You see, when we were kids, we played pickup baseball all summer. LIKE ALL SUMMER. Every day. Actually that movie, "The Sandlot" is a pretty good representation of one young teenage boy's life on the south side of Warren, Michigan in the early 1970's. We played at Ridgewood Field and started in the morning, came home for lunch, went back and played until dinner and sometimes went back after dinner and played until dark.
Now during these very important games, prior to stepping to the plate, we would typically announce who we "were", be that Mickey Stanley, Rusty Staub, Ron Leflore or even the immortal Al Kaline.
Just to shake things up, sometimes when I came to the plate, the player introductions would go something like this:
"Now batting, Sixto Lezcano.
Sixto Lezcano. Pitch the ball!
He is not even on the Tigers, I think.
Pitch the ball!"
Now the result of that at-bat could be anything from a weak pop up to the catcher or a long fly ball over the fence into the neighbor's pool. That said, I know I hit better as "Sixto Lezcano" than any other major league player; and this includes Tigers. I don't know why. The ball just looked so much bigger to "Sixto Lezcano". I can't explain it to this day. This was probably dumb luck no doubt but it sure seemed like something unexplained was going on there.
Now Sixto Lezcano in "real life" was a slap hitter and averaged only 11 home runs a year throughout his 13 year major league career. That is "real life". At Ridgewood Field, all those years ago, "Sixto Lezcano" was a beast. The guy could rake. Kids swimming in that pool beyond the fence were just not safe when "Sixto Lezcano" came to the plate. The Sandlot had that mean old dog and we had the pool (but truth be told the kids over there usually just threw the ball back without a problem). Anyway, I don't remember much about his fielding skills but "Sixto Lezcano" probably batted like .600 during his career at Ridgewood Field and if those houses were closer, probably would have broke more than his share of windows. The guy could bring it. And not even a Tiger!
So from one "Sixto" to another, I offer a hearty "Happy Birthday" to my inspirational friend, Sixto Lezcano!