brewers baseball and things

big daddy Parsons


Mrs. Z worked in a small room; to the left of the guidance counselor and to the right of the big exit doors. She wasn’t trained as a nurse or made no airs if she was; no name tag on the door; no framed wall certificates; more like back alley abortion equivalent so the school could save money I guess.

Mrs. Z. was small; maybe 5 feet and had nice minty breath; reminded us of Mary Lou Retton; but much older. She didn’t smile too much either. We preferred it that way.

She was our get out of jail free card. There were 6 or 7 of us and we could be sick with a 102 temperature or suffering from a severely scraped knee or nothing at all. Mrs Z didn’t care. Trick the teachers and make it to her room and she wouldn’t say a damn thing and if you talked baseball, you could stick around a while.

We weren’t the smartest kids; a few flunked the fourth grade, but we knew Mrs. Z could melt clocks; make the day pass faster. I remember snippets she said; things like, “The Los Angeles Angels were born from a one night stand.”  It didn’t make sense until we watched girls practice gymnastics and got those sensations.

I think it was Doug Limpkins who gave us the scoop about the Angels; about AL expansion in 1961 being a knee jerk reaction to the Continental League threat. Limpkins was good at math too.

The Angels did pretty good that first year; 70-91; still the best record for any expansion team’s first season, but according to Mrs Z; “the owners made it rougher after that.”

We never knew what she meant, but it helped explain nine consecutive losing seasons for the Brewers.

Gorman Thomas came up often in our conversations. He was Seattle’s first round pick in 1969; making him our big daddy, but Mrs Z. never liked Walt Disney. She preferred reality.

“The Pilots were in the 1968 draft as well,” she explained “And it was more than the Expansion draft; more than Roger Nelson, Don Mincher, and Tommy Harper.”

Limpkins confirmed it. “Expansion teams beginning play in 1969 were rewarded picks in 1968,” he told us, “But not until after the fourth round.”

“Some reward,” Mrs Z would add.

Limpkins’ father had media guides of all Brewer/Pilot teams. We could have just asked him, but we preferred sneaking around, so we waited until Mr. Limpkins was at work and slipped into those media guides.The first Pilots player chosen in that 1968 draft was Marty West; 4th round; 84th overall pick. He never surfaced in the major leagues and neither did the Pilot’s next two picks; Greg Brosterhous in the fifth round; 108th overall or Roger McSwain; 6th round; 132nd overall pick.

baseball almanac

baseball almanac

“But The Pilots took Bill Parsons in the 7th round; 156th overall and he had a decent career,” one kid said.

Mrs Z smiled and said. “four years and 360 degrees, but he did get that trophy on his baseball card.” She never tried to look too smart; preferring dialogue instead.

She had an album of Brewers cards and pulled it out often. We all looked at each other; blood1976-TOM-KELLY-MISSING-TO-USE rushing to our heads.

The Pilots made Tom Kelly their next pick, but he never made it to the majors until 1975 and not as a Brewer, but as a Twin. Mrs Z had that card too.

But other than Tom Kelly, there were just a lot of names on the draft board and blank spaces in her baseball card binder.

howardThe only other player Mrs Z showed us from that 1968 draft was a 1974 Rookie Outfield card featuring Wilbur Howard; originally drafted in the 19th round; 443rd overall. Most of us had never seen a rookie card like that; not with four mug shots.

The Pilots last pick was Bob Nero; 71st round; 913th pick. Mrs Z never mentioned Nero as last emperor of a Roman dynasty something or other. She knew better. She wanted us to come back and anyway, we were still digesting what she told us about Bill Parsons.

He won Sporting News AL rookie pitcher of the year for the Brewers in 1971, pitched opening day in 1972, won 13 games both seasons and then as Mrs Z liked to point out; “he fell down a shaft.”

Parsons pitched only 2 more seasons and won a measly 3 games; traded to Oakland, then St; Louis, Chicago, surfaced in  Venezuela and “last scene at a bar rail,” Mrs Z joked.

Random killing sprees are harder to digest than the earth swallowing entire villages. We wanted to hear that Bill Parson hurt his arm or became a religious freak and wandered the earth barefoot.

No such luck, but Mrs Z. did point out that Steve Blass lost control about the same time Parsons……and then she would never finish the sentence.


Author: Steve Myers

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

12 thoughts on “big daddy Parsons

  1. Being that he was the Pilot’s last draft choice, I guess Bob Nero fiddled while Seattle burned. (that was an attempt at cleverness.)

    I didn’t have time to read the whole thing. I’ll read it later.

    I remember Wilbur Howard playing with the Houston Astros.

    • Hey Glen, hope you don’t mind, but Mrs Z might ask your permission to phrase the Nero situation as you have. I can only speak for myself, but I prefer your way; “Bob Nero fiddled while Seattle burned.” That is clever!

      And you’re right; that was Seattle’s last ever pick until the Mariners in the 1977 draft and I just looked it up and they took Dave Henderson with the 20th pick. What a charismatic player he turned out to be!

  2. The NY-P league team in Newark, NY was named the Co-Pilots, and they kept that name after the Pilots were no longer. I’ve always liked that.

    • wk, I had no idea of the Co-Pilots existence so I thank you very kindly right there and go to wikipedia and under Co-Pilots there’s a listing of managers and my eyes seize on Sibby Sisti; first manager and that is some kind of name!! I click on Sisti and discover that his baseball card is on the last page of the delicious book, “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping Trading and Bubble Gum book” and by George I have that book, thanks to Josh Wilkers and so I get it from the shelf and turn to the last page and there is Sisti with the very caption Wikipedia said would be there; “Goodnight Sibby Sisti , wherever you are.” But that’s only the cheese and crackers to this reverie. I go back to the Sisti wikipedia entry and it says, “Sistie answered that implied question (wherever you are) by appearing in a small role in the 1984 film The Natural” and so there’s only one thing I can do…watch the Natural again. Somehow I feel more ready for the winter after experiencing all of this.

      • Qucik–name a major league baseball player who was born in San Remo, Italy, lived in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and couldn’t hit.

        • Dominic Pastoretti? but he never lived in Ontario and he only showed up at the Coney Island batting cages and said he was a major leaguer. We never found any proof, but his birth certificate did say San Remo, Italy.

          Then there’s Alex Liddi, but I’m not sure he lives in Windsor Ontario. Must be a blues song called; can’t crack the Mariners lineup.

      • Actually, that was a direct quote from The Great American Baseball Card Flipping and Bubble Gum Book, in reference to the legendary Reno Bertoia. I’ve lost my copy of the book, which I deeply regret.

        • I found my way to the flipping book via the Josh Wilkers cardboard gods book and his recommendation/praise of it. What great books the both of them with beginnings on every page.

  3. The more I read, the more delightfully lost I get – words like ‘expansion’ and ‘draft’, what do they even mean? – in a world where everything is rush and hurry, and I’m standing in one spot looking like an abandoned kid in a bus depot. I don’t know whether I actually want all the background culture, processes, and machinery explained; it would be like losing innocence.

    • There were two theme songs for the Seattle Pilots during their one and only year of existence. The first was sing song and innocent and Walt Disney like; a promotional thing and called “Go Go You Pilots.”

      The second arrived almost 40 years later and it’s angrier and more sarcastic and Johnny Rotten sounding with Milwaukee and Bud Selig perceived to be a thief not a butterfly and it’s called “Go Pilots Go” but both serve as effective portals. Thanks Marie.

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