Every night, around 10:00, I swallow melatonin and then turn off my phone. Soon after, I jump in the shower so the melatonin has some time to set in. After the shower, I lay in bed and do some light reading–nothing that requires active thought or making difficult conceptual connections (in this case it was Stephen King’s son who goes by the nom de plume Joe Hill) as the goal is to wind down. Yet despite this fickle routine, sleep eluded me and I tossed and turned all night before finally deciding that it just wasn’t going to work out. I resolved to watch some Japanese baseball and it was a moment of perfection as the Chunichi Dragons and the Yomiuri Giants were headed into extra innings. Watching baseball seems to liberate me from the emotional tangle of subdued melancholy and the long-ago forgotten past that is so scratched up that it skips when played, always materializing to haunt me in the witching hour when one should be dead to the world and swimming in the abstract. Ultimately, the Dragons pulled it out 3-2 in 10 innings as the players felt compelled to run choreograph routines while clutching stuffed animals and bowing to the fans in a light-hearted and victorious fashion. What’s the point of all this? Nothing. Just….nothing.
My buddy Mark over at the impeccable Retro Simba sent me a bunch of 1970s Oakland A’s baseball cards in the mail, and I had the right mind to send one out to Darold Knowles to be autographed before receiving the cardboard beauty back 3 weeks later. The highlight of Mr. Knowles’ career would probably be the World Series in 1973 against the Queens borough Mutts (I can still hear the echo of esteemed baseball writer Roger Angell in my head, resentful about Willie Mays’ exit from the Giants and condemning him in a NY pinstriped, double-knit polyester uni) in which he became the first pitcher to appear in all 7 games and had a sparkling ERA of zero. That’s pretty good stuff right there.
Knowles was on the mound for the last out, (retiring Wayne Garrett on a looper to Campaneris–his only batter–with the tying runners on) relieving Rollie Fingers and earning the save. Other notables: Clint Eastwood threw out the first pitch, Lou Rawls sang the National Anthem, and the number one hit was Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia.” In another strange twist– while researching this piece, I was jolted into remembering that I met the loser of this game, John Matlack, 30 years earlier when he was a pitching coach for the now-defunct Las Vegas Stars. I still have that autograph, permanently pressed onto a flimsy 1981 Fleer, stashed away somewhere.
Great of Mark to send you those cards and wonderful that Knowles granted your autograph request. When you send out a card, do players sign it more often than not and where do you get their address from? I would like to do that with some older Brewers cards and maybe strike up a pen pal dialogue, a sort of “Glory of Their Times,” amongst more obscure players.
I blame insomnia on sobriety. I don’t drink on the weekends because that’s when I’m with my girlfriend and well, i wake up often during the night. I like your counting sheep equivalent – the melatonin and light reading and maybe above all else, I like that you say screw it, get out of bed, and find an activity to do…..it sure beats the frustration of not being able to fall asleep and baseball? Japanese baseball? Excellent! I’m glad to hear that baseball takes you out of the whole existence question and previous mistakes. It has a similar effect on me and the game is so loyal. I can take a break from it for a week or two and it’s still there to help.
Steve, you can find addresses online. A lot of older players sign but you have to do a bit of research as some charge and some wont send the card back at all. For example, Paul Molitor probably wants 10 -20 bucks for his scribble whereas Jim Gatner would just do it for free. If you have any questions just email me and I can help you out with some addresses and info.
You may not remember, but you sent me a box of cards many years ago and I have a handful of them framed, autographed and on my wall. So, thanks again my friend. I currently don’t have any Brewers or they would have already been in your hands.
Thanks Gary. I’ll take a look at the Brewers cards I have and see if we can track down a few addresses. I’ll be in touch.
Yes, I remember sending you some A’s cards and remember you sending me some Brewers cards as well. One of the great things about wordpress is hooking up with people like you.
That is absolutely true. I’ve met some amazing individuals on here (you included, of course) and I would still want to know what they were up to even if I wasn’t pounding out some crap twice a month. 🙂
Keep up the pounding Gary. You and I have been at it for close to a decade now which reminds of something that old man says in the movie Slacker, that old anarchist….at the end of his long message to the guy who tried to rob his house….. “first hurdle for the true warrior………that one endures.”
Thanks for reading my blog and liking my posts. (https://disaffectedmusings.com)
I haven’t really followed the situation, but people tell me that Thursday’s vote will not derail the A’s moving to Las Vegas. Any thoughts or insights?
I find political mumbo jumbo to be a bit boring, but from what I’m gathering it was a positive step in the right direction but not quite over yet.
Gary: I like the line: “in the witching hour when one should be dead to the world and swimming in the abstract” because it describes perfectly the special magic of a satisfyingly and otherworldly deep sleep. While dozing to afternoon baseball on MLB audio this weekend, I suspect I might be having visions of Chunichi Dragons clutching stuffed animals while hearing Gladys Knight croon “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Pleasant dreams.
Haha…thanks Mark. Add a bottle of suds to that mix and it sounds perfect.
Gary, at this stage of my life, I find the stories of baseball from the past to be most interesting. You seem to have a knack for capturing a different baseball angle in combination with a story from the past. Hope you find some sleep. Be safe, Bill Pike
Thanks for the compliment and the comment Bill. Stop by again sometime. 🙂
This was great fun to read! I love baseball. I’m the type who can sit down and watch any baseball game on TV, even if I’m not very familiar with the teams. I love the sport and even if it’s just on in the background, it’s better than a lot of crap that’s on TV these days. ⚾️
Thanks Nancy….stop by again sometime!
Insomnia is rough. Glad you were able to find some respite in baseball. The game really can be a balm, at times.
You’re right, Precious. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by. 🙂
Hi Gary, you are a passionate baseball fan and although my game is Australian Rules Football (AFL),I enjoy your blogs and your insider comments, we have the equivalent of our Supebowl in September, when I will post a related music blog then, thanks for your interest and may the Oakland A’s succeed, regards Graeme Davy 4TR.
Thanks for your wonderful comment Graeme. I don’t know much about Australian Rules Football, but I definitely enjoy your blog…mostly the vintage music. Cheers.
Gary, that is great Knowles signed the card. I certainly wish I had all my baseball cards from the past (especially the A’s), but getting them signed is a cherry on the sundae. That mention of Jon Matlack brought back memories. He came out of nearby Henderson (West Chester PA) High School, and was dominant at that level. Fourth overall pick in the ’67 draft. So much time has elapsed since then that school district now has two additional high schools besides Henderson. Makes me feel even older! I still have my fingers crossed the A’s will stay in Oakland. Don’t want my childhood team (besides the Phillies, of course) leaving town!
Thanks for the comment, Bruce. This new stadium thing has been dragged out for so long I’m not even sure I’m emotionally invested anymore as much as I’d like the team to stay.