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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: FSU Strikeout Record and Vince Coleman with Cool Papa Bell

After Max Scherzer’s 20 strikeout performance for the Nationals last week, my friend Wayne Hogan had a Facebook post about Tony Avitable, who holds the Seminoles’ record for strikeouts in a game with 24.

Wayne, who is now the executive director at Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the owner/CEO at Mango Media, has held many titles during his career, including media relations director at FSU and later the school’s acting athletic director. He is a man of gusto and knows how to spin a tale.

According to Hogan, Avitable’s record-setting performance took place in 1956 during a nine-inning game against Furman. Wayne also pointed out that — according to legend, the rainy, muddy conditions of that game allowed Avitable to fudge on where his foot touched the rubber — or not. In the process he gained a foot to 18 inches on his fastball. Hogan wrote:

Furman players would marvel after the game as to how Tony got stronger and his fastball seemed to get faster as the game went along…

Wayne’s story brought to mind a discussion in 1987 between Cool Papa Bell and Vince Coleman at Busch Stadium.

The base-stealing legends quickly found a common ground when they discussed what they would do if they were on first or second base with just two umpires on field. When somebody got a hit to the outfield, they would cut the corner at third without sniffing the bag and head home.

Both were fast, but imagine how fast anybody watching their games thought they were when they pulled that one.

I’ll never forget how they laughed at their shared experience.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography