Fred HoldsworthApril 18, 2012
For Tax Week, here’s Fred Holdsworth, who after his playing career ended became an accountant and is now a vice president of finance for Comcast. During his playing career, Holdsworth floated around on the fringes of rosters for a while and injured Hall of Famers. In a spring training game, one of his pitches broke Carlton Fisk’s forearm. A couple of years later, he ran into Jim Palmer while the two were jogging around the outfield, the collision causing problems with Palmer’s delivery, according to Palmer. In a late August game in 1980, he did not injure George Brett (Brett had already been plunked in the knee earlier in the game by another pitcher) but perhaps Holdsworth’s injurious aura cowed the future Hall of Famer just enough to stop Brett’s streak of 8 hits in 8 at-bats. In the following weeks, Brett’s torrid pace fell off just a bit, causing him to narrowly miss batting .400, and during the playoffs and World Series he developed a painful case of hemorrhoids, but it wouldn’t be fair to blame either of these setbacks on Fred Holdsworth. That said, I am now tempted to research causes of hemorrhoids; perhaps I could discover that certain poor eating and drinking habits contribute to the malady, and a hypotheses could be formed that Brett, confused by his inability to include the eminently hittable Fred Holdsworth (who admitted after stymieing Brett, “Heck, I’m just happy to get anybody out”) in his steamrolling domination of American League pitching, drowned his sorrows in a post-game bacchanalia of hemorrhoid-causing consumables. But I don’t want to digress. This is my affliction, digressing, the thing by which I am undone. When did I start digressing? Maybe it goes back to 1975, when I was seven and began collecting baseball cards. The cards that year digressed. The main subject of the cards was featured in most places on the front and back, but each card contained a riddle unrelated to the player on the card. You start thinking about Fred Holdsworth, and soon enough, via a riddle, you’re thinking about something else. The riddle on the back of Holdsworth’s card asks, “Which Phillie has a Las Vegas night club act?” The answer is upside down below a cartoon of a baseball player strumming a guitar: Tom Hutton. A few weeks ago, while working on a piece about Alan Foster, I ran across a newspaper article from spring training 1969 about the friendship between teammates Foster and Hutton. The two had been playing together for years in the Dodgers’ minor league system and had been deemed by their current minor league manager, identified in the article as “Tommy LaSorda,” as “the first Siamese twins in the history of organized baseball.” The two friends, who according to the article were on the cusp of becoming major league mainstays for the Dodgers, are shown playing guitar and singing. Hutton jokingly boasts at one point, “And when we get through they’re gonna be saying Simon and Garfunkel who?” By 1975, Hutton was on the Phillies and Foster was a Padre. Hutton, despite the implications of the riddle on the back of Fred Holdsworth’s card, was not currently performing in Las Vegas in 1975, but he had indeed played there. At the Thunderegg blog, Hutton is asked about the baseball card lore (repeated on more than one occasion in back of the card cartoons) identifying him as Vegas performer. Hutton, now a broadcaster calling games for the Marlins, replied that he “played guitar & sang with Maury Wills in the winter of 1971 at the old Las Vegas Hotel in downtown Vegas. Maury invited me to be part of his show and we did 3 shows a nite for 6 wks.” None of this has anything to do with Fred Holdsworth.