Apr 12, 2004
RAY: Lefty McDougal, star pitcher of the Kenosha Ramblers, had an incentive clause in his contract that guaranteed him an extra thousand bucks if he won 20 games during the season.
TOM: This sounds like 1925!
RAY: It's last game of the season. Lefty has 19 victories, and is scheduled to be that day's starting pitcher. The opponent is a lousy team. They've got a terrible record, and Lefty knows he's going to get the bonus.
As luck would have it, an hour before the game his manager approaches him and says, "You ain't starting, Lefty."
Lefty asks, "Why not?"
The manager says, "The owner of the team came and said, 'If you start this bum... if he throws even one pitch, you're losing your job!'"
Lefty's dejected. He says, "Jeez, I was going buy a new house in the Hamptons with that thousand bucks!"
Lefty's discouraged, and the manager is discouraged too, because he has great regard for Lefty. The manager wonders, "How can I get Lefty to win his 20th game and collect his bonus-- and not throw a single pitch?"
And that's what happens. Lefty wins the game without throwing a single pitch.
How did he do it?
RAY: The fact that his nickname was Lefty should help. Lefties have good pick-off moves. So imagine this: It's the top of the ninth, and the game is tied. The opponents have a guy on first base and there are two outs. Lefty's brought in. He doesn't throw a single pitch. Instead he picks the guy off of first base.
Inning over. Did he throw a pitch?
RAY: Bottom of the ninth one of his teammates hits a homerun, end of game, Lefty wins, gets his bonus, gets his thousand bucks and the manager gets fired anyway.
Do we have a winner?
TOM: Yeah, the winner is Shelby Wilson from Bloomington, Indiana. And for having his or her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Shelby gets a $26 dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division of Cartalk.com. And with that certificate, Shelby can get a brand-new official Car Talk gym bag. Now, I ask you, how many NPR shows have an official gym bag?
RAY: Well, last count about 16, I think.