Friday, September 23, 2005

September 23rd, 1942

Woody Woodward Born

Woody, of course, is a nickname, he was born William Woodward. Whatever you call him, Woodward is best remembered today for his tenure as General Manager of the Seattle Mariners, which included the trade that brought Freddy Garcia, John Halama and Carlos Guillen to the M's in exchange for Randy Johnson going to Houston. At the time the deal was widely seen as a coup for the Astros but would later evolve into a pretty decent deal for the Mariners.

Anyway, I like to remember Woodward for something else. Actually a pair of something elses: he spent his playing career as a mediocre utility infielder, but had two items of note, both concerning his tenure with the Reds. The first is with regards to Woodward's uniform. I've always been of the opinion that Tino Martinez is the Yankee of the last few years who wears the uniform the best, especially when it comes to the post season on the road and he would wear the road gray with a long sleeved blue undershirt. When it came to the Cincinnati Reds, however, their GM Bob Howsam thought no one looked better in the uniform than Woody Woodward. To encourage the rest of his players to follow Woordward's example, Howsam had a photo of the man enlarged and placed in the clubhouse so that every Red could not only admire Woodward's example, but also stick to it.

The second incident is perhaps less about Woodward than about the ever-tenuous nature of our existence, but he does factor rather heavily, so it is as much Woodward's story as anyone else's. On
September Fourth, 1971 Woodward was manning shortstop for Reds at Chavez Ravine. In the ninth inning, while Woodward was probably thinking about the Reds' 2-1 deficit in the game as he stood at his position, he was rudely disturbed by the arrival--about half-a-yard away from him--of a ten pound bag of flour dropped from a passing airplane. Without getting into melodrama--the flour could have in theory killed Woodward had it struck him flush--it is still an amazing incident.

Perhaps leading a team for several years (Woodward retired as the longest tenured GM in the Majors) is a more noteworthy accomplishment. But to me, Woody Woodward will always be the neatly uniformed player nearly killed by a falling bag of flour.

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