Thursday, July 29, 2010

Former Dodger Coach Elected to Polish Hall of Fame

Danny Ozark, a former coach under Walter Alston, just this past month was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he had passed away a year before at the age of 85, but that didn't stop folks from celebrating his life and accomplishments.

Tom Paciorek, a former Dodger player, was on hand. I'll let the press release I received tell the story.
"Paciorek, kept the audience lively with stories of hasty dugout snacks, some prudent and mostly clandestine. He recalled what a tremendous influence Ozark had in his career and life. “I learned how to play first base from Danny Ozark when I just came up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973,” Paciorek added.

Paciorek told of the Chicago Connie’s Pizza chronicles. He needed no further prompting as he enthusiastically said, “We used to hide Connie’s Pizza’s in the umpires’ room at old Comiskey Park. There would be five or six of the big pies, thick and very Chicago style. As long as we left one, (emphasizing one), for the umpires post game snack, the custom was accepted and continued. If you weren’t playing, you could pop in and out and get some pie. It was the third inning and the batboy poked his head in and whispered, Wimpy they want you to pinch hit for Kittle (Ron Kittle), he’s got a migraine. Man, I had a Connie’s in my hand, (gesturing with his index finger and thumb, spread to the maximum). This is not convenient. I go out, look at Kittle, and he just puts his head down. I am snarling. I get my bat and helmet. Again, I look at Kittle, he looks down……I walk up to the plate, and just like that, WHOOSH, ….strike one. Before you can blink….WOOSH again and WOOSH a third time. STRIKE THREE. I walk back to the dugout throwing my helmet and bat. I go right up to Kittle….and I say…..Kittle, you could have done that.
The baseball conversation always got back to Ozark memories. The informal dais became brighter as Greg Luzinski reveled in the humanistic coaching techniques that Ozark employed in the big leagues. “The Phillies would not have had the great 70s teams if it wasn’t for Danny Ozark,” said Luzinski. “We had some great horsepower but it was Skip (Ozark), who kept the personalities together.”

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