Destiny is a chariot. The driver is drunk and blind. I don’t remember who said that, but I like it. In a doomy sense, it reminds me of the routine check-up turning into doc discovering the big one. Or in a more favorable way, it’s the bird dog scout heading to Norfolk to see a big time pitching prospect when an unknown shortstop catches his eye.
And for me, it’s the way Joe Rudi continues to effect my life. The two-time gold glove winning outfielder enjoyed probably his greatest moments as a member of the Oakland A’s dynasty from 1971-1975. I was in the midst of becoming potty trained and learning how to ride a bike with training wheels. I knew nothing about Joe Rudi, but he appeared on the cover of a book and I eventually found that book or it found me.
Rudi played left field for one for one of the greatest and most eccentric teams in recent memory. That Oakland A’s dynasty did more than win three consecutive World Series (1972-74). They also won 101 games in 1971 and 98 in 1975. A hit here and a strikeout there and they might have won five World Series in a row.
For the most part that A’s roster remained the same through the incredible winning run, but then free agency happened and the A’s were at the center of the storm with Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Reggie Jackson both becoming Yankees. The drunk and blind chariot driver had struck again; this time turning simple labor negotiations into something no one could have expected-arbitration and the million dollar free agent.
Rudi wasn’t one of the million dollar boys, but he was granted free agency after the 1976 season and signed with the California Angels. He played a total of 16 significantly above average seasons and always remained out of the spotlight. He averaged 19 home runs and 30 doubles per season, playing a fearless left field. He was originally signed as am amateur free agent by the Kansas City Athletics in 1964.
Maybe his most glorious moment was a catch he made in the 1972 World Series. Or maybe it was his exaggerated open batting stance. For me it was that book. It was a hardcover. I also bought “Greatest World Series Thrillers” on that seemingly irrelevant elementary school day.
But it was the Rudi book and its place in our family heirloom that lingers on. I don’t even remember what the book was about, but anytime I hinted about injustice in the way teachers treated us students or how this institution or that organization was poisoned by red tape and politics, my older siblings looked at each other and in unison, they said….”Joe Rudi, unsung hero of the world.”
I was intrigued to discover what Mr. Rudi has been doing in the after life of his baseball career. He runs “contesting” on amateur radio. It’s a competition to see which station can contact the most stations. The better the technology and design of the amateur station, the better the signal and the more contacts made. Here’s Joe’s Profile page at NK7U. You’d never know he has three World Series rings.
This is Joe, the guy behind the NK7U station.
Around the shack Joe is the antenna and tower guy. Putting a bunch of aluminum way up in the air is his favorite pastime. Almost every bit of tower, antenna, feed line, and control line that you find off the ground at NK7U is there because Joe was hanging off of something hauling it up there. You can see him in operation in some of the station construction photos.