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John Torsiello catches up with former MLB flamethrower, Rob Dibble, at the Kevin Ollie Golf Tournament.

POSTED August 07, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

I played in UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie’s charity golf tournament Monday at Glastonbury Hills Country Club, which was held for the 28th time to raise money for a great cause, helping athletes with disabilities.

The tournament and the Tolland Fund has helped fund programs and athletic events, such as Paralympic Gold Medalist Paul Nitz, Ivan Lendl's Wheelchair Tennis Camp, Connecticut Sled Hockey, The Miracle Field in West Hartford and a special racing chair for Ollie's former UConn teammate, Steve Emt.

There were so many people at the event that they had to double up on the shotgun tee times, with a morning field going out at 7 a.m. and another in the afternoon. I ran into former UConn star and NBA player Scot Burrell, as well as Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube and a few others after my early riser 18.

I had a blast hanging out with Rob Dibble, yep, he of “Nasty Boys” fame when he was throwing 100 mile-an-hour fastballs for the Cincinnati Reds during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He took about 45 minutes with us, talking about pitching, his days with the Reds, golf, and what he’s up to now.

Dibble was born in Bridgeport and is a graduate of Southington High School. His father, Walt Dibble, was a longtime radio news director at WDRC and later WTIC in Hartford, Connecticut.

Dibble was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the 1983 amateur draft, and he made his debut with the Reds on June 29, 1988. He was an All-Star in 1990 and 1991 and was the 1990 National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player (along with Randy Myers). Dibble and the Reds won the World Series that year by beating the Oakland A’s in four games. Few people realize that Dibble recorded his 500th career strikeout in fewer innings—368--than any other pitcher in modern baseball history. He retired having pitched in 385 games, posting a 27-25 record with 89 saves and 645 strikeouts in 477 innings.

Of course “Dibs” was also known for his temper. He got into a few scuffles on the baseball field and had a famous locker room wrestling match with Lou Piniella, who was managing the Reds at the time. It’s kind of hard to figure those incidents out, as the big guy--6-5 and around 230 pounds--seems mild mannered these days, which I’m sure he is. Dibble required surgery to his pitching arm in 1994, and missed the entire season as a result. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and also played with the Chicago White Sox. He signed with the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 1995 season, but did not appear in a game. He signed with the Florida Marlins for the 1996 season, but missed the entire year due to injury and retired soon after.

In 1998, Dibble joined ESPN as a baseball analyst, working mostly on Dan Patrick’s's radio show. He worked on The Best Damn Sports Show Period as a co-host until 2008, when he left to join FOX on their Saturday baseball program as an analyst. He now co-hosts a show on Clear Channel Sports WUCS-FM (97.9 ESPN) Hartford and WAVZ-AM (ESPN 1300) New Haven, called "The Rob Dibble Show" with Paul Nanos from 3 to 7 p.m. He talked to me about his glory days with the Reds.

“Man, we had a fun team. Guys did their own thing but we played hard and had a good time. I loved being with the team during that run. A learned that to pitch and stick in the big leagues you had to be the one in control. For me, it was always about throwing first strikes. If I got ahead, I zipped a fastball up and in and got the batter off the plate. Then he was mine because I could nail the outside or inside corners. I trusted in my fielders and had great catchers.”

As for his sometimes colorful antics in the broadcast booth, Dibble said its part of his shtick.

“I was doing a show in Cincinnati while I was still playing there and we weren’t getting any calls and the show was just boring. So I figured I would say something ridiculous, like that I was unhappy in Cincinnati and wanted to traded, which wasn’t true. The phone lines lit up and I learned then that you have to say something outrageous sometimes to get people to tune in and listen.”

He added, “I love being back in Connecticut and hosting a talk show. The fans here are so passionate about their sports, whether it is the Yankees and Red Sox or UConn basketball. Being from the state it’s a lot of fun to be back here and immersed in the whole vibe again.”

Dibble enjoys playing the game of golf and, of course, he can hit the ball a mile off the tee.

“I play mostly at the Country Club of Waterbury and some at Southington Country Club. I really enjoy the game and play to around a nine or 10 handicap. I’m working on it all the time. It’s fun to hit the ball a long way.” A right-hander as a hurler, he plays golf left-handed.

Dibble also devotes some of his time these days to working with up and coming youngsters as a pitching instructor.

“I’ve had some great kids to work with. I try to teach them the basics, throw strikes and don’t get so caught up in velocity and throwing curveballs at a young age. Let your body mature and develop and take things slowly. I’ve seen too many kids blow their arms out because all they wanted to do was throw hard and didn’t have the proper mechanics.”

Rob Dibble’s mechanics were just fine when he was hitting 100 miles an hour on the JUGS gun, or these days when he is hitting 350-yard drives off the tee.

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