As Alejandro noted, I have been MIA for a while. This is because I am taking a couple weeks off from work, life, and ruing the day I ever put my happiness in Theo Epstein’s hands, in order to take a road trip. But the other day when I was tooling down Route 17 in North Carolina, I happened to pass through Hertford, the hometown of Jim “Catfish” Hunter. In case you don’t recall, here’s a short bio of the A’s ace:
The bigger the game, the better he pitched. Jim “Catfish” Hunter, with his pinpoint control, epitomized smart pitching at its finest. He pitched a perfect game in 1968, won 21 or more games five times in a row, and claimed the American League Cy Young Award in 1974. Arm trouble ended his career at age 33, but he still won 224 games and five World Series rings. The likable pitching ace died in 1999 at age 53 – a victim of ALS, the same disease that cut short the life of Lou Gehrig.
This got me thinking. How did this guy end up with a crazy nickname like Catfish? Apparently, A’s owner Charlie Finley just came up with the nickname, and then made up a tall tale about young Jim fishing in North Carolina’s winding streams. Although I’m sure that Hunter actually did go fishing, I was hoping for something better, frankly. According to this site, Finley made up the story–Hunter had run away from home when he was six, caught two catfish, and when his family found him, was already reeling in the third–and then made Hunter repeat it back to him. Sports media, always looking for a colorful angle (pun intended, ha ha) bought the story hook, line, and sinker (stole that one). And the rest, as they say, is history.
But anyways, the town was just a teensy little blip on the map, in Perquimans County, south of the Great Dismal Swamp and marked with a small, rusty, green and white sign.
And always remember, “The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time.”