Grabbin' Some Pine With Mike Krukow

Categories: Sports
Kruk card.jpg
Back in 1987 your humble narrator's father had a breakthrough realization. If he managed to buy the cheapest and worst tickets for the National League Championship Series between the Giants and Cardinals, he discovered he could waltz right into the jury-rigged Candlestick Park media overflow section in the upper deck behind home plate without getting hassled.

These were his favorite seats anyway -- especially when Mike Krukow was pitching. From that angle, you could really pick up the break on Kruk's magnificent curveball. And, on that night, you could pick up even more. Since we were in the media section, television sets had hastily been set atop poles. I still remember the closeup shot of Krukow's face as he unmistakeably mouthed the word "Bullshit!" toward home plate, ostensibly arguing balls and strikes. He was masterful, tossing a complete game as the Giants won 4-2. Among many baseball memories, this one is right near the top.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Krukow, now a longtime Giants announcer, for a forthcoming story in SF Weekly. I recounted to him the above story, and he smiled. "That was a good day, wasn't it?" he said. He remembered the "Bullshit!" moment with alacrity -- but he noted that he certainly wasn't arguing balls and strikes.

John Boitnott
Mike Krukow (left) with your humble narrator
"I wasn't yelling at the umpire, Eric Gregg. It was Vince Coleman -- he stepped out of the box late when I was in my motion, and he called a timeout. And that was bullshit!" said Krukow. "Back then, when a guy did that, he was going to get hurt. I was taught that if you were in your windup and the hitter called timeout late, you went ahead and threw the pitch. And you threw it at the guy. So, that was my whole beef. Years later Gregg told me I was right."

It's a rare pleasure to learn a telling detail about one of your fondest childhood memories that makes it even better. Nicer still to meet a boyhood hero and realize you were rooting for a good dude. Nothing bullshit about that.

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