90884f5bf1107630e1883ed52b727a0-taurasiCover.jpg

Easy there, big guy. Or girl.

Donny, he/she has teeded it up for you. How do you defend the good name of ESPN here?

Ohlmeyer quotes Gary Belsky, editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine, as saying it’s clear they’re targeting 18-to-34 males with this, and we know “some fans may find the contents inappropriate or otherwise objectionable. That’s why we spend considerable time weighing the purpose, relevance and ramifications of every image and story in the issue, among a diverse group of senior staff members that includes people of various backgrounds, faiths, ethnicities and sexual orientations, as well as parents with young children. More importantly, though, we see the body issue as conforming to our broader mission of providing readers a unique perspective on sports, in this case a celebration and exploration of the athletic form.”

A fair explanation. And considering the results, a fair assessment. It really does cross a lot of lines, but mostly in good taste.

Now Don chimes in:

“The photographs did not strike me as salacious or lascivious. But that’s just one man’s opinion … Perhaps ESPN should have sent an advisory to subscribers notifying them that the next issue would contain material some may deem objectionable. Because of similar concerns, for example, Sports Illustrated allows reticent subscribers to skip its annual swimsuit issue and extend their subscription by an extra week.”

That wasn’t even considered in this case? It’s a pretty well-known marketing move on SI’s part, and a cautionary tale. ESPN should have known better. But then, the more hate mail it receives — male or female — the more it can gauge as to whether it’s achieving its goal of selling magazines and competing head-to-head with SI.

If readers drop it — for whatever reason — then there’s a problem.

i-73a7f6307e348273442de6b237916291-serena-williams-espn-the-body-issue1.jpg

Ohlmeyer adds that the 2009 “Body Issue” with Serena Williams on the cover postednewsstand sales that “were 73 percent higher than the magazine’s average circulation of 2.2 million, and sales for the 2010 edition were up 22 percent over last year. While such statistics and ESPN’s business goals matter little to those that were offended, all readers ultimately retain the ultimate voting right — either maintain or cancel the subscription.”

We also have the right to run more photos from the magazine (which we previewed last week, linked here). So take that SI women in the swimsuit issue who think they can get away with painting their bikinis onto their … thing parts.

By the way, the current ESPN The Magazine issue previews the NBA and transforms stars of the league into Marvel Superheroes. Maybe the kids will like this one better.

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of Ohlmeyer’s piece on a discussion about why things like the Brett Favre texting incident becomes a full-blown story on ESPN, as well as a discussion on perceived biased interviews. There’s really some good stuff there beyond the fluff at the top.

As usual with ESPN.

i-80752a72c5341e1f9f6ac8d94d2942ca-schenkel1.jpg

After today’s media column (linked here), which digs more into this 1964 Chris Schenkel book we’ve come across and the atomic-bomb nature of the NFL ratings nationally and in L.A., we lurch forward with more non-subscription-based info:

== Former NFL quasiagent Josh Luchs, who still loves to name names after the expose on him in Sports Illustrated, continues his media tour with Bernie Goldberg on the next episode of HBO’s “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.). HBO says that “Luchs’ headline-grabbing account has reignited the debate over whether to protect student-athletes from preying agents, or simply permit college players to share in the revenues they help generate.”

A story far more interesting will be John Frankel reconnecting with George and Coby Karl, as the Denver Nuggets coach continues to recover from throat cancer and returns to the bench, with the former Lakers guard, and his son, not far away.

== Your NFL weekend for L.A.:

= Sunday, Channel 2, 10 a.m.: Pittsburgh at Miami (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, instead of the other CBS games of Cincinnati-Atlanta, Buffalo-Baltimore, Jacksonville-Kansas City and Cleveland-New Orleans)
= Sunday, Channel 11, 10 a.m.: Washington at Chicago (with Thom Brennaman, subbing for Joe Buck, and Troy Aikman, instead of the other Fox games of Philadelphia-Tennessee, San Francisco-Carolina and St. Louis-Tampa Bay).
= Sunday, Channel 2, 1 p.m.: New England at San Diego (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, instead of Oakland-Denver. Fox’s offering in this window that won’t be shown: Arizona-Seattle, without the Leinart-Carroll reunion)
= Sunday, Channel 4, 5:15 p.m.: Minnesota at Green Bay (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)
= Monday, ESPN, 5:30 p.m.: N.Y. Giants at Dallas (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and John Gruden).

i-5776e7f66a7adbb3c868bfa02a1f71f6-MZ24336_Thompson_Mike.jpg

== Because it still matters to someone: KSPN-AM (710) officially named Mike Thompson, left, who was last seen in these parts running XTRA Sports 1150 when the Dodgers were part of the station in the late ’90s, as the new program director. The station is undergoing a lot of management change, including releasing general manager Chris Berry, the resignation of previous program director Larry Gifford and the departure of assistant program director and on-air host Brian Long, who is the program director at the ESPN affiliate in Seattle, also called ESPN710.

Thompson had been the GM and PD at WEAE-AM, an ESPN station at Pittsburgh and has also been in sports radion in Atlanta, Dallas and New York, as well as creating content for the ESPN branded channels on Sirius and XM Satellite Radio.

== The Fox Sports Media group has added the blog network Yardbarker to its possession. Based in San Francisco, Yardbarker, with 7.5 million average monthly users (and 15 million men 18-to-34), will supposedly keep doing what it’s doing, while getting Fox support. Fox operates FoxSports.com, Scout.com and WhatIfSports.com. Yardbarker actually came about, according to the company statement, when “hundreds of independent sports publishers who ‘hung out’ on the site to promote their content” kinda of bonded as “an informal affiliation of sites with like-minded audiences.”

== The ninth boxing stallment of HBO’s “24/7″ launches with four episodes focused on Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito as they prepare for their Nov. 13 fight in Dallas. Episode One (Saturday, 10:30 p.m.) focuses on Pacquiao after he won a congress seat in the Phillippines, while Margarito opens his camp in Oxnard.

== ESPN “SportsCenter” wraps up a three-part series on how the city of Cleveland is dealing with the denial, anger, depression and possible acceptance of LeBron James leaving Cleveland and going to Miami this past off season, because this is a story that can’t be beaten enough.

The series, which started on Wednesday with a poll showing fans’ attitude toward James after the ESPN coverage of “The Decision,” will be combined on the “Outside the Lines” episodes airing today (noon) and Sunday (6 a.m.).

We’re trying to figure out what stage we’re at with this ESPN advertiser-friendly, ad-naseum coverage: Fatigued, amused, indifferent or compelled to watch only to see how many more angles can be carved from the aftermath of “The Decision.”

AND FINALLY:

i-ceaa7600a82e904a103362cab3003ceb-maynescreen.jpg

== We do enjoy us the return of “Mayne Street” on ESPN.com. Even at three minutes a pop. We’d like to give you the video here, but ESPN seems to have their encoded technology on the fritz.

You could have heard the term “fornicating horses” used by the “new” head of ESPN operations, who was none-too-pleased by Kenny Mayne’s report about “Smarty Jones Gone Wild.”

“You thought that was funny,” the odd-looking producer says.

“It was,” says Mayne.

“No it wasn’t.”

“Yes it was.”

“No it wasn’t.”

“I know you are but … what am I?” Mayne finally gives.

“This isn’t your fault. For far too long, ESPN has let you think you’re funny. And that ends today.”

Not really. It’s up on the website for as long as they’ll keep “the half-assed comedy” around (linked here). Check it out. Stuart Scott calls Manny Ramirez a transvestite, after he thinks he’s delivering a new catch phrase written by an intern.

It’s funny, ’cause it probably really happened.

i-42c9b0adf83321e34b67a62c2246df73-MZ1113_Hancock2.jpg

And as to why ESPN has made available this photo of Mayne in jail, we’re not sure. Maybe he’s visiting Jay Mariotti in an upcoming episode….

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

As for Magic and the NFL …

i-34f8329d486bef6a194771d4036f1a18-2009toppsmagicFB.jpg

During a live chat today with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on NFL.com (linked here), a Los Angeles resident asked:

“Do you think Magic (Johnson) can accomplish his goal of bringing football back to LA? Is there any chance the Chargers could move. I as a chargers fan would love it.”

Goodell’s response:

“We worked with Magic Johnson as one of the potential ownership groups who was interested in bringing a team back to LA in the ’90s. He’s passionate about the NFL and certainly understands the L.A. market. However, without a new CBA, it is highly unlikely we could finance a new stadium that would be required.”

CBA? Does that mean Goodwell would rather have Magic work on getting the Contential Basketball Association on board first? California Board of Accountancy? The Commercial Brokers Association? The California Bluegrass Association? A cost-benefits analysis? The Commercial Bank of Africa? They all exist under the initials CBA, no matter what kind of collective bargaining agreement you’re trying to push.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

How the Dodgers’ Johnny Podres became your SI Sportsman of the Year 55 years ago

i-0e172eee9821cd8e2c82bc1ffb65487b-68453135.jpg

The latest coffee-table sized production from Sports Illustrated, “The Covers” ($29.95, Time Home Entertainment, 208 pages, linked here) is a giant reminder about the impact the magazine’s display covers have had over the last 50-plus years, setting a creative standard in sports photography and marketing that others have tried to imitate with various degrees of success.

Showing the covers in chronological order – starting with Aug. 16, 1954 – through 2009, it’s also a way to measure a sports franchise’s worth.

Through a tally taken last May, the Lakers have made 64 covers (second to the New York Yankees’ 70), but we remember at least one or two more during their NBA title repeat run against the Celtics in June. The Dodgers (40), UCLA basketball (24), USC football (21) and the Los Angeles Rams (12) are the others in double digits.

UCLA also has the edge over USC, 29-27, in colleges making the cover, with Bill Walton appearing a college-record eight times in a Bruins uniform.

i-e52d540ede6b6fec691c0d34a93bb36a-0102_large.jpg

The book also answers a question we’ve had for years: Why was the Dodgers’ Johnny Podres, who actually had a losing record, named 1955 Sportsman of the Year? Simply for beating the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series?

The magazine’s Jan. 2, 1956 issue had planned to honor horseman Bill Woodward Jr., and he posed for a cover shot with his wife, Ann, his prized thoroughbred Nashua, who won the Preakness and Belmont, and jockey Eddie Arcaro.

But the weekend before the magazine was to come out, Ann accidentally shot and killed her husband.

“SI managing editor Sid James hastily shipped to the engraver a head shot of Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Johnny Podres,” writer Alexander Wolff explains in the book. “The picture was lame, and so was the choice of Sportsman of the Year . . . But Podres had the inestimable advantage of not being dead.”

Robert Cremer somehow pounded out a new story (linked here) about Podres, which is actually pretty good.

But, in this case, as one man dies, the SI cover jinx is born.

Podres, it should be noted, didn’t die until January of ’08.

“The Covers” is the latest in some giant-sized SI staff-project books that includes “The Football Book” in 2005 and revised in ’09 (linked here), “The Baseball Book” from 2006 (linked here), “The Basketball Book” from 2007 (linked here), “The College Football Book” from 2008 (linked here), “The Golf Book” from 2009 (linked here) and “The Hockey Book” from Sept., ’10 (linked here),

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

What do you know about Glenn Burke?

An hour-long documentary called “Out: The Glenn Burke Story,” looking back at the life and career of the one-time Dodgers center fielder, will air commercial free on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Wednesday, November 10 at 8 p.m., the network announced today.

CSN Bay Area is available on DirecTV Channel 696 and Dish Network Channel 419.

Burke, once called “the next Willie Mays” by a coach early in his career, was the Dodgers starting center fielder in the 1977 World Series, but then traded suddenly to Oakland the next year for A’s center fielder Billy North. By 1980, he was out of the game, and many of his teammates by then knew of the reason — his homosexuality, which some believe is what led to his premature career derailment.

i-813d46ea7a7e16bee1dd30f6f2d0a976-13360959_119307322222.jpg

He came out in a 1982 Inside Sports magazine story, but turned to drugs and ended up in prision, diagnosed with AIDS in ’94. He died 15 years ago.

Former Dodgers Reggie Smith (in the video above), Davey Lopes, Dusty Baker, Rick Monday, Manny Mota and Billy Bean are interviewed.

So is former A’s teammate Claudell Washington, who recalled a story of when manager Billy Martin introduced him to his new teammates in spring training: “He was introducing all the players and then he got to Glenn and said, ‘Oh, by the way, this is Glenn Burke and he’s a faggot.’”

What others have to say in the doc:

== Lopes, on Burke traded to the A’s: “You don’t break up, disrupt a team going as well as it was going to make changes. I didn’t feel it was going to make us a better ball club. Billy North was not going to make us, at that time, any better of a ballclub. Probably not the real reason why things happened.”

i-68e2c0a4fe1935f4eb5322b5e3b2dc6d-13360959_114012409964.jpg

== Baker, on the rumors: “I think the Dodgers knew; I think that’s why they traded Glenn.”

== Smith, on the suspicions: “I certainly didn’t want to accuse him of that, because one thing’s for sure – at that time period, it was a kiss of death for a ballplayer. He would’ve been excused from the game, so to say.”

== From Vincent Trahan, a Berkeley High School classmate, on the Dodgers’ suspicions: “Al Campanis and Walter O’Malley had called him into the office and offered him $75,000 to get married. And Glenn, being his comic self, said, ‘I guess you mean to a woman?’”

== Lyle Spencer, the MLB.com writer who covered the Dodgers for the Herald Examiner: “I was shocked that he was traded… I walked into the clubhouse…and guys were visibly distraught over the trade, and that told me that my sense of how important he was to them internally was accurate. I even remember a few players crying when they found out about it at their lockers, which is stunning.”

“Out: The Glenn Burke Story” is produced by Doug Harris (‘Bounce: The Don Barksdale Story”) and Sean Maddison , who produces San Jose Sharks hockey on Comcast SportsNet.

i-e7e93b92b31c7c0b3a737652db9d727b-4211_84504.jpg

Also:

== More info on the documentary (linked here).

i-95bbca5054ea8b23c18a2b1316485014-SM510y9ElNDeL__AA300_.jpg

== Burke’s autobiography “Out at Home” (lined here)

== On Burke credited for starting the “high five” on Outsports.com (linked here)

== His stats on his brief four-year big-league career Baseball. Reference.com (linked here)

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

A fixation with the numbing NFL Nielsen numbers without trying to asphyxiate you

i-8b9eae58031f45aa8b7b3ed2b14ec47a-Kurt-Warner-Viennese-Waltz-Dancing-With-The-Stars-PHOTOS.jpg

According to current NFL data, NFL games account for the nine most-watched programs on television since the season kicked off on Sept. 9, according to The Nielsen Company.

We’ll make a wager that gambling and fantasy leagues have a lot of drive for those numbers.

Closer to home, NFL games have accounted for 13 of the top 20 telecasts in Los Angeles.

The data (with ranking, show, date, network, rating, share and total L.A. households):
1. “Dancing With the Stars” Sept. 20 on ABC / 15.7 / 24 / 889,000
2. NFL: Dallas-Minnesota Oct. 17 on Fox / 14.3 / 30 / 810,000
3. “Dancing With the Stars” Sept. 27 on ABC / 14.3 / 22 / 809,000
4. NFL: Minnesota-New Orleans Sept. 9 on NBC / 14.3 / 26 / 808,000
5. NFL: Dallas-Washington Sept. 12 on NBC / 14.0 / 25 / 790,000
6. NFL: Minnesota-N.Y. Jets Oct. 11 on ESPN / 13.6 / 22 / 773,000
7. “Dancing With the Stars” Oct. 4 on ABC / 13.4 / 21 / 760,000
8. “Dancing With the Stars” Oct. 11 on ABC / 12.9 / 19 / 731,000
9. NFL: N.Y. Jets-Miami Sept 26 on NBC / 12.7 / 23 / 720,000
10. NFL: Washington-Philadelphia Oct. 3 on Fox / 12.1 / 27 / 685,000
11. NFL: Indianapolis-Washington Oct. 17 on NBC / 11.9 / 20 / 672,000
12. NFL: Houston-Washington Sept. 19 on CBS / 11.8 / 27 / 668,000
13. “Dancing With the Stars” results Sept. 21 on ABC / 11.8 / 19 / 667,000
14. “Dancing With the Stars” results Oct. 12 on ABC / 11.7 / 18 / 661,000
15. NFL: New England-N.Y. Jets Sept 19 on CBS / 11.6 / 27/ 654,000
16. NFL: Chicago-N.Y. Giants Oct. 3 on NBC / 11.4 / 21 / 646,000
17. NFL: Philadelphia-San Francisco Oct. 10 on NBC / 11.3 / 20 / 639,000
18. “Dancing With the Stars” results Sept. 28 on ABC / 11.3 / 19 / 639,000
19. NFL: N.Y. Giants-Indianapolis Sept. 19 on NBC / 11.3 / 22 / 638,000
20. NFL: San Diego-Kansas City Sept. 13 on ESPN / 11.2 / 18 / 634,000

By the way, NFL games have provided eight of the top 20 programs for Los Angeles during the 2009-10 broadcast season (from September to May).

The list that L.A. generated for that period (with ranking, event and rating):
1. Super Bowl 44: 39.4
2. Super Bowl 44 postgame: 32.3
3. Academy Awards: 29.8
4. Super Bowl 44 kickoff: 27.1
5. NFC championship (New Orleans/Minnesota): 26.6
6. AFC championship (N.Y. Jets/Indianapolis): 21.2
7. AFC playoff game (San Diego/N.Y. Jets): 20.3
8. NFC playoff game (Dallas/Minnesota): 18.5
9. Grammy Awards: 18.4
10. “Undercover Boss” (post Super Bowl 44): 18.4
11. Winter Olympics opening ceremony: 17.7
12. Oscars Red Carpet show: 17.2
13. “Dancing With the Stars”: 17.1
14. NBA playoffs (Lakers/Phoenix): 17.0
15. “American Idol”: 16.9
16. NBA playoffs (Lakers/Phoenix): 16.6
17. NFC wildcard game (Green Bay/Arizona): 16.5
18. “Barbara Walters Special”: 16.3
19. BCS championship (Texas/Alabama): 16.0
20. “American Idol”: 16.0

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

As for that missing Gibson home-run ball …

i-aba8fc275af00aada27bc050a81d8176-ronald-reagan-autographed-1988-world-series-baseball_cc746b79e17af592d9131ad6f7abe5b0.jpg

Circling back for a second on the pending auction for the bat, uniform and helmet used by Kirk Gibson when he hit his game-winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series:

The owner of the ball that Gibson floated into the Dodger Stadium right-field pavilion may never come forward.

Gibson said Tuesday that “a young lady” sent him a photo claiming the ball hit her “in the inner thigh, kind of high on her skirt, so to day. … She was all black and blue. But I’ve never, ever seen the ball.” Somewhere, the picture is with his belongings saved in the warehouse in Michigan.

Aside from the near-impossible way to verify if that was the actual ball — they’ve already tried freezing the NBC TV video from the coverage and digitizing faces of those in the pavilion — you’d need all kinds of witnesses to step up as well.

For all we know, the ball is stowed away by some history-conscious fan, in a safe place, to be displayed at some day to come.

Tommy Lasorda, for one, would like to see it.

“I never saw the ball,” the former Dodgers manager admitted Tuesday. “My eyes were on (Oakland right fielder Jose) Canseco going back, going back and then his back was against the wall. That’s when I knew it was gone.”

== More from Tuesday’s press conference at the Dodger blog VinScullyIsMyHomeboy.com

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

On Kirk Gibson’s character, and where the most famous pieces of L.A. sports history may end up

i-dd6d26e3ba49fff29c20d0b67b904b4d-SMGibsonBat.jpg

There’s a whole, cool story behind the black-and-yellow pine-tarred Worth Tennessee Thumper bat that Kirk Gibson used to hit the most dramatic home run in Los Angeles Dodgers history 22 years ago. Pull up a chair, he can tell you all about it.

What’s it worth to you?

Actually, the real story here is: Why isn’t it in a display case in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown? Or at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles? Or somewhere at Dodger Stadium?

And why, if anyone with credit card was so inclined, could it be bought next week at auction, stuck into someone else’s own secure humidor, and perhaps never shown to anyone without some kind of written consent form?

i-b07d3e8cc5e8e58aab0838a67a4927fd-DSC00697.JPG

This bat, as Gibson points out, has a blue “x” on the knob, below the black “23,” meaning it “was a reject.” The 34 -inch bat was too light when it came to him from the factory, maybe only 30 or 31 ounces, so he set it aside. “So I basically had it sitting there all year.”

Until now, it’s been sitting it in a safe, in a warehouse near his home in Michigan.

He only used that bat during the 1988 playoffs because “I started getting tired,” he says. “I had no legs at all, so I didn’t want to be swinging any big lumber.” By Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, both his knees were shot. He needed something much lighter.

Now, you can assume that Gibson, recently hired as the full-time manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, doesn’t need the money he’ll receive in return from this highest-bidder-gets-a-piece-of-history exercise. But he won’t say.

“That’s not an appropriate question,” he told a reporter on a conference call Tuesday. “I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”

The bat has red ink marks on the barrel, smudges from the special red-labeled balls he fouled off early in the count. It has extra tar on the handle, to make “the balance feel better.” The deep nicks in the backside of the barrel, “that’s from me hitting my cleats . . . at the beginning of the at-bat, they weren’t very deep. Then as the at-bat progressed, I kept hitting it harder and harder.”

i-ed1a331641c6083c0e7af1051874dfe2-SMGibsonBat-1.jpg

The spot on the sweet part of the bat where he met the ball that would float into the right field pavilion as the tail lights were heading out of the parking lot and win Game 1 in the most improbable fashion “is actually chipped out of there. There is a little nick where I hit it.”

Of the bat as a whole, Gibson says it “so much character . . . it’s like a painting. It’s like a story and it will tell you the whole thing.”

The character of the bat isn’t what’s in question here. It’s seems to be more about the character of Gibson, who is putting this, plus the batting helmet he wore, and the tar-smudged, never-washed white Dodgers jersey top out there for someone to buy. Plus a gray road uniform from that World Series.

The opening bids for the five items add up to $85,000. SCP Auctions CEO David Kolher projects about a half-million dollars will come from it. The profits go to Gibson.

i-e39db22dae5db7e0e42d56c7c1e13302-SMLasorda.jpg

“I’d like to see (the items) in the Hall of Fame,” said former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, himself a Hall member, “but if he can help a charity more, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

True, in this same auction from Oct. 27 to Nov. 13 on SCPAuctions.com, also up for bid are Gibson’s 1988 N.L. regular-season MVP Award and his replica ’88 World Series trophy, with the proceeds going to his foundation. That will fund scholarships for the two high schools in Michigan that his mother and late father used to teach. The combined minimum bids for those two items are $30,000, expected to fetch in excess of $100,000.

Don’t confuse those two charity-based hawked items with the other five 1988 World Series pieces.

Since we may never see the ball that Gibson hit for what’s been called the biggest sports moment in Los Angeles history – the owner of it has never surfaced, and it would be nearly impossible to verify its authenticity without the holograms used on today’s equipment – why wouldn’t these treasures be placed somewhere to be marveled at by the public?

“I’m really at peace with what I’m doing,” Gibson explained, implying that he’s done listening to what other people think he should do with it.

He said that while his relationship with the media and fans has been touchy in the past, “it’s much improved, and I’m going to continue to improve it,” he said, knowing that as the Diamondbacks manager, that’s probably a requirement.

i-da27085343158e00992117de43243140-SMjerseyGIBSON3.jpg

“To add another group to that is the collectors. It’s a huge environment. I think just as I realized that fans and media are a huge part of the game, the collectors, the people who display it, have museums, really cherish these things on a different level than I do. It’s an important part of our game, keeping our game healthy.”

Kohler, who has one of the greatest collections of Lakers memorabilia at his Orange County home, says it’s more common these days for buyers of this kind of stuff to display it. For the public? Or in their own homes, with added security.

Yet there’s no guarantee that whomever buys these items will put them on display, but Gibson says he’s “hopeful” that happens.

Gary Cypres, the curator and megacollector who owns the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, agreed that they were “great pieces, and I’d love to own them,” as he looked at the rooms of Dodger memorabilia in his personal treasure trove. But estimating a $200,000 fetch for the uniform, for example, “that’s a lot,” he said, noting that there’s much more of an emotional tie to these items.

Having possession of them this long has actually given Gibson what he calls a “phobia,” with his fearing they’ll be destroyed in a fire. Yet, he’s hung onto them. The bat, Gibson admits, was once requested by the Hall of Fame, but it never got there.

How it was that they weren’t conveniently picked up by a locker room kid, or a team official, or someone else in the meyhem of that moment on Oct. 15, 1988, Gibson doesn’t seem to be surprised.

i-3fb9d2ab0722e2d2e0690e2413c2166b-SMtrophyGIBSON1.jpg

“Well, they were mine,” he said, adding that owner Peter O’Malley also gave him a giant LeRoy Neiman lithograph of that moment and allowed players to keep their jerseys and, presumably, other items.

At least we know where the bat is. For the time being. But for the rest of time, Gibson will handle it his way. He says he also has many items from his days with the Detroit Tigers – more equipment from the 1984 World Series – that he will sell off as well. Maybe for his foundation. Maybe not.

“I have my reasons,” he said. “Let’s leave it at that, OK?”

Sure. Fine. Whatever.

i-392e172e21b49487a5f69aa2e95a999d-lens4609182_1242159344gibson_copy.gif

The bat alone, item No. 1198, has a opening bid of $25,000, with expectations that it could go for more than $200,000. So a price has just officially been set on a priceless archive of Los Angeles history.

Everyone in L.A. will remember where they were when Gibson hit the home run. Will they remember where they were when swatches of the event were parceled off to the highest bidder?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Why the bat, helmet and uniform Kirk Gibson used in his 1988 World Series Game 1 feat aren’t in the Hall of Fame, and how you can own them

i-0724c0ab5c9b544d0e0985ae16decc46-09_gibson(2).jpg

Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

Considering how much people say Kirk Gibson’s 1988 Game 1 World Series homer was so much like the movie “The Natural,” it’s natural to assume that his bat, helmet and uniform would have been donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame at some point.

Gibson, apparently, kept the items. And now he’s ready to sell.

A news conference Tuesday at the Sports Museum of L.A. will display the items and announce an auction for them taking place Oct. 27-Nov. 13.

SCP Auctions Inc., owned by famed collector David Kohler, will handle the sale of those items, as well as Gibson’s World Series trophy and 1984 World Series MVP trophy. Gibson, the current manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will explain what he’s doing via videotape. Tommy Lasorda is scheduled to be in attendance as well.

As for the ball that Gibson hit into the right-field pavilion, its whereabouts remain a mystery (linked here).

As for a ticket stub from the game, maybe not so tough to find (linked here):

i-69e2145caf849fdc75ae3debeaa82071-1988%20WS%20gm%201%20-%20Kirk%20Gibson%20historic%20HR.jpg
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email