Adventures with the Mojave Phone Booth book now available Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

Bo: Pitching and Wooing

Maury Allen (1973)


The book that introduced "rah-rah, gee-whiz bullshit" into a young boy's vocabulary. That wasn't its only enduring effect.

"I kept myself loose," he said. "No gangs, no cliques, just me, ready to move wherever I wanted. I could fly the way the crow flies. Looking back I didn't want it any other way. What the hell for, for a lot of rah-rah, gee-whiz bullshit? That's why I never played on the high school baseball team. Too much gee-whiz bullshit and girls jumping up in their skirts with no panties on just to drive you wacky." Belinsky survived in school. It was a lot of gee-whiz bullshit so he never was thrilled with the learning process. (16)

Belinsky had his first hustle. "It's all psychology," Belinsky says. It's an ego thing. A guy beats you and he isn't sure just how good you are.He has to know. He has to beat you again and again and again. Soon you know it's going to be a freezeout, that's what you're after. That's when the whole thing is on the line, that's when you beat him for all his money. But you can't make it too obvious. You gotta remember the laws of hustling. You never hustle anybody, they hustle themselves. You never try to snow a snowman. And you gotta find out early if there is an exit to the street through the bathroom. Nothing does you any good if you don't carry it out of the hall." (21)

"There was an air of excitement to scamming. A scammer who can make a hundred dollars legit would always rather make twenty-five scamming," Belinsky says. (25)

Belinsky moved into a place called Ernie's House of Surface, a swinging spot along the beach. It was highly recommended by several of his teammates . . . who told Bo it had one of the best bars in the league. (78)

["Ernie's House of Surface"??? I'd NEVER move out.]

Things became to hectic for Bo at Ernie's House of Surface, so he started looking around for a more impressive apartment. (92)

No-hit baseball pitchers are never again nonpersons. (89)

[Au contraire, mon sportswriter]

"I was young, I was strong, I was healthy. The whole thing was a ball. I only had one rule about these broads, they had to come highly recommended. I wouldn't take out a broad without checking her references. Most of the times the broads I dated all were touted by friends of mine. Hollywood agents, directors, producers, friends of Winchell, newspaper people, guys like that, responsible, serious people." (119)

[Belinsky's scouting report on Tina Louise:]

"Big redhead, great body, great legs, very sweet girl. She wasn't doing well in the movies at that time so any extra publicity she could get would help her out. She turned out to be a real nice girl, not domineering, and I enjoyed being with her. She had been to Europe a great deal and had a continental flair about her. It was nice. I really enjoyed being with her. She was equally comfortable in the society scene or down in the roughneck places with me. She was a good broadie." (120)

In late August the dream ended. Bo was recalled to the Angels.
"Everybody thinks the major leagues are such a big deal. If you have a good spot in the minors, it's not B.A.D. There are a lot worse things you can do than play baseball in Hawaii. When the Angels called me back, I was depressed. For a long while I considered not reporting to them."

"There are a lot more things in life I want to do," said Koufax. "I don't want to do them as a sore-armed person."
"I knew I'd make him quit," said Belinsky. "Los Angeles just wasn't big enough for both of us."

[Sandy Koufax: 165-87, 2.65 ERA, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, 1971;
Bo Belinsky: 28-51, 4.10 ERA]

"What would you consider a good year?"
"Just to last the entire season," Bo said, "would be slightly sensational."
It was a typical Belinsky response. He never reached for the stars because there were so many disappointments if one were to reach and fail.

[Bo's wife, 1965 Playboy Playmate of the Year, on her possibly Apocalypse Now-inspiring trip to Vietnam:]

The 173rd was stationed on a hill called Black Virgin Mountain. Naturally. They flew me up there to see them. They had three helicopters for our group and they had covered the front of them with huge bunny heads." (238)

"There were more than ten thousand soldiers waiting for me when I arrived. They screamed and whistled and yelled. It almost brought tears to my eyes. The mascot of the outfit was a water buffalo and the first thing they did was present me with this huge water buffalo skull. That's got to freak me out right there." . . . Jo spent the next several days touring the front in Vietnam, where it could be found. (238)

"I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do. I figured I would land something. I had a lot of friends. I found out about that too. My friends sure did disappear when I was washed out of baseball. I was a good guy for them when my name was in the paper. All of a sudden I was nobody and they had some other young pitcher they liked. They're like broads. If you trust them, they'll cut your balls off and leave you in the street." (269)

Belinsky has always seemed happiest when he was around L.A. The phonies of Hollywood were his kind of people. He liked the idea of acting all the time. Hollywood was a good place for somebody who didn't work. Most of the people in Hollywood didn't work. He would fit right in. (272)

"Helen's a hooker by trade and works at night. She is home for coffee and service by day. It is what I need. We dig each other. She has been divorced, has kids someplace, can understand the complications and complexities of a man in trouble with his head. It is nice." (293)

"I look back now and I can't even remember anybody I hated," he said. "I manage to get amnesia over those." (296)

"I'll get in the Hall of Fame because I gave up some big home runs to some big guys. I think of that now with a guy like Hank Aaron. He's driving on Babe Ruth's 714 and I gave him number 400. He came around the bases and I tipped my hat to him and he smiled. The next time I faced him I drilled him in the ribs. I tipped my hat to him again." (296)

Belinsky laughs now when he thinks of the success of two-time MVP Johnny Bench.
"When I was with Cincinnati he was a punky kid," he said. "He puts on that goody-goody image and he's trying to hustle every broad. He tried to hustle Jo and she wasn't the only one. He used to carry around a
Playboy magazine with Jo's picture in it and let the centerfold hang out and drag it around. Real kid shit. He was a smart ass. You watch. There's no way he'll be able to handle success." (297)

[Johnny Bench: 17 major-league seasons (1967-83); 2,048 hits, including 389 home runs; first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, 1989]



Bo Belinsky

07dec1936 -- 23nov2001




Addendum: nice jacket design, there, Wendell Minor. 1972 Topps, much?

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