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Letter: Pedro Borbon: Tough gun, a fan favorite

June 10, 2012

Wednesday brought sad news of the passing of yet another of my childhood heroes: Pedro Borbon, reliever for the Big Red Machine of the 1970s, who had succumbed to cancer.Borbon was there, front and center, as Red's manager Sparky Anderson, AKA “Captain Hook,” invented modern day relief pitching. Pedro fit the bill perfectly, was as rubber-armed as they come. As sportswriter Hal McCoy has observed, the cockfighting Dominican never once darkened the door of the trainer's room at Riverfront Stadium. To seek a trainer's assistance Pedro would undoubtedly have thought . . . well . . . unmanly. (One can only imagine his reaction to some of today's fragile players, those a mere hangnail will send flying, tears in their eyes, to the fifteen-day disabled list. )What fixes Borbon as an immortal in my mind, however, was an incident from the 1974 season. The Reds were playing the Pirates and a brawl broke out on the field. Borbon found himself pinned under a pile of players, unable to throw a punch. Consequently he did the only honorable thing: He stretched out his neck and bit Pirate pitcher Daryl Patterson in the stomach. The next day Patterson followed his doctor's advice and got a tetanus shot. Oh where are the role models of yesteryear? — Kelly Anspaugh, Ada