The great thing about Joe Maddon is that he’ll never give you the obvious answer. When reporters asked him on Tuesday about Jon Lester’s first pickoff since 2011, the Cubs skipper compared Lester to Bobby Douglass, the Bears quarterback from the 1970s who once tried to pitch in the minors.
From the Chicago Tribune:
I thought it resembled Bobby Douglass, Maddon said in comparing Lester to Douglass, a strong but erratic passer for the Bears in the 1970s who made four forgettable appearances for Triple-A Iowa in 1979. Stepping off (the pitching rubber), that’s what Bobby would look like throwing to first base. I was a big fan. He was strong and ran. That’s where I was at.
Maddon’s right—Douglass was definitely strong and could run.
But, Maddon probably never heard this legendary tale about Douglass’ arm strength.
The story goes: There was a 16-inch softball home run derby at Comiskey Park in 1976. A promoter had put up a big prize to anyone who could hit the big ball out of the park—a near impossible feat. Some of Chicago’s greatest sluggers—Ron Olesiak, Benny Holt—tried but couldn’t clear the wall. After the game, the participants are sitting in a nearby bar recounting the night and Douglass walks in. Upon hearing about the prize, Douglass asks, “What if I throw it?” Sure. They all go back to the park. Without any warmups and his jacket still on, Douglass launched the Clincher softball off the facade in right field.