Feb 15, 2005, 1:00 AM EDT
Hall of Fame ballots were delivered last week and among the usual
difficult decisions, there is the Albert Belle riddle. Where does one
of the most feared hitters of the ’90s fit? He had more home runs
(389), RBIs (1,239) and a higher OPS (933) than Kirby Puckett, who was
a no-brainer first-ballot. But does Albert belong in? Do the math — a
score of 100 is necessary to get to Cooperstown.
It was February of 2003 and I was in Vegas for the first time ever. I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino due to it’s close proximity to the Thomas & Mack Center where I was seeing a few concerts coupled with the fine scenery at the Hard Rock.
It was early on Friday probably around 2 pm and I wandered into the casino to throw some money around. I kind of hate blackjack so I sat at a Caribbean stud table with a 5$ minimum. The casino was pretty empty but there was a rather large black guy sitting at the table I sat down at.
As soon as I sat down I thought the guy playing next to me looked really familiar but I couldn’t put a name to the face. He was all buddy-buddy with the pit boss and dealer like he was in there 5 days a week. The pit boss walked over at one point and said, "Hey Al, anyone else reach the 50-50 club yet?" Even then it took me a minute to figure out that Al = Albert. At that point I said something to the effect of "I didn’t think anyone ever reached the 50-50 club?" Then Albert kind of fires back all defensive that he did it in HRs and doubles. I didn’t even know they counted that as some sort of milestone?
He wasn’t all that friendly, but I did chat him up a little bit. Apparently he lived in Scottsdale or some random city out there. Once I realized who he was I was kind of shocked he was playing at the 5$ table AND betting the minimum every single hand. Hopefully he will make the Hall of Fame for the sole reason I would be able to say I played poker with a Hall of Famer. The only other famous poker run in I’ve ever had was the cook from Under Siege 2 at the Mirage.
Sorry, I didn’t say it was very exciting.
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