Ventura swings for the fences

Ventura has a smooth left-handed swing, but his balance is sometimes affected by having a right ankle that is, well, borrowed.

The ankle that got mangled in a 1997 spring training slide was subjected to years of cortisone injections. After he retired in 2004, Ventura needed a cane to walk. So he had ankle transplant surgery, with a joint harvested from a cadaver.

"They didn't tell me if it came from a girl, a guy or an ape," he said.

Ventura was semi-serious about the ape. Not long after the surgery, Stephanie noticed him eating a banana.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "You hate bananas."

Not anymore.

Wearing a black-and-orange Karsten Creek cap, home course of alma mater Oklahoma State, Ventura reached the uphill, 482-yard third hole in two shots and wasn't shy on his eagle putt. It rolled 6 feet past, resulting in a three-putt par. But he had no regrets.

"I'm here for the great shot," he said.

Also for the laughs.

At one point Ventura broke out his Hawk Harrelson impression: "The guy was throwing 99 miles an hour. I said to the batboy, 'Son, give me that bat.' It's 29 ounces. I hit it over the scoreboard."

We also talked about throwing out the first pitch. Playing partner Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network did the honors before a Sox game in 2005.

And you, Robin?

"Yeah, I bounced one on purpose," he replied. "Ozzie (Guillen) was catching, and he wasn't wearing a cup. I tried to get him. He bailed."

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

9 holes with ... Robin Ventura

Five-second bio: The White Sox manager won six Gold Gloves and hit 18 grand slams, tied for fifth all-time.

Where: Crystal Tree, Orland Park (silver tees, front nine: 3,327 yards).

Ventura's handicap: 9.

What he shot: 41.

How he describes his game: "Hit and miss."




Eduardo A. Encina

Eduardo A. Encina

Orioles beat writer
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck

Sports Columnist
Dan Connolly

Dan Connolly

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Dean Jones Jr.

Dean Jones Jr.

Orioles editor