Cut Out The Baloney; Give Galarraga His Due

 

I don’t understand the mental hi-jinks about Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.  The Detroit pitcher retired 26 men in a row against Cleveland. He retired the 27th one, too, only the umpire called the runner safe. The replay showed he was out. The ump admitted he was wrong and the runner was out. There was no change in the outcome of the game because Galarraga retired the next man, too.  Easy call, right?  Award Galarraga a perfect game.  But no.  Some sports pundits and fans and even the commissioner of Major League Baseball are giving us all these crazy rationalizations of why not to change the call. It’s said we must preserve the history of the sport, the purity of baseball, the integrity of the game.  What history?  What purity?  What integrity?

 

Professional baseball is just as tainted as any other professional sport.  It’s just as guilty of steroids, racism, scandals and even of a world series being thrown.  Right is right and wrong is wrong. The right thing to do is to call Galarraga’s performance what it was:  A perfect game.  Everything else is baloney.

 

TRIVIA question:  Can you name the only college to win both the NCAA and the NIT basketball tournaments in the same season?   Answer at end.

 

ONE MIGHT SAY that the El Paso area is where winners of Triple Crown races get their start.  The winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, Super Saver, is owned by WinStar Farms and trained by Jake Pletcher.   Both Bill Casner, co-founder of WinStar Farms, and Pletcher grew up in El Paso.  The winner of this year’s Preakness, Lookin at Lucky, was bred by Gulf Coast Farms, which is co-owned by former jockey Jerry Bailey, who grew up in El Paso. The winner of last week’s Belmont Stakes, Drosselmeyer, is also owned by WinStar Farms. In addition, jockey Mike Smith, who rode Drosselmeyer, also lived in El Paso and got his riding start at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.  Add the fact the winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird, came out of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, and it’s enough to make local racetrackers pop their shirt buttons.

 

TRIVIA question: Can you name the only college to win the NCAA and the NIT basketball tournaments in the same season? Answer at end.

 

THE DEATH of Dolph Quijano at the age of 89 last week hit me especially hard. As I wrote in my book, El Paso’s Greatest Sports Heroes, “he was the first major sports hero I became aware of after I returned from the Army following World War II.”  And what a great looking hero.  A tall, slim, sinewy man, he was so handsome he was nicknamed the Errol Flynn of Boxing.”  There have been many outstanding boxers to come out of El Paso, but Quijano is perhaps the most celebrated. Men admired him, women swooned at the sight of him, kids idolized him.  Other good boxers from El Paso fought in the lighter divisions but Quijano fought in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions and with amazing success. He won both the light heavyweight and heavyweight championships of Texas and the heavyweight championships of Kansas and Oklahoma.

 

THE BIGGEST fight involving an El Pasoan ever held in El Paso pitted Quijano against Joey Maxim, then the No. 1 contender for Joe Louis’s heavyweight title, in a jam-packed El Paso Coliseum in 1947.  Maxim won by decision and went on to become the light heavyweight champion of the world the next year.  Quijano sought a rematch but was never granted one.  Dolph Quijano captured the hearts and admiration of El Paso like few other athletes. We mourn his passing deeply.

 

ANSWER to trivia question: CCNY (City College of New York) in 1950.

 

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com