Modesto Nuts

June 23, 2013

Beek's Blog: Surprise visitor to Modesto

As two-time Olympic gold medalist Erin Cafaro was at the ballpark to throw out the first pitch, another champion - former Bulls' GM Jerry Krause - was in town as a special scout for the Diamondbacks.

Erin Cafaro was nervous about throwing out the first pitch before Sunday’s Modesto Nuts game, and that was before I reminded her that Colin Kaepernick threw an 87 MPH fastball on the corner in his first-pitch effort Friday at AT&T Park.

“I’m not going to get a chance to warm up,” Cafaro said. “And I’m much more used to pulling than throwing.”

The two-time Olympic rowing gold medalist did fine prior to the game against Visalia, hitting closer Scott Oberg’s glove with a high fastball that registered 44 MPH on the gun.

Cafaro had first-pitch honors as part of the weekend’s world champions promotion. On Friday, champion ultramarathoner Jon Olsen threw a ceremonial strike.

There was no champion scheduled to do the honors prior to Saturday’s game, but there was a person in the stadium all weekend with eight championship rings tucked in a safe somewhere.

Jerry Krause, 74, known best as the general manager and architect of the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era, is in his second season as special scout for Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers.

Krause was in town to watch Visalia - Arizona’ High-A team - and he said he’s on a tour that will take him to watch all of the Diamondbacks’ minor league teams.

Don’t be surprised that Krause is working in baseball instead of basketball. He got his first job in professional sports as a scout for the Chicago Cubs and has spent as much time over the years scouting in gyms as he has in ballparks.

OK, but when I first mentioned that Krause has eight championship rings, I was hoping that would raise some questions. Yes, the Bulls won six titles in a seven-year span, but where are the other two from?

Krause’s first two rings were for his work as a scout for the Oakland A’s in the early 1970s.

I had the chance to sit down with Krause for informal chats on Saturday and Sunday, and while the vast majority of what he said was off the record, I did have to ask him his opinion on the hot basketball question of the day:

Has Lebron James surpassed Jordan as the best basketball player ever?

He’d obviously been asked the question before, because, first, he laughed.

  “Why choose?” he said. “That’s like asking someone to choose who their favorite child is. You can’t do it. They’re different players.”

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