May 28, 2007

WHAT BO KNEW (via Brad S.):

The legend of Bo: Bo Jackson didn’t believe the hype, saying he was just another guy. But really, he was superhuman. (JOE POSNANSKI, May. 26, 2007, Kansas City Star)

Bo said he was just another guy. He wasn’t some sort of folk hero, like John Henry or Pecos Bill. No, he hurt like other players. He made mistakes like other players. He struck out a lot. He wasn’t forged out of steel, and he couldn’t outrun locomotives, and he couldn’t turn back time by flying around the world and reversing the rotation of the earth.

“I’m just another player, you know?” he said.

Then the game began, Royals vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

First time up, Bo hit a 412-foot homer to center field.

Second time up, Bo smashed a 464-foot opposite-field home run. Longtime Yankees fans said that ball landed in a far-off place where only home runs by Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle from the left side ever reached.

“Colossal,” teammate George Brett would say. “I had to stop and watch.”

Third time up, Yankees manager Stump Merrill walked out to the mound to ask pitcher Andy Hawkins how he intended to get Bo out this time.

“I’ll pitch it outside,” Hawkins said.

“It better be way outside,” Merrill replied.

Hawkins threw it way outside. Jackson poked the ball over the right-field fence for his third homer. The New York crowd went bananas.

Bo never got a fourth time up that day. Instead, Bo hurt his shoulder while diving and almost making one of the great catches in baseball history. New Yorkers stood and cheered Bo as he walked off the field. It’s possible that no opposing player ever heard those sorts of cheers at Yankee Stadium.

“You know what?” Royals Hall of Famer Frank White would say almost 20 years later. “I really did play baseball with Superman.”

A buddy and I went to Fenway specifically to check him out and he got up the firstbase line faster on grounders than anyone who's ever played the game.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2007 12:05 PM

I just remember that 90 yd touchdown run on MNF for tha Raiders against the Seahawks.

He ran 90 yards the way other players run the 40.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 28, 2007 12:44 PM

As a baseball player, he was solid enough, despite being very, very raw, but had he concentrated on football, he'd be up with Jim Brown (a step above OJ & Barry Sanders) as the greatest running backs ever.

Posted by: b at May 28, 2007 5:15 PM

Can't fault the guy for wanting to excel at a game of skill instead.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2007 5:54 PM

OJ - I don't know if you remember, but we saw him play at Yankee Stadium as a rookie. He lost his footing after catching a fly ball in medium-deep left field and ended up throwing the ball OVER the backstop...sure the run scored, but it was an incredible throw.

Posted by: Foos at May 29, 2007 10:35 AM

Oops, Yankee Stadium, not Fenway.

Posted by: oj at May 29, 2007 12:24 PM