Friday, November 12, 2010
Vintage Fridays: Baltimore Orioles, 1968 Topps #334
A few nights ago I was watching a replay Game One of the 1970 World Series on MASN. It was the infamous Bernie Carbo game, in which Elrod Hendricks fielded a ball with his bare hand and tagged Carbo with his empty glove, and the confused umpire (who had been entangled with the players) called the Reds player out. The Birds won 4-3.
In the middle of the game, the camera settled upon Jay Mazzone and the play-by-play announcer pointed out that the teenager had lost both of his hands in an unfortunate accident when he was just a toddler. At the age of two, his snowsuit caught fire and amputation was necessary due to the severity of the burns. He was outfitted with prosthetic hooks, which he had learned to use deftly to handle objects - including bats and balls. I was surprised that I had never heard about him before, beyond passing mentions of his name. I checked the team cards in my collection, and none give a really clear view of Jay's appendages. The closest was the 1971 card, but I'd already used it last summer.
I checked online to see if there was any more information about Mazzone, and found a few articles. The Baltimore Sun caught up with him in 2007, and found that he was living in Parkton (north of Baltimore) with his wife Bobbie. At age 54, he was working as a heavy equipment operator for R&F Construction Co. on Eutaw Street, within shouting distance of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The other article was a USA Today piece about kangaroo courts, and they had Jay share an amusing story about the O's brand of clubhouse justice. Frank Robinson presided over the team's mock court, and he got along well with the bat boy. However, Mazzone felt that many of the other players were overly sensitive to his disability and didn't know how to treat him. During one "trial", Robinson asked for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote to decide whether a fine should be levied on a teammate. Afterward, he announced that Jay would be fined for not voting. That broke the tension, and from then on the players treated him more inclusively. Jimmy Tyler even made Mazzone a big cardboard thumb so that he could participate in future votes!
(With this, my second blog entry about bat boys, I now believe that I hold an unofficial record in the baseball card blogosphere.)