I'll bet I could have been quite an eccentric reliever myself, if I'd had the chance. I can't do anything funny with my nose, but sometimes in a movie theater I go "YAH!" suddenly at a tense moment, and everybody around me jumps.
But who wants to hear about the legend I might have been? I happened to mention to Jenkins that I played a little Latin ball myself in Venezuela some years ago with a team of American sportswriters against a Venezuelan press team. "The fans," I said, "threw limes at us."
"In Nicaragua," Jenkins says, "they threw iguanas. They'd bring them to the park in big bags and lake them out and throw them at the visiting team, and the groundskeepers were afraid of them, didn't want to pick them up. So we'd have to shoo them off the field, and they were so slow...."
That's one way you can tell a legend: heavier ammunition. Another way is, he doesn't give in to your pretensions readily. I remember once when Manny Sanguillen, maybe the nicest ballplayer I ever met, was still with the Pirates. The Venezuelan broadcaster Juan Vené and I tried to convince Sanguillen that Vené and I had played ball against each other, and people had actually paid to watch us, and I was just about to tell about the limes when Sanguillen said, "Softball?"
No, we said, baseball.
"You guyyyyys," said Sanguillen.
Sanguillen, the free-swinging, exuberant Panamanian catcher, was one of my favorite players back in the '70s. I remember him telling me, "I shouldn't swing at the firs' pitch all the time. People tell me, don't always swing at the firs' pitch. Because they always going to throw me a bad pitch, I know I shouldn't do it. But I swing at the firs' pitch all the time."
"Well," I said, "why do you?"
His face lit up, and he held his hands up as if to heaven. "Because it make me feel good!" he cried.
On the cruise, Sanguillen and Orlando Merced and their wives and Ivory and I played volleyball one afternoon. It was nice. We didn't keep score. Which is probably just as well, because legends don't compete lightly.