By Jeff Johnson
May 13, 2002
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa–Instead of sacrificing a live chicken, a la the baseball movie “Major League,” Cedar Rapids Kernels manager Todd Claus tried something else to get his struggling baseball team going.
He intentionally got himself tossed. Then he found his way up to the Memorial Stadium press box and helped Kernels play-by-play man John Rodgers call the rest of a 3-1 loss to the Burlington Bees on the radio.
Claus sauntered out of the dugout after a close call at first base in the seventh inning went against his team, and calmly walked up to base umpire Rob Hansen.
“I said, 'Guess what, big boy?' ” Claus told what must have been a stunned radio audience. ” 'You're throwing me out of this game.' “
Claus told Hansen he would give the signal with a wink of the eye. The two made small talk for a brief moment, as Claus chatted about his children and then gave the sign. Hansen obliged Claus, giving him the heave-ho.
Of course, the attempt to fire up the team ended up failing. The Kernels dropped their seventh straight and went on to lose two more before finally ending their streak.
“I could kick and scream and throw coolers, but that's not what I'm about,” Claus said. “I believe in this club. I'm going to dig into the trenches and help these guys work through this.”
“I think a lot of guys, me included, are trying to do too much,” said third baseman Dallas McPherson, who still managed to put together a 13-game hitting streak in the midst of the team's slide. “Trying to get things done that just aren't coming our way. We've got to let the game come to us. We've really just got to make our own breaks right now.”
Jeff Johnson is a sportswriter for the The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.