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North Carolina Newspapers

The daily Tar Heel. (Chapel Hill, N.C.) 1946-current, August 18, 1986, Page 27, Image 27

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Major league success doesn't come right By LEE ROBERTS Special to the STH The chances of any one person playing major league baseball are miniscule. Even if a ballplayer signs a professional contract, he's only got a one-in-20 chance of playing in the big leagues, and about one player in a hundred has any lasting success there. Those numbers simply enhance the accomplishment of three former North Carolina baseball stars who burned with dreams of making it to the top and who have made it. But the road to the big-time has not been easy for Scott Bradley, Dwight Lowry and Scott Bankhead. TheyVe paid their dues and perhaps have more dues to pay. Scott Bradley "All I ever wanted," Bradley said recently from his Seattle, Wash., hotel room, "was a chance to prove myself. I've played more in three weeks here than I did in Chicago and New York combined." "Here," in Bradley's case, is behind the plate as the Seattle Mariners' catcher. After being jerked around by two impatient organizations (the Yankees and the White Sox), Bradley was traded to Seattle in late June for outfielder Ivan Calderon, and he has taken advantage of his chance to play. As of this writing, Bradley led the Mariners in batting with- a .313 average, was their starting catcher against right-handed pitching and was the top left-handed batter off the bench when he wasn't starting. Bradley was a two-time All America player at North Carolina from 1979-81, the first-ever Tar Heel to receive such billing. Known as a player with an intense work ethic, he didnt even go downtown on a Friday night until his junior year. He was too busy practicing and lifting weights. He left school after his junior season in 1981 when he was drafted by the New York Yankees, his hometown team. For four years, Bradley worked his way up the Yankees' minor-league ladder until spring training of 1985, when Yogi Berra put him on the big club. Two weeks into the season, Bradley was injured on a play at home plate, and didn't play for two months. When he got back, things had changed. George Steinbrenner had fired Berra and rehired Billy Martin as the Yankees' manager. Martin has tra ditionally shied away from playing youngsters, so Bradley sat on the UK Old Well CJiartns and Pendants -made in our shop from $35. B AUM JEWELRY CRAFTSMEN 106 W. Franklin Chapel HiU 9:30-5 JO 929-0286 bench until he was sent to the minor leagues to work out at third base. He was their "third baseman of the future," they told him. When he was recalled, Bradley rarely played, and not for a moment at third base. Over this past winter, the Yankees recalled Bradley from the Puerto Rican League, telling him he was their "catcher of the future" and that they didn't want him to risk injury. So Bradley quit the winter ball, came home, and was promptly traded to the Chicago White Sox. Once in the Windy City, Bradley heard a lot of wind about how he was the White Sox' starting catcher. The only problem was, he got no at bats in spring training and was sent to AAA Buffalo to start the season. He hit .330 with five home runs in a month at Buffalo and was called up to the White Sox in late May. In the major leagues with the White Sox, he played a few games at designated hitter, hit .300, and was benched. Two weeks later, he was traded. Said Bradley of his chance to play in the big leagues: "It takes some luck. You need a chance to play. And it takes dedication and hard work. When you finally get here, it makes all that work worthwhile." Dwight Lowry Lowry had his cup of coffee in the major leagues in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers after five years of at times exasperating minor-league ballplaying. He spent most of the year in the Tigers' Evansville farm club, but was a backup catcher with the team at the beginning when they went on their incredible 35-5 seasonal start, the best ever and at the end when they rocked the San Diego Padres for a 4-1 World Series victory. "I was blessed to be a part of that, and Jesus Christ had a lot to do with it," Lowry said. A born-again Christian, Lowry plays baseball to glorify the Lord. His faith in his religion and in himself 171 E Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC 929-7332 Mon.-Sat. 9:30-6:00 Sun. 1:00-5:00 has enabled Lowry to pursue a baseball rebirth this season. After the dream year of 1984, things fell completely apart for the former All-ACC backstop. He had his worst year ever in 1985, hitting .182 for the Tigers' Nashville farm club, and this spring the Tigers offered him a minor-league coaching job. Lowry balked at the thought of going out to pasture. "I knew that until I had exhausted all opportun ities to play in the big leagues, I'd be giving up on myself," he said. So he went to Nashville again this spring, played well, and when both Dave Engle and Scotti Madison were injured, was called up to back up all star Lance Parrish in mid-May. Lowry got three hits in his first game, was hitting .364 at the time of this writing, and appeared to be sticking with the Motowners. Scott Bankhead At North Carolina, Bankhead was the essence of the Tar Heels' success from 1982-84, and was twice an All America pitcher for the Tar Heels. Bankhead went 9-0 his sophomore season and followed that up with an incredible 11-0 junior year 20 straight wins to end his college career. He left after his junior season when he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, and toiled that summer for the USA Olympic team. It seemed that the spring of 1985 would bring Bankhead unlimited success in his first professional season. But what a surprise he was in for. Bankhead was clobbered in his professional debut season with the AA Memphis Chicks. He lost four of his first five decisions and his effectiveness was seemingly eroding with every pitch. "I was really struggling," Bankhead recalled recently. "I had no confidence." Things got so bad that the Royals flew minor-league pitching instructor Jerry Cram to Memphis just to help Bankhead get back on his feet. He was one or two bad starts away from Casual sportswear for men and women, sunglasses, jewelry and unique housewares. Esprit Duck Head Norfleet LA. Seatcovers Swatch The Tar a demotion to the low minors. Cram found some of the answers to Bankhead's problems by looking at films of those successful years spent here in Chapel Hill. Cram compared films of Bankhead from his North Carolina days and from his Memphis dog-days and found a couple of flaws with the Memphis films. Once Bankhead fixed his mechan ics, his season turned around. "Jerry Cram helped my season turn around," Bankhead said. He embarked on a 7-1 second half to finish with an 8-6 record and a 3.59 ERA. This spring Bankhead pitched strongly and was the last player cut by the Royals in early April. He proceeded to tear up the American Association, racking up an eye popping 1.49 ERA and allowing just 31 hits in 48 13 innings for Omaha. It was only a matter of time before he got the call, and when the Royals traded away an ineffective Mark Since 1980 We've been Singing & Ballooning And Making It Special Smashing for birthdays, anniversaries . . . get well wishes, parties, or just for fun BALLOONS & TUNES BALLOON BOUQUETS DELIVERED WITH A SONG, DECORATING, BALLOON RELEASES, FUND RAISERS, PROMOTIONS, HELIUM RENTAL. WE ALSO HAVE CAKES, HAWUMAUt CHOCOLATES, OK WHATEVER TICKLES YOUR FANCY. We Deliver to Chapel Hill area, Durham & RTP 967-3433 Nationwide via Prices assembled. Second Quality. Delivery arrangements can be made at a small extra charge. IN-STORE FINANCING RIGGSBEE-IHBNSOM FURNITURE CO. CARRBORO, N.C. 929-5695 311 East Main Street 942-4555 Heel Monday, August 18, 198627 off the bat Huismann to Seattle May 21, that call came. He was told of the promotion at 4:30 p.m. in the bullpen in Buffalo, N.Y. By 6:30, he was on an airplane flight to Arlington, Tex., where the Royals were playing the Texas Rangers. Bankhead waited four days to appear in a game, and when he did, he made it count. "It didn't hit me that I was in the major leagues until I walked out to the mound," Bankhead said. "I was standing out there all alone and I looked at home plate and thought to myself, 'Well, let's go.' " And go he did. In his major-league debut, he pitched four innings, allowing two hits and one walk, and had five strikeouts. When the Royals won the game in the 17th, he was the winning pitcher. Just like the good old days. Bankhead has since worked his See BASEBALL page 28 GOURMET FOOD BASKETS Balloon in a Box Carrboro Teak, Oak and Walnut Finishes 1 2"x30"x6' $95

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