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Notes on the National Pastime
Page 50
"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." -- Yogi Berra
(Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1969). Never in the history of baseball have two bullpen crews battled in such an utterly wacky season-long war. Both sides engaged in hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, wielding such devastating weapons as cherry bombs, dirt balls, and stones. One side even resorted to chemical warfare.
The battle cry was sounded after relief pitcher and prankster Moe Drabowsky went from the Baltimore Orioles to the fledgling Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft of 1969. Throughout the year, Drabowsky rallied the Royals' bullpen troops while O's pitchers Pete Richert and Eddie Watt directed the Baltimore corps' retaliatory measures.
On May 10, 1969, Moe launched the first commando raid on the O's bullpen during a night game at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. The Royals' bullpen squad synchronized their watches for an assault at 2130 hours ... or about the fourth inning. The attack force consisted of pitchers Wally Bunker, Bill Butler, Mike Hedlund, Jim Rooker, and catcher Buck Martinez.
....Drabowsky recalled[:] "We blackened our faces with burnt cork and wore dark jackets. Our pockets were loaded with simulated hand grenades -- rocks and dirt balls. We snuck around the corner of our bullpen in right center, darted through the trees in center field behind the scoreboard, crept and crawled through the grass, and maneuvered into a strategic position behind the Baltimore bullpen in left center.
"When we were all in place, I gave the signal and we opened fire. Bombs away! We kept our arms in shape by grenading the bullpen. The rocks hit the roof and back wall of their shelter and made a hell of a racket. You should have seen them jump. They were cussing and screaming in rage over the sneak attack."
Two days later, the O's launched a counteroffensive. In the third inning of an afternoon game, Richert and Watt slipped behind the scoreboard and outfield hedge and lofted an earsplitting firecracker that sent the startled Royals leaping out of their bullpen shed.
....The O's counterattack backfired. Since Richert and Watt were not as experienced as Moe in waging war, their afternoon raid was clearly seen from the press box by reporters -- and Harry Dalton, the Orioles personnel director. When he saw two O's caps bobbing behind the hedge, Dalton telephoned bullpen coach Charlie Lau and told him in no uncertain terms, "No more foolishness."
The Baltimore bullpen expected Drabowsky to retaliate. He didn't disappoint them. When the Orioles walked into the visitors' clubhouse in Kansas City five days later, they were repulsed by a horrible odor. The sneaky Moe had placed a foul-smelling chemical in the ventilation system.
Early the next morning, hours before game time, Richert and Watt sought revenge. They painted the Royals' bullpen pitching rubbers and plates black and orange, the Orioles' colors.
Drabowsky felt duty-bound to strike back again. This time he was accused of putting sneezing powder in the air-conditioning system of the Baltimore clubhouse because the Orioles were sneezing as they suited up for the game.
This provocation did not go unanswered. When the Royals went out to their bullpen the next day, they discovered that the roof of their shelter was no longer dark green. It was bright orange ... with the words Go Birds printed on the roof.
Moe fired the final salvo of the year. On the first day of the 1969 World Series in Baltimore, a plan circled over Memorial Stadium and pulled a banner with a message directed to the O's bullpen crew: "Good luck, Birds. Beware of Moe."
-- Bruce Nash & Allan Zullo
The Baseball Hall of Shame 3
 The Baseball Hall of Shame 3, Bruce Nash & Allan Zullo
Copyright 1987 by Nash and Zullo Productions, Inc.
Published by Pocket Books (New York), 1987

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