brewers baseball and things

Mansfield and the Salmon King

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Home runs and strikeouts make great dance partners but when the pendulum swings too far one way, the commissioner calls court into session. Conventions are altered. It’s good for business.

But sometimes the wind changes direction on its own and momentum takes care of the rest.

Babe RuthBabe Ruth didn’t suddenly decide “This game needs some pomp and night life. I think I’ll stir it up and hit 54 home runs.” But it happened just the same and spread like wild-fire. And the court liked it for a while, even took credit for the change citing the spit ball being banned and dead ball era ending as reasons.

It was rain that forced us to relocate second base and it was a torrential downpour that softened the mud allowing Dirk Mansfield to spin basewet360 degrees and make an off-balance, under hand sling to first base. The admirers hid behind trapper keepers and called it ground breaking, spun an exaggerated yarn for the school paper. But Mansfield..when asked, simply said, “I was just escaping puddles.”

Word spread fast Monday morning. People made Mansfield like spins around corners and tossed rectangle erasers with underhand sling motions. And as the mishap became legend, something new was already under way on the diamond.

The salmon king’s nickname; once an insult, quickly became a song of praise.

Every morning since the third grade, he went fishing; Milwaukee River style with a beat up Schwinn 10 speed, a bunch of worms,and  a bamboo rod. He arrived to first hour home room reeking of ale wives so the kids slipped him the mocking salmon king handle. No one knew if he ever caught anything and no one cared enough to ask, but when he brought something new to the pitcher’s mound, things changed.

30801879-mjs_milwaukee_river_steelhead_1The Salmon King was resourceful. He had no choice with a bike chain falling off and fishing line snapping in two. He had microscope eyes. But it was a whim that revealed the miraculous effects of hash resin on a baseball. It not only curved, but picked up speed half way to home plate.

King Salmon never belonged to a specific click. One day he’d shoot pool with wrestlers and another day roll away reefer with drifters under the football bleachers.

It was under those bleachers where king salmon offered to scrap resin free from a hash pipe.The oily goo remained on his fingers into the late afternoon when he took the mound and threw a pitch no one had ever seen before.

The infield eventually dried up and the resin pitch was exposed for what it was. There was a sober feeling the day after, but the wind still blew and the game continued.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

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