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 Former big leaguer Hunt recalls simpler plunking procedure

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PostSubject: Former big leaguer Hunt recalls simpler plunking procedure   Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:22 pm

'Old-school' rules: Players police themselves
Former big leaguer Hunt recalls simpler plunking procedure

Fred Claire
08/12/09 6:35 PM ET

Ron Hunt can't understand what all of the fuss is about when it comes to batters being hit by pitches.

It's a subject he knows quite well when you consider he was struck by a pitched ball 243 times during his 12-year Major League career.

Only Craig Biggio (285) and Don Baylor (267) rank ahead of Hunt on the modern day hit-by-pitch list. The reaction of players being hit by pitches in recent games has produced headlines in every section of the country.

On Tuesday night in Boston, Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox charged the mound while flinging his helmet in the direction of Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello. In a recent game in Los Angeles, Milwaukee's Prince Fielder was so enraged after being hit by Dodgers pitcher Guillermo Mota that he went to the home clubhouse door to see if he could settle matters. And in Chicago, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen issued a warning to other teams that his pitchers will retaliate after three of his players were hit by Cleveland pitchers.

"I don't understand what is happening with all of this stuff," said Hunt from his home in Wentzville, Mo. "Maybe it's a case of me being 'old school' but it seems like they don't play the game the right way anymore."

Hunt led the National League in being hit by pitches for seven consecutive seasons (1968-74), including a record 50 times in 1971. There were some Major League teams last year that weren't hit a total of 50 times.

Hunt says the last thing he ever thought about was charging the mound.

"No way did I think about that because it would have cost me a $250 fine and we didn't make a lot of money," Hunt explains.

"Besides that, you didn't deal with being hit by a pitch in that manner. If I wanted to get back at a pitcher I would get my chance when that pitcher was coming into second base. He knew he had better duck because I had the ball in my hand. Or I would put down a bunt and hope the pitcher would cover first base so I could run over him.

"The thing I used to do when I was hit by a pitch was to pick up the ball and toss it back to the pitcher. It used to drive them crazy."

Hunt admits he doesn't follow the game closely these days but he feels the umpires have become too involved when it comes to policing the game related to inside pitches.

"We, as players, took care of things on the field of play," said Hunt, who launched his career with the Mets in 1963 and became one of the team's most popular players as a hard-nosed second baseman.

"If you hit one of the big guys on our team, like Willie Mays when I was with the Giants, you knew that your big guy was going to be hit by a pitch. That was it, scored settled.

"You recognized that pitchers had a right to come inside. That's part of the game. You see guys now overreact when the ball is just inside at [the]waist or chest level."

Hunt believes that part of the problem is that a lot of today's pitchers are what he describes as "throwers," adding "they aren't what I would call Major League pitchers because they can't command their fastball. They attempt to come inside and then the ball gets away and all heck breaks loose."

Hunt didn't establish himself as a player noted for being hit by pitches until he was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants after the 1967 season.

"It was so cold in that ballpark in San Francisco that we had to wear everything we could under our uniforms to stay warm," recalls Hunt. "We bundled up so much it was hard to get loose and swing the bat. I just decided that I was going to crowd the plate, not give in, and hit the ball up the middle and do whatever it took to get to first base."

When his playing career ended after Spring Training of 1975, Hunt retired to his farm in Missouri with his wife Jackie and became involved in coaching youth teams.

"I stressed the fundamentals and playing the game the right way," says Hunt. "I had one golden rule -- you had to be on time and you had to be ready to play. I had no patience for players or parents who weren't willing to follow the team rules."

Hunt says he has only one regret related to his Major League career: "I never got a chance to play in the postseason and I would have loved that opportunity.

"I wanted to see if I could handle the pressure of being in the postseason and particularly the World Series. I wanted to put myself to that test."

One has the feeling that self-described "old school" Ron Hunt would have passed that test with flying colors.

Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as Executive Vice-President and general manager. He is the author of "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Former big leaguer Hunt recalls simpler plunking procedure   Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:14 am

The good old days of baseball
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