brewers baseball and things


polymania and the jays

there was Fenway Park. Just about everyone talked about its left field home run wall, the green monster. it was One Shot McGoo who turned left and not right, led the boys away from Fenway Park, to the Wigwam, home of the Boston Braves. it was 1947. it was two years after the war. Warren Spahn was back. One Shot McGoo didn’t need to convince anyone after that game, a 9-0 win for the Braves, a Spahn complete game shutout. Tommy Holmes went 5 for 5. Earl Torgeson hit a triple and drove in two runs.

the Wigwam gang was born. No one ever mentioned the Red Sox again.

and as the days and games passed, the boys began to wonder about wigwams and braves and what the words meant and so they snuck away to the library and found out about wigwams being domed dwellings and Braves meaning a lot, from Chippewa to Passamaquoddy to Iroquois Confederacy and maybe most importantly, in a practical sort of way, the beauty of a canoe, the way one is built. They loitered that same day in the alley beside Penticelli’s fish market and when the time was right, they swiped a few pickle buckets and with some ply wood slabs nailed to the buckets, they rigged up a raft and spent that summer paddling in no particular direction.

The Braves relocated to Milwaukee and eventually Atlanta. Boston became a one team city, but the wigwam gang still refused to root for the Red Sox. A few members of the gang had children and there was no scientific evidence that their love for the Braves seeped into their genes, some new DNA rebel strand passed on from generation to generation, but in the 1970’s, an invisible force guided the children of the Wigwam gang. They turned left, not right too and smoked lucky strikes beside the reformatory and a few years later, drifted into all you can drink coffee diners and at night, drank Schaefer beer from bottles at old man dive bars.

The sons of the Wigwam gang stuck together and most of them found their way, for better or worse.

The son of One Shot McGoo, birth name Tristan, mandala tattoo on his pitching arm, slipped across slimy rocks and swam into the rapids, head out of the water, a joint dangling from the side of his mouth. He jumped up on bar rails, ripped his shirt off and sang as cigarette smoke danced its way up to the x-shaped revolving fan hanging from the ceiling. he swore he’d jump off the Chuckskins bridge the night of high school graduation and he did and drowned and died.

Mitchel Doogans waxed on and on about the hydroelectric potential in waterfalls and the physics of a pitched baseball. Never did earn a university degree. Learned it all in the pubic library on his days off from the plastics factory.

Issac Bendrhymer set up a yurt, grew his own produce and petitioned the city council for the right to have cows and chickens in the back yard of the apartment complex where he lived.

Two Tones Trype was the only son of the wigwam gang who had no way, no idea what to do. he wondered about his father, still on the semi-pro baseball circuit and its million dreams. Two Tones delivered newspapers. Washed dishes at a pizza joint. Sat alone, at the end of a rail and never caught the fever of camaraderie, every social encounter a crucible, to survive.

But then came 1976 and the announcement that a baseball team was coming to Toronto, in another country, but closer than Seattle, the other expansion team…nothing a penpal connection couldn’t solve. And so Two Tones sent a letter to Baseball Digest, to the Fans speak out section, included his mailing address in the hopes he might exchange a few letters and if he was really lucky receive a fold up Blue Jays schedules that could easily fit into his wallet.

There were no replies, but there was still Toronto and the Lake Ontario it hugged and how it connected to other Great lakes, all that fresh water and merging with the St. Lawrence River and Montreal and further east, the wide open, massive Atlantic Ocean and what about Jays, the birds, where did they go in winter and were there hunters and gatherers in the region? native tribes and….

Two Tones bought his first pack of baseball cards and wondered about the printing press that made the cards and then he thought about the history of ink…..old ink from feathers and carriages and horses and rolling hills and mountains and sheep and who would be the first player the Jays drafted in the expansion draft and it turned out to be Bob Bailor and that rhymed with sailor and that was water and Two Tones remembered his father telling him about the raft he and the Wigwam gang built and Two Tones suddenly had a road; a polymania, a mad craving for everything in the universe.



doesn’t have to be hairspray

he had some outward signs…the grey patch of hair, a bit odd for someone 17 years young and then there was that cold, still gaze he shot at you, those pupils hinting at infinity, unsettling. But what really scared Wendel’s parents was the book he carried around with him….slept with it, brought it to school, parked it beside his dinner plate. Mom asked him where he bought it and Wendel wasn’t the least bit shy. “got it brand new, for a dollar, at St. Hedwig’s annual book bazaar.”

Three months passed and that book was always with Wendel like a third arm or something. He grew his hair long and took to smoking cloves.

Wendel’s mom drank vodka before sunset and well into the night, lubricating her pose of “respecting secrecy.” She waited for Wendel to fall asleep, tiptoed around his room with a flashlight and found the book, on his bed, beside his body. She recognized the tan cover and hitter’s stance. She scooped it up, retraced her steps back outside and committed literary sin; she read the back of the book synopsis. It didn’t strike here as a banned book from some old, prude decade, no illicit sexual exploration or mocking of an ethnic group. The author was Donald Gropman and the book was about JOE JACKSON, the baseball player, not the singer.

Mom then did what she always did with books. She asked a random question and then thumbed to a page, a passage, for an answer. she closed her eyes and asked,

“what is my son’s dark side?” and then she ruffled through some pages, exaggerated a long inhale through her nostrils and exhaled out her mouth, ruffled some more pages, decided on one or it decided for her. She moved her finger up and down, and then stopped, opened her eyes….page 70, lower right hand corner. An entire paragraph highlighted in yellow.

“in the territory of the Southern League (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisianna, and Tenessee), the spring of 1910 was one of the coldest on record. Sea lions swam in the ship canal at Galveston, Texas, where they had never been seen before. And for the first time in its history, the Southern League had to call all its games one day because of the cold spell.”

she jotted each and every word down, returned the book to Wendel’s bed, and went to see her husband. the two discussed the grey patch of hair on their son’s head and his still glaze and now these words, these dangerous, highlighted words.

“Maybe we should have given him a different name,” wondered the father. “a catcher’s name, maybe Milt after Milt May.”

“Yes, a catcher,” replied the mother….”close to the ground, rooted, a survivor.”

“Not some half-crazed doomsday lunatic named Wendel,” continued the father, “this cold spell cancelling games in the southern league will no doubt be more than enough fodder to ruin our boy’s optimism. He’ll drink hair spray, push around a shopping cart and whisper about the ice age doom that awaits us.”

Mom and dad’s concerns proved to be legit. Wendel mounted a poster on his wall describing the earth’s previous six extinctions and the seventh one we are currently stuck in. He began to rip away his cuticle flesh, blood dripping on the kitchen table…the sight of which forced mom and dad to play their card.

They called the Revive the Ritual Crew and the RRC, as they were known around town, didn’t hesitate, the desperate fiends; they came in a blue truck, armed in space suits, knocked down Wendel’s bedroom door, wrapped him up in a straight jacket and carried him away, to the headquarters where there were housing units, wrought iron fire escapes, cars, buses, pollution and back alleys and there were also trees and rabbits. it was a place where the days were split up in abacus organizational detail – morning meditation, reciting prayers, observing birds, listening to bus brakes, counting stars, all of it designed to tune Wendel and the other prisoners into the miracle of existence.

Wendel tricked the authorities with fake smiles and in secret, plucked dandelions and a few months later, turned them into wine and got all of the prisoners drunk and well, shit, god damn, they had a baseball team too and so he served in thought and deed – he studied pitchers and learned how to hit to all fields and play his position, the one his parents recommended – catcher, shifting his feet like a hockey goalie, blocking balls with his body.

…and there came a day when Wendel was deemed appreciative of his surroundings and therefore, ready to be reintegrated into society and when he left, he removed the rituals like a scuba diver escaping the suit, naked, relieved, returning to land and a new thought hit him like a never before breeze; that it was all tangents – meditation, prayers, doomy thoughts, camaraderie at the bar rail, and with that in mind, Wendel hankered for Seattle Pilots baseball cards and he had other desires too….there were Asian players to collect and Mariners games to listen to and with his new belly (he ate well with the Revive the Ritual Crew) a possible spot on the local softball team, as a first baseman because he was ready to be hospitable, to converse with baserunners, to share a little wretch over what we all have to suffer.


designated for assignment

the afternoon school bell sounded at 3:12, exactly like it had the previous day and the day before that too – loud and decisive…signalling the end of math and stinky Ms. Booroar, but one late June bell was different than all the others; it was better, because it was truly THE END….the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.

the boy in the back of the class, the one with straight blond bangs that covered his eyes thought about the world’s first bell and then his thoughts jumped a beat, to Railroad Park where the home run fence was 200 feet from home plate, all the way around, from left field to right, 200 feet, and there was equality in that and more importantly, possibility, because hitting one over that fence seemed not so insurmountable.

no one in the little league threw curve balls or sliders. they were all fastballs, mediocre speed at best and no movement, groove jobs, right down the middle. No one knew how to paint corners either and yet, this kid with the straight blond bangs, this Tristan Lemming couldn’t hit one over the fence. couldn’t even bounce one there. He was a right-handed batter and when one year passed and then another and still no home run, he switched and batted from the left-side and it was only worse. he couldn’t even make contact.

the next league was called the bigger league and the home run fence had different dimensions, bigger ones, 315 down the lines, 330 in the alleys and 390 to straight away center. Tristan went to the tryout and made the league because he could poke the ball to all fields but he still had his mind on a home run. he believed it would be an initiation, a rite of passage, a transformative experience, from being a nonentity to becoming a cock sure superman. he wanted more than anything to take a home run trot, to perform his Jeffrey Leonard one-flap-down equivalent and yet all he could muster was a seeing-eye single, something he detested and then things got worse – the coaching staff got wind that he could bunt and so his third base coach flashed him the sign every once in a while – to bunt with the bases empty and more often than not he dropped a beauty down the line and legged it out for a single and so the boys and coaches and manager in the know called him Butler, not because he served other people, but rather, to honor Brett Butler, the former big leaguer who could drag a bunt for a base hit as good as anyone – all time.

and as he got older and made the high school varsity, his lack of clout became more psychologically dangerous than his earlier years. it aroused all kinds of doubts….. he suffered the painful pondering of why the hell am i here in the first place!

But there was some good news. The high school home run fence was less daunting than the previous one – a mere 290 down the left field line and so off he went in the early hours of Sunday morning, when the other kids were smuggled against their will into church where they sat at pews, feigning devotion, baseball stat books tucked into scripture and while they pretended to love god, Tristan was at the High School Field and not a sole could be seen. He stood at home plate, tossed up a ball and hit one after another and even with no pitcher, he couldn’t hit one over the fence, but eventually there were sounds, whistling sounds coming from the forest in deep-center and the shape of man under a willow tree, his raised arms blending in with the dangling leaves that behaved like long, tribal earrings. he wore a fisherman’s hat and when he was sure he had Tristan’s eyes on him, he raced towards the fence, climbed up and over and continued on toward Tristan. He walked on his toes, a hippity hoppity gait. He seemed happy. He pointed to where he had come from – beyond center field and the weeping willow. He didn’t bother with formal introductions, choosing instead to say,

“I learned it all from the leaves, the way they dance in the wind and then, sort of suddenly, there is no wind and the dancing stops, for a while anyway, but it returns. It’s the old fallow and fertile game, back and forth, round and round. So, my good man, why not put the bat down for a while, give your troubled mind a rest. Take to the streets,” and here he pointed east, looking as certain as a weather vein.

“Go where the old stadium used to be,” he continued. Push through those saloon style doors and buy a round for the drinkers and I bet you’ll hear about the violin player atop the dugout and Colver’s Corner beyond the right field fence and Penny Bendrimer’s two no-hitters during that inaugural season.”

The man handed Tristan a twenty dollar bill.

“That oughta cover it,” he said. “There’s never more than three or four barflies in the joint. I know them all. Tell them McGibbons sent you.” Tristan dropped his bat, took the twenty dollar ball and without saying a word, he walked away, and with every step, the memory of his failures faded like a passing fire truck, his mind newly tuned to finding out about a team his grandpa had only whispered about…


some sort of science experiment

there have been many baseball suicides over the years.

Jeremy Giambi is the most recent, this past February, gun shot wound to the head. The variety of methods is plentiful, from Dude Esterbrook leaping from a train window on the way to Middletown State Asylum to Pea Ridge Day slitting his throat with a hunting knife. Bert Hall hung himself. Fred Bratschi ingested battery acid and on and on goes the sad, tragic list.

One method not listed is Curiosity Over What’s Next. This gets me me thinking about one Hermie Snorek, the 62-year old newspaper delivery man who always wanted to catch a foul ball or a fair ball if he happened to be sitting in the bleachers. Let’s say he was a fan of the Minnesota Twins. He attended games at Metropolitan Stadium, then the Metrodome, and more recently Target Field. He watched Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Pucket, and Miguel Sano and through all the years, he never once caught a foul ball though there was that one time, seated in the upper deck, 1977, Carew flirting with .400, a ball came up there and there weren’t too many fans, a chase ensued, but Hermie had a bum knee and lost the race.

Hermie had no wife or kids and well, the call from the other side, if there is another side became very welcoming, like a tent with a hookah and a band of pilgrims welcoming him in. Hermie had a knack for inventing things like take the mini waterfall in his basement. He rigged up a contraption enabling him to trap energy from the waterfall in a tube, plug the tube into a hot plate to boil water and presto he could cook up a cup of rice and he did just that and mixed in a can of sardines and well, protein galore. Life was good, really good. He had season tickets to Twins games, but that foul/fair ball still eluded his hungry hands….then, an idea launched in Hermie’s mind and since he had nothing else to do, other than deliver his morning papers, he mixed this into that and that into this. He worked all hours of the night and he wasn’t alone.

There were mice in the house, in the basement, where he worked so he caught them with a butterfly net and used them in his experiments. A Twins season passed and then another and still no results, but then one year, he discovered the right ingredients…a liquid, a simple liquid rubbed on the mice’s toes and he achieved his objective. It was time to try it out on himself and as luck or destiny would have it…. one cool, April afternoon at Target field, a ball hovered above the section where Hermie was sitting and up went his hands coated with that magic liquid he had brewed and down came that ball and though he didn’t catch it (the ball popped out), his flesh had made contact with the ball and he vanished into thin air. Hermie passed on doing what he loved, watching baseball, his dream of catching a baseball almost realized and for the few fans in his same section that witnessed the vanishing, well, Hermie Snorek lived on, forever in their minds, as first and foremost, a diehard Twins fan.


How the Pilots first round pick paved the way…

The arrival of a new baseball team to a city, whether by relocation or expansion, I would imagine, is a permanent parade for kids, new friend to teenagers, companion for adults, medicine for an elder. I was born in July, 1970, a few months shy of witnessing the birth of the Milwaukee Brewers, not that I had any idea what a baseball was at birth. That took a few years, maybe five, when my dad came home with a pack of 1975 Topps and it was probably more the wild, psychedelic colors than anything about baseball that sucked me in, but I do remember one of the cards – Jim Brewer of the Dodgers which probably struck me as strange, a player named Brewer on the Dodgers?

Later in life, I learned the creation story of the Brewers, of them actually being born in Seattle, as the Pilots and that team going bankrupt after one season, yes, one and done. In that spring of 1970, the truck driver was instructed to head northeast, not northwest, to go to Milwaukee, not Seattle, to become the Brewers, not the Pilots. The Brewers retained the Pilot’s blue and yellow uniforms that continue to this very day, a somewhat superficial reminder, but there was more….there was the player the Pilots selected in the 1969 amateur draft. More on that famous pick a bit later.

Firstly, the Pilots added to their roster in the 1968 expansion first, winning the mini lottery, but choosing to pick second, rewarding them both the second and third picks. The Royals, the other American league expansion team that season (The Padres and Expos were the NL expansion teams) picked first, among the American League teams, selecting Roger Nelson from the Orioles. Nelson didn’t pitch too bad in 1969 for the Royals. He gave up 170 hits in 193.1 innings, but it kind of paled in comparison to the production the Pilots got from their first 2 picks….Don Mincher and Tommy Harper. They got Mincher from the Angles. I mean the Angels. I always screw up their name when typing. Anyway, Mincher hit 25 homers and drove in 78 runs and made the all-star team. However, I’m not sure if the rule back then was that at least one player from every team made the all-star game? The other player the Pilots got, in the expansion draft, 3rd over all, from the Indians, was Tommy Harper. He had a .349 OB% and led the league with 79 steals.

The following year came the amateur draft and for some reason that I don’t know, none of the new teams picked first. The Pilots had the 21st pick followed by the Expos, Royals, Padres. The Pilots picked shortstop/pitcher Gorman Thomas out of James Island, high school in Columbia, South Carolina and eventually turned him into an outfielder, a centerfielder. Like every other player back then, Thomas had to dig in and work hard (there was no pampering first round picks). Thomas was called up to the crew in 1973, and hit 2 homers in 155 at bats. Over the next four years he was up and down, AAA minors to majors. Limited playing time and get this, he hit a whopping 51 homers in 1974 as a member of the Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League and yet, he didn’t even lead the team in homers! That honor went to Bill McNulty with 55. On that same team Sixto Lezcano hit 34 and Tommie Reynolds hit 32. As a team they hit a stunning 308 homers which begs the question what professional baseball team has the record for most homers in a single season? The Twins hit 307 in 2019.

In 1978, Thomas got 482 at bats and made the most of it, hitting 32 homers. He became a strikeout/home run machine, leading the league with 45 bombs in 1979 and 39 in 1982. He was also a damn good centerfielder, but more than anything else he became a symbol of hard working Milwaukee and all its breweries and manufacturing plants.

The face of the franchise Gorman Thomas. Even to this day, mostly amongst the older crowd, Gorman remains that face, more than Yount, certainly more than the lier, I mean liar Braun and more than today’s struggling star Christian Yelich.


genes, ben oglivie, and ok with the way things are

the sound of eugenics came blurting from the megaphones attached to street corner light posts. a misty morning for sure. most kept walking, blissed out by the acupuncture jolts the pavement had on the balls of their feet up their leg and spine and into their mind now mushrooming in locomotion.

i watched this show on human nature, about eugenics. that’s what had me thinking about megaphones and acupuncture. i don’t know why, but it did.

for no apparent reason, other than being on vacation and boredom kicking in, my girl friend and i took a hike at ile bizard, an island in the northwest corner of montreal, another island….i think there are over 40 islands around here which pales in comparison to the phillipines, but anyway, i always liked that name bizard, not knowing its origin or meaning and not really caring, but liking how similar it is to the word bizarre, as in stumbling on new, never before seen species that gets me thinking about the earth floating in outer space and me floating too and discovering extra terrestrials out here, out there, everywhere and that feels wonderful and bizarre.

the island does double duty; in the winter it’s a paradise for cross country skiers….but this month, this april, a sanctuary for birds. we saw a couple of blue ones and black ones with red streaks, some small ones with grey heads that weren’t pigeons. I don’t know their names…we saw a beaver cruising through some marshy water too, collecting twigs and other wood for whatever we call a beaver house…den? and the birds made all kinds of sounds. there was no harmony to it and adding to the dissonance was an overhead geese group cacophony and all this imperfection got me thinking about eugencis again, the signs all around with instant replay, robot ball/strike umps and chiseled muscle atlas frames of gioncarlo stanton and everyone else.

ode to the long gone ilk of ectomorph home run hitters, the skeleton style of ben oglivie and george foster….we walked some more and there were fallen trees and the beautiful fluorescent green moss that formed on them like poppies on tombs and some other trees that simply stopped growing, looking like giants with bald heads and then back home, i thought about a sewer grate, about squatting to my knees, jetting my head down and even amongst all the vermin that were no doubt down there beside the used condoms, needles, empty milk cartons, and all the rest of our artifacts, even in all that, there would probably be the peaceful gurgle of a babbling brook – sewage run off and the universe would feel like a bi-polar universe of beauty and ugly and well, i would want it to stay that way…shouldn’t the world end one day anyway? Books and movies and blog posts do…


as smart as jesus and krishna…

i don’t remember when i first heard or read about religions, but it was interesting to discover that life possibly had meaning, that it was more than merely here today and gone tomorrow and that my great grandpa Leonard might be in heaven or reincarnated. i went to the library and looked up religions and the first book i came across was one called ‘religions of man’ by huston smith, a paperback, not too big, about the size of a 4×6 notecard, but it was thick, lots of pages and i carried that thing around and was pretty rough with it. i think i was reading the chapter on hinduism when the author said something about being all-knowing and i thought that was pretty cool, to know everything, to know the first starting pitcher to pitch 500 innings in a season because fast or slow, curve or straight, that’s gotta hurt the arm and also i thought it would be cool to know the third baseman for the tigers and the lineup of every major league team so i read about hindu gods and then made it to buddhism and i put a beach towel on my apartment bedroom floor and meditated or tried to, but most of the time my back slouched and i was thinking about stupid shit like what the people i knew thought about me and go figure, it didn’t do a damn thing. all that studying hindu gods and meditating and still, i couldn’t remember the third baseman for the tigers and so i gave up my desire to be all-knowing and settled on a normal life of ups and downs. but i did buy a baseball magazine and found out that the third baseman for the tigers was scott livingstone. He played 98 games in 1993. i felt like i was on my way…


a milwaukee trespass

the nurse was Mrs. Z. and she never told us what the Z stood for and we never asked. Her little dispensary was beside our elementary school’s main exit, the “BIG EXIT” as we called it because when you walked through those doors, the day was done. she wasn’t trained as a nurse. the school was probably saving money. she was small, freddie patek small, maybe five feet. looked like a cute old mouse. she had good, minty breath, made you wanna be near her. we pretended to be sick or intentionally scraped our elbow at recess to draw a little blood and if we managed to make it past the initial border crossing – the teacher and reach Mrs. Z’s little room with the turquoise-colored dentist chair, then we had made it…..and ‘made it’ meant a get out of jail free card, a walk through the BIG EXIT and a stroll home, a short 20-40 minute walk and all afternoon to play some video games, sort some baseball cards, or do whatever us kids liked to do when we were pretending to be sick.


what about Sweet Lou?

i like the backs of baseball card stats, not in a nostalgic, cling to the past sort of way. I know baseball statistics have evolved and that the more we study numbers, the better the odds we might come up with fresh insights about player performance. I’m just bad at math.

Thankfully, some argue that the “eye test” is the truer way to evaluate player performance. And who knows, they may be right. Assuming baseball is still around in 2215 and cell rejuvenation the norm, there might be an alert, 186-year old who watched Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Trout and the current star of 2215 play and he or she could tell us who was the overall better player without ever mentioning a percentage.

But for now, we have numbers and well, like i said, I’m bad at math, really bad. I mean I get it if a player has a seasonal WAR of 12.4, as Yaz did in 1967, that he had an excellent year, that his contribution to his teams’ winning ways was off the charts incredible. This becomes clear in a non-statistical way when watching a special on that 67 Red Sox team and the narrator waxes on about how Yaz carried the Sox on his back, all the way to the WS. But how is 12.4 calculated? I have no idea and that’s frustrating and I have no one to blame but my self.

we had a strange requirement in high school – take two years of math and then choose between more math or a foreign language. I know. What the hell do the two have to do with each other? i have no idea. Maybe Noam Chomsky has the answer. Whatever, I chose the foreign language option because other than simple multiplication and division, math always confused me so this offer my high school made was gold. i took it as a get out of jail free card. i enrolled in spanish and learned how to say in the front of a suddenly intimate class, “i brush my teeth before i go to bed in the evening.” I said it with the right verb conjugation too and in the same language as Tony Oliva.

I mention Oliva in the same paragraph as my lack of math because he’s in the hall of fame, was elected this year by the veterans’ committee. And I think he deserves to be in the hall, but if he’s in, Lou Whitaker should be in too. His numbers are comparable, if not better than Oliva’s, his back of the baseball card numbers anyway…..more home runs – 244 and more RBI’s- 1084 and sweet Lou played second base, a position that has not historically produced too many homeruns. Jeff Kent and Robinson Cano are the only two second baseman who hit more than 300 with Cano still an active player, but his numbers questionable because of PED’s. Kent should be in the Hall too.

Mazeroski, by comparison, also a second sacker, hit fewer homeruns than Whitaker, had fewer RBI’s, and stolen bases, a lower BA, OB% and slugging percentage and yet, Mazeroski got elected in 2001. yeh, he hit one of baseball’s most memorable post season, WS blasts, but one homer does not make a career.

It’s questionable if loyalty to a team is a factor when considering HOF worth. A player sticking with the same team most likely is the result of many factors – nice salary, good living conditions, stable life for his family, etc. There’s a long list of players who spent their entire careers with one team, but when ranked in terms of most years, of the top 30 players, only four are not in the HOF, Whitaker one of them.

Brooks Robinson and Yaz top the list with 23 seasons. The top 14 are all in the HOF. The fifteenth is someone I had never heard of before, a Mr. Mel Harder of the Cleveland Indians. played with them from 1928-1947. He’s not in the Hall. Then there’s Whitaker and Dave Concepcion, 19 years with the tigers and reds, respectively, both not in. Ossie Buege, another player I’d never heard of is the fourth member of the top 30 that never made it.

Whitaker coupled with shortstop Alan Trammel are the longest shortstop second base double play combination in major league history. I’m not sure how to read defensive metrics but Whitaker didn’t make a hell of a lot of errors and i assume he had decent range, based on his 143 career stolen bases. he was a five-time all star, rookie of the year, world series winner in 1984, didn’t hit too good in the series, but he only had 49 post season at bats.

I remember Whitaker in the dog fight AL East, back when the Brewers competed there. Whitaker hit balls into the right field upper deck of Tiger Stadium, 146 of them. He also hit 98 homers on the road.


a baseball card and a greek word

i got a zit. it’s right where the dot would be if i were a religious hindu. it pisses me off, not because i have anything against hindus. i don’t. i know very little about hindus, only that one of their gods has many arms and that strikes me as an ideal sort of pitcher or maybe even better, as a baseball friend suggested, a middle infielder, snagging balls left and right. anyway, i just don’t like having a zit on my forehead. i mean it’s just a red dot. it’s just my head, my body which isn’t gonna last forever anyway and it has nothing to do with what’s inside me, my mind or soul or whatever. i guess i’m vain, to worry so much about how i look, but thank god, our minds are like buffet tables, plenty of thoughts to choose from. we can do 180’s if we decide too, to take our minds off depressing things like a zit in the middle of a forehead. i have a johnny bench rookie in my baseball card collection. it’s a 1968 Topps card. It’s a mug shot of Bench and on the same card is Ron Tompkins, the two of them rookie stars. shit, i feel better just thinking about that card. i bought it for 10 bucks in the early 80’s at Gonzaga Hall, 92nd and greenfield on milwaukee’s west side. this sudden better feeling gets me thinking about a greek word i learned from a book about the history of amphetamine use in america. i forget the name of the book but the word is ataraxia and according to the book, it means “free from mental disturbance.”