By: Lou Parrotta, Boonville Herald

Travis Heiser, General Manager of the DiamondDawgs called and told me I had to attend the dinner stressing I would not be disappointed.  He could not have been more correct.  Darling spoke about his career on and off the field, and he also mused on the state of the game today.  The most interesting part of the discussion, in my opinion, was how this one-time Mets superstar was asked by New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi to be his pitching coach when he took over the Bronx Bombers!  Darling turned it down because he was not ready to devote that much time to such an intricate job.  And, besides, he said he loves broadcasting and writing; currently penning three books.

 Some reflections by the great pitcher included calling Keith Hernandez “one of the craziest nuts of all time,” how Bill Buckner was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the 1986 World Series saying “in baseball, sometimes someone is going to be the goat, even (the) good guys,” and how Pete Rose “did a dumb thing” and should be in the Hall of Fame based on “how he played the game.”  Further on Rose, Darling indicated that the Hall of Fame would have happened for the all-time hits king “if he hadn’t been so obstinate.”

 When asked who was the best hitter he ever faced Darling said Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn who hit .500 off of him. “But,” he added, “The most dangerous was Jack Clark.”  He went on to explain how the first three batters he faced in the Major Leagues were Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt.  That would intimidate anyone, I am sure, but Darling persevered and went on to a terrifically solid career on the mound, despite thinking that baseball was not in his future.  As a Yale University student, Darling thought he would become a lawyer and wear a suit every day.  When he began to play baseball, he realized it would be a whole different set of pinstripes.

 On the state of the game today, Darling that pervasive use of instant replay in Football is due to the billions and billions of dollars in gambling surrounding that sport, and since there is no real gambling in baseball, there is no major need for major use of the technology in the game.  On the use of steroids in recent years, Darling said “some of these guys aren’t going to into the Hall of Fame, and I am o.k. with that.”  Finally, on broadcasting, he said it is “very, very difficult” to break into the field, but he said “luck” got him the chance. 

I can honestly say we are the lucky ones, and Heiser was right.  I am much better off as a baseball fan for having heard this man speak.

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