By C. Trent Rosecrans
ST. LOUIS -- A cool story came out of Friday's pregame interview for Game 5 of the NLCS when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was asked about Jerry Hairston Jr., who first met La Russa when Hairston's father, Jerry Hairston Sr., played for La Russa on the White Sox.
Hairston and his brother Scott Hairston are third-generation big-leaguers, with not only Jerry Hairston Sr. playing in the big leagues, but also their grandfather, Sam Hairston, who played in the Negro Leagues and for the White Sox.
After Thursday's game Hairston told some reporters that he remembered playing in the White Sox clubhouse as a kid and his dealings with La Russa. La Russa was then asked about that on Friday:
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"Well, that's an emotional one, because of his grand dad. For any of you that have been around a while, Sam Hairston, not just for the White Sox, was an institution in baseball. Great, great man. And when I got to the White Sox and met Sam, he had a lot of idiosyncracies that were really neat, and whether you were the worst Minor Leaguer or the best Big Leaguer, just an amazing man.
"I met his son, and then we had a unique experience -- I'll tell you quickly. During the strike of '82, Roland Hemond went to México to scout two or three guys, and young manager, he took me with him. We got rained out of a game, so we went back to the capital, and we drove all the way out, someplace out in the country to see a left-hand pitcher, a guy named Angel Moreno know who ended up signing with the Angels.
"We saw a night game, Mexico City Reds were playing against the Mexico City Tigers, and I watched that game and I watched and there was this young right-handed reliever, and I said, "Roland, look at this guy." Salomon Rojas, pitched for us the next year. Maybe it was the '81 strike. And the other one was Jerry Hairston who I was running into in the Minor Leagues and he's taking these at-bats, he's in great shape, and Roland was and still is a great baseball man, very emotional, and knew Sam.
So in September, we brought Jerry up, and he lit us up as a pinch-hitter. So he was with us the next year, I forget exactly how many years he was with us, but just do anything, ready all the time. I really enjoyed Jerry, one of my favorite players, and then he had these two little kids, two little jerk kids running into my office telling me to play their dad more than I'm playing him.
"I'd say, "Okay, maybe I should, but get out." I really enjoyed his family and his wife. Yeah, makes you feel real old to see Jerry, Jr. kicking our butt like he does, but I hope Sam is appreciating it."