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Conn Job

So I spent nearly four hours Wednesday, prior to the ballgame, at the John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh's version of the Smithsonian Institution, combined with the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

While there, I learned about, among other things, Lewis & Clark, the history of ketchup, and the story of former light-heavyweight champion/Pittsburgh sports hero Billy "The Pittsburgh Kid" Conn.

Conn's story is a tale of woe, one in which he got the opportunity to fight then-heavyweight champ Joe Louis, and had the bout won, until he got greedy, went for the knockout punch, and got staggered by Louis to the point of crushing defeat.

That could have been the tale of Wednesday's Mets game (thank you Aaron Sele/where the hell are you, Pedro Feliciano?), one of the weirder games I've witnessed this season. From this game, I'll sing praises for Moises Alou and Jorge Sosa, laud the good fortune the Mets got on a ninth-inning error that led to the night's second five-run uprising, and praise the defensive work of Carlos Beltran who made one really nice catch by accident, as well as a potential game-preserver in the ninth inning. Among my other recollections.

* Pittsburgh could use a subway system that drops you off at the ballpark, a la the No. 7 train. It took an hour for the hotel shuttle to make our trip, for what normally should be a 25-minute-or-so ride. On our way, we had to drop a few other guests off at The Melting Pot, an apt name for this Mets team and also that of a fine fondue-serving restaurant in town. I'm not a fonduer (?) by nature, but if you're in Pittsburgh and like food dipped in cheese, apparently it's worth checking out.

* Speaking of food, I forgot on Tuesday to mention the best ballpark buy, a $5 hunk of fudge that could easily have served two, but in this case was quite satisfactory for solo dining. Definitely gonna give that another go on Thursday.

* Sat next to two baseball-savvy teens who informed me that the Pirates have quite the cool eight-pack ticket option. Not only do you get to choose your dates of games, but you get 10 games for the price of eight. Unfortunately, the hidden cost is that your team has to finish under .500 for 15 straight years for such a deal to become viable.

* These folks also informed me that Moises Alou has been one of the great Pirates-killers and they were not mistaken. If Alou plays Thursday that will give him 162 games (a full season equivalent) against the Pirates. He has a .318 batting average, 27 home runs, and 111 RBI against Pittsburgh. And did you know, Moises Alou had his first career walk-off hit against the Pirates, a 14th-inning grand slam against Roger Mason on September 23, 1992.

* Today's objects of derision, besides Pirates ownership and management, were Jason Bay and Ronny Paulino, who were a combined 1-for-8, and at least to Pirates fans, looked totally lost for the first eight innings. There's talk of Paulino being traded to the Mets this offseason. I get the feeling that Pirates fans would be thrilled.

Those truly conned by the Mets know...The reason that Heinz is listed as having "57" varieties is because company owners liked the number, not because it actually represents anything ... Lewis and Clark, at the urging of Thomas Jefferson, began their westward expedition (one repeated by the Rooney family, which owns the Steelers, a few years ago) in Pittsburgh ... Billy Conn actually fought Joe Louis twice for the championship, the second time losing by knockout in eight rounds, in the first televised heavyweight title fight.


Anonymous said…
Conn was a nice fighter, but a lot of blown-up light heavyweights had their problems when they faced a legendary champion a second time (see Roland LaStarza, second fight vs. Rocky Marciano; Floyd Patterson in both Ali fights; etc.)
Of course the worst effort by a light heavyweight taking on a heavy was Felix Millan picking on Ed Ott.

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