brewers baseball and things


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sort of a prayer

So Tony Horton gets traded from the Red Sox to the Indians for Gary Bell and he’s probably wondering why since Ted Williams had called him a natural in 1963 at Spring Training. Or maybe he didn’t wonder why. Maybe he witnessed George C. Scott (yes the Boomer’s middle name was Charles) on defense and knew he wouldn’t get a chance at first with the Red Sox. Sure, Scott could hit home runs, but he could also play great D. He even won a few gold gloves according to baseball reference. He musta been a big part of the Brewers. I don’t remember that far back, but a friend of mine from Milwaukee who now lives in Vancouver, Washington was in the south, in Mississippi, and he stumbled on George C. Scott, yes the baseball player and he took some pictures. He was manning a Hickory Smoked Pig House. This was before he passed away or at least I think he passed away?

I did get to witness the guy we traded Scott for….Cecil Cooper and he well, we impersonated his stance all the time, Carew like without the continuous alterations, just a consistent crouch that Cooooooooooop. That’s formative baseball years substance, comes back to mind when I catch a spring summer smell. The nose is a powerful organ, wonderful at times remembering pleasantries, but wicked other times when the opposite is true.

So there Horton goes to Cleveland in exchange for Gary Bell. Maybe Horton got bummed out about the Red Sox being so good the year they traded him? That was 1967, a couple of years before divisions were born. There was some last day significance between the Sox, Tigers, and Twins that season and the Sox finished tops and Horton in Cleveland? I don’t know where the Indians finished in the standings, but it wasn’t first. Still, I doubt that bothered Horton too much. I mean he went on to have some pretty decent years. He hit 10 home runs with Cleveland the year of the trade, slumped a bit the next season, but then bounced back in 1969 with a Charboneau year…. 27 home runs and I think that was the pitcher’s year, no? The year they lowered the mounds to give batters a chance against Bob Gibson.

Come to think of it, after doing some minimal research I discovered that he had a decent swan song season too, 17 homers and oh forget it. What good are stats! I think his method of termination was slit the wrists, but he failed and sort of lives on in mystery, but so do most suicides and almost suicides unless they are very good at vocalizing things or writing things down, but even then, as Lori Anderson sang……”Language is a virus.” I guess she meant to say it’s limited at best and doesn’t get to the eye of the storm. There is a Police Song that cites the limits of language too. It’s about love……”de dooo dooo doooo de daaa daaa daaa.”

Today’s billboard – Let Your Inner Self Scream Out.

I sometimes sit on my sofa and stare into space and wish players like Tony Horton had given themselves a break more often and then I realize I’m wishing the same for myself and everyone else.

Sun Ra would sell these types of singles out of the back of a car at shows. Often times they had homemade art work on the cover. Many of them had no record label. This one happens to be on Saturn Records. I believe that’s June Tyson who opens the chant with “Lightning, darkness” and then Sun Ra kicks in with the chant and the Arkestra follows like a caravan….on and on and on.

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take me out to the church organ

David Letterman’s band leader, Paul Shaffer was a master at speaking through the music he played. He sent subliminal messages to portray the nature of Letterman’s guests. Were they being pompous or humble, sophisticated or a louse. He had a song for everything. Nothing comes to mind right now, but the sport of DJ-ing about a person took root in baseball as well. I think the White Sox organist got the ball rolling by playing that NAH NAH NAH NAH song when the opposing team’s pitcher got taken out of the game…..HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE.

With that in mind, I love sun ra’s music, his fans too. They keep posting material on you tube….this one from 1948…church organ music…super rare i assume and maybe some of his earliest recorded works and well…i enjoy imaginging i’m at a Brewers game and there’s a pitching change or better yet, a rain delay when this comes on to pass the time….


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a melody for roger maris

i had a dream Sunday night, of playing baseball in a beautiful beach fog. It was warm and i wasn’t doing much more than playing catch, but i woke up feeling great, not about having to go to work, but about that dream, about baseball. It felt like….I don’t know…..like a life jacket. I guess I was drowning. I guess I am. Even a newborn baby’s breath begins to rot on the way home from the maternity ward. Diaper rash soon follows and wail wail wail? those blood curdling screams tell a tale, of being a human, to suffer and yet, we carry on. Put on your overalls boy and hop up on the John Deere. It’s your day.

That other morning, there was an interim period, no more than a few seconds, when the beautiful baseball dream faded and my life came gushing back to me like the window of a slurpee machine….all the blood gushing down the window and into my head and all I wanted to do was flush it away and go back to sleep and dream that baseball clear dream. But I was awake. It was too late. I was doomed…..again. I had this and that to pay and there were rumors that Canada would be getting dumped on this winter more than last winter and that the snow would last longer, possibly into March or April. I downed a cup of coffee and thought about winter and then Dylan came to mind, his “You don’t need a  weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” I thought about him being raised in Hibbing, Minesota and Roger Maris being born there. I’ve thought about this before. It’s geographically pleasing like Aaron and Ruth being born a day apart is astrologically pleasing. Look at me….a day after that dream and i was thinking about Aaron, Ruth and Maris….Roger Maris, just saying the name pleased me, warmed my bones.


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flick your bic for one more song

It’s 1954, Christmas Eve, in Boise, Idaho and all young Petie Squibbles can think of is the organ he hopes to find under the Christmas Tree come morning. The idea of an organ sort of came as a surprise. It happened in Boston a few months earlier.

Petie and his pops were on a trip out east, to Fenway Park, to see Jimmy Piersall and the Red Sox play and much to Petie’s surprise came the soothing sound of an organ blaring in from the overhead stadium speakers. From that moment on, he dreamed of having one to play in their Idaho basement.

Is this realistic? Did kids really long for organs the same way they did a few years later with guitars, after seeing Elvis or The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show?

Organs are an old instrument, dating back to Ancient Greece. Apparently they were water organs back then, whatever that is, but what gets me pumped is that they were predominately played during races and games as opposed to strictly religious ceremonies. That seems to set the later stage for sporting events.

The first baseball team to have an organ was the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 26, 1941 when Ray Nelson played the pipe organ. The following year, the Dodgers made Gladys Gooding at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn the first ever full-time organist.

Other teams soon joined in the organ fun. The sound added to the ambiance of the stadium and even enhanced the experience of watching the actual game. At some point the organists began to mirror the actions on the field, almost like DJ’s spinning appropriate records and in some cases sarcastic ones. They provided musical commentary. One of the more well-known was Nancy Faust of the White Sox. She would play the Paul Leka song ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ after the opposing pitcher gave up a home run or was in jeopardy of being taken out of the game.

More than anything else, I find the organ to be a very relaxing sound. I have fond memories of hearing ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ during the 7th inning stretch of Milwaukee Brewers home games. That was back when they played at County Stadium.

The baseball organs disappeared with the arrival of new stadiums in the early 1990’s or maybe it was because of all the commercial music and other pre-recorded noises piped in. Thankfully, interest has revived and slowly, teams have brought back the organ including the Brewers at Miller Park.

I don’t know if kids really dream of owning an organ, but former pitcher Denny McLain once had one and he recorded an album ‘Denny McLain at the Organ.’ I like the tune ‘Extra Innings.’ Every time I play the song’s last notes and think the song is over, I am always surprised when those same notes repeat, a reminder of the beauty of Extra Innings, that once hooked and reeled in by a game, I never want it to end.

The song reminds me of a game I watched on TV. It was the longest game in major league history, a game between the Brewers and White Sox at Comiskey Park. It was suspended on May 8, 1984 and finished the following night. The Sox won 7-6 when Harold Baines hit a home run off Chuck “my bags please” Porter.

25 innings in all.
43 hits.
Tom Seaver got the win.
I love extra innings.
I love the organ.


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death, montreal mirages or maybe this has to do with baseball?

A lobster crawls along the ocean floor and that’s only on TV. In the grocery store, their claws get rubber banded shut. They continue to crawl, but THUMP into the glass wall too. They turn around like bumper cars, crawl some more, thump into the glass wall again, and then again, and again. Must be frustrating. 

They look drunk or wounded and anyway, they’re too expensive and too complicated to eat. But I’ve heard that the flies in northern Quebec are so everywhere summer annoying that a Native American Tribe whose name I forget said screw it and went east towards the Atlantic Ocean and survived on lobster till autumn.

I would change my ways if need be and eat lobster, but I don’t know about those advertisements on TV for a hypoallergenic pillow. It’s  a 1-800 number and says things like, ‘ if you order now,  we’ll throw in a satin night-gown. It guarantees a great night’s sleep. I would never buy one but it’s a nice thought – a good night’s sleep. There are so many ads like this, one after the other, all guaranteeing a better life, from pills to skin creams to comfortable cars. I guess these days are filled with great idealism. It serves as great fodder for the critics, cynics and comedians as well. It’s a see saw world  and meanwhile, back to that lobster.

It’s escorted by blind fold equivalent dry to a kitchen and lowered back home, into water, only it’s not cold fresh water; it’s boiling hot water. The end. Strange way to die. Cows are tricked to the slaughter-house as well. Rabbits hung out on a clothes line and sliced head to toe. Birds snipered out of the sky. Deer and moose stalked and rifled. Humans sit in hospital beds attached to wires, moaning and groaning. Old baseball pitchers jump out of train windows into suicide valleys. Flat lines for us all one way or the other.

i wonder if before darwin took his boat around the world our ancestors looked at a chicken and said “oh, that white thing coming out of its ass, mmmmmm, I think I’ll crack it open and give it a try.” I guess they got the idea from other animals. Good thing they did, for omelletes sake.

i miss pay phones and many things, but evolution and technology and medical breakthroughs are great. It’s just that sometimes i feel really useless. I don’t know what I would do if the grocery store reverted to its warehouse roots. It would be like braille without bumps. I would go blind or i mean hungry or maybe both after eating some poisonous plant thinking it was celery. I’d  have to start over and learn new things, how to gather the right nuts and berries, fish, and hunt and what not.

I was reading the other day that the Pawnee Native Americans were star-gazing people and arranged their dwelling places on earth as a mirror to certain constellations. I’m not sure how that helped their day-to-day life but it sounds interesting.

There must be a constellation out there in the endless traffic light galaxy resembling one of the Brewers’ defensive shifts? Then, if all the buildings and stadiums suddenly disappeared and we had to start over, we could arrange diamonds and dugout shelters according to one of these defensive shift constellations.

Maybe the ocean would respond in some sort of rocky way with volcanoes in never before places. A Machu Picchu might form at a nearby park and a baseball team might even return to Montreal. The ancinet issue about the city having to build a new stadium would vanish as nature became a pitcher’s paradise with that impossible Picchu home run wall.

Is it asking too much? I mean who decides to put up all these condominiums anyway?

The heroic souls cemetery called Elysian Fields could remain and so could the physical place of baseball’s first game, on that field with the same name – Elysian in that city with another name – Hoboken. 

I always liked that name, hobo kin. The city sits beside the Hudson River and that river bends into bays and the massive Atlantic Ocean and there’s still a hobo wind with no color or destination. It dances an invisible dance and seems equally pleasant as it does cruel, realistic, like kin.


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the groundscrew was away from their desk

The importance of TV dinners is not measurable in terms of joy, serotonin measuring devices notwithstanding. The thrill of a Swanson Hungry Man turkey meal was in direct proportion joy to the walls between the food groups on the silver foiled tray. Compartmentalization was the key for me, more than the actual taste. It was to ensure that my potatoes did not mix with the cranberry, corn, or fudge brownie. There were variations to the medley.

But all that anal retentive symphony passed. It had to…. with bounce back innings looming on maturity’s horizon. Maybe the bounce back inning has no free will. Maybe it’s the most despicable scenario we can conjure – fork prongs wedged between fingernails and when removed, salt finds its way there too. Maybe there is no bottom line, not with the bullpen on sabbatical and the skipper busy with his pouch, pontificating in old man chaw tongue, “revive or rot away, kid. Get out to the mound.”

The bucket of Bazooka Joe suits the kid like a wishing well. He cuddles up beside and blows. He’s the three spin munster, got that natural movement on his pitches. But the mound became his guillotine just an inning ago when his fastball sailed and curve spun. Served up three home runs, walked the bases loaded, two long fly outs, two sac flies, gastrointestinal disorder, three broken nails, two more singles, an itchy crotch, a bases clearing triple, and finally a K. It was too much to tally. A diagnosis given in some strange measurementNo pitch counts either.

“Bounce back or walk to the train station, you speak Korean?”

The elder loogies gathered round, looking steel plated now, a rosary of stitch incisions round their laurel lobotomies. “Amnesia is our poker hand kid,” they said in their tilted pinball machine chorus, followed by  –  “Lasso anxiety to the trough”…..chain gang bullpen of dusty roads twilight.

The kid has options. Sees it in their wrinkles. He could shave or drop his arm slot, ditch the overhead Rockwell motion that won him the prom king looks. He could duck, wear a bullet proof vest for valentines day or better yet, channel The Vuke, oh Dear Vuke, of shoe changes and lace rearranges, knick-knack paddywhack a rosin bag. Destiny had nothing on you Vuke. You were born old, pockmarked face virgin side of the tracks, painting towns long before the bus could roll you under.

The Loogies sit the kid down on an upturned pickle bucket, tell him to walk well with reincarnation, lead it astray and then flush it down, all the way down. Hear it echo, scream, dissipate and be on its merry way, into that circle of water Fwoooooop, sucked under, gone to the other side seal deal. Your samsara done.

The kid hears samsara and knows what to do. “Gas is great” the kid farts. “Next inning I’m gonna  throw nitric oxide invisible,” his eyelashes fluttering butterflies, so optimistic. He’ll never park an ambulance in his driveway, not this kid, pulsating out to the mound.  The skipper slides down a dugout notch, popcorn position for the bounce back inning, bumps the bat boy a whiff of his cigar breath.

“Another kid!” he screams, but jesus of gibberish, this bat boy kid screams back,

“even Maddux was barely ripe at 25.”

Must be a second coming baseman thinks the pitching coach, pacing the dugout walls. Yep, this bat boy is bound to be a second baseman

This bat boy got great posture, smile on his face, hair curly but combed

“perfection eludes peanut vendors,” the bat boy kid hums.

The skipper smiles. smiles? Only a mother hubbard second sacker can put an arc on that man’s puss, jumper cable his youth, no more breaking up Lezcano echoes. The skip’s with us now, slipping into communal double dutch, stats oozing from him like gas in some parallel universe with the bounce back kid. Skipper spits from both ends now, about Stanton never hitting Peralta, 1 for 16 with 6 k’s and round the dugout cement spittoon we go, each one sharing a duel. Keeps us all together. Left and right brains dancing now, digging two trench towns – one in the batters box and the other beside the rubber.

The bounce back kid mows ’em down 1-2-3, two long flyouts that coulda been home runs in some other galaxy and a last batter K, foul tip in catcher’s glove. Luck on his side.

*Side note. The Brewers had already lost 3-2 so I switched to the Nationals and watched almost history last night and then to the Cubs and announcer Len Kasper revealing that four pitchers had now struck out 20 in a game. Clemens did it twice and once each for Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood and now Max Scherzer, but what sent Kasper’s serotonin levels off the chart were the no walks among them.

Is that possible? In 45 innings – 5 complete games, there have been  100 K’s and not one walk?! I gotta look that up just to see it on paper or screen..scream.