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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, MAY 10, 2013 EXTRA Innings by Sal Giarratani Ted Williams' home Big Papi and the F-Bomb I couldn't believe it when I heard Big Papi drop the F-Bomb. Normally I would have taken offense to it but I so agreed with his senti- ments about what happened at this year's Boston Mara- thon. David Ortiz is Domini- can and a few years back he became a U.S. citizen aboard the USS Constitution. He is proud of his adopted country and of Boston and he spoke from his heart. Good for him. It was a home run in my eyes. April 15, 1947 Back on April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues since 1884 when he stepped out on to the field in Brook- lyn and took his place at second base for the Dodgers. He went 0-3 in a 5-3 win over the Boston Braves and scored the winning run in the game. September 28, 1961 I Was There Back on the sunny after- noon of September 28, 1961 I was sitting with a group of altar boys from the Immacu- late Conception on Harrison Avenue in the South End in the right field grandstand at Fenway Park for game 154, the final game of the season. They couldn't have been more than eight thousand fans in the park. It was, after all, Pre-Red Sox Nation. This became an historic game. In Ted Williams last at-bat in his last game, he whacked his 521 St home run of his career. I was there and saw it. Whacko Baseball Cards The Topps Baseball Card Company has come up with a series of weirdest baseball cards. They have a Topp 15 list. Among the best baddest cards is one of Phillies pitcher Warren Brusstar in 1979 who looked like he needed lots of anger man- agement just looking at his face. There was Kirby Puck- ett of the Twins in 1993 run at Fenway Park. kneeling with the biggest bat I ever saw. Oscar Gamble back in 1976, he had the big- gest Afro I had ever seen. If he took his Yankees cap off, his hair would have gone up two stories. Finally, back in 1963, didn't catcher Wally Moon for the Dodgers have one gigantic bushy eyebrow? Sal Caught the Ball! Sal Caught the Ball! I just found a great old photo taken at Yankee Sta- dium back on October 1, 1961. This was the game that Roger Maris hit his 61 st home run of the season breaking Babe Ruth's 60 home run mark. The ball was caught by Sal Durante, 19, who needed to be escorted by the New York Police De- partment for his own safety. He and the cops all seem to be having a great time, eh? Sal Durante, then 19, being escorted by police as he holds up Roger Maris' 61 .= home run ball in Yankee Stadium, October 1, 1961. VISIT THE POST-GAZETTE ON LINE AT WWW.BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM JIM O'BRIEN RETIRES -- He came as part of a deal, he did, because when you hire a head coach you also give that new mentor the discre- tion to hire whomever he sees fit to bring aboard as his assistants. And that's how Jim O'Brien, who has just announced his retirement after a 30-year coaching career, came to be- come a member of one of the most storied franchises in all of sports -- the Boston Celtics. When his boss, Rick Pitino, the head coach at the Univer- sity of Kentucky, was in his office with the shades down, 'mulling over an eye-popping I'mancial offer to take over the C's back in 1997, he was, in effect, deciding the fates of his entire coaching staff at UK. If he remained in the Commonwealth -- and like Massachusetts, Kentucky is a Commonwealth -- all would be well on the campus and the assistants would stay. If he accepted the position and moved to Boston, his assis- tants would be at liberty, as they say. Pitino accepted the offer and came to Boston, accept- ing a financial package that was estimated to be anywhere from $50 to $70 million, de- pending on a variety of fac- tors. In a dramatic press con- ference, aired live at noon on several local TV stations, Pitino was introduced to the media amid much fanfare. A few days later, without any ceremonials, it was an- nounced that O'Brien would be coming along as Pitino's top assistant. As time went on it was speculated that O'Brien led the league in a least one category: he was reportedly earning more than $500,000 per year, the most for an assistant in the NBA at that time. As we all know, Pitino's years on Causeway Street were less than successful. "It was the only time I failed as a coach," he would later say after he had rejoined the col- lege ranks at the University of Louisville. One way to look at a depar- ture is that it creates an op- portunity. Thus, when Pitino resigned in January, 2001, it was O'Brien who was called upon to fill the vacancy. The years that followed were some good times for the C's. It was the era of Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, a pair that just seemed to be made for one another. It was also the era of Jim O'Brien's philosophy for this roster of Celtics players: "living and dying by the three," meaning the three-point shot. Say what you want. It worked. By the end of the 2001-2002 regular season O'Brien had his team nicely positioned for the playoffs. So well, in fact, that the Celtics would go deep, playing all the way through May as they made the Eastern Confer- ence Finals for the first time since 1988. A year later they were back in the playoffs again, advanc- ing to the conference semifi- nals before bowing out. It was during those 2003 playoffs that Celtics manage- ment made an appointment that would come to affect Jim O'Brien's future with the Celtics. On May 9, 2003 former Celtics star Danny Ainge was introduced as the Executive Director of Basket- ball Operations. It wasn't too long before meetings, deliberations and decisions that took place be- hind closed doors would be placed in fast-forward mode. All during the summer of 2003, the Celtics marketed the duo of Pierce and Walker, their likenesses seemingly displayed on numerous light poles within several blocks of the Garden. Then, in a sur- prise move made in late Oc- tober, just a few days before the 2003-2004 season was to start, Ainge traded Walker to the Dallas Mavericks. It was shocking because Walker, along with Pierce, had become one of the faces of the franchise. Yet, there was another player, not quite as outgoing as Walker, that O'Brien valued even more highly. "When Eric Williams is on the floor, it gives me more confidence as a coach," O'Brien would tell members of the media. Unbeknownst to him, the days of stating that would be numbered. On December 15, 2003 Williams was also gone, traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a move that O'Brien reportedly learned about only a few hours before that night's home game. It was obvious that O'Brien and Ainge were not on the same page, as they say. In late January, 2004, O'Brien re- signed and was replaced by assistant coach John Carroll on an interim basis. He was quickly picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers, lead- ing that team to a playoff berth in the only season he coached there. He eventually was hired by Larry Bird to coach the Indi- ana Pacers, replacing former Celtic player Rick Carlisle as head coach. Midway through his fourth season there, after not having made the playoffs for three years, he was let go by Bird. He finished his career this season working as an assis- tant for the Dallas Mavericks under Carlisle, the man he placed at Indiana in 2007. It's been a long and suc- cessful 30-year career for Jim O'Brien. He was the head coach at Dayton and Wheel- ing Jesuit before joining Pitino at Kentucky. UK would win the 1996 NCAA Champi- onship and would make it back to the 1997 title game. Now 61, he reportedly wants to spend more time at his home in New Jersey -- or perhaps more accurately rebuilding his home, which was heavily damaged by Hur- ricane Sandy last fall. We wish Jim and his fam- ily well and hope his travels include trips to the Garden as the years go by.