Steve Aschburner was a young baseball fan in 1970. There were some Frank Quilici cousins living nearby in the Chicago suburbs and this caused Asch to take a special interest in an Associated Press story written on Quilici that appeared in a Chicago newspaper.
Frank’s death on Monday led Aschburner to search for that story — in which Quilici relayed to a reporter that a hot streak with the bat could be tied to changing his head position to account for the size of his nose.
Remember, this was 1970, political correctness had not been invented, and it was open season on nose jokes in the AP story that Aschburner forwarded to me:
FRANK QUILICI of the Twins is looking around the other side of his nose now and getting more base hits; at least, that’s how he explains his .370 batting surge since the All-Star break.
The usually light-hitting Quilici, 31, who sported a .211 major league average before this year, explains how he’s started facing the pitchers to get around his “Italian nose.’’
Quilici said: “I was in the batting cage when a piece of dirt blew into my left eye. I lifted my hand to get the dirt out, and when I covered the eye, I discovered I couldn’t see the pitcher any more.
“I’d been playing baseball all these years and at least part of the time I’ve been trying to hit with one eye. I couldn’t see out of the right eye because my nose was in the way …
“I might potentially be a .400 hitter. I decided I had to get a nose job or a new batting stance.”
Quilici has been opening up his stance and ogling the pitcher with both his eyes. Although he can’t compete with the likes of Jimmy Durante, or France’s Charles DeGaulle, Quilici’s schnozzola bears the look of a guy who’s had it busted five times:
First time was when he was a 102-pound quarterback. The Twins’ utility man also broke it swimming when a fellow breast-stroker hit him, plus in baseball and basketball.
UPDATE: Frank finished at .227 in 1970, his last season. He became a Twins coach for Bill Rigney in 1971. In the middle of 1972, Rigney was fired and Quilici became a manager at age 33.
A fact, a hope and a belief:
• The Gophers tied for the Big Ten football title in 1967. Big Ten regular-season titles since: football 0; men’s basketball 3 (on court); baseball 17.
• Washington, D.C., had a team in three World Series (1924, 1925, 1931) and won once (1924). I’m rooting for Nationals to win this fall.
• Phoenix now has a chance to reunite Slovenian national coach Igor Kokoskov with Slovenian phenom Luka Doncic. The Suns aren’t trading the No. 1 pick.