brewers baseball and things


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aluminum baseball paradise

to a toddler it didn’t matter. His mom collected cans for a living and so he learned to collect cans and love the activity too, like one would learn to catch fish or gut a buffalo and offer thanks through song.

he liked the locomotion of walking around town, digging through recycle bins and scoring treasures as he called them …….the father was no where to be found. Took off with first whispers of an embryo so it was mom who had dibs on what to name him and she never hesitated. Called him Tundra to honor the short growing season regions, a reminder to seize opportunities which in can collecting parlance translated to knowing where to find cans – outside the local university fraternity houses, back alleys of bars, and houses with heavy beer drinkers. Tundra’s mom knew them places like an angler knows rivers.

Momma held Tundra up at the grocery store so he could stuff one aluminum can after another into the machine and he loved the crunch sound. He held the printout in his hand and he exchanged it for some magic coins. Tundra smiled and so did the cashier, mom too, a secret ritual paradise born.

but the world is cruel and as Tundra grew, kids at school found out that he lived in a shelter and that he and his mom collected cans and they taunted Tundra and doubt creeped into the boy’s mouldable mind. Tundra’s back slouched. His gait slowed, but he endured and became a teen and one summer day, he and his mom waited outside a bar, for cans, like they did at most bars because bartenders were much kinder than Tundra’s classmates. And this particular bartender made it vocal that he respected can collecting. He likened it to 49ers searching for gold, as legit as any other employment and in a way, even better, choosing your own hours.

The bartender invited them in for a complimentary beer and the fates were kind, because it was an old man’s bar and the drinkers knew about life being a “tough row to hoe.” One of the men, wearing a green, John Deere hat, pointed to a tv hoisted above the tapper, but he didn’t really need to point because Tundra got sucked in from the moment he walked into the bar, sucked into this game of bat and ball being played. No one said a word either, only the bartender, an invite to come and see more games whenever “momma says it would be alright.”

They were there every Saturday and Tundra took his new love into the week, to the library, where he read up on the game and along the information way, he stumbled on pictures of statues, baseball statues, Hartland baseball statues, nothing more than plastic figurines, but the players, he soon discovered were old, from the late 1950’s, long before Tundra’ time. And he liked the history of it, of him being part of a larger family and his gratitude worked like a charm, unleashing ideas in the young boy’s mind, to create aluminum figurines of his favorite players and to sit outside after school and sell them. His mom, initially rejected the idea as blasphemy, ruining a good can and losing 5 cents and in some locations 10 cents! But Tundra begged and momma surrendered at one point, “But only two cans,” she insisted.

Tundra spent the rest of the day cutting, twisting, and curling the can, very carefully so as to not suffer an injury and he modeled his first player after his favorite Hartland Statue – Warren Spahn – his glove and throwing hand high above his head. Then he made an Ichiro, bat head aimed towards third base, the beginnings of an inevitable, opposite field double down the line.

It wasn’t easy to part ways with his aluminum statues, but Tundra wanted to pay respects to his mother and so he sold the two statues, made some more, and gave the money to his mom. She admitted she was wrong and felt a surge of pride as a can collecting mother. And the boys at school? Well, they switched sides like a fickle fashion and wanted to be Tundra’s friend.


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some sort of science experiment

there have been many baseball suicides over the years.

Jeremy Giambi is the most recent, this past February, gun shot wound to the head. The variety of methods is plentiful, from Dude Esterbrook leaping from a train window on the way to Middletown State Asylum to Pea Ridge Day slitting his throat with a hunting knife. Bert Hall hung himself. Fred Bratschi ingested battery acid and on and on goes the sad, tragic list.

One method not listed is Curiosity Over What’s Next. This gets me me thinking about one Hermie Snorek, the 62-year old newspaper delivery man who always wanted to catch a foul ball or a fair ball if he happened to be sitting in the bleachers. Let’s say he was a fan of the Minnesota Twins. He attended games at Metropolitan Stadium, then the Metrodome, and more recently Target Field. He watched Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Pucket, and Miguel Sano and through all the years, he never once caught a foul ball though there was that one time, seated in the upper deck, 1977, Carew flirting with .400, a ball came up there and there weren’t too many fans, a chase ensued, but Hermie had a bum knee and lost the race.

Hermie had no wife or kids and well, the call from the other side, if there is another side became very welcoming, like a tent with a hookah and a band of pilgrims welcoming him in. Hermie had a knack for inventing things like take the mini waterfall in his basement. He rigged up a contraption enabling him to trap energy from the waterfall in a tube, plug the tube into a hot plate to boil water and presto he could cook up a cup of rice and he did just that and mixed in a can of sardines and well, protein galore. Life was good, really good. He had season tickets to Twins games, but that foul/fair ball still eluded his hungry hands….then, an idea launched in Hermie’s mind and since he had nothing else to do, other than deliver his morning papers, he mixed this into that and that into this. He worked all hours of the night and he wasn’t alone.

There were mice in the house, in the basement, where he worked so he caught them with a butterfly net and used them in his experiments. A Twins season passed and then another and still no results, but then one year, he discovered the right ingredients…a liquid, a simple liquid rubbed on the mice’s toes and he achieved his objective. It was time to try it out on himself and as luck or destiny would have it…. one cool, April afternoon at Target field, a ball hovered above the section where Hermie was sitting and up went his hands coated with that magic liquid he had brewed and down came that ball and though he didn’t catch it (the ball popped out), his flesh had made contact with the ball and he vanished into thin air. Hermie passed on doing what he loved, watching baseball, his dream of catching a baseball almost realized and for the few fans in his same section that witnessed the vanishing, well, Hermie Snorek lived on, forever in their minds, as first and foremost, a diehard Twins fan.


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How the Pilots first round pick paved the way…

The arrival of a new baseball team to a city, whether by relocation or expansion, I would imagine, is a permanent parade for kids, new friend to teenagers, companion for adults, medicine for an elder. I was born in July, 1970, a few months shy of witnessing the birth of the Milwaukee Brewers, not that I had any idea what a baseball was at birth. That took a few years, maybe five, when my dad came home with a pack of 1975 Topps and it was probably more the wild, psychedelic colors than anything about baseball that sucked me in, but I do remember one of the cards – Jim Brewer of the Dodgers which probably struck me as strange, a player named Brewer on the Dodgers?

Later in life, I learned the creation story of the Brewers, of them actually being born in Seattle, as the Pilots and that team going bankrupt after one season, yes, one and done. In that spring of 1970, the truck driver was instructed to head northeast, not northwest, to go to Milwaukee, not Seattle, to become the Brewers, not the Pilots. The Brewers retained the Pilot’s blue and yellow uniforms that continue to this very day, a somewhat superficial reminder, but there was more….there was the player the Pilots selected in the 1969 amateur draft. More on that famous pick a bit later.

Firstly, the Pilots added to their roster in the 1968 expansion first, winning the mini lottery, but choosing to pick second, rewarding them both the second and third picks. The Royals, the other American league expansion team that season (The Padres and Expos were the NL expansion teams) picked first, among the American League teams, selecting Roger Nelson from the Orioles. Nelson didn’t pitch too bad in 1969 for the Royals. He gave up 170 hits in 193.1 innings, but it kind of paled in comparison to the production the Pilots got from their first 2 picks….Don Mincher and Tommy Harper. They got Mincher from the Angles. I mean the Angels. I always screw up their name when typing. Anyway, Mincher hit 25 homers and drove in 78 runs and made the all-star team. However, I’m not sure if the rule back then was that at least one player from every team made the all-star game? The other player the Pilots got, in the expansion draft, 3rd over all, from the Indians, was Tommy Harper. He had a .349 OB% and led the league with 79 steals.

The following year came the amateur draft and for some reason that I don’t know, none of the new teams picked first. The Pilots had the 21st pick followed by the Expos, Royals, Padres. The Pilots picked shortstop/pitcher Gorman Thomas out of James Island, high school in Columbia, South Carolina and eventually turned him into an outfielder, a centerfielder. Like every other player back then, Thomas had to dig in and work hard (there was no pampering first round picks). Thomas was called up to the crew in 1973, and hit 2 homers in 155 at bats. Over the next four years he was up and down, AAA minors to majors. Limited playing time and get this, he hit a whopping 51 homers in 1974 as a member of the Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League and yet, he didn’t even lead the team in homers! That honor went to Bill McNulty with 55. On that same team Sixto Lezcano hit 34 and Tommie Reynolds hit 32. As a team they hit a stunning 308 homers which begs the question what professional baseball team has the record for most homers in a single season? The Twins hit 307 in 2019.

In 1978, Thomas got 482 at bats and made the most of it, hitting 32 homers. He became a strikeout/home run machine, leading the league with 45 bombs in 1979 and 39 in 1982. He was also a damn good centerfielder, but more than anything else he became a symbol of hard working Milwaukee and all its breweries and manufacturing plants.

The face of the franchise Gorman Thomas. Even to this day, mostly amongst the older crowd, Gorman remains that face, more than Yount, certainly more than the lier, I mean liar Braun and more than today’s struggling star Christian Yelich.


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on accepting/welcoming the DH in Milwaukee, again

it’s been 25 years since the brewers inserted a dh into their line up. That’s when they were in the AL Central, spent four years there, from 1994-1997. Before that they dogged it out, in the tough AL East.

My earliest recollection of the Brewers dates back to 1978 when my dad took me to a double header against the Red Sox. The only thing I remember is that Dick Drago pitched one of the games for the Red Sox. I’m not sure who played DH for the Brew Crew that day, but it might have been Larry Hisle. He was one of a number of players who served as the DH in 1978….51 times for Hisle. He hit 34 homers and drove in 115 runs. The Brewers were 93-69 and yet they finished third in that tough AL East. They were Bambi’s Bombers back then, named after manager George Bamberger and when they changed skippers, to Harvey Kuenn, they got coined – Harveys Wallbangers…..bombs and bangers, lots of homeruns without Atlas physiques.

i was at the dentist yesterday. routine clean and x-ray. there was a painting on the wall of a herd of buffalo crossing a river. Reminded me of the brewers hopefully doing the same this year, entering a new land, an added DH bat, extending their playoff run. They’ve made the playoffs the last four years, but only advanced to the NL championship once, in 2018, losing to the Dodgers. i hate to sound greedy, but with their pitching and defense, anything other than a WS crown would be disappointing.

Newly acquired Andrew McCutchen has appeared in 14 games as the DH.

the Brewers are 12-7 and currently in first place in the NL Central.


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genes, ben oglivie, and ok with the way things are

the sound of eugenics came blurting from the megaphones attached to street corner light posts. a misty morning for sure. most kept walking, blissed out by the acupuncture jolts the pavement had on the balls of their feet up their leg and spine and into their mind now mushrooming in locomotion.

i watched this show on human nature, about eugenics. that’s what had me thinking about megaphones and acupuncture. i don’t know why, but it did.

for no apparent reason, other than being on vacation and boredom kicking in, my girl friend and i took a hike at ile bizard, an island in the northwest corner of montreal, another island….i think there are over 40 islands around here which pales in comparison to the phillipines, but anyway, i always liked that name bizard, not knowing its origin or meaning and not really caring, but liking how similar it is to the word bizarre, as in stumbling on new, never before seen species that gets me thinking about the earth floating in outer space and me floating too and discovering extra terrestrials out here, out there, everywhere and that feels wonderful and bizarre.

the island does double duty; in the winter it’s a paradise for cross country skiers….but this month, this april, a sanctuary for birds. we saw a couple of blue ones and black ones with red streaks, some small ones with grey heads that weren’t pigeons. I don’t know their names…we saw a beaver cruising through some marshy water too, collecting twigs and other wood for whatever we call a beaver house…den? and the birds made all kinds of sounds. there was no harmony to it and adding to the dissonance was an overhead geese group cacophony and all this imperfection got me thinking about eugencis again, the signs all around with instant replay, robot ball/strike umps and chiseled muscle atlas frames of gioncarlo stanton and everyone else.

ode to the long gone ilk of ectomorph home run hitters, the skeleton style of ben oglivie and george foster….we walked some more and there were fallen trees and the beautiful fluorescent green moss that formed on them like poppies on tombs and some other trees that simply stopped growing, looking like giants with bald heads and then back home, i thought about a sewer grate, about squatting to my knees, jetting my head down and even amongst all the vermin that were no doubt down there beside the used condoms, needles, empty milk cartons, and all the rest of our artifacts, even in all that, there would probably be the peaceful gurgle of a babbling brook – sewage run off and the universe would feel like a bi-polar universe of beauty and ugly and well, i would want it to stay that way…shouldn’t the world end one day anyway? Books and movies and blog posts do…


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evergreen trees, electrical wires, and perfect games

and so it’s warm again and there’s more going on than what’s in my head. all those days running from a hospital to a booze store to back home to a friend’s apartment, back and forth and all around, head down, in a hurry for heat ducts and hot showers and blankets and now there’s birds chirping and pine cones dangling from evergreens and squirrels racing across wires and it was always there. i just didn’t see it. didn’t see that perfect game by some japanese pitcher either. struck out 19 and will no doubt be on the yankees next year.


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for the donnie moore never gone ilk

if earth disappeared,
would the rest of the galaxy really care?
would they even notice?
i feel you donnie moore and
if i knew you before you shot your wife three times and killed her and then killed yourself,
if i knew you, i would have encouraged you to
dance dance dance
dance more
lift up your legs and
dance dance dance
dance more
and then just maybe,
all that misery woulda passed and there’d be
another day…


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as smart as jesus and krishna…

i don’t remember when i first heard or read about religions, but it was interesting to discover that life possibly had meaning, that it was more than merely here today and gone tomorrow and that my great grandpa Leonard might be in heaven or reincarnated. i went to the library and looked up religions and the first book i came across was one called ‘religions of man’ by huston smith, a paperback, not too big, about the size of a 4×6 notecard, but it was thick, lots of pages and i carried that thing around and was pretty rough with it. i think i was reading the chapter on hinduism when the author said something about being all-knowing and i thought that was pretty cool, to know everything, to know the first starting pitcher to pitch 500 innings in a season because fast or slow, curve or straight, that’s gotta hurt the arm and also i thought it would be cool to know the third baseman for the tigers and the lineup of every major league team so i read about hindu gods and then made it to buddhism and i put a beach towel on my apartment bedroom floor and meditated or tried to, but most of the time my back slouched and i was thinking about stupid shit like what the people i knew thought about me and go figure, it didn’t do a damn thing. all that studying hindu gods and meditating and still, i couldn’t remember the third baseman for the tigers and so i gave up my desire to be all-knowing and settled on a normal life of ups and downs. but i did buy a baseball magazine and found out that the third baseman for the tigers was scott livingstone. He played 98 games in 1993. i felt like i was on my way…


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a milwaukee trespass

the nurse was Mrs. Z. and she never told us what the Z stood for and we never asked. Her little dispensary was beside our elementary school’s main exit, the “BIG EXIT” as we called it because when you walked through those doors, the day was done. she wasn’t trained as a nurse. the school was probably saving money. she was small, freddie patek small, maybe five feet. looked like a cute old mouse. she had good, minty breath, made you wanna be near her. we pretended to be sick or intentionally scraped our elbow at recess to draw a little blood and if we managed to make it past the initial border crossing – the teacher and reach Mrs. Z’s little room with the turquoise-colored dentist chair, then we had made it…..and ‘made it’ meant a get out of jail free card, a walk through the BIG EXIT and a stroll home, a short 20-40 minute walk and all afternoon to play some video games, sort some baseball cards, or do whatever us kids liked to do when we were pretending to be sick.