It’s time for one of the best parts of fantasy baseball camp…Kangaroo Court. Find out what contributor Roy Berger got fined for and which baseball legends were issuing the penalties alongside some much-needed baseball and life advice.
Day 3 of Pittsburgh Pirates fantasy camp on a sunny, warm and windy Tuesday and the line this morning in the training room was longer than the wait for French toast.
I had the pleasure of having breakfast with one of the greatest Pirates of all-time, pitcher Vernon Law. The Deacon, as he is known has been ordained into the priesthood of the LDS Church and lives in Provo, Utah. He was a stalwart of the 1960 World Championship Pirates team with a 20-9 regular season record, being named to the National League All-Star team and getting the highest honor a pitcher can receive with the 1960 Cy Young Award. And for good measure he won two of the four World Series games the Pirates needed to beat the Yankees that fall.
Still sharp at 82, the Deacon is very active in the Mormon Church and after retirement coached baseball at BYU for 10 years, finally calling it a day in 1979.
He was cordial and frank. He said the late Stan Musial was his toughest out because “you knew he would put the ball in play somewhere.” He made $35,000 in 1960 and said a rookie that signs today for $480,000, the minimum, makes “more than I did in my whole career.” Then a discussion about the economics of today’s ballplayers being a precious and expensive commodity to the team that signs them and the financial liability it produces. In Law’s day the average major league salary was $6,000. Today it’s $3.4 million.
The Deacon is retired and has his hands full. He has six children (all first names starting with a V) including former major leaguer Vance Law. His six kids have produced 31 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. You read that right.
Today’s camp schedule called for a single game only and most were greatly relieved. We were supposed to play today’s game downtown at McKechnie Field where the Pirates play their spring games but the stadium is under construction and unfortunately the schedule shifted back to the fields at Pirate City. I was disappointed as I love the stadium setting and the big league feel.
A surprise guest at our morning briefing was Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. A very engaging and funny man, Hurdle played 10 years in the bigs before becoming manager of the Colorado Rockies and taking them to the 2007 World Series. He is in his third year with the Pirates and still feels the sting of last year’s collapse and the run of 20 straight losing seasons.
He gave the campers hope and enthusiasm this morning by handicapping the team he has coming back leaving little doubt the Pirates will contend right until the finish line. He said “not a day goes by that I don’t think about a World Championship in Pittsburgh” to a huge cheer from the camp. He also told us ” I know everyone here can do my job better than I can; I hear that everyday and the best managers in baseball I’ve found to be barbers and cab drivers.” He then gave some depressing news. Hurdle said “if you think by the way you play today I’m going to sign you please give it up.”