Larry David once based an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on a simple question: Do you respect wood? The comedian was appalled by his friends putting drinks down directly on wooden surfaces and leaving marks, and he probably feels the same way when he sees a modern big leaguer throw an entire bat away because he thought he heard a crack. It wasn't always that way, though.
For most of baseball's history, equipment wasn't quite as plentiful. These days every rookie that comes up has a bag with a dozen bats in it, and he can easily order more, but back in 1989, one of the world's best players got caught in a jam. On this week's "SF Giants: Chalk Talk at Home," airing at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area, Will Clark told a hilarious story about Kevin Mitchell running out of bats and being forced to find a creative solution.
"We're in Pittsburgh and Kevin is running low on bats. He's down to his last bat, and he's been waiting on his bat order to come in, and he breaks (his bat) the night before -- he's got a little hairline crack in the handle," Clark said. "He comes up to me and goes, 'Thrill, Thrill, what are we going to do? I don't have another bat! I don't have another bat!' I said, 'Give me your bat, we'll take care of it.'
"I went up and got some freaking roofing nails and I bashed some roofing nails in there and we put a bunch of pine tar on it. I'll be damned if the first at-bat he doesn't go upper deck in Pittsburgh with a broken-bat with roofing nails."
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That was par for the course for Mitchell after he got settled in with the Giants. Mitchell was traded over in 1987 and two years later won the MVP award, hitting a league-leading 47 homes. It's unclear which exact game Clark is talking about, but Mitchell did go deep on back-to-back days in Pittsburgh in early July, with the box score for July 5 describing it as a homer to deep left field.
That homer, which seems to be the one, gave Mitchell 76 RBI through 83 Giants games. He would finish with 125 for a team that won the pennant.
"Kevin would say 'You go, we go,'" Clark recalled, "And I would say 'No, we all go and you drive us in.'"