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By John B. Holway

Ted Williams  |  Bucky Dent  |  Joe Carter |  Sadaharu Oh

Teddy Ballgame's Called Shots

Whether Babe Ruth called a World Series shot in 1932 (after viewing the film, I doubt it), the all-time leader in called shots is Ted Williams, who called six of his own and one by Arky Vaughn.

He hit one in Washington for a kid in the hospital but doesn't remember the details.

As a rookie in 1939, he called one against Bob Harris, the first homer hit over the rightfield roof in Detroit.

In 1946 he called one against Hal Newhouser and tells about it in his book, "My Turn At Bat."

He called one in 1941 against Lefty Gomez, but the ball hit the foul pole for a ground-rule double. (The foul pole is actually in fair territory, so he was robbed of a home run.) He hit another one in Fenway on Labor Day that year.

Before the All Star game that year, he told Jimmie Foxx he was going to do something big. After Claude Passeau struck him out on a slider in the eighth, with the score 4-2 against the American League, there seemed little chance that he would get to bat again. "Yet I had the funny feeling that I was going to get up there at least one more time and hit one," he told me in "The Last 400 Hitter." When Arky Vaughn of the Nationals (six homers for the year) came up in the ninth and hit a homer, Ted said, "Something told me was going ot do that." That made the score 5-2. with Ted due upo sixth in the ninth. Still, Ted said, "I figured I was going to get up there again too."

The first AL batter went out in the bottom of the ninth, and fans began filing out of the stands. But Ken Keltner got a lucky hit. Instead of two outs, there was still only one. Joe Gordon singled, and the fans stopped to watch. Cecil Travis walked, bringing up DiMag, whose hitting streak was at 46 games. Joe, hitless in the game, hit a double-play ball, but second baseman Billy Herman threw the relay wide. Passeau had thrown four outs but got only two of them.

First baseman Frank McCormick made a great stop on the throw to prevent it from going into the dugout. If it had, Joe would have taken second, and Passeau would have walked Ted.

Instead, he pitched to Ted and fooled him with the same slider he had thrown in the eighth. On the 2-1 count, Claude threw another slider. "This is it," Ted recalled saying. "I shut my eyes and swung."

What are the odds on calling five shots of his own, plus Vaughn's? I figure them at over 80,000 to one.

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Details on these and many other called shots, are found in my book, "The Baseball Astrologer and Other Weird Tales." You can get an autographed copy!  Send $20.00 to: Craig Tomarkin / 2333 Congress St / Fairfeld, CT 06430. Postage is free. Mention whom you would like John to autograph the book to. For updated charts on the birthdays of batting champs, base stealing kings, and top pitchers, send an extra $5.00

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Joe Carter's Called Shot

When Toronto outfielder Joe Carter kissed his wife goodbye and left home for Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, he told her something special was going to happen that night. "I'm either going to catch the last out or drive in the winning run."

A few hours later his ninth-inning homer off Philadelphia's Mitch Williams won the game and the Series for Toronto.

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Bucky Dent's Called Shot

In his delightful book, "Golf in the Kingdom," Michael Murphy suggests visualizing "lines of force," on which the ball will ride to the green. In a recent TV program, the non-athletic Robert Alda was advised to do the same thing with what he gasped were uncanny results. He also started sinking putts and free throws that previously he was missing.

Bucky Dent told me his dramatic 1978 playoff homer against the Red Sox was born three years earlier in a class on Sylva Mind Control, which taught the same technique.

Bucky and Rich Gossage were among a group of White Sox rookies who took the course. They were taught that if one spends an hour visualizing shooting the perfect basketball free throw, you'll improve more than a control class which physically practices free throws. There was more to the course than that; for example, the rookies were also taught meditation to relieve tensions and that failure communicates failure as fear of failure communicates fear, not only to our own subconscious but to other players on the team.

Their instructor, Rich Herro, told me meditation can also help prevent injuries, which are often unconsciously invited by the player to excuse failure. Quaterback John Brodie of the '49ers reported on his own personal experience confirming that; when he overcame his fear of a hot-shot young rival, his sore arm disappeared.

"Mind control works in life too," Gossage said, and the players' wives attended as well.

In '78 Bucky and Rich were reunited on the Yankees. Dent told me that the dramatic playoff homer may have actually have been born that summer, when he was injured and recuperated on the beach in Florida. As he sunned himself, he meditated. "You program," he said. "You think about what you want to do, visualize yourself hitting or fielding."

His own program wasn't so specific as a game-winning homer in the still unforeseen playoff. He couldn't foresee details. But he knew he wanted to happen, and on the beach in Florida he began seeing the thought grow into reality.

Teammate Reggie Jackson was also into visualizing. "When I want to turn it on," he told me, "I get away from the plate. I stretch, control my breathing, and slow up my heart rate. I imagine myself putting the 'sweet party' of the bat in the hitting area just as the ball is getting there. I see a line drive going to centerfield. I mumble, 'All right, Reggie, just let it happen, let it flow.... NOW, let it happen.'"

Reggie followed Bucky's homer with a blast of his own, and Gossage was waved in to protect the lead.

"The mind functions best at low frequency," he says. "Now if I give up a hit in a crucial situation, I don't feel it's the end of the world. That's where Mind Control really helped me."

Rich got the last two outs in the eighth and the first out in the ninth. Then he gave up a walk and a hit, bringing up the best hitter in baseball, Jim Rice (444 total bases). Rice flew out.

Carl Yastrzmeski was next. Rich says that in a tight spot, he turned his thoughts to the mountains back home in Colorado and the cooling thought that, no matter what happens, I'm going home.

Yaz popped up.

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Sadaharu Oh

In 1962 a Japanese coach named Arakawa called 676 home runs.

He took Sadaharu Oh, a hot-headed, hard-drinking ex-pitcher with a hitch in his swing, who ws batting .161 with 40 home runs in his career.

A devotee of aikido and kendo (swordsmanship), Arakawa developed the trademark one-legged stance to get rid of the hitch, and the downward swing, which he called the shortest path to the ball.

"What do you say" Arakawa asked, "shall we go for Babe Ruth's record?

Incidentally, in games against white big leaguers, Oh averaged 35 homers per 550 at bats, versus 42/550 in Japan. His victims included Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Chuck Dobson, and John Matlack. The Americans walked him as often as the Japanese, more than one a game -- Oh holds the world record with over 2500 walks. He never came to bat 500 times in one year, and sometimes it was under 400. If he had come up as often as Hank Aaron, I calculate, he would have hit 1,001 homers.

He hit as many to leftfield as to right. When I saw him, he slapped singles to each field.

The majority of American fans were denied the chance to see at least three great sluggers in Oh, Josh Gibson, and Mule Suttles.

Arakawa told Oh, "The enlightened one loses all sense of struggle," i.e. make the pitcher pitch to you and go with the flow.

In his book, Oh tells of the diminutive Arakawa challenging the visiting Greg "the Bull" Luzinski to push Arakawa's outstretched arms down. "What if I break them?" Greg worried.

"We'll worry about that later," Arakawa said.

Greg strained until his face turned red. Arakawa's arms didn't budge. "Luzinski used strength," Oh writes, "Arakawa used 'ki'" or life force (ch'i in Chinese). Anyone can do it, Oh says: Just imagine steel rods extending out of your arms and into the walls.

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Those wishing to read more can check out Oh's book, one of the classics of baseball literature.

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