Bet it on my Heart (Wayback, Texas)

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At Ponca City in , Novikoff hit. At Moline IL. This is the back of Novikoff's Centennial Flour card pictured above. Novikoff played in games for the Angels and hit. A year later, with Milwaukee of the American Association, he hit. Everywhere Novikoff played, he became famous for chasing bad, even horrendous, pitches, frequently knocking them out of the park, or nearly so. After tearing up the American Association for 90 games in Novikoff struggled, hitting just. Novikoff came back and hit an even. Louis pitcher Johnny Beazley.

However, the pitcher took his time fielding the ball and Novikoff had his hit. Novikoff never approached the stratospheric stats he compiled in the minors during his years in the majors , the tainted. A home run hitter in the minors 41 for the Angels , Novikoff never hit more than one home run in a major league game, produced just three four-hit games, and never drove in more than four runs in any contest.

Newspapers splurged quarts of ink on the heavy-shouldered, moon-faced Novikoff, detailing his numerous superstitions, harmonica playing, impromptu singing, Russian-American heritage, bursts of temper, daily goofiness, popularity with young fans he loved to give them practice balls, much to the annoyance of the Cubs , and bent for butchering batted balls to the outfield. When Novikoff strolled into left field in Wrigley Stadium for the first time, he convinced himself that the ivy on the wall was poison ivy, and refused to go near it, thus diminishing his usefulness.

Novikoff confided his fear of the ivy to reporters, who naturally made much of it.


Throughout his career, Novikoff worked as an oil-field roughneck, in the steel industry, and as a longshoreman based near Long Beach. Novikoff entertained reporters with colorful stories, displayed a story-worthy appetite hot dogs by the dozen , and frequently trotted out his pet Russian wolfhound. Novikoff insisted the dog only ate Russian caviar. Angels , centered around his belief that he could not perform well unless his wife, Esther, taunted him from the stands. When Novikoff hit home runs over left and right fences at Sicks' Stadium, he joined three others to have accomplished the feat, including Bill Lawrence, shown here.

Esther moved to Chicago for the season and sat in a box seat behind the plate for the home opener against the Cincinnati Reds, and immediately launched into a tirade against her husband. In , according to Daley, the Cubs lost a close game to the Phillies in Philadelphia. Bill Skiff managed the Rainiers for more than five years He managed the Newark club when Novikoff joined it in After tossing and turning, Grimm gave up and turned on the radio.

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The station was playing music from a nearby nightclub. Following the sale, Novikoff told The Post-Intelligencer he might not report, saying that he thought he could make more money in the Mexican League. Most of the newspaper guys figured Novikoff would bang a lot of home runs for the Rainiers, as he had done for the Angels, but he hit just two in 84 games. Alex Schults of The Times, who could have been describing the current power outage at Safeco Field, explained why:. Novikoff batted. Novikoff had an otherwise uneventful first season with the club, except for two incidents described by Dan Raley in his excellent history of the Rainiers, Pitchers of Beer.

One day, after Novikoff was called out after sliding into second base, he delivered a fierce rant at the umpire. Another time, Novikoff became irked at teammate Lou Tost and punched him out as the Rainiers were preparing to board a train in Portland for Seattle. Left with a black eye and broken teeth, the pitcher could not make his next scheduled start.

Novikoff, while playing for the L. Angels, had numerous misadventures in the outfield. Novikoff hit. Sheely made the trade with Bears manager Bill Skiff, who had skippered the Rainiers from before being replaced by White.

The other one is the one I would have had if Novikoff had been in Russia. And run a little faster maybe.

Bet It On My Heart

When Novikoff joined the Angels, their great outfielder, Jigger Statz, tried to teach Novikoff how to play the field. Fans came just to see those efforts. There was a game at Wrigley Field. Ace pitcher Claude Passeau of the Cubs had a no-hitter going when the batter lofted an easy fly to Novikoff.

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Some say it fell in safe after conking Lou on the head. Others say no, it hit his shoulder. At any rate, Passeau lost the game when that hitter later scored. Novikoff put up some remarkable statistics with the Los Angeles Angels in Further, base runners confused him more than somewhat and things went blurry on him when enemy operatives scampered from sack to sack.

When Novikoff failed to make a crucial catch, the woe of the crowd was monumental. But there was poetic justice in the way he came to the plate, a couple of innings later, aching to redeem himself. Sometimes he did.

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Novikoff had a hand in just about all the significant proceedings, including adding a few gray hairs to the head of manager White. Cowboy fans will love Bluest Heart , and if they are anything like me, will make a direct trip to The Wild Rose Press to purchase the preceding story, Blackest Heart. You get romance, heartache, and a whole lot of making up for lost time. No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Search This Blog.

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