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| Tommy Cummings
EMAIL TOMMY
Updated: Monday, Oct. 25, 1999 at 23:04 CDT

Sports on the Net:`Got a good heckle? Submit it to a collector'

In 1996, M Tolley of Toronto was hit with a dose of harsh reality while he and four of his friends took in a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins.

Tolley recalled that he and his buddies were sitting in the stands at SkyDome, giving the Twins the business. Suddenly, from the bullpen, Twins catcher Matt Walbeck yelled back at Tolley and his pals, informing them that they were "the worst hecklers he had heard in his life."

Ouch.

"Some may say being a bad heckler is a good thing, but we knew what he meant," Tolley said.

The stinging criticism prompted Tolley to search hard for a way to correct his problem. "I began a quest to be a better heckler," he said.

He tried books to no avail. He turned to the Internet but only found lots of uninspired fan sites.

Finally, the 31-year-old Canadian took matters into his own hands and launched a Web site to "attract the good, funny and small hecklers that are out there." Tolley's effort is called The Baseball Heckle Depot (www.heckledepot.com) and it's a heckler's dream.

It might not be the most dynamic-looking site, but it makes for some good reading during the World Series.

Since the site's launch in May, Tolley said he has received hundreds of one-line heckles and ballpark heckling stories. He categorizes the material and edits it, making sure the posts are not vulgar, he said.

Heckles are broken into selections for batters, fielders, pitchers, the bullpen and the umpires. Chants, an interactive survey and a code of ethics for heckling are also included.

Tolley ranks which major-league teams have the best hecklers (the New York Yankees, of course, are No. 1) and also ranks the best players to heckle (the Baltimore Orioles' enigmatic Albert Belle, of course).

Tolley said he has found that baseball is unique when it comes to how much fans are involved in the game.

"You can't heckle a hockey game; the players move around too fast. You can't heckle at a football game; they'd never hear you," he said.

"But baseball is different. Heckling is as much of the game as $5 hot dogs, beach balls in the bleachers and air-horns coming from who-knows-where."

Hey, batta, batta ...

A few of the best heckles posted at Michael Tolley's Baseball Heckle Depot (www.heckledepot.com):

For batters: "You couldn't drive home Miss Daisy!"

For umpires: "Punch a hole in that mask; you're missing a good game."

For the bullpen: "Does that chewing tobacco have steroids in it?"

For pitchers: "Someone go out there and put another quarter in the pitcher."

For fielders: "Your idea of a double-play is a bourbon with a beer chaser!"

For Cal Ripken Jr.: "Hey, what are you -- too good to take a day off?"

Tommy Cummings, (817) 390-7397

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