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Veteran baseball scout Manny Guerra honored at Las Vegas service

Updated August 18, 2018 - 6:13 pm

Early during the memorial service for longtime Las Vegas baseball scout Manny Guerra on Saturday afternoon at Calvary Chapel, a young man wearing a dark shirt and a relief pitcher’s beard played “How Great Thou Art” on an acoustic guitar.

He did a beautiful job. But some of the ballplayers in the back pews whispered that “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” would have been appropriate, too.

Manny Guerra, who spent 31 years as a major league baseball scout, 56 years as a youth baseball coach and a lifetime making friends, died Aug. 1 because of complications from stomach cancer. He was 88.

If there was a Mount Rushmore for local baseball luminaries, one could make a case for carving the old scout’s tanned face into the outcropping alongside those of Greg Maddux, Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant. But Manny Guerra was more than a name on a scorecard, said those who spoke during the eulogies.

He loved to fish for northern pike and walleye and plant vegetables in his garden, and while people may have known he was a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant who went on to command the 57th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base as a civilian, they probably weren’t aware that Manny Guerra grew irises brought back from his mother’s garden in Minnesota.

He also preferred big rear ends … on ballplayers. 51s president Don Logan made mourners smile when he said Manny thought players with ample backsides made the best pitchers and hitters.

Logan, who was second to speak, said he was supposed to hit third after UNLV coach Stan Stolte before somebody got hold of the lineup card.

It was agreed that Manny Guerra would have gotten a kick out of that before making a little mark in his notebook about Don Logan batting out of order.

Candee-coated sports

No, you weren’t looking, live, at Lady Rebels broadcaster Adam Candee and Penn Jillette calling the dodge juggling finals on ESPN “The Ocho” from Average Joe’s Gym. It was a repeat from last year. And the play-by-play was added post-production.

Part of the Moxie Games, dodge juggling was brought back by popular demand (or as a favor to the fictional broadcaster Cotton McKnight). It filled one of the coveted time slots between the ACL Pro Tour Cornhole Invitational and the Best of Chess Boxing.

See what you started, Jim McKay.

No, there really isn’t an ESPN 8, so a 24-hour offering of “the world’s most bizarre, innovative and entertaining” sports was relegated to ESPN2 on Aug. 8.

Was dodge juggling, the TV show, a true underdog story like “DodgeBall,” the movie?

One will have to ask Cotton McKnight.

But most agreed it was infinitely more enjoyable than watching Stephen A. Smith shout at the camera. Candee let loose an impressive guffaw when asked where dodge juggling ranked among his wide world of sports broadcasting assignments.

“I can confidently tell you this was the most fun I ever had doing something sports related,” he said.

Murray’s maladies

It was March 2010, and DeMarco Murray and I were waiting for cheese slices at Broadway Pizza. It wasn’t that long ago when big-time running backs would agree to meet local scribes for lunch.

The Bishop Gorman and Oklahoma product said he had started to practice yoga to increase his flexibility and reduce the chance of being injured.

He would suffer the following injuries as an NFL running back: knee patella dislocation, thigh hamstring tear, pedal ankle sprain, pedal ankle fracture, pedal foot sprain, knee MCL sprain, hand metacarpal fracture, thigh hamstring sprain, hand/finger sprain, another thigh hamstring sprain, knee MCL tear.

Now the 30-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl selection is headed for the Fox college football broadcast booth, where he might share thoughts about the Lotus position being totally overrated.

Good drive, no hit

With the Little League World Series going on in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, here’s a quote about how the pressures of Little League Baseball helped create a world driving champion.

It’s from Michael Cannell’s enthralling book “The Limit,” about the ill-fated 1961 Formula One championship battle between Ferrari drivers Phil Hill and Count Wolfgang von Trips.

“I was awful,” said Hill, the first of only two Americans (Mario Andretti) to win the F-1 world driving title, about his short-lived career on the diamond. “When we played baseball, I was always the poorest member of the team — (and) the fact that I was cursed each time I came to bat didn’t help me play any better.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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