In search of some great, late-summer reading? Check out A Bitter Cup Of Coffee by author Doug Gladstone. This terrific publication references the plights of 874 MLB players who were active between 1947 and 1979; due to rules prior to 1980, these players have received NO pension money for their service to the national pastime. After 1980, MLB players have needed just ONE day of service credit for health benefits and only 43 days to be eligible for a retirement allowance. More information on the book can be obtained by visiting the Barnes and Noble website (http://www.bn.com/) or by logging onto http://www.abittercupofcoffee.com/..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1985 Philadelphia Phillies--who finished in fifth-place in the NL East under manager John Felske--were led in RBI's (102) by a player who never came close to equaling that number in any season before or after. Can you name this individual? Answer to follow..........A pair of two-word phrases we may never hear in our lifetimes: Yours truly saying "I do" and Brett Favre saying "I quit"..........Classic stuff: WFAN's Steve Somers--due to the Red Sox having at least a DOZEN players on the DL--referred to the team last week as the "Boston Red Cross"..........This week in sports history, August 16, 1984: 43-year-old Pete Rose is re-acquired by the Cincinnati Reds from the Montreal Expos for a minor leaguer and is immediately named as player-manager--replacing Vern Rapp. Rose had accumulated hit #4,000 four months earlier for the Expos and stood 130 hits shy of Ty Cobb's all-time hits record when he returned to Cincinnati. The Cincinnati-born "Charlie Hustle" had spent his first 16 seasons with the Reds and was a vital catalyst for the "Big Red Machine" teams of the mid-70's--who won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976..........I'm truly convinced that Isiah Thomas becoming a consultant to the N.Y. Knicks is equivalent to Lady Gaga becoming an advisor to the Miss Universe pageant..........Telling stats: Going into last weekend, the Brooklyn Cyclones (NY-Penn League) led all teams in the league in runs, hits, total bases, doubles, homers, and RBI's. Most impressive is that their .298 TEAM batting average was a staggering 29 points higher than the next best team, Jamestown--who was at .269. Wow.........Answer to trivia question: Outfielder GLENN WILSON--whose next highest RBI total in any of his ten seasons came the following year with the Phillies when he drove in 84..........Regarding the aforementioned Isiah Thomas: On WFAN last week, host Richard Neer basically summed up the man's overall ability to work in a basketball team's front office: "He looks good in a suit and has a great smile"..........Congratulations go out to Danae Rivers, a 12-year-old from Derby (CT), who set two national records at the National AAU Junior Olympic games at Norfolk State University in Virginia last week. Running for a track club out of New Haven, Danae set records in both the 800 meter and 1500 meter runs while competing in the Midget Division. Her time of 2:15.32 in the 800 eclipsed the previous record of 2:16.83 set in 2001 by Quantikia Stepeny of Baltimore, MD. Meanwhile, her time of 4:41.14 in the 1500 easily beat the previous record of 4:45.0 set 22 years ago in 1988 by Heather Burroughs of Overland Park, KS. Well done, Danae, and continued success..........Broadcaster Ken Levine--after A-ROID hit HR #600 last week: "Congrats to Alex Rodriguez on hitting his 384th non-performance-enhanced home run earlier today"..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former MLB pitcher Jim Converse--who blows out 39 candles on August 17th. A native of San Francisco, Converse spent just four seasons in the "bigs" between 1993 and 1997 as a member of the Mariners and Royals--and the results weren't pretty, folks. In 35 career games, Converse compiled a record of 2-11 with an ERA of 7.21--having given up 128 hits and 78 earned runs in just over 97 innings. However--he CAN tell his grandchildren that he DID pick up one lifetime save as a member of the Mariners in 1995. Best wishes, Jim..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former NFL defensive lineman Gary "Big Hands" Johnson--who died recently in Louisiana following a stroke; he was 57. Johnson--who played at Grambling--spent 11 seasons in the league between 1975 and 1985--the majority of it as a member of the San Diego Chargers; he also won a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in 1985. A four-time Pro-Bowler, Johnson received his nickname in middle school while picking up a basketball in gym class. Loved and respected by many, he'll surely be missed; rest in peace, "Big Hands."
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