I was watching the MLB Network’s “Top 50 Most Incredible Collisions” last night, and No. 8 was Bo Jackson plowing into Rick Dempsey and almost sending the former Orioles catcher flying into the dugout. I counted three backward somersaults.
When I texted Dempsey, he replied, “Well, I’ve got that going for me.”
Which is nice.
Dempsey, in his only season with the Cleveland Indians in 1987, missed the last six weeks with a broken left thumb. And get this: A proctologist in Kansas City set the bone.
“I guess he was the closest doctor there,” Dempsey said during our ensuing phone conversation.
Yes, we made the obvious jokes.
Left-hander Scott Bailes fielded a comebacker to the mound as Jackson broke for home. The rest is collision history, including the part where Dempsey actually held onto the ball.
“(Bailes) triple-pumped and lobbed me the ball. I just knew I was going to get killed,” Dempsey said. “I stayed tall, didn’t try to get down. (Jackson) got there so fast and was so big, it was unbelievable how quickly he went through me.
“I put my hand down to try to stop the blow and my glove got caught around his neck and my thumb just snapped. It went so fast. It’s kind of amazing, really. I could feel how strong he really was when he took my legs and feet out.
“I could see that my thumb was bent back to my wrist. I looked down at it and said, ‘It doesn’t hurt.’ It was just a dull pain. But I said, ‘That thing’s never bent back that far.’ It cracked right down the middle. I pushed it back in place.”
I find it more amazing that Dempsey went on the disabled list only twice in a 24-year major league career. A Don Gullett pitch broke his left index finger in 1977.
By the way, the No. 1 collision was Pete Rose-Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game. Former Oriole Albert Belle was No. 2 on the list after almost decapitating second baseman Fernando Vina in 1996, a transgression that earned the Cleveland Indians outfielder a fine and enhanced his reputation as a lunatic.
Dempsey was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame the following year (Yes, I’m tying together two themes.) I’m wondering whether Roberto Alomar will be joining him this summer.
Alomar is heading to Cooperstown, an honor that should have come to him last year. But what about Camden Yards?
Alomar qualifies because he played three years in Baltimore, but is that enough to put him into the team’s Hall of Fame - especially when 1998 wasn’t his best work?
John Hirschbeck has forgiven Alomar for the spitting incident, but many fans have not, so that also could influence your decision.
Anyway, I’m heading outside to do some shoveling. Yes, I own a shovel. Gloves, too. I’m a big boy now. I’ll make some calls later today and see if anything’s happening with the Orioles that requires more than a tiresome incremental update.