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Wednesday, November 10, 1999

This Jekyll of heckle can help you bring out the Hyde in any baseball fan

Dave Feschuk
National Post

Ron Kuntz, Reuters
So you want to really give Orioles' Roberto Alomar the raspberry? Check out James Tolley's Web site.

James Tolley used to be a hapless baseball heckler. A few years back, taking in a Toronto Blue Jays game with a few friends, he tossed a particularly lame barb toward the Minnesota Twins bullpen. And Twins catcher Matt Walbeck turned around with a biting retort. "He said, 'You're the worst hecklers I've ever heard in my life,' '' remembers Tolley. "And he was right. We just felt like idiots." Tolley decided he needed to improve his powers of harassment. But when he observed a lack of literature devoted to bleacher banter, he designed a Web site devoted to the lively art of the ball-diamond tongue lashing. At "The Baseball Heckle Depot" (www.heckledepot.com), Tolley has collected and displayed reams of one-liners -- from the viciously witty to the not-so-cleverly cliched. And he's received a passionate reaction from some of the sport's most renowned mouthpieces. During this year's playoffs, he was getting 200 hits a day. "There's nothing obscene on the site," he says. "Unfortunately, that's the sad state of heckling these days, especially in New York. They're known for their vulgarity. This site is a backlash to that." Indeed, along with a long list of ammunition -- "I've seen better hands on a snake!" and "I could time your fastball with a calendar!" are two zingers -- Tolley also offers a primer in heckling ethics. (Rule No. 1 is "Don't Get Personal ... especially about their mothers.") Alas, Tolley, a Toronto fire-alarm technician, hasn't had the chance to put his pet project into practice. "My wife doesn't allow heckling," says Tolley, who's currently working on The Golf Heckle Depot. "She's embarrassed by it. And if I was sitting next to someone who heckled like I used to, I'd be embarrassed, too."

 
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