The Ernie Camacho Chronicles
We all know the Rickey Henderson-John Olerud story…it goes like this: While playing for Seattle, Rickey Henderson goes up to John Olerud and says "wow you where a helmet while you play first base. I used to play with a guy that did that same thing." Olerud responds "That was me. We played together in New York."
Or, for example, the Wade Boggs 57-beers-on-one-cross-continental-flight story.
These are the types of stories that I find appealing. Here’s some of my favorites about one of my favorites, Mr. Ernie Camacho. This is taken from an article by Sheldon Ocker in the Sporting News of October 2, 1995.
Mesa is the most effective relief pitcher the Indians have had, but he is not the most memorable in my 15 seasons covering, the team. That distinction belongs to Ernie Camacho, who saved games for the Indians from 1983 through ’87.
Ernie Camacho was a reporter’s dream. Despite owning a 95 mph fastball (and that’s on the slow gun), he was not the most confident guy. Camacho didn’t think he threw hard enough, so he mixed in curveballs and changeups, even though they seldom found the plate.
Manager Pat Corrales was forced to institute the Camacho Rule: Throw nothing but fastballs. Corrales would stride to the mound, glare at Camacho and yell, "No tricks." While this was going on, Corrales would dig his forefinger into Camacho’s chest repeatedly until he made himself perfectly clear.
Camacho viewed Corrales’ methods as tough love. "I think it’s great when Pat does that because I know he cares about me," Camacho said.
Pitching Coach Jack Aker was not amused by the Indians’ high-maintenance bullpen closer. "I’m the pitching coach for the other nine guys," he would say. "Pat is the pitching coach for Ernie."
Quite by accident, Camacho’s locker was near the exit to the clubhouse. He thought management had an ulterior motive for putting it there. "It’s easier to get rid of me when I’m near the door," he would say.,
It was normal for Camacho to believe he was one breath or one pitch from disaster. After he underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, Camacho kept them in ajar on the shelf of his locker to remind himself how lucky he was to survive the ordeal.
When players were asked to autograph 100 photos for charity, Camacho said his arm was sore from signing his name and he rushed to the trainer’s room for treatment "The other guys were smarter than me," Camacho said. "They signed their pictures a few at a time. I did an of mine in one day. That was a big mistake."
During a game at Yankee Stadium, a line drive struck Camacho’s glove hand. He summoned Corrales, who ordered him to stay on return each pitch to the third or the first baseman man, who had to walk to the mound and hand the ball to Camacho.