Bruce Markusen has a very well-researched piece The Hardball Times all about a player I remember from one of my favorite era of baseball, the 70s- Al Hrabosky.
I remember the Mad Hungarian well. What I didn’t know was how he got his nickname:
The unusual routine prompted a nickname from the Cardinals’ front office. The team’s public relations director, Jerry Lovelace, began calling Hrabosky “The Mad Hungarian.” The name, which accurately reflected his heritage, caught on with writers, broadcasters and fans, giving Hrabosky one of the most identifiable alter egos of his time, or any other for that matter.
Just think, the club front office not only approved but capitalized on Hrabosky’s behavior.
No doubt I’ve said this before but I wonder if Al’s stomping around the mound and talking to the ball would be tolerated in today’s world. The 70s were a more colorful time (in more ways than one… you’ve seen the uniforms) and probably a little more tolerant of differences and eccentricities.
Sadly, if Hrabosky tried to pull what he did in 2010, someone would complain, there would be an investigation by an appointed MLB committee and a 50-page policy written up detailing what is acceptable and not acceptable.
Miss you. Al.