Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Jewel found in discarded uniforms

RADFORD -- Roy Halladay's historical value should increase today. So should the value of his pants.

One Radford University history professor hopes so, anyway.

Johnny Moore loves baseball, but he's not a collector in the traditional sense. He did not set out to secure Halladay's pants. But now that he's got them, hey, it'd be nice if they announced Halladay was the National League Cy Young Award winner at 2 this afternoon.

Moore plans to frame the baseball britches he obtained by pure luck a little more than a year ago.

Moore, a former stud pitcher on the Williamson Road Little League Kiwanis team, admittedly is a little past his prime in the game these days. But last year's decision to play for the Black Sox of the New River Valley Men's Adult Baseball League is looking better and better.

After his first season in the league, Moore attended a season-ending banquet hosted by former commissioner Edwin Whitelaw. At the end of the celebration, Whitelaw -- who has connections with the folks who run the Appalachian League team in Pulaski -- offered a Goodwill-style rummage for anybody who needed some apparel for the following season.

"He had five or six trash bags full of these castoff pants," Moore said. "Nobody really looked at them much except me. He said, 'Just take what you want. They're just cast off by the Pulaski team.' "

Moore found a pair that fit.

This past spring, he wore them to a couple of practices. After making a diving catch he claims was worthy of "SportsCenter," Moore got some grass stains on them.

Moore's wife, Laura, washed them, but had an interesting question.

"It says 'Halladay' in here," Laura Moore told her husband. "Is that Roy Halladay?"

Women really are the smarter sex.

Johnny Moore had barely noticed the inseam of the pants before. But there it was, in script letters: "32 Halladay."

If you look at them now, you'll also see another name written in block letters in black ink: "BARBARA."

A 21-year-old pitcher named Michael Barbara played for the Pulaski Blue Jays in 2006. Halladay? Of course, ol' No. 32 pitched for Toronto for the first dozen years of his career.

It stands to reason that the pants made their way through the farm system, one castoff at a time.

Moore wore the pants one more time -- at a softball game before his son's wedding in the Philadelphia suburbs -- before deciding that he'd set them aside.

"He's the kind of guy that the fans love," Moore said of Halladay. "He's a workhorse. He's old-school."

But hey, he still puts his pants on one leg at a time.

Heartbreak for Hagan

Sounds like I should have referenced "Rocky III" instead of "Rocky IV" in last week's column about Christiansburg drag racer Matt Hagan.

If Hagan's going to win an NHRA Funny Car title, it'll have to come in the second go-round.

Hagan lost a 38-point lead on the final race Sunday, falling in the first round of elimination matchups. John Force took his 15th career championship by winning the event in Pomona, Calif.

"You're not going to see any tears from me," Hagan said. "You get hit square in the chin, and sometimes it hurts worse when you grin right back at the guy. So, you just shrug it off. We mixed it up with who I consider to be the best guy out there, the 15-time world champ, and we had him down to one or two rounds here in the final event of the year.

"We fought a hard fight; we dug deep, and we just weren't good enough today. And at the end of the day, he's the champ."

Smiling after the flogging, huh? You can almost hear Rocky telling Clubber Lang: "You ain't so bad! You ain't so bad!"

Next year should be fun.

Weather Journal

News tips, photos and feedback?
Sign up for free daily news by email