Edwin Jackson was born in Germany so I assumed his dad was in the military and I was right, but Jackson’s father was a cook, not a soldier and this confused me because, as wikipedia accurately states in an article from seattlesportsinsider.com,
“Jackson is one of a minority of MLB starting pitchers who relies almost exclusively on two pitches, a mid-90s fastball and an effective power slider.“
A chef for a father, spice holster at his side and his son becomes a two pitch pitcher! So much for nature! So much for nurture! Parents just set the table I guess, but Jackson has packed his bag 9 times, from the Dodgers to the Rays to the Tigers to I forget the rest, the Cardinals and Cubs, a no-hitter, a World Series ring, and now the Atlanta Braves, and that sounds very much like a military lifestyle vagabond to me and at 32, he has a chance to top the king of vagabonds – Octavio Dotel who packed his bag 13 times-13 different caps. Maybe Jackson will learn how to throw a knuckle ball this Christmas, in some care free, fun-loving moment, he tosses crumpled up wrapping paper beside a breezy heat duct resulting in the ball dancing giggle stick motions and another toss and another and Merry Christmas Edwin!
Russel Branyon packed his bag 13 times as well, but only played for 10 teams. I watched him hit the longest home run in Miller Park history-IBM Tale of the Tape said 480 feet. He hit it off Greg Maddux, but to dead center, thump against the scoreboard. Could have traveled 600 feet and we wouldn’t have known the damn difference. But Rob Deer blasting one into a 20 mph wind clearing the County Stadium left field bleachers 13 years earlier and we had something to stare at and watch disappear and we never really stopped staring either, still soaring in our minds.
But Branyon is 15th on the all-time list for home runs per at bat, tied with Mickey Mantle. And Ron Kittle is 22nd and Rob Deer is 45th and that ties him with Mo Vaughn, but what really yanks my mind is Hank Aaron in 1973, 40 home runs in 392 at bats.
I always assumed Ruth and Aaron were real far apart in terms of age, time period played and what not, probably a consequence of our TV with Ruth coming at us in fast paced black and white reels and Aaron much more modern with full length games on you tube, Fulton County Stadium color, but there were only 39 years between Ruth’s last at bat and Aaron breaking his record, some sort of logic in that they were born 39 years a part on February 6, 1895 and February 5, 1934, three cheers for Aquarius!
I watched the White Sox and Brewers from July 21, 1983, the other day and Tony La Russa managed the same way he later managed the A’s and Cardinals, the long and wonderful way, the slow pace molasses way, Britt Burns recovering from a sloppy start, finding a groove, lasting into the sixth inning, when La Russa enjoyed an idea and then another and so on, replacing Burns with Hickey, Barojas, Agosto and Lamp and Tidrow warming up in the pen and the Sox still lost in a see saw game. Moose Haas started for the Brewers, had just signed a contract extension, a black belt in Taekwondo and practitioner of magic, love that Haas, but he didn’t figure in the decision. Harvey Kuenn was ejected. Fisk and Luzinski hit home runs. Molitor struck out three times, bounced into a double play, but did hit a chopper over Vance Law at third to drive in the go ahead run. Brewers win 7-6. Yount had 4 hits and 3 RBI’s. Jim Slaton with the save.
Only the names change over the years, but you tube is a fortunate peek into both a tree ring past and a tree top future with every player’s vagabond nature disguised by that not so regular season game, each dressed in perfect colors cooperative and utopia, a baseball commune, one from the sea and another land, one rich and one poor, all five continents. Evan Gattis doing his best Greg Luzinski. A poet and number cruncher, all in the same dugout, headed for the same disaster – the 27th out and then what do we do?
With a Doug Moe approach, anything is possible.