Saturday, November 22, 2014
Great Moments in Baseball History: Talking Horse Tries out for Dodgers/Hits Home Run Off Sandy Koufax
The decade of the 1960s was a magical time to grow up. You got the feeling that anything could happen; from men walking on the moon to arch-conservative Richard Nixon saying "Sock it to me" on Laugh-In, anything was possible. The only thing that seemed impossible was for the Dodgers to score runs. The old joke about Don Drysdale, in another city for an event, hearing that Sandy Koufax had thrown a no-hitter that night and asking, "Did we win?" says it all about their anemic offense.
And so few fans blinked twice when the team invited a four-legged power-hitter to Dodger Stadium for a tryout in 1963. To find out if he really had the goods and was not just another of those guys who puts up big numbers in the minors but can't hit major league pitching, they had their ace throw to him.
When the horse ripped a Sandy Koufax-fastball off the wall and legged out an inside-the-parker everyone, even notoriously hard-to-please coach Leo Durocher, was impressed (a little bit of base-running coaching could easily take care of his only fault).
Legend has it that after the impressive tryout, the horse signed with an agent who promptly presented the Dodgers with a list of outrageous demands including having the trainer groom him and pick his hooves before and after every game, adding hay and alfalfa to the postgame clubhouse spread and his choice of fillies for between-game recreation (a demand that made the ballplayers from Philadelphia particularly nervous).
Alas, the Dodgers refused to bow to such draconian measures and after a long holdout the horse returned to his former job in show business. But you've gotta think about the possibilities for the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series if they could have only gotten him to the plate in a few key situations.