Ron Agostini

Modesto's Piccinini, Oakdale's LeBaron – irreplaceable

Reading time, two minutes:

▪ We lost two giants in the last week: Bob Piccinini and Eddie LeBaron.

▪ Piccinini, the Save Mart boss, nearly bought the Oakland Athletics in 1999. My hunch: Had his investment team been OK’d by Major League Baseball, the A’s would have built the ballpark a long time ago.

▪ The Modesto Relays owed the last decade of its existence to Piccinini and his company. When he was asked once whether it was because of business or civic duty, he answered, “Both.”

▪ I’ll miss Piccinini’s wit and his laugh. I bet both closed more than a few deals.

▪ Let’s summarize LeBaron’s life: Oakdale-raised, All-American at Pacific, decorated war veteran, first quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, attorney, Northern California Golf Association board member. All at 5-foot-7 and 168 pounds.

▪ LeBaron was called the best little quarterback who ever lived by the late Chuck Bednarik. He was right.

▪ The subject turned to steroids and other drugs during a multimedia symposium in Modesto featuring LeBaron in 1999. LeBaron: “Our drug was beer.”

▪ The term I’ve always applied to LeBaron: Hero.

▪ Chronology: Ground was broken on Stagg (Pacific) Memorial Stadium in 1950, the year after LeBaron led the Tigers’ unbeaten season. That stadium was closed in 2012 and demolished last year.

▪ Yes, you could call it the House Eddie LeBaron Built. And LeBaron outlived it.

▪ The Giants struggled during spring training. Does it matter? No.

▪ The Athletics played great during spring. Does it matter? No.

▪ About 3,000 people in great spirits celebrating life: The Modesto Marathon last Sunday.

▪ The Final Four will make great news whether or not Kentucky wins.

▪ Looking on from a distance: Notre Dame, which split with Duke, beat Michigan State and walked Kentucky to the cliff’s edge.

▪ At least you’re watching: The NCAA Tournament has attracted its highest average viewership in 22 years.

▪ Scoring by Division I teams plunged to its lowest levels in 63 years. Coming to your arena in the near future: The 30-second shot clock.

▪ The pay-per-view for Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather is a record $100. Is any Mayweather fight worth half of that?

▪ The Giants’ Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean had their contracts extended through 2019. Their chances of being fired – none.

▪ If the Giants slip this season: Worry not. Odd-numbered year.

▪ Gary Brown, the can’t-miss Giants prospect, missed. He was acquired by St. Louis.

▪ Shocking truth: Tiger Woods hasn’t won the Masters in a decade.

▪ Woods says he’ll play next week. But really: If you can’t chip or pitch, you can’t play Augusta National.

▪ Methinks Woods feels obligated to play next week by Nike, which is not paying him a truckload of money to rehab.

▪ A warning from history: It was said he was washed up, his game was too rusty and modern-day players had passed him by. This was the consensus about Jack Nicklaus, 46 at the time, before he won the Masters in 1986.

▪ The odds on a Woods victory is 40-to-1. More to the point: If he somehow wins, it would top Nicklaus in ’86.

▪ And back to reality: Rory McIlroy hasn’t yet put together four good rounds at the Masters. Now would be the right time.

▪ The patrons would love this scenario: Jordan Spieth knocks off McIlroy.

▪ The season has reached a too-good-to-be-true stage for the Warriors (62-13). Is this a payback for all the down years?

▪ Mark Jackson’s insisting James Harden is the MVP, rather than Steph Curry, smacks of sour grapes.

▪ The word that best describes Piccinini and LeBaron: Irreplaceable.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports.

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