BOSTON -- If you think the worst thing that ever has happened to John Farrell when Detroit is involved is having his team nearly no-hit in Game 1 of the ALCS, then you obviously haven’t heard about the bird.
The year was 1996. Farrell was still pitching then, but already had had multiple surgeries on his elbow and was nearing the end of the line. Already that year, he had been signed and released by the Mariners, signed by the Indians and traded to the Tigers for a minor-leaguer.
On May 18, Farrell made his first start for Detroit. Let him tell you the rest of the story.
“It was in the first inning, pitching against the White Sox, and Frank Thomas had just hit one to the last runway in the second deck. I feel something hit my arm, and obviously the crowd’s booing. I’m thinking they’re throwing stuff at me already.
“So I come in after the inning is over, put my hat down, and I look and there were these green and white seagull [droppings] all over my hat, my arm. Tito [Francona] was the third-base coach at the time, Buddy Bell was the manager, and they look at me and start laughing, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’
“Some people think that’s good luck. Well, it wasn’t for me. I might have said, ‘Does it get any [expletive] worse than this,' something along those lines, I forgot what it was. But it wasn’t good.’’
Farrell was knocked out in the second inning of that game. The Tigers lost, 16-4. He started four days later against the Royals, gave up five runs in five innings, and was charged with another loss. That would be the last time he would pitch in the big leagues.
So, how was his Detroit experience?
“It was short,’’ he said.