Hal McCoy
Hal McCoy

Hal McCoy is a former beat writer for the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), covering the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which is awarded annually "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing." He has won 43 Ohio and national writing awards and was the first non-Cincinnati newsperson elected to the Cincinnati Journalists Hall of Fame. McCoy has been the Cincinnati BBWAA Chapter Chair 22 times and was the BBWAA national president in 1997. He is the third writer from the Dayton Daily News to win the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, joining Si Burick (1982) and Ritter Collett (1991). Residing in Clayton, Ohio, McCoy is an honors graduate in journalism from Kent State University.

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 If his off-season is any indication, look for Homer Bailey to go after some really big game (games) in 2013.  Doin’ the Robin Hood thing, this guy ain’t afraid of nothing!

Goodyear, Arizona – When baseball fans refer to a big game hunter they likely are talking about a pitcher looking to perform well in a high-pressure situation.

Like the no-hitter Homer Bailey threw for the Cincinnati Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates last season or any of the career-best 13 wins he tacked next to his name.

With Bailey, though, big game hunter means the real thing — as in hunting for lions with a bow and arrows.

Oh, yeah. Homer Bailey, the lion-hearted.

Bailey pitched all last year knowing when the season ended and early November came around he would be in South Africa hunting lions with his trusty bow.

Did he succeed? Hey, did he throw a no-hitter last year?

One shot. One arrow through the heart from 40 yards. And down went Simba, a 600-pound lion. It was like the last out of that no-hitter. Only better.

It all began last year when Bailey attended a Safari Club International convention in Las Vegas, looking for some hunts to do.

“Some friends and I were in this big taxidermy place and I saw a big lion,” said Bailey. “I said, ‘I’m definitely going to do that one day.’”

A friend convinced him by saying, “Hey, we can do a lion safari in early November, even though it is the end of the season, but it can be done.”

So they talked to TAM Safaris and Bailey asked about hunting a lion with a bow (like hunting an elephant with a fly swatter), “And they were all for it,” said Bailey. “We signed up last year in January, so I pitched all last season knowing that at the end of the season I was fixing to hunt a lion with a bow.”

Bailey was in the field for a week-and-a-half, but brought down his prey on the fifth day.

“We were in a blind overlooking bait and we saw some lions feeding, but not the calibre we were looking for,” he said. “And that was the scariest part. We were in a blind made of mesh and we saw some that were good but my guide said, ‘Hey, I think we can do better, even though those guys looked the size of horses. I thought, ‘Bull-crap, those guys are huge.’

“That’s the scariest moment of my entire life,” said the 26-year-old right hander from LaGrange, Tex. “We had one lion get within 10 feet of us and my guide reached for his gun and I thought, ‘This is game time.’ He said we had to be prepared for bad things to happen and said he shot one that charged the blind.”

Scary? Well, they were watching a lion feed one day when they heard something and looked behind them in time to see a rhinoceros — and not one of those cuddly ones, but a real life mean one.

“We knew lions were in the area so the next day we drove around the ranch, to the other side, and we saw two from about 500 yards,” said Bailey. “They were walking through and we cut them off and I got a shot.”

Down went Simba. “From the time I shot he was down and dead in five seconds. He jumped and came down dead.”

That wasn’t the end.

“I jumped around and was excited, but there was a problem,” said Bailey. “The other lion. He wouldn’t leave. We threw rocks at him to scare him off. He wasn’t moving. Finally we scared him off.”

Bailey said the beast is probably on his way across the Atlantic and it will take a year to a year-and-a-half to have him stuffed and mounted.

And it is fortunate. After 2013, hunters cannot bring back lions to the United States, “Because our government thinks they are endangered and are putting a block on them. They want to keep lions and polar bears out, even though their numbers are higher than they’ve been in 30 years. It’s our wonderful government at work. They need to let the people who actually care about these things handle it and we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Bailey is building a gigantic barn with a 40 by 40 room for his massive collection of hunting equipment and he plans for the lion to be the room’s centerpiece.

Downing a lion with one shot from a bow is impressive, but we’ll really be impressed if he comes back next year with Big Foot.

For the second straight year Bailey showed up at camp with added weight, all of it in the right places and all of it added the right way.

His first year with the Reds he was at about 195 but now packs 230 pounds on his 6-foot-4 body. He still looks slim and trim and when asked where the extra weight is, he smiled and said, “It’s all in my heart.”

Homer Bailey, lion-hearted.

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