Monday, May 08, 2006
Classic card of the week
Kenny Lofton, 1997 Upper Deck
I have heard many people say things along the lines of, “Oh, you gotta see my friend so-and-so…he’s SO fast!” To this, I would reply, “Oh really? Is he SO fast that he is required to wear a parachute on his waist AT ALL TIMES just to slow him down?” Then, the person I was talking to would run away in shame, crying. Score one for me. And yes, as you can see by this card, Kenny Lofton, in his prime, was THAT fast. Here is the story. Lofton was the fastest person in the world in 1989 – a world that included the Houston Astros AAA club. The Astros didn’t know what to do with him, because he was actually too fast. One time, he bunted with the bases loaded, and he beat the runner on third to home plate, but the umpire called him out. Lofton did not know that you were not allowed to do that. But there was no containing his speed. So the Astros traded him to the Indians. During his first game with Cleveland, Lofton hit a double, but was traveling so fast that he could not round second base, and ended up running through the left field wall, injuring his sternum. It was then that Indians’ base running coach Roddy McRoderson, whose brother-in-law was a professional plane jumper, constructed the parachute device for Lofton. The rest, as they say, is history. Amazingly, the parachute had to be activated via remote control from the dugout, because Lofton had such blazing speed, that he himself did often not know where he was, or how fast he was going (one time he went for a jog outside of his home in suburban Alabama, and ended up in Mexico). The parachute was eventually outlawed by MLB in 1994, after White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen got tangled up in it during an attempted Lofton steal of second base. The game was delayed for three hours, and no one has heard from Kenny Lofton since. That is the end of this story. I wish I had better news.
Did you know?
Kenny Lofton played in the NCAA Final Four as a member of the Arizona Wildcats, and then had a successful NBA career under the alias of “Gary Payton.” It’s true!