Sunday, March 06, 2005

"If They Get Hit, It’s Their Fault" - Don Drysdale

Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, who pitched 14 seasons for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, also broadcasted Angels’ games along with well-known announcer Dick Enberg. In Dick Enberg’s recent book “Oh My” published by Sports Publishing, LLC, Enberg talks about his relationship with Drysdale, during their six years together.

“On the mound, Don Drysdale was as imposing as hell. He was six foot six, and his size and wicked delivery - particularly when his long right arm came way of third base - made him one of the most feared pitchers of all time.”

“Off the field, however, he was as sweet as country honey. His laugh was as big as his sidearm breaking ball, and in the six years we shared the Angels broadcast booth, he not only made a bad day a good day, but also saved my sanity. I took games way too seriously.”

Dick describes how Drysdale was so competitive, that during broadcasts he would often become angry when one of the Angels players “did something stupid. In particular, he would get incensed when a batter took away the inside corner from an Angels pitchers by crowding the plate, and the pitcher failed to respond by throwing inside, instead offering what would prove to be a fat pitch on the outside part of the plate.”

“Damn it, the pitcher’s got to make a living too,” he would growl. “A fastball, a foot inside, is not a sin. If they get hit, it’s their fault. Get outta the way.”

In Drysdale’s career, he struck 154 batters. Although not a record, (Walter Johnson had 205 and Pink Hawley 201) Don does hold an honorable mention in this telling stat. He led the National League five times for most batters HBP (Hit By the Pitch) in one season. His highest single season mark was 20 in 1961.

Did Don ever hit someone intentionally? “They hit themselves, he would cry. They crowded the plate and stepped into an inside pitch and hit themselves. If you’re going to step into the pitch, I refuse to be held accountable. You’re taking money out of my pocket when you crowd home plate, he would say. I can’t let you do that. The inside part of the plate is mine too.”

One of Drysdale’s more memorable lines occurred once when his catcher signaled for an intentional walk and Don quipped, “Why waste four pitches when one will do?”

That was Don Drysdale.

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