Tigers, Trees, and Oiled Bleacher Creatures

“To me, the golden era of baseball is whenever you were 12 years old.” –John Thorn

Lazy Sunday. There were men outside my house audibly cutting a tree into pot belly stove-sized pieces and annoying me in the process. The massive tree had fallen in the night, destroying 3 cars, and almost killing a neighbor who was standing nearby, which must have been quite tempting to the tree. She ended up going to the hospital with only minor head wounds and escaping relatively unscathed. What better way was there to toast the cruel, cold universe and its magnificent indifference for a fleshy speck in the cosmos than by cracking open some cheap, tasteless beer, scarfing down some pretzels, and watching a ball game?

Since the latest incarnation of the Oakland Athletics has stumbled through the throes of helplessness and confusion, and could possibly be the worst in team history. (challenging the 1979 team–who went 54-108–a distressing cross to bear) I decided to take a pass on that dumpster fire and sashay down memory lane, instead choosing to embrace a time when a young boy’s love for the game was genuinely all-encompassing and untarnished. The talisman from the past with horrible picture quality and incipiently watched in a room with cheap wood-grain paneling? A’s vs Tigers, May 3rd, 1987. 

This was an afternoon game where every fly ball was an adventure with fielders losing their regular big-league swagger and desperately shielding their eyes while staring into the blistering light-blue void…completely helpless. The A’s end up scoring twice–once on a manufactured run that started with a Ron Cey single (“Stan Javier pinch runs for Cey, and The Penguin waddles off the field.”) and the second on a Canseco bomb to left-center that scattered a sea of shirtless, oiled, and clearly intoxicated sunbathers who fell over themselves while inadvertently knocking over their buzzing radios and wax cups of beer. 


Well, yours truly has finally been published…actual ink on paper. Albeit, it’s just one short story in an anthology of 100’s, but I’m still pretty excited to have a tangible piece of evidence documenting my madness, and even more elated that I didn’t have to deal with agents or manuscripts–no song and dance–in order for this to be actualized.

Backyards to Ballparks has a simple concept behind it, asking authors, “What is your favorite memory connected to baseball?” The stories are all different, but the heart and soul of the book are the same. What these “distilled snippets” all have in common is that tribute as to why baseball remains the American pastime–how it connects friends, families, and communities. These memories, often more human interest than play-of-game in nature, all have baseball as a setting, but speak to how The Great Game provides joy and anguish, nourishes family traditions, creates friendships, and can profoundly affect the ambrosia of the mind.  


35 thoughts on “Tigers, Trees, and Oiled Bleacher Creatures

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    Congratulations on being published!
    Ron Cey is my all time favorite player…I played 3rd base in little league and high school ball because of him.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      That’s very cool, Max. It was kind of weird in this game because he was playing first and McGwire was playing third, and the Tigers’ announcers made it seem like Oakland fans weren’t very keen on Cey. After looking at his stats in his very short Oakland venture I can kind of see why. They were horrible and he retired soon thereafter.

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        Oh yea he was at the end of the road at that point. . When the Dodgers got rid of him for no one… he had another 4-5 years left with the Cubs.
        Back then I called Oakland the place where old Dodgers died… Davey Lopes, Cey, and Dusty Baker off the top of my head.

  2. 4therecordcomau

    Still learning about this game via your blog down here in Aust., i was encouraged to pick up a copy of a book called Shoeless Joe at a weekend market, its about a guy obsessed with baseball and JD Salinger, interesting combination, have you read this one? Cheers.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      No I haven’t read it, but I can relate as I’m obsessed with Salinger as well. This book was adapted into a movie called “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner.

      Thanks for reading and stopping by!

  3. Steve Myers

    sorry it’s taken me so long to comment. i was in milwaukee, visiting my parents. unfortunately, the brewers were out of town. oh man, this is great news…you getting published. well deserved and long over do. i’m glad you didn’t tell us what your favorite memory is. looking forward to reading the book. Again, congratulations Gary.

      1. Steve Myers

        Yes, parents doing well. Thanks for asking. Getting older though. My mom can’t walk too well. Dad’s memory a bit shot. Sometimes, a lot of times, I wish i was still living there, in Milwaukee…..to see my parents more, the Brewers too, and the one friend i’m still in contact with. But I got a job here in Montreal, at a secure place – a hospital, very little chance for getting laid off or fired, insurance and pension plan come with the job too plus i got a girlfriend and that’s going well so for now I look forward to vacations and visiting milwaukee.

      2. Steve Myers

        i’ve been here nearly 20 years and only been to one Canadiens game. scalped the ticket midway through the first period. still cost me 80 bucks. it was at the new Bell Centre. built for hockey. pretty intense with all the lights and loud crowd. but i still haven’t caught the hockey fever.

        it’s weird, but NFL football seems to get more attention around here than hockey, at least at work it does….seems like everyone has a favorite team….my supervisor loves the bears, always wears a Bears hat and once a week, he puts on a Walter Payton jersey. another guy likes the 49ers and he too has a jersey. there’s a seahawks fan, a vikings fan, a packers fan. it’s crazy and when it comes to the CFL, no one cares.

        but back to hockey….there is a certain type of fan here. they call themselves ABC’ers as in Anything But Canadiens. They typically tend to be Bruins fans.

  4. Rules Of Logic

    Congrats, Gary. I have been out of baseball so long, and still have some bitterness remaining, that I guess I have suppressed many of my baseball memories.

    Not trying to break my arm patting myself on the back, but having had three books published I know the pride of seeing your name in print along with your own words. If I really wanted to break my arm I would write a line from the Wall Street Journal review of one of my books…

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      That really great…can you give me the names of these books? I’d like to check them out. I’ve been reading your blof for so long I figure I might as well read one of your books too!

  5. Bill Pike

    Living in a neighborhood full of trees, I have learned to respect their ability to create havoc in a blink. Glad your neighbor is ok. I will cherish forever the open field behind our house where the neighborhood played baseball, some days nonstop. Always a good feeling to have your word work published. I hope you continue to find more publishing opportunities. Be safe.

  6. SeaGuy

    Before you finalize a comparison between the 2022 A’s and the 1979 A’s, you need to see if anything matches the most notorious attendance figure in modern day MLB history:


    Don’t give up

    – it wasn’t too long after that when the A’s played their home opener with a record of 6 and 0.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      The lowest attendance this year was 2, 488 fans. To be fair, the A’s actually raised ticket and parking prices in a bizarre move after already infuriating fans by tearing down the team. A lot of people, myself included, decided to boycott by not attending games or buying products until the owner stopped treating the franchise like the dollar store while reaping in profits from MLB profit share.

      1. SeaGuy

        You’re venturing toward the no-win scenario that is comparing any modern day A’s owner to Charles O. Finley (er, wait, that might be a “no-lose” scenario) as there again “1979” would have 2022 beat.

        Maybe the “Smashing Pumpkins” could write a song about the A’s of 2022… ( or at least about “2022” in general, so radio stations won’t censor the material)

  7. cbholganza

    yup, you’re absolutely right. at 12-15 years old, i could still remember the As then, with the likes of Vida blue, john odom, catfish hunter, reggie jackson, mike epstein, joe rudi. those were the days.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      Those teams were a bit before my time, but I’ve had the pleasure of watching those old games on YouTube. Thanks for the comment and please stop by again some time.

  8. walkingoffthechessboard

    Hey Gary, thanks for the follow and looking forward to reading your work as well. Congrats on the book – sounds like a winner. I love the quote starting this post off. The A’s were my team back when I was a teen, and since they won three championships in a row then I’ve tried to be patient with the more-recent history of always being the team that sends away their best players. I still follow them (along with the hometown Phillies) and I do hope for better things for the franchise once they get a new stadium in Oakland…it BETTER be Oakland. Love seeing all the old baseball cards here…brings back lots of memories…including the memory I sadly don’t still own them!


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