January 24th, 2006 was a sad day as actor Chris Penn died at the age of 40 in his Santa Monica condo from apparent heart disease. Penn was a much-loved actor mostly known for his parts as “Nice Guy Eddie” in the 1992 classic, “Reservoir Dogs”; and “Nicky Dimes” in another Quentin Tarantino classic, “True Romance.” Being a fan of witty and lowbrow humor, I enjoyed this scene from the former aforementioned movie with another favorite of mine, Harvey Keitel.
Nice Guy Eddie: The chick got tired of him beatin’ her so one night she walks in the guys bedroom and super glues his dick to his belly. Ambulance came and had to cut the prick loose.
Mr.White: Was he all pissed off?
Nice Guy Eddie: How would you feel if every time you had to take a piss you had to do a fuckin’ hand stand?
A couple of days later I’m looking through my stash of baseball cards and I came across a player who was a bit ahead of my time but looked a bit like…..can it be…. Chris Penn!? Who in the hell was this Rich McKinney?
Rich McKinney played seven seasons in the bigs for the White Sox, Yankees, and A’s. He retired after the ’77 season with a career average of .225, 20 dingers and 100 RBI’s. (not a bad full season) McKinney often acted like such a space cadet that he was nicknamed “Orbit” by his teammates. The label fully fit his aloof, detached-from-reality personality. He is best known for his propensity for making errors, even committing four in one game as a Yankee. (and i thought smoking doobies gave you the ability to focus) Strangely enough, he played seven different positions in his career: 3rd, SS, 2nd, right field ,DH, left field, and first. Prior to arriving in Oakland, McKinney reached the pinnacle of goofball behavior. After the White Sox traded him to the Yankees, McKinney joined the team for its annual winter caravan promotional tour. Within minutes of meeting the Yankees’ public relations director, the respected Marty Appel, McKinney asked him where he could score some marijuana. Flabbergasted that a player would ask a front office official such a question, Appel responded that he didn’t know.
Sadness permeates me for some unknown reason as I shove Mr. McKinney’s card back into the pile, perhaps never to be seen and contemplated in the future. A single thought haunts me, settles in my mind and then tumbles the way only a fresh and abstract thought can: there is a dignity in honest mediocrity.