Ashur Tolliver joined the Ducks this season after throwing 85 major-league pitches last season. Because he threw them for the Houston Astros, he’ll be rewarded with baseball’s ultimate prize, a World Series ring.
Sure, Tolliver watched the Series from a couch in his North Little Rock, Arkansas, home but he said he lived and died with every pitch and felt the exhilaration as Jose Altuve threw out the Dodgers’ Corey Seagerto finalize Game 7.
“That clubhouse was pretty special,” said Tolliver, a lefthanded reliever. “You walk around there and you look at the name plates everywhere and you say ‘OK, all-star, all-star, all-star.’ It’s pretty amazing. The best thing you can do around guys like that is just pick their brains and take notes and try to apply that as best you can.”
Tolliver didn’t miss a moment of the World Series and claimed to be more nervous in his living room than he would have been in the bullpen.
“I don’t think you could replicate that experience being at home, but I felt like I was there,” said Tolliver, who also appeared in five games with the Orioles in 2016. “I was engaged and pretty locked in. My heart was racing more sitting home watching it than if I was out there doing it.”
Tolliver appeared in three games for the 2017 Astros, striking out five, walking four and allowing two runs in five innings. The Astros released him Aug. 13, and five days later he signed with the Mariners and finished the season with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, who are based in the same town as Tolliver’s couch.
Tolliver got to leave that couch in March when he and his former teammates visited the White House and met with President Donald Trump.
“I’m kind of a laid back, southern, country kind of guy,” he said. “Not a lot wows me, other than a couple ducks or a big deer or something like that. But it was really neat. It was an awesome experience and something I’ll never forget.”
As for his World Series ring, which he’s been told is coming in the mail, Tolliver doesn’t intend to wear it all that often, if at all.
“I probably won’t,” Tolliver said. “I’ll probably put it in my safe and maybe take some pictures of it. If people come over, I might show it to them. But I can’t imagine I’ll be out wearing it around.”
Whether he’ll wear it on the couch is another story.
Ducks to honor Harrelson
Bud Harrelson, who also owns a World Series ring or two, will have his Ducks’ No. 3 retired on Aug. 3. Harrelson, vice-president of baseball operations and a part owner of the Ducks, won titles with the Mets in 1969 (as a shortstop) and 1986 (as a coach).
The Ducks also will use the night to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, which Harrelson was diagnosed with in the summer of 2016, his former wife Kim Battaglia told Newsday in February. The Ducks will wear special purple jerseys during the game, which will be auctioned off. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
Harrelson, who played with the Mets from 1965 to 1977, managed the team from May 30, 1990 until Sept. 30, 1991 and managed the Ducks in their inaugural 2000 season. He’s been a Ducks coach since 2001.
“The Ducks have been, and will always be, the best thing I have ever done in my 50-plus years in professional baseball,” Harrelson said in a news release. “It was always my dream to bring the passionate residents of Long Island a baseball team they can root for in a safe and affordable ballpark. I am forever grateful that I was able to make that dream a reality and I cannot thank Ducks fans enough for their support every year.”
Harrelson’s number will be the third retired by the organization, joining Justin Davies’ No. 4 and Ray Navarrete’s 16.
Sunday: Ducks at Southern Maryland, 2:05 p.m.