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On a game in Los Angeles on June 11, 1974, pitcher Al Hrabosky psyched himself up behind the mound and then struck out Dodgers hitter Tom Paciorek on three pitches. The legend of the Mad Hungarian was born. This is how Post-Dispatch sportswriter Neal Russo covered the event.
Very early one Sunday morning in the very late 1970s, I was behind the wheel of my truck with a couple of friends, parked outside of a country and western bar in Salina, Kansas, preparing for the drive home after a night of beer drinking and line dancing. Suddenly the doors to the bar flew open and a small cowboy burst out. He wasn’t your typical Kansas cowboy, he was Asian, quite possibly Japanese, and appeared to be about 5’6 and maybe 125 pounds. He gave his cowboy hat to a friend and proceeded to warm up with a series of kung fu moves. In those days, nobody called it martial arts. Everybody was kung fu fighting.
He came to the mound with his hair wild, a Fu Manchu, and a famously angry stare. Before the first pitch of each appearance with the KC Royals, he stepped behind the mound, looked out to center field, vigorously rubbed the ball between his hands, slammed it into his glove, stormed to the rubber, and stared intensely at the hitter. Only then was he ready to pitch.
With an assist from the prankster mascot, Fredbird, former St. Louis Cardinals star pitcher and broadcaster Al Hrabosky spoke to students at Du Quoin Elementary School Tuesday, encouraging them to be responsible, be active and be themselves.
"Being a good student is like being a good teammate," Hrabosky said. "It takes a lot of hard work. If you work hard, you will be successful and your school will be, too."