Mitchell Page R.I.P. (1951-2011)

pageSame old song…
Just a drop of water in an endless sea…
All we do,
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

–Kansas

One day in 2002, I was checking out the Oaks Card Room in Emeryville, Ca. (Named after the Oakland Oaks of the old Pacific Coast baseball league) This is a unspectacular place in an even more unspectacular neighborhood. It’s a card club that’s open 24 hours and is characterized with a lot of sketchy derelicts , thugs, degenerate gamblers and damn-near homeless geezers throwing away their retirement funds. This is the type of place where employees have been mugged early in the morning by broke losers who are angry enough to pull a knife on you. At night, people have been shot by patrons who lost money and want more. Their unofficial slogan should be: Don’t walk in to play cards and end up going home with crabs!

The Oaks Card Room is the last place you would expect to see someone who played with the A’s from 77–83 and had acquired the nickname “Swingin’ Rage;” when in walks Mitchell Page.page Most of the folks knew who he was, as they were all A’s fans. He eventually ended up playing stud poker at the table I was at. The dealer was a big fan of his, and when Paige sat down the dealer blurted out “Mitchell Page!” Page proceeded to win a big pot and busted some monstrous looking Hells Angel who left in a pissed off state. When Page racked in his chips he looked around at everyone at the table and said, “I don’t need the money.” I bought Page a 7 and 7, (this was before he checked into an alcohol treatment facility in 2004) and talked to him a bit about his days playing with the A’s and his beef with Charlie Finley. I had to leave, and after shaking his hand he gave me a bit of advice about the joint next time I came back:

“Dont try to beat the 1-2 – you have to get lucky to win.  Almost every hand will go to the river and most of the table will stay in on their draws despite your raises and the probabilites of their hands hitting.  Focus on 6-12 or 100 max for making money and 1-2 if you have time to kill.  Good Luck and don’t play 2-7.” And with that, that was the first and last time I ever saw the man. R.I.P.

12 Comments

Didn’t realize he was gone. Thanks for the update.
v

no surprise to me. the higher one gets, the lower they can fall, unless they’re riding in of those motorcade tours to see how the other side lives before crawling back into their private office cubicles and great jobs thinking yeh, i gave a poor guy a ride home once and to think those arrogant smugs get away with a story and it doesn’t cost em a thing.

You know, I used to watch that show when I was a kid. I may have even seen this episode, though I don’t remember it. It kind of reminded me of “A Clockwork Orange,” without the eye clamps (and the full-frontal nudity. But hey, you can’t have everything.)
Nice find, Bill

Mitchell page was a friend, teammate and talented ball player. Very sad that we lost him at such a tong age.

Great job describing the Oaks Card Room. Sounds like something from a Raymond Chandler novel. I could almost smell the sun baking the stench out of the urine soaked asphalt on the parking lot.
Brian

I love Mitchell Page, but “Don’t play the 2-7” is the kind of entry-level poker advice that I’ve expected from a much lesser member of the post-Dick Williams A’s team. Rob Picciolo? Sure. Tom Underwood? Of course he’d tell me to avoid the 2-7. Mitchell Page almost certainly had greater wisdom than that. Nobody plays the 2-7 (except maybe Fred Stanley). Still, it’s worth it for the bit about his busting the Hell’s Angels. Many thanks!

Reblogged this on PULP ephemera and commented:
Read about one blogger’s seemingly serendipitous and cigarette-fogged meeting of Oakland A’s slugger Mitchell Page at the Oaks Card Room–“a card club that’s open 24 hours and is characterized with a lot of sketchy derelicts, thugs, degenerate gamblers and damn-near homeless geezers gambling away their retirement funds.” Who wouldn’t want to keep reading with an opening like that?!
(Also, you have to love the colorful 1979 Topps MLB Bubble Gum Player Portraits.)

[Yes, I guess it’s a fantastic reblog day.]

. . . . Actually, is it really correct for me to classify Page as a “slugger”? (At least early on in his career it seems merited.)

I remember that show. It was ABC’s imitation of NBC’s “Real People”. Steve Martin (on “Saturday Night Live”, I think), parodied both those shows in a skit called “Real Incredible People”, sometime in the 1979-1980 television season.

Glen

http://talltalesandtruestories.wordpress.com/

Nice to hear from you Glen…I just read Steve Martin’s autobiography…..genius!

I read part of his autobiography, too, Steve. It was really good. By the way, since you’re younger than I am, you might not have had the treat of hearing Steve Martin’s comedy albums. I recommend that you get ahold of them. His first album was called “Let’s Get Small”, his second album is “A Wild And Crazy Guy”, and his third album is “Comedy Is Not Pretty”. I would rank “A Wild And Crazy Guy” as his best, “Comedy Is Not Pretty” as his second best, and “Let’s Get Small” as the third best. These albums all came out while I was in high school, in the late 70s. You’ve really GOT to hear his albums. He ranks among my all-time favorite comedians, which include Jackie Mason, Woody Allen (while he was still doing stand-up comedy in the early to mid 60s), and Robert Klein. I’ve seen Jackie Mason and Robert Klein in person. Steve Martin, though, was a phenomenon; he’s probably the only stand-up comedian in history who ever did or ever will sell out arenas. I wanted to see him at Nassau Coliseum so badly (which is where the New York Nets basketball team used to play a long time ago, and the New York Islanders hockey team still do play), but my friends all said, “Nah, we wanna save up to see Aerosmith!” I still remember that. I said to them, “Well, rock groups will always sell out coliseums and arenas, but this is a one in a lifetime thing— to see a comedian headlining at an arena. Nassau Coliseum held 18,000 people for concerts, and, sure enough, Steve Martin sold out there like he sold out arenas all over the country, but I wasn’t there because my friends were so foolish about this, and who was I going to go with other than my friends???

Anyway, “A Wild And Crazy Guy” is the album that’ll give you the best idea of the phenomenon that was Steve Martin as a stand-up comedian. The album starts out with him playing a small club in San Francisco, and then segues into one of his arena performances. At the arena performances, it was pure pandemonium for “The Wild And Crazy Guy” that Steve was in those days, but the whole album is hilarious, both the part in the nightclub and the part in the sold-out arena with audience members hooting, hollering, and screaming!

Glen

Ha ha, I just noticed that I accidentally referred to you as Steve! I guess I was thinking of Steve Martin!! Sorry, Gary!

Glen

Hey Glen, I just finished Steve Martin’s autobiography “Born Standing Up.” It was really good and a brisk read. I’ve heard all those albums, (a looooooong time ago) but I’d have to say my favorite modern day comedian is Louie C.K. (wait I mentioned this above didn’t I?)

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