Dear Mr. Baseball:
What does a player get if he hits the "Hit it Here" sign at the ballpark?
Eric Skolnick, M.D.
Dear Eric Skolnick, M.D.:
As Mr. Baseball recalls, Todd Frohwirth received a nice premium, lunch and a movie with consumer watchdog Odonna Mathews when he pointed repeatedly to Giant supermarket's bullpen sign in 1992. But until your question, no one ever had sought the story behind "Hit it Here."
After some checking -- consisting, in part, of looking at the sign on the outfield wall -- Mr. Baseball determined that the billboard touts the Maryland State Lottery. A call to deputy lottery director Carroll H. Hynson Jr. revealed that balls batted off the sign last year were worth dough -- to fans.
Before each game, the name of a fan was drawn, and cash was awarded if any player smacked a ball off the billboard. Not a single ball hit the sign, so a $10,000 prize was awarded at the end of the season to a fan whose name was randomly drawn. Sadly, the contest wasn't continued this year.
Dear Mr. Baseball:
What is the record for the fastest pitch? We couldn't find the answer in the Guinness Book of Sports Records.
Caroline County Library
Dear Jane Terebey:
Mr. Baseball appreciates your resourcefulness in seeking answers elsewhere before coming here as a last resort, for that is how Mr. Baseball views himself -- a haven for beleaguered public servants such as librarians.
Your question, relayed on behalf of library customer Gary Reed, drove Mr. Baseball to seek the counsel of Orioles public relations director John Maroon, who suggested a call to The Jugs Co., manufacturer of baseball radar guns. The suggestion reminded Mr. Baseball of the movie classic "Mother, Jugs, and Speed," starring Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch and Harvey Keitel. It rated three stars from the "Video Movie Guide" and featured "scene-stealing hilarity from Larry Hagman as an oversexed driver."
But Mr. Baseball digresses.
Speaking from Jugs headquarters near Portland, Ore., sales manager Ed Dechene said the top speed recorded on its equipment is Nolan Ryan's 104 mph.
However, Mr. Dechene would not comment on Larry Hagman.