I know Jerry Reuss enjoyed fun times during his 22-years in the baseball’s big leagues, because the former lefty hurler tells some hysterically entertaining stories in his memoir – Bring In The Right-Hander!
Not only did Reuss turn in an all-star career, he managed to enjoy the ride, beginning, as a 20-year-old in late September 1969. On a rainy afternoon in Montreal’s Jarry Park, Reuss made his MLB debut pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. Between his welcoming to the big leagues against the Expos, to calling it quits at age 41 in 1990 as a Pittsburgh Pirate, Ruess experiences some of the best highs and lows the game offers.
A big thank you, to Reuss, who as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1981 season learned what it felt like to be part of a World Series winning ball club, for sharing his career in Bring In The Right Hander!
” I lived in cities and became part of communities that I never dreamed that I would, ” Reuss said during a recent telephone conversation from his home in Nevada.
Along the stops that Reuss took to the hometown mound for were in Houston and Los Angeles. In both cities, future hall of fame managers were his bench bosses.
During the eight seasons Reuss wore “Dodger Blue”, in Send In The Right-Hander!, he shares numerous incidents/shenanigans times where he pushed Tommy Lasorda’s buttons. With each turn of the page, you can’t help but to bellow out your best laughs. Changing from his uniform to grounds crew attire, between innings and dragging the infield, it’s pure fun.
When with the Astros, Reuss and “Leo the Lip” Durocher parted, word-wise, with unfinished business. Many years later, when Reuss was with the Dodgers, the two were afforded the opportunity to bring closure from when they wore the same uniforms.
As Reuss explains in his memoir, Durocher, one day shows up in Lasorda’s Dodger Stadium manager’s office, and the two were left alone to clear the air.
” We left as friends,” recalls Reuss, who earned 220 wins during his MLB career.
Reuss, who pitched a no-hitter as a Dodger against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in 1980, is among a very few group of players that appeared in four different MLB decades .
Another memorable story shared by Reuss involving Lasorda is told about the former manager’s hall of fame induction. In August 1997, long after retiring from active play, Reuss made it a point to be with his former manager on the biggest day of his career, in Cooperstown.
” I made the trip out of respect for what he (Lasorda) did for baseball and the Dodgers,” explains Reuss, who at the time was working as a member of the Anaheim Angels TV broadcast team. “We had some knock-down, drag-out conversations when we were with the Dodgers. He was happy to see me.”
Getting to Cooperstown, New York can be trying, regardless from where one is beginning their visit to the “Home of Baseball.” For Reuss, to make his former manager’s induction ceremony in Central New York, it began in Cleveland, where the Angels just concluded a series with the Indians. With his son accompanying him on the road trip, Reuss rented a car, and in mid-week make the 600-plus mile drive.
A more genuine person in baseball is hard to find than Reuss. The 250 pages of Bring In The Right-Hander! My Twenty-Two Years In The Major Leagues attests to this.
Want to know the who, what, why, and when Reuss and a couple teammates cut a record at Capital Records in Los Angeles in 1981? The details are captivating in Bring In The Right-Hander!
Want to know how it feels to be on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as Reuss appeared on? Yep. It’s in the book.
Winning a World Series game, playing against some of the greatest names in baseball history, getting to go out of a career on his own terms (thank you, Pirates manager Jim Leyland), Reuss spares no details.
Reuss doesn’t hesitate in saying that his life has been enriched by making all the career moves that came his way. Eight MLB teams and cities to become accustomed to, when wearing their uniforms, Reuss is better for it.
Baseball fans will better their understanding of the game and some of the players of the 1970s and ’80s, straight from one of the more important pitcher’s of his time, by cracking open a copy of Bring In The Right Hander!
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980’s. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.
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