Talk at Pagnozzi Charity Event Centers On Baseball

FAYETTEVILLE -- Inevitably, talk on the practice green before the Tom Pagnozzi Charity Golf Tournament at Paradise Valley on Friday centered around the major league baseball playoffs.

"I think it will be St. Louis and Minnesota in the World Series," said former Arkansas and big-league center fielder Kevin McReynolds.

"If it's St. Louis and Boston, I'm going to the Series games in Boston," said Pagnozzi, a former Hogs catcher who played 12 years for the Cardinals. "I've got a business partner who owns the Marriott in Boston Harbor, and he's been trying to get me to visit for two years."

Al Hrabosky, a former 13-year major league pitcher who will speak at tonight's Pagnozzi Charities Banquet and Auction, favored the Cardinals to win it all.

"If they play to their capabilities, I don't think anybody can beat them," Hrabosky said. "It was reassuring to see them win Games 1 and 2 (against the Los Angeles Dodgers) the way they did. There's no magic switch, but I was hoping their intensity would return and it did."

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa caught some flak for resting regulars during an 8-7 regular-season finish, but Hrabosky understood.

"It was more than rest," he said. "There were some guys with little injuries. People talked about Tony's 'B' lineup, but some guys needed the time off. Tony was very cognizant of that, while still wanting to be competitive. They lost one 2-1 game to Houston on a bad call at the plate."

While St. Louis and Houston both made the playoffs from the National League Central, the Chicago Cubs swooned at the finish and didn't qualify.

"The Cubs made a lot of enemies this year," Hrabosky said. "They had that macho thing going, so everybody was gunning for them. In every clubhouse I visited the last two months of the year, the Cubs were the most hated team."

When Hrabosky was compiling a 65-34 record and 3.11 earned run average for St. Louis, Kansas City and Atlanta, he was known to rile up the opposition himself with his Mad Hungarian routine. For the Cardinals in 1975, he was 13-3 with a 1.67 ERA.

Matt Shanklin, Arkansas' assistant athletic director for marketing and licensing, still has a large framed picture of Hrabosky, complete with Fu Manchu mustache and scowl.

"When I met Al at a Razorback Foundation golf tournament at Maumelle in 1992, I told him he was my idol and I even used to wear the tube socks," Shanklin said Friday. "He looked at me and said, 'It's people like you that scare me.'

"He was kidding."

Hrabosky, a lefty, was unbalanced enough to bat right-handed, and he also plays golf right-handed.

"I'm a scratch player left-handed, so I just want to give everybody else a chance," he joked.

McReynolds, who played at 210 pounds for Arkansas and 230 at the end of his pro career, now weighs 255 and gives no one a chance on long-driving holes.

He played with former UA chums Bill Bakewell, Rob Kauffman and Ralph Bradbury, and they're still arguing about the Hogs' pitching rotation during the 1979 College World Series in which they finished second to Cal State-Fullerton.

Steve Krueger, Arkansas' lefty ace that year, couldn't join the argument as he was at home in Topeka, Kan.

"Steve played in this tournament four years ago when we had a reunion," Bakewell recalled.

Hrabosky, who last week opened a restaurant 500 feet from the projected home plate at the new Busch Stadium, figures to settle some friendly arguments for 480 listeners at the Fayetteville Town Center tonight.

"I used to speak some," he said. "I'll figure out something to say between now and then."

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