brewers baseball and things

without books


he coulda slipped them into plastic sleeves.
there were only a few – don kessinger, ken harrelson, and i forget the others.
but he left them exposed instead like his sun burnt skin peeling that summer.
he refused to take a bath.
he was afraid he would disappear down the drain, but he was no hide away score keeper.
he could do a wheelie on his dirt bike.

is mom wasn’t catholic and didn’t have fat biceps,
but she had that smile, not the white teeth stewardess smile,
but that invisible smile.
he understood everything – from the ants we tried to trap in empty mayonnaise jars to those cops chasing us so many years later.

He needed those cards at his side 
like a cigarette to burn later in life, to keep him company so he kept them and his mom never seduced him one way or the other so those cards never went out with the trash, but they did bend from humidity and started to look like hammocks.

his dad showed up once in a while and offered plastic and plexiglass as gifts to stop the ugliness, but he refused the plastic and so the cards became a bit yellow. the corners rounded. we stuffed them in sock drawers, did magic tricks with them. they wrinkled. we sometimes added mustaches to faces or put other things in the background. On one card, he turned a batting cage into a spaceship. I think it was a Toby Harrah card. He made it look really good with that space ship like it was real, like there were extra terrestrials taking batting practice and Toby Harrah was next. He loved to draw things like that. He was pretty good at it too.  Anyway, we kind of forgot about the cards or not really. we just stopped looking at them, but they were always with us.

He had his first surgery, broke up with his girlfriend. There were suicides too, but he kept those cards –  don kessinger, ken harrelson, toby harrah, and i forget the others. The cards became like dried roses  for him, to remember something. i was never sure what he was trying to remember, but he was always the wheelie master and after i learned about mummies and egypt, i trusted him, his mom and those baseball cards even more.

we drank a lot as we got older.
he would sometimes slam down a beer when it wasn’t empty.
beer suds would splash out of the can,
maybe like a fish jumping out of the milwaukee river.
apparently people catch muskies in there.
anyway, he often drifted off into memories that became stories, oral histories i guess.
he became like a needle stuck at the end of record,
refusing to call it a night.


Author: Steve Myers

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

13 thoughts on “without books

  1. I enjoyed this while I was trying to figure it out what this whole thing means. I think I figured a good portion of it out.

    Probably one of the cards were BUD Harrelson too, I’ll bet. For that era of baseball card collecting (the same as mine, assuming this is the early 70s, when all three players, Ken Harrelson, Toby Harrah, and Don Kessinger were playing, no kid EVER put baseball cards in anything but just threw them in shoe boxes. We didn’t think about the condition of them, just like the guy in this story. I never saw kids put them in plastic sleeves until the 80s.

    I used to spend hours in my room putting rubber bands around the cards, arranged by teams. If a player was traded, I transferred him to the team that he was traded to. By the way, Don Kessinger was one heck of a shortstop, and Harrah spelled backward is still Harrah, and I remember when Ken Harrelson almost quit baseball to become a pro golfer.


    • I’m not sure why the cards were harrelson, kessinger. and harrah, maybe kessinger because i think he was the last player manager and that always seemed cool or whatever or maybe i got him mixed up with someone else and harrah because he once talked to me in port charlotte at the rangers spring training. i just threw harrelson in there, maybe because he makes me think of a squirrel and i like squirrels.

      i was thinking the cards came in one of those mystery packs at card shows. they were usually filled with a bunch of new ones and a bunch of old ones. they were a lot of fun. the guy in this story probably got the cards in the late 80’s or around there. i guess i shoulda been more specific so i guess we could say this story has some plot holes.

    • or wait a second. i got that screwed up. after reading what you said glen, i started thinking that bud harrelson was in the story. he’s the one that reminds me of squirrels, but the hawk is the one in the story. i wonder if hawks eat squirrels? my neighbor’s mom back in milwaukee saw a hawk nosedive into a rabbit, but i would think a squirrel would be tougher to nail. Probably like trying to tackle Barry Sanders. He was the running back for Detroit I think and he wold run all over the place, sometimes 10-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage or maybe i exaggerate. Anyway, sorry about the mix up.

  2. I just wish I would have written this.

  3. I never thought of Bud Harrelson reminding me of a squirrel. What is it about him that reminds you of squirrels?


    • i don’t know much about harrelson, but i seen a video of him and he looked real skinny and was scrambling about in the dirt so i though of a squirrel. Maybe i should have thought of a pig?

      Or maybe if i squinted my eyes differently, he would have looked like an elephant? But don’t mind me glen, my thinking tends to be very delusional.

      • Ya know, Steve, Bud Harrelson, as I remember him in 1970 and 1971, usually batting second in the Mets lineup behind Tommie Agee, as a really young player with short hair before he let his hair grow out, kind of DOES resemble a chipmunk or a squirrel, Steve. I can imagine him with his ultra-serious look on his face, never changing his expression, while up at bat. He approached the plate with the ultra-serious look of a diamond cutter. He never changed from that facial expression while at bat, as if he would break glass or something while he was at bat. He looked very gentle, and, yes, kind of like a squirrel or a chipmunk. He had a great eye, and he walked a lot, which is why Gil Hodges also sometimes batted him leadoff. I can imagine him now, batting lefty (he was a switch hitter who couldn’t hit from either side of the plate!), but he was a great shortstop! Here’s a picture from his very early years as a Met in ‘7O on the cover of The Sporting News.


      • Yes, that Sporting News picture captures what I remember Harrelson looking like at the plate when I was nine years old. He sure did walk a lot!

        Now, here’s a baby chipmunk——

        There IS a similarity, Steve!


      • ” He never changed from that facial expression while at bat, as if he would break glass or something while he was at bat.” What I meant to write was that it was if he would break glass or something while he was at bat if he changed his facial expression, so he looked extra careful. Of course, he couldn’t break a pane of glass with a baseball bat if he TRIED! I loved Bud Harrelson!


        • sounds kinda squirrely to me glen, just kidding, but seriously, i always find it nice or a compliment to be comparred to an animal, especialy if it’s about their habits and engineering skills and what not as opposed to their physical appearance.

        • or even an animal’s looks are nice to be comparred to because that squirrel photo you posted is cute and animals and insects are always naked.

  4. Prose. Poetry. Why I read you.

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