1975. "Do The Hustle." Studio 21. Saturday Night Live. "Saturday Night Fever." Leisure suits. Hip-huggin' synthetic double-knit baseball uniforms. The provocative, green and plaid jumpers worn by my female classmates at St. Wenceslaus Elementary. And..."Disco" Danny Ford, a true sign of his times, joined the Minnesota Twins out of spring training.
Dan, seen here gettin' his groove thing on to Parliament Funkadelic, was a talented, if not always attentive outfielder for our Twins. He really could do a lot of things well, a fellow with tools, but...
He goes down in Twins lore as the guy who one day, September 5, 1978 (BBRef game box), slowed down on the basepaths between third and homeplate, high-steppin and elbows pumping for maximum effect (for the ladies, apparently). He then turned and watched the next baserunner make his way home on a basehit (Jose Morales). The problem? In doing so, he allowed himself to be passed on the basepath by the oncoming teammate. According to the baseball rules book (see below link), that second baserunner should be ruled "out" - and so it went down.
Managing the Twins was tougher-than-nails Gene Mauch. known for his steely stare when things weren't going well by him, besides having the ability to make grown men wet their pants in fear. So, he definitely had the respect of the Twins players. He also knew the baseball rule book inside-out, better than even the umpires. If he'd been cast instead as Charlton Heston to play Moses in the Ten Commandments, he'd likely have found loopholes to confound The Almighty. That is, for most every other rule except for Baseball Rule 7.08H, which is impervious to any other interpretation than what is obvious.
Check the card of Mauch from 1978, in one of his light-hearted moments. Imagine this as his reaction to the baserunning folly crime above.
Never let substance get in the way of style, kids.
According to no less an expert witness than Roy Smalley, here's what transpired after Ford's un-triumphant boogie to the dugout: "You can keep right on going..." growled the managerthrough clenched teeth as Ford approached the dugout (implying he should feel free to get dressed and go home)," not wanting to look at the abomination standing before him. "What are you talking about?" said Ford, walking towards Mauch. "I can't stand to look at you...Get the hell out of here." So, Ford indeed left as requested, and thus the nickname "Disco Dan" was born.
Right after his dirty deed. ..Danny just being Danny. And those White Sox
vintage knickers! Richard Olsenius/Star Tribune Minneapolis-St.Paul. From Bob Showers, "The Twins At The Met."
Danny did go on to redeem himself, adopting one of the most incredible closed batting stances ever seen in history, while playing for two pennant winners in subsequent years. He was a major factor in the 1979 California Angels pennant year, and clubbed a homer against the Philadelphia Phillies and Steve Carlton (for Baltimore-see video) in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series.
I remember standing near the players entrance at Met Stadium (aerial photo) with my cousin before a game in '77, when we spied Ford making his way from the players lot. In roaring past two young autograph hounds, he displayed far more speed in evading us than he did on the famous play described earlier. And in the process, certainly looking every part the disco dancin' lovin' young man he was cracked up to be. But a breathtaking brush with fame for me, nonetheless! Think of the Twins pride that would have swelled our chests had we known we were in the presence of a future Playgirl centerfold(see story). Which would call into question our judgement regarding our choice of heroes, in a way.
Dan Ford was certainly not alone in this instance. Check out the list of famous players in this link's list!!
5/9/2016 - In the bottom of the second inning, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto's fly to CF just cleared the fence. Marcell Ozuna returned to 1B in case the ball was caught as Realmuto rounded the 1B bag.