Ken Phelps is ready to rock your world

“You’re under arrest, son.”

“How do you trade Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps!?”–Frank Costanza, Seinfeld

Ken Phelps has the look of the quintessential “80’s dad,”  bringing to mind my cousin’s father-my uncle through marriage-who was known to wear a beat-up, snap-backed San Francisco Giants baseball cap, and on special occasions a cowboy hat with a feather band not unlike a member of Charlie Daniel’s raucous honkey tonk band. Now every time I see this archaic piece of Americana I can almost imagine the beer bottles breaking against the protective fence set before the band in some small, backwoods shithole in Texas not unlike the scene in the brilliant Patrick Swayze flick, Roadhouse.

I had been to his dad’s home on a few occasions and we would play Nintendo or try to quench our biological imperative and devilish curiosity by looking for his porn stash in the grease-caked garage. When that sticky-page endeavor got boring we would play baseball among the cow patties and various livestock in the fields. (His father lived on a farm in a very rural area) My cousin would get a kick out of me slightly touching the electrical fence, giving me a sudden jolt whereas I would balk at “pissing on it” to his dismay. I was always a bit saddened to disappoint his infectious and sophomoric sense of humor, but an electrified dong just didn’t sound appetizing in any event.

When you take a look at the last 2 N.L. MVPs (Bellinger and Yelich) you see a couple of baby-faced guys who you might partake in a doobie with at a keg party–they bear no resemblance to Phelps, who looks like he should be either dishing out benevolent fatherly words of wisdom while gutting a fish, flashing ass crack while under the hood of a classic car, or arresting fratboys outside the aforementioned kegger for possessing a bag of recently purchased purple kush strain of mar-eee-wanna. He doesn’t look like he survived in the league on any sort of pure talent, just the ability to use “grown man strength” on the occasional mislocated fastball.

Phelps had only had 12 hits for the Oakland ballclub as he was an aging DH who was nearing the end of his career (until being sold to the Cleveland Indians for a bag of nickels) and had lost the only valuable asset he had–occasional power. Phelp’s baseball life was coming to an end as my pre-teen years were just beginning, and thus far was relegated to a baseball card that was never really examined or loved and tossed into a box. Forgotten until unearthed.

17 thoughts on “Ken Phelps is ready to rock your world

      1. mrobins71

        yes. mr. robins (or robbins). is this just a coincidence or a subtle nod to this alter-ego’s presence in another dimension of the interwebs? in other words, have our paths crossed elsewhere?

      2. mrobins71

        an obscure youtube channel with a small cult following where i’ve appeared on streams as Mr. Robbins. would have been too strange if you’d encountered it.

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    1982…camped out and no…I didn’t do it on purpose but I didn’t know it was electric. First thing in the morning and I got a piss- jolt first thing in the morning.

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        I hate to admit I was sober…15 years old and stupid…just pissed on a fence…didn’t pay the damn thing any attention. I learned about electricity that day. It shocked me at first…no pardon the pun…it was a damn surprise AND shocked…then I saw the those white things on the fence and I knew exactly what was going on. A little too late. I wish I could have said I was drunk.

  2. Steve Myers

    Hey Gary. One of my strat-o-matic buddies swore by Ken Phelps, for a few years anyway, for his walk totals and at bats per home run. You’ve provided a whole new look at him. Great writing as always.

  3. rulesoflogic

    When I started working in baseball in the late 1980s, Phelps was the type of player ignored by many in the game (not enough tools they said, like baseball is automobile service…), but of great value to teams in the American League. He did not get 300+ PA in a major league season until he was 29. Think of all the production he left in the minors.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      You’re right. He had many great seasons in the minors, but this one from 1982 on the Wichita Aeros stands out–46 home runs, 141 RBI, and an amazing 1.175 OPS!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s