DJ: Reds Hall of Famers were among the best pranksters too

CINCINNATI -- It was the summer of 1984. Some of the players began chumming the water immediately after winning a businessman’s special on a Dave Parker walkoff home run.  

“He’s the strongest man in Major League Baseball”, someone blurted in the festive Riverfront Stadium clubhouse. “Parker?” I asked innocently while making my rounds collecting postgame comments. “Absolutely,” assured second baseman Ron Oester. “You got a thick belt on, DJ?”, he asked. I checked and said I did.

With that, Reds reliever John Franco announced a three-man lift. “A what?” I wondered. “Parker will lift you and two other guys high enough off the ground for Mark Stowe (the Reds clubhouse attendant) to roll a baseball under you.”

That set the hook like Santiago did in that marlin he fought for hours in Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.”  How cool was this going to be? Included in a winning clubhouse ritual of some sort. It would I presumed, make me some kind of ‘insider’. Yeah, sure.

With that, Parker took control. “DJ, take off your shirt and tie, I don’t want to muss them up or lose my grip on your belt.” Off came the shirt and tie even as Mark Stowe spread out some towels.

“Okay, lay down right about here. Oester and (Ted) Power are going to lay down on either side of you. You link arms and legs so I’m lifting a rigid mass rather than risk shifting and hurting myself,” he explained matter of factly. Made sense to me.

Parker, who was a huge guy then, set his feet and bent over to execute this herculean feat of strength. Just then Davey Concepcion burst in and said “Parker, Pete (Manager Pete Rose) said if you throw your back out, he’s gonna fine you,” which Parker greeted with a roll of the eyes and a blast of paint-peeling profanity.

“I know what I’m doing,” he stated. Whereupon he again took his position, telling me, Power and Oester to clinch and hold, as he grabbed my belt.

Thus immobilized, I had nowhere to go when John Franco bolted in from the player’s lounge with a blender full of the foulest concoction known to man. Rancid butter, sour milk, peanut butter, tomatoes, all pureed to a gooey, smelly, disgustingly gelatinous consistency, which Franco proceeded to pour over me from head to my sturdy belt. I’d been pranked! By some of the best in the business it turns out. No fewer than three Reds’ Hall of Famers.

Everyone had a great laugh. Me included. I mean, what else could I do but join in and savor the initiation. Strangely, that hazmat goo was the cement that solidified the relationships I have with Ron and Dave to this day. 

It also gave me an entree to another no-civilians sanctuary: the players' shower where they let me hose off the residue of my one and only three-man lift.

Print this article Back to Top