Results tagged ‘ music ’
These are the dog days of summer. The days when you buy chopped fruit from a street vendor, wear breathable shoes, snicker at people wearing cargo shorts, wear a light sweater at night, and perhaps even kiss a summer fling. There are blasts from boomboxes (cell phones) and people lounging and splashing in the river. There are people sitting on porches with a can of beer and with no hope of ever getting anything done that day. The days are getting shorter and the baseball season is slowly coming to an end, as if a lovely friend was planning a vacation for 6 months. When it ends it would have been a deep and complicated relationship full of thrills, contemplation, happiness, anger, and finally…heartbreak.
Recently my “baseball buddy,” Manny and I decided to take in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League playoffs this past week with The Sacramento River Cats (S.F. Giants) squaring off against the Las Vegas Aviators. (Oakland A’s) I was particularly interested in this game because Daniel Mengden was on the hill and he and his handlebar mustache had spent a significant amount of time as a starter in Oakland this season, doing a pretty solid job before being sent down. There were, of course, a smattering of A’s prospects that I wanted to see in person although most had been called up when the rosters were expanded a few days prior.
Manny and I did our usual “pre-game” routine of a twelve pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the parking lot complete with the musical stylings of Slayer and the Circle Jerks. We stumbled into the stadium right around game time and settled into our seats a few rows behind home-plate. This game was announced around 48 hours earlier and was only attended by 3000 and change making the atmosphere close to a funeral. The catatonic-like atmosphere only got worse as the Aviators took a 6-1 lead in the third inning, turning anyone in the place not wearing green and gold into a virtual zombie. This was quite the opposite of an MLB playoff game in every way possible.
In a desperate attempt to liven up this experience, we had decided to walk around the stadium and take in the game from every angle possible every inning or so. This turned out to be fruitful as I had a moment of kismet when a ball was smoked down the left field line, arching foul and entering my outstretched hand on one hop moments before going over the fence. Manny returned from the bathroom and I told him he looked liked 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag moments before tossing him the ball.
“Can I have the ball, dude?”
Of course you can.
It was time to go. The game was in the bag and Manny had his foul ball. It was a beautiful, breezy night and I walked across the Sacramento River before biking home and immediately retiring to bed.
My middle school science teacher was a die-hard Giants fan. Our class listened to the ’89 NLCS game 5 clincher against the Cubs and Mark Grace on a portable radio while she scored the game on the chalkboard. (do these specimens of archaic learning still exist? and does anyone actually score a game anymore?) I pretended to read about black holes and sun spots while my eyes glossed over, staring at absolutely nothing with a slack-jawed bovine expression. Someone had drawn a heavy metal logo on page 237. Perhaps they were enjoying my current landscape of foggy faux-meditation when they had a primal urge to draw something, anything.
“Yesterday we explicitly agreed to quietly do our work as long as we could listen to the game.” she said.
We knew that this was a faulty agreement as she was going to listen to the game regardless of whether we agreed to the shoddy terms or not, and besides, some of us weren’t Giants fans. I couldn’t give a toss about the Giants or science at that time as I was more interested in girls and boobs; not necessarily in that order.
We had spoken about Carney Lansford a few days earlier and his time with the Red Sox. Her boyfriend was a “Southie” from Boston; a second generation working-class, red-haired Irish Mick from a long line of drunks, thieves and lowlifes. He had escaped the sludge and went to some long forgotten East Coast university and he and his stoner buddies would go to Fenway Park on weekends where they had acquired an affinity for Lansford. Of course, she thought all of this was cute and clever and was terribly pleased by it.
“No offense Mrs. Cleveland, but besides Will Clark your team just isn’t very likable. Rick Rueschel looks like a fat, middle-aged divorced dad and Scott Garrelts looks like a skinny nose-picking dork.”
It was true. Both starting pitchers looked like the antithesis of an athlete but the perfect working-class early 20th century farm boy baseball player. Some fans, probably the nerdy, isolationist type can get behind that “average joe” persona and root for them passionately, but in the era of super athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders I would always inexplicably choose the latter over the former.
“Let us not forget that your friend Carney Lansford looks like an accountant,” she said as she swallowed what was supposed to look an aspirin to the general viewer. A few classmates had theorized that she popped vicodin on occasion because of her seemingly more “relaxed” state as the day wore on. This wasn’t a great choice as it ultimately led to bouts of throwing up in the garbage can.
Carmen was destined to become an A’s fan from birth, born and raised in Oakland, the child of a 60’s era, black leather jacket clad Huey Newton revolutionary/Berkeley professor and a teenage beauty pageant queen and Cuban refugee. The professor met Zoe at a small community theatre in Palo Alto where his future wife was performing as “Bianca” in Othello. He loved her adaptation and asked her to dinner where they proceeded to eat oysters and wash them down with a dry Cabernet. The oysters must have worked as Carmen was thrust into the world soon thereafter, not even a year later.
The girl became an A’s fan at a young age and would hang out at the Coliseum often on weekends with her high school clique. They would sneak in alcoholic lubricant, snacks and a transistor radio while loitering in the bleachers on lazy Indian summers; sunbathing while listening to the Talking Heads and giving the bleacher creatures something to gawk at between innings. Her favorite player was first baseman Chris Carter because “he was this absolute monstrous, beautiful black man blessed with a pleasant expression on his face and an easy, almost lackadaisical ambiance.”
In the unfit roads of adolescence there are bound to be a few bumps on the way, and Carmen felt these at the hands of the Oakland police. “I had a malleable mind at the time and some friends had influenced me to steal clothing and such. I got busted stealing some door-knockers (earrings) that had my name in the middle. It was so obvious.” When she was busted a second time for stealing art books it was “time for a re-examination of the program.”
Hard work and diligence paid off in 2008 as Carmen graduated with a degree in economics from SF State. She now works as an editor at the San Francisco Weekly. “The Weekly is often given to smart-ass editorializing that seems more geared to getting a reaction than making a concrete point, but it’s fun.”
“I’ve learned that we can be one person’s saint, another person’s genius, and someone else’s imbecile; and this is exactly why I do whatever I feel like doing every day without even an inkling of what anyone else thinks about it.”
Harry was one of those flower children from the 60’s who hitch-hiked to Height and Ashbury from an Iowa cornfield and never left. The pull of drugs, sex, music and the radical politics of the time were an overwhelming factor for someone who loved people and having a good time. He met a girl named Darlene who was 19, had long blonde hair and was so with it that she could quote Karl Marx and roll a doobie at the same time. Harry and Darlene were on and off for about 5 years until she split with a Hells Angel from Lodi. This turn of event was an eye-opener for Harry and he realized that sub-cultures consummating into capitalistic entities do what they normally do–die off. Charles Manson hadn’t helped matters much with his shenanigans in Los Angeles and the hippies of the 60’s that had survived drugs and prison were blossoming into tax-paying citizens and looking for something else to do. So was Harry.
Harry eventually moved to the much cheaper Oakland side of the Bay and got a square job working at a Co-op grocery store. He also started going to baseball games at the Oakland Coliseum in the 70’s and the timing was perfect to mold him into a life long A’s fan. The A’s won 3 straight World Series and had great players like Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando. He liked that these guys were brash, outspoken and had long hair and afros. These were his guys.
Harry is now 67 and lives in Petaluma, California in his “Château Relaxo.” I recently sent him to check out the A’s and the Royals during a Spring Training game in Mesa. Here is his report:
Mesa is an uncultured bubble community with no sense of inspiration–it is flat, hot, dusty and the only thing to do is eat, get drunk or cook meth. I checked into my hotel and decided to eat at “Connie’s” the diner next door. Now I know why I never see dead animals on the roads, they’re all in the restaurants. Talk about the heat. The damn pool water gets as hot as the outside temps. I met a sweet Mexican girl named Lola who was going to the game the next day. We drank rum, listened to the Eagles and talked for most of the night. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and promised to buy me a beer if she saw me the next day. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find someone like me in a crowd of only 5,000 people.
The next day I was a tad bit hung over, yet giddy as I took a couple of puffs off the pipe and downed a few beers in the parking lot. My Prius was gasping for air. Hohokam stadium is a smallish park that seats about 10,000 and has a majestic view of the sky. I live in a part of California that is so lush with greenery and downcast that anything wide open and infinite like this is a bit strange, yet it was pleasant. I have been an A’s fan for the better part of 40 years and had never been to Spring Training. Bucket list.
The vibe and weather were very relaxing and the mixture of baseball, sun and the night before had me falling into a sort of meditative slumber, and then I would jolt awake during every crack of the bat. I imagine it would have been quite hilarious from an outsiders perspective. Around the 4th inning I felt someone shaking me from behind. It was Lola. We went and had a few beers while walking around the stadium. She was a beautiful brown-skinned girl from the 70’s that came from a traditional Catholic family and didn’t look a lick like her age. She had strength, wisdom and a beautiful smile.
Oh, yeah. The A’s won 6-4 as my favorite player Stephen Vogt went yard twice. This vacation was turning out to be quite nice. That is all from my Spring Training report. Harry over and out.
The Athletics’ young pitcher and top prospect Kendall Graveman was absolutely shelled in his last two starts and subsequently sent down to (AAA) Nashville. The problem? The downward sinking and cutting action on his pitches that he used to get ground balls during his impressive spring training is missing. I have no doubt that the young man will be back soon, and as an effectively solid MLB starter once he gets properly schooled in the muscle memory category. He is already well schooled in the Bull Durham school of baseball interview clichés, “It’s just something that I’ve got to go back to work on…continue to work and not give up.”
My advice to the youngster while he is in Nashville is to learn about the rich history of music that the city has spawned. Here is but a very small list of bards that were born there:
The Allman brothers: This “southern rock”styled group had a string of hits in the 70’s. Unfortunately their leader, Greg Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971. They have re-united on multiple occasions in recent years to the confusion of everyone but their accountants.
Pat Boone: All American, squeaky clean gospel music singer and Christian who confused everyone by putting out a “heavy metal” record and promoting it by dressing like Al Pacino when he was an undercover cop looking for a killer in the San Francisco gay club scene. The 1980 cult-classic “Cruising” is a must watch for any movie buff with a sense of humor. You can pass on the Pat Boone, though.
Miley Cyrus: Does this even count as someone with musical talent? Apparently her dad, Mr. “Achy Breaky Heart” was recording in or around Nashville when she was conceived because the whole thing reeks of STRANGE.
Donna Summer: I was bummed when I learned Summer had died in 2012. She had great success in the 70’s with some disco smash hits that will stand the test of time and that are still embraced by gay clubbers. She also gets bonus points for being in a psychedelic rock band in the 60’s called “Crow.”
Johnny Cash: Well, technically the “Man in Black” wasn’t born in Nashville, but he did die there in 2003. For those of you living under a rock, Cash can be seen as arguably one of the most influential country music singers of all time. His most famous album “Folsom Prison Blues” was a standard on my turn-table for many years. A little known fact–Folsom, which is 23 miles north of Sacramento, my hometown, is quite the quaint and conventional little town full of cow-licked, barefoot little hicks munching on cotton candy.
Tammy Wynette: Wynette was called “The First Lady of Country Music,” and is arguably the most influential woman of the genre. She sang beautiful, time-tested songs about loneliness, heartbreak and the difficulties of relationships. Her most famous song, “Stand by Your Man” is one of the greatest selling songs in the history of country music. Wynette died in 1998 at the age of 55 and is buried in Nashville.
Most of the Athletics sights in internet-land played the typical baseball writing game of follow the leader and were frothing at the mouth at the signing of Barry Zito. We here at the ‘Fro, however, felt a keen sense of bafflement and confusion. Zito, A) didn’t play last year and B) had ERA’s of 4.03, 4.15, 5.87, 4.15 and 5.74 his last 5 seasons. To put it bluntly–he sucked.
And as much as we admire Charlie O. Finley and Bill Veeck for their “circus like” candor, I just didn’t see Billy Beane, the paradigm of rational thought, as nostalgic, a clown-enabler or the type to give into Zito’s sense of entitlement to waste a Spring Training spot that a young player could desperately need to further his career. Zito, although once an Athletic, had erased any positive emotion from my mind when he signed with the Giants–all but stoking provincial animosities and spitting in Oakland’s face. Due to popular belief, emotions still exist in baseball, although the numbers-crunchers would tell you otherwise. They try to rationalize the signing with “low risk-medium return” hyperbole to the point of vomit inducing fervor, all but erasing the “gut feeling” that made Earl Weaver so successful. Perhaps the Athletics would have been better off using the 1 million they gave Zito to hire some people who actually NEEDED the money to help promote and to get “fringe fans” to buy tickets. It is common knowledge that their promotional representation in the Bay Area is a mockery to the fan base that is consistently criticized in the media for lack of support….
Jason Giambi retired, finally ending his reign as a PED user, MVP, lovable lug, Yankee, douchbag, party boy, laughing stock of New York and finally, grizzled, useless DH. (The above sentence bringing to light Tina Turner’s “We don’t need another hero” in my synapse hell.) Oddly enough, Giambi was quoted as saying, “I’ve done everything I can in my career.” Touche, Jason. In the end Giambi was seen as sort of a rascal despite his Yankee short-comings…and I’ve always had a soft spot for rascals…what would life be without them? Now Giambi can finally experience what other baseball retirees had to go through– the life of an Average (albeit wealthy) Joe, where no one knows who you are and no one cares until you show up at a fan-fest or baseball card show in a lonely, trash strewn strip mall. Good luck, Jason.
Bruce Robinson only had 84 at bats as an Oakland Athletic, but what he has given to the game and life in general is something that you can’t find on the back of a bubblegum card. Baseball gives you a direct path into the formlessness of being and an entry point into the chaotic structures of the universe, but it also brings you more humanistic qualities like laughter, friendships and passion…
1.Let’s start at the beginning. You grew up in La Jolla, a quiet, beachfront San Diego suburb. How did you get interested in playing baseball and were you a Padres fan? (I believe they were a PCL team back then.)
I WAS BORN IN LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA INTO A FAMILY OF BASEBALL LOVERS. MY TWO OLDER BROTHERS, SKIP AND DAVE ARE 10 AND 8 YEARS OLDER THAN ME. THEY WERE PLAYING ON A CHAMPIONSHIP LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM BY THE TIME I THREW A BALL THROUGH OUR LIVING ROOM WINDOW FROM MY CRIB AT AGE TWO. SUFFICE TO SAY, I WAS AT QUITE A FEW BASEBALL GAMES BY THE TIME I WAS 4 WHEN I STARTED TAKING GROUND BALLS WITH MY BROTHER’S TEAMS.
MY DAD PLAYED SUMMER BASEBALL IN MINNESOTA UNTIL HE WENT TO COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA. IT WAS MY DAD WHO INTRODUCED THE SPORT TO MY BROTHERS AND ME. MY MIDDLE BROTHER, DAVE, WAS, AND STILL IS, AN AMAZING ATHLETE. HE PLAYED FOR THE SAN DIEGO PADRES AND EVEN HIT A HOME RUN OFF HALL OF FAMER JUAN MARICHAL. HE WAS RECRUITED TO PLAY QUARTERBACK AT SAN DIEGO STATE BY COACHING LEGEND, DON CORYELL. HE SET AGE GROUP WORLD RECORDS IN THE DECATHLON, AND AT AGE 37 ALMOST QUALIFIED FOR THE OLYMPIC TRIALS IN THE DECATHLON. HE WAS RUNNING A SUB 3 HOUR MARATHON, 11 SECOND 100 YD DASH, POLE VAULTING 15 FEET…….INCREDIBLE………STILL LOOKS LIKE HE IS A BUFF 25 YR OLD FROM THE NECK DOWN……AT AGE 68!
I WAS NEVER A REAL FAN OF ANY MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM GROWING UP, EXCEPT POSSIBLY THE REDS AND THAT WOULD BE DUE TO JOHNNY BENCH! I STILL REMEMBER THE SPORTS ILLUSTRATED COVER WITH BENCH HOLDING 7 BASEBALLS IN ONE OF HIS LARGE HANDS. AS FOR THE PCL PADRES, YES, I DID FOLLOW THEM AND ATTEND SOME OF THEIR GAMES AT WESTGATE PARK IN MISSION VALLEY, NOW THE SITE OF THE FASHION VALLEY SHOPPING MALL.
I PLAYED LITTLE LEAGUE (8-12), PONY LEAGUE (13-14), COLT LEAGUE (15-16), AMERICAN LEGION (15-16-17) AND HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL AT LA JOLLA HIGH. AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, I HEADED NORTH TO ALASKA TO PLAY FOR THE BEST AMATEUR BASEBALL PROGRAM IN HISTORY, THE FAIRBANKS ALASKA GOLDPANNERS:
http://www.goldpanners.com/ (CHECK OUT THE GOLDPANNER WEB SITE……..PRETTY AMAZING WHAT THE PROGRAM HAS ACCOMPLISHED UNDER GENERAL MGR DON DENNIS!
THE GOLDPANNERS HAVE PLACED OVER 200 OF THEIR PLAYERS INTO THE MAJOR LEAGUES. GOLDPANNERS HAVE BEEN DRAFTED IN THE 1ST ROUND OF THE MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT 125 TIMES. 19 TIMES GOLDPANERS HAVE BEEN SELECTED WITH THE FIRST OR SECOND CHOICE IN THE MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT…….RICK MONDAY, TOM SEAVER, DAVE WINFIELD, BOB BOONE, BARRY BONDS, JASON GIAMBI……….THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND EVEN INCLUDES 4 YEAR GOLDPANNER…….ME! LOL! THOSE STATS I JUST MENTIONED ARE PROBABLY EVEN BETTER THAN I STATED! WHAT A GREAT EXPERIENCE! THE PLAYERS LIVED WITH FAMILIES IN THE FAIRBANKS COMMUNITY, HAD JOBS DURING THE DAYTIME AND PLAYED BASEBALL IN FAIRBANKS FOR ABOUT 7 WEEKS DURING THE SUMMER AGAINST TEAMS FROM ANCHORAGE, KENAI AND FROM THE “OUTSIDE” (WHAT THE LOWER 48 STATES ARE REFERRED TO AS).
THERE ARE GOLDPANNER TEAMS THAT HAVE HAD 10 PLAYERS GET TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES. I PLAYED ON TWO OF THEM. I WAS FORTUNATE TO HAVE BEEN A PART OF 3 STRAIGHT NBC (NATIONAL BASEBALL CONGRESS) CHAMPIONSHIPS IN WICHITA, KANSAS. WICHITA WAS THE CULIMINATION OF SUMMER AMATEUR BASEBALL. WE WON IN 1972-73-74. GET THIS, MY SON, SCOTT (NOW 31 AND A FORMER 8 YEAR PRO PLAYER) WENT TO FAIRBANKS AFTER HIS JUNIOR YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL. I BELIEVE HE IS THE FIRST TO HAVE DONE SO. HE WENT BACK TO FAIRBANKS AFTER HIS SENIOR YEAR, WHEN HE COULDN’T COME TO AGREEMENT WITH THE HOUSTON ASTROS FOLLOWING THE 2002 BASEBALL DRAFT. HE PROCEDED TO LEAD THE TEAM IN HITTING, GET NAMED THE TEAM MVP AND WAS 2ND IN VOTING FOR LEAGUE MVP. SCOTT LED THE GOLDPANNERS TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN WICHITA IN 2002, 30 YEARS AFTER MY FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP! PRETTY COOL!
2. You were involved in a car accident with great closer and current Giants pitching coach Dave “Rags” Righetti that essentially ruined your career. (He needed reconstructive shoulder surgery) Can you talk a bit about the moments that lead to this life changing event?
FORTUNATELY, DAVE CAME AWAY FROM THE ACCIDENT UNINJURED. WE WERE ROOMMATES WITH THE YANKEES AAA TEAM IN COLUMBUS, OHIO (INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE) IN 1980. DAVE WAS PROBABLY 20 YRS OLD, DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO WRITE A CHECK, NOR TAKE REAL GOOD CARE OF HIMSELF. OF COURSE, HE OWES EVERYTHING TO ME!
DAVE AND I WERE RETURNING TO OUR COLUMBUS APARTMENT AFTER A NIGHT GAME. WE WERE STOPPED AT A SIGNALIZED INTERSECTION, IN A LEFT TURN LANE, WHEN A VEHICLE SLAMMED INTO THE REAR END OF MY CHEVY VAN. MY SEAT WAS BENT BACK TO A 45 DEGREE ANGLE BY THE FORCE OF THE IMPACT. DAVE’S SEAT REMAINED IN ITS PROPER VERTICAL POSITION, ALLOWING THE SEAT BELT AND SEAT TO DO THEIR JOBS PROPERLY. MY NECK, BACK AND SHOULDER WERE VERY SORE IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS.
MY THROWING ARM SLOWLY DETERIORATED TO THE POINT I WOULD WINCE WHEN THROWING. WE WERE ABOUT DONE WITH THE AAA SEASON AND ABOUT TO BE CALLED UP TO JOIN THE YANKEES FOR SEPTEMBER. THE YANKEES HAD A FEW CATCHERS AND WERE IN A PENNANT RACE IN 1980 UNDER MANAGER DICK HOWSER. HENCE, THE RECENTLY CALLED UP PLAYERS WOULDN’T SEE MUCH ACTION. I COULD GET AWAY WITH NOT TAKING INFIELD (EASIER TO DO TODAY SINCE TEAMS NO LONGER TAKE INFIELD PRACTICE BEFORE A GAME). I JUST WANTED TO GET THE SEASON OVER AND REST MY ARM……………I, INCORRECTLY, ASSUMED MY ARM WAS TIRED AND ONLY NEEDED THE OFF SEASON TO GET BACK TO FULL STRENGTH.
I HAD THE STARTING JOB IN 1981, ON A PLATOON BASIS, WITH RICK CERONE. THE PROBLEM WAS MY ARM NEVER GOT BETTER OVER THE WINTER. I WENT, UNKNOWN TO THE YANKEES, TO ORTHOPEDIC SPECIALISTS, AN ACUPUNCTURE DOCTOR, A DOCTOR OF OSTEOPATHY, MASSEURS………..ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO TRY AND GET MY ARM HEALED DURING THE OFF SEASON.
I WENT INTO SPRING TRAINING IN 1981 KNOWING MY ARM WAS INJURED. I COULDN’T SOAP UNDER MY ARM OR PUSH BUTTONS ON THE CAR RADIO WITHOUT A LOT OF PAIN, AND HERE I WAS TRYING TO PLAY BASEBALL AT ITS PINNACLE WITH NONE OTHER THAN THE NEW YORK YANKEES. I FAKED AND DODGED MY WAY THROUGH THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF SPRING TRAINING. AFTER THE FIRST GAME OF SPRING TRAINING, AN AWAY GAME IN VERO BEACH AGAINST THE DODGERS, I SPOKE WITH MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER’S UNION SECOND IN COMMAND, DON FEHR. HE HAPPENED TO BE ATTENDING THE GAME AND HAD ADDRESSED OUR TEAM PRIOR TO THE GAME. I TOLD DON ABOUT MY ARM. HE ADVISED ME TO TELL THE YANKEES THAT DAY THAT I WAS HURT.
THOSE WORDS OF WISDOM FROM DON FEHR (WHO WENT ON TO REPLACE MARVIN MILLER AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE BASEBALL PLAYER’S UNION) WAS THE BEST ADVICE I COULD HAVE RECEIVED. I DID SO AND WAS PUT ON THE DISABLE LIST FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS, ALLOWING ME TO RECEIVE MY MAJOR LEAGUE SALARY.
THE YANKEES KEPT TRYING TO GET ME TO SAY I WAS OK WHEN I WASN’T. I REMEMBER TEAM DOCTOR AND ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON, DAN KANELL, TRYING REGULARLY TO GET ME TO PLAY. BY THE TIME THE REGULAR SEASON HAD STARTED, THE YANKEES WANTED ME TO SAY I WAS OK SO THEY COULD TAKE ME OFF THE MAJOR LEAGUE ROSTER. I WASN’T OKAY AND KANELL, THE YANKEES AND I KNEW IT. I STAYED BACK IN OUR SPRING TRAINING HEADQUARTERS IN FORT LAUDERDALE WHERE THE YANKEES CLASS A TEAM WAS LOCATED.
BECAUSE I WAS ON THE DISABLED LIST, THE YANKEES HAD TO EMPLOY A RETIRED CATCHER, JOHNNY OATES, AS THE BACKUP CATCHER TO CERONE. OWNER GEORGE STEINBRENNER WAS FURIOUS THAT I WAS HURT. THE YANKEES ACTED LIKE IT WAS MY FAULT AND WANTED TO BE HURT.
THE YANKEES WANTED ME TO PLAY A FEW GAMES WITH THE CLASS A FORT LAUDERDALE MINOR LEAGUE TEAM. I AGREED TO DO SO, BUT ONLY ON A REHABILITATION OPTION, TO SEE HOW MY INJURED SHOULDER WOULD REACT. BY BEING ON A REHABILITATION OPTION, THAT MEANT I WAS NOT AGREEING TO COME OFF THE MAJOR LEAGUE ROSTER BY PLAYING IN A MINOR LEAGUE GAME.
I WAS DH THE FIRST GAME OF A DOUBLEHEADER, HAD 3 HITS, HIT A HOMERUN AND FELT OKAY HITTING. I CAUGHT THE SECOND GAME OF THE DOUBLEHEADER IN FORT MYERS AND MY ARM WAS NO WHERE NEAR HEALED. IT WAS CLEARLY DAMAGED. I WANTED TO GO SEE FAMED DOCTORS KERLAN AND JOBE IN LOS ANGELES (OF TOMMY JOHN SURGERY FAME). THE YANKEES WOULDN’T LET ME GO WEST. BY THE CONTRACTUAL CONDITIONS OF THE BASIC AGREEMENT BETWEEN MLB AND THE PLAYER’S UNION, THE YANKEES WERE OBLIGATED TO PAY ONLY FOR ME TO GET A SECOND OPINION WITHIN THE REGION OF MY MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM. THAT MEANT THE EASTERN REGION.
ONE OF MY CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND TEAMMATES HAD MARRIED DR. KERLAN’S DAUGHTER. I TOLD THE YANKEES I WOULD PAY MY OWN WAY TO SEE DR. KERLAN IN LOS ANGELES. THE YANKEES WANTED ME TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR IN NEW YORK. I SAID NO. THEY THEN SUGGESTED A DOCTOR IN PHILADELPHIA. I DIDN’T TRUST THEIR DOCTORS AFTER LISTENING TO THEIR FLORIDA DOCTOR, KANELL, KEEP TELLING ME I WAS HEALED. THE YANKEES RELENTED AND LET ME PAY MY OWN WAY TO LOS ANGELES.
WHEN I GOT TO DR. KERLAN’S OFFICE, THERE WAS A TELEGRAM WAITING FOR ME FROM THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YANKEES, CEDRIC TALLIS. THE TELEGRAM SAID I WAS TO BE EXAMINED BY DR. KERLAN AND EXPECTED TO BE BACK IN FORT LAUDERDALE WITHIN 24 HOURS. YOU SEE, THEY REALLY THOUGHT I WAS FAKING THE INJURY, COLLECTING MY MAJOR LEAGUE SALARY ($45,000……THE MINIMUM SALARY IN 1981 WAS $21,000!) AND HAVING A GOOD OLD TIME. THE YANKEES FRONT OFFICE WAS, SERIOUSLY, DILUSIONAL.
AFTER THE ARTHOGRAM RESULTS WERE REVIEWED, THE YANKEES AND I WERE BOTH TOLD BY DR. KERLAN, THAT I HAD A PROBLEM, AND THAT AN ARTHOSCOPY WAS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE. AN ARTHOSCOPY IS A NON INVASIVE SURGERY THAT USES TWO SMALL HOLES TO INSERT A CAMERA INTO ONE HOLE AND TOOLS INTO THE OTHER HOLE. THAT IS HOW MANY SURGERIES ARE PERFORMED THESE DAYS, BUT IN 1981, ONLY DIAGNOSTIC RESULTS COULD BE ATTAINED IN THIS MANNER.
THE ARTHROSCOPY WAS SCHEDULED TWO WEEKS LATER. THE YANKEE BRASS WAS NOW REALLY MAD. THE YANKEES HAD TWO HURT CATCHERS AND THOUGHT I WAS FAKING MY INJURY. THE YANKEE FRONT OFFICE, READ GM TALLIS AND STEINBRENNER, HAD THE PROCEDURE MOVED UP TO TWO DAYS LATER INSTEAD OF TWO WEEKS LATER.
I HAD THE ARTHROSCOPY. IT WAS DETERMINED I HAD A FRACTURE IN MY SHOULDER JOINT, THE GLENOID, AND A LOT OF TISSUE DAMAGE, CAUSED BY PLAYING ON AN INJURED ARM. THE SURGERY WAS TO BE A POSTERIOR RECONSTRUCTION OF MY RIGHT SHOULDER, WITH A LARGE “T” STAPLE ALONG WITH REPAIR OF DAMAGE TO THE LABRUM. WE WERE IN MID TO LATE APRIL. THE SURGERY WAS SET FOR MAY 11, 1981.
WHEN THE YANKEES LEARNED THE EXTENT OF MY INJURIES, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THEIR 180 DEGREE REVERSAL. I RECEIVED A TELEGRAM FROM GENERAL MANAGER, CEDRIC TALLIS, SAYING HOW HAPPY THEY WERE THAT I HAD MADE THE DECISION TO COME TO LOS ANGELES (ON MY DIME) AND WERE SO SORRY ABOUT THE NATURE OF MY SHOULDER INJURY. WHEN I HAD THE SURGERY, THE YANKEES MADE CERTAIN I WAS IN A LARGE VIP, PRIVATE SUITE, MADE SURE MY WIFE HAD FLOWERS, STEAK AND LOBSTER, ETC, ETC. AMAZING HOW MUCH THEY NOW LIKED ME!
I MISSED THE 1981 AND 1982 SEASONS ON THE DISABLED LIST. I WENT TO SPRING TRAINING WITH THE AAA COLUMBUS TEAM IN 1983. THE YANKEES TRIED TO TRADE ME DURING SPRING TRAINING AND WERE CLOSE TO A TRADE WITH THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES BUT THAT FELL THROUGH BECAUSE THE PIRATES REALIZED THE YANKEES WOULD PROBABLY RELEASE ME. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED AND THE PIRATES TURNED RIGHT AROUND AND SIGNED ME TO A CONTRACT TO PLAY IN………….DRUM ROLL,…….HONOLULU, HAWAII WITH THE PIRATES’ AAA TEAM IN THE PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE. NOT A BAD ASSIGNMENT FOR THE MINOR LEAGUES.
I PLAYED OKAY FOR NOT HAVING PLAYED SINCE SEPTEMBER 1980. IT WAS A FUN SEASON. I BECAME A FREE AGENT AFTER THAT SEASON AND SIGNED WITH THE OAKLAND A’S FOR THE 1984 SEASON. WHEN I SIGNED WITH THE A’S DURING THE OFF SEASON, IT APPEARED I WOULD HAVE A GOOD SHOT AT MAKING THE TEAM, IF NOT AS A STARTER OR PLATOON PLAYER, AS THE BACKUP CATCHER. THEY HAD ONLY MIKE HEATH TO RELY UPON AND HE WAS SURE TO BE INJURED, AS WAS HIS HISTORY.
THE PROBLEM WAS THAT THE A’S, SUBSEQUENT TO SIGNING ME, SIGNED VETERAN BACKUP CATCHER, JIM ESSIAN. THEY ALSO SIGNED DAVE KINGMAN, DAVEY LOPES, JEFF BURROGHS……….THAT MEANT WITH KINGMAN, LOPES AND BURROUGHS…..AGED VETERANS WHO REALLY COULD ONLY BE USED AS A DH, THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR 3 CATCHERS. HEATH AND ESSIAN HAD GUARANTEED CONTRACTS SO ROBINSON WAS……………OUT!
ALTHOUGH I WAS ONE OF THE TOP HITTERS IN BATTING AVERAGE THAT SPRING, THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR ME ON THE MAJOR LEAGUE ROSTER. I WAS SHIPPED OFF TO AAA TACOMA IN THE PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE FOR THE 1984 SEASON……….UNTIL MIKE HEATH WOULD GET HURT. I WAS ON MOMENT’S NOTICE AT ONE POINT FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT HEATH GOT BETTER. IF THE A’S CALLED ME UP, I HAD TO STAY THERE ALL YEAR. THEY DIDN’T WANT TO PULL ME UP WHEN HEATH WAS OUT A COUPLE GAMES…………I SHOULD HAVE PAID MIKE (HEATH) TO STAY HURT A FEW MORE DAYS! LOL
DURING THAT SEASON, I WAS APPROACHED BY THE A’S TO SEE IF I WAS OPEN TO STAYING ACTIVE, BUT RELOCATING TO THE A’S CLASS A TEAM IN MODESTO (WHERE I FIRST PLAYED IN 1975 AFTER BEING THE A’S 1ST ROUND DRAFT SELECTION OUT OF STANFORD UNIVERSITY FOLLOWING MY JUNIOR YEAR). THE A’S WANTED ME TO BE A PLAYER/COACH AND WORK WITH 2 PLAYERS, ONE YOUNG MAN WHO HAD TALENT, BUT WASN’T PERFORMING AND ANOTHER THAT WOULD BE JOINING THE MODESTO ROSTER AFTER PLAYING FOR OUR U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM……………..IT LOOKS LIKE I LED YOU RIGHT INTO YOUR NEXT QUESTION!
3. You had a coaching role in class A Modesto in 1984 where your specific task was to help a young Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco become the sluggers that they eventually became. Can you talk a bit about your approach with each one and give the readers a little insight as to their personalities?
JOSE WAS 19 YEARS OLD WHEN I JOINED THE TEAM DURING MID SUMMER OF 1984. I SEEM TO RECALL THAT A’S DIRECTOR OF MINOR LEAGUES, KARL KUEHL, SAID JOSE HAD LOST HIS MOM EARLIER THAT SUMMER. JOSE WAS UNDERPERFORMING…………STRUGGLING IS A BETTER WORD. JOSE WAS SOMEWHAT UNORTHODOX, IN MANY WAYS MUCH LIKE A HUNTER PENCE…………..BUT NOBODY CAN LOOK SO BAD AND GET SUCH GOOD RESULTS.
HUNTER IS JUST PLAIN UGLY TO WATCH, THROWING, HITTING, RUNNING, THE PANTS………..AND HE LOOKS LIKE MARTY FELDMAN………..BUT I’D PICK HIM #1 FOR MY TEAM. MY SON, WHO PLAYED 8 YEARS OF BASEBALL, WAS ON A TEAM WITH HIM IN THE MINOR LEAGUES. I ASKED SCOTT IF THERE WERE ANY MAJOR LEAGUE PROSPECTS ON HIS TEAM. HE SAID THERE WAS ONE PLAYER, HUNTER PENCE, BUT THAT HE WAS THE UGLIEST PLAYER HE HAD EVER SEEN. I COULDN’T EVEN CONCEIVE OF THE PENCE WE WATCH TODAY. HOW HE CAN MAKE UGLY AND WRONG WORK SO WELL IS SIMPLY ASTOUNDING…………
…….BACK TO JOSE CANSECO: JOSE HAD A GOOD ARM, IN FACT A VERY GOOD ARM, A “PLUS” ARM. ERRATIC, YES, BUT STRONG………NO DOUBT. I THINK JOSE WAS HITTING ABOUT .220 FOR MODESTO AT THE TIME I STARTED WORKING WITH HIM. HE WAS SO MESSED UP HITTING. WHEN HIS STRIDE FOOT HIT THE GROUND, THE END OF THE BARREL OF HIS BAT WOULD BE POINTED AT THE PITCHER. THAT IS NOT GOOD. I WOULD WORK WITH HIM, TAKING VIDEO AND THEN WATCHING THE VIDEO THE NEXT MORNING. WE GOT HIM TO A GOOD LAUNCHING POSITION WITH HIS HANDS AND HE STARTED GETTING SOME CONSISTENCY AND SOME BETTER RESULTS. HE WAS ABOUT 190 LBS, VERY SLENDER AT 6’ 3”. HE KEPT TELLING ME, OVER AND OVER, IT WASN’T THE POSITION OF HIS HANDS THAT WAS CAUSING HIS BATTING WOES, BUT INSTEAD THAT HE WAS TOO WEAK………..HE SAID HE HAD TO GET STRONGER………….HAD TO LIFT WEIGHTS…………HE WAS GOING TO LIFT WEIGHTS DURING THE OFF SEASON AND GET STRONGER. I TOLD JOSE, GETTING STRONGER WAS GREAT, BUT THAT HE WOULD NEVER HIT DOING WHAT HE HAD BEEN DOING WITH HIS HANDS.
JOSE WAS REALLY KIND OF FUNNY TO WORK WITH. HE WAS THE TYPE OF INDIVIDUAL YOU WOULD TELL SOMETHING AND THEN HE WOULD COME BACK THE NEXT DAY AND TELL ME THAT HE HAD FIGURED OUT SOMETHING TO HELP HIM………….ONLY IT WOULD BE WHAT I HAD BEEN TRYING TO DRILL INTO HIS HEAD.
I WILL SAY THIS ABOUT JOSE, HE WAS HONEST, POLITE AND RESPECTFUL. HE WAS RAISED PROPERLY BY HIS PARENTS. MAYBE NOT THE SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHED, BUT HE TOLD THE TRUTH. AND THAT GOES FOR HIS STATEMENT THAT CAUSED SUCH FUROR ABOUT 80% OF PLAYERS BEING ON STEROIDS AT THAT TIME. HE WAS, ACTUALLY, PROBABLY A BIT LOW IN HIS ESTIMATION.
DID ANY OF US HAVE ANY CLUE THAT SKINNY JOSE WOULD BECOME ONE OF THE MOST FEARED HITTERS IN BASEBALL HISTORY? NOT A CHANCE……….BUT HE DID, BECOMING PART OF THE BASH BROTHERS WITH MARK MCGWIRE.
I GUESS THAT SEGUES NICELY INTO MY NEXT SUBJECT, SKINNY MARK MCGWIRE, SON OF A DENTIST, USC PITCHER TURNED HITTER. MARK CAME TO THE A’S VIA THE 1ST ROUND OF THE 1984 MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT. MARK HAD A STELLAR BASEBALL CAREER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SPOILED CHILDREN…….NO WAIT, THAT’S THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! LOL (BEING A STANFORD GRAD, IT WOULD NOT BE RIGHT TO NOT TAKE A STAB AT THE TROJANS! ACTUALLY, HAD I NOT BEEN OFFERED A FULL RIDE TO STANFORD, I WOULD HAVE BEEN A TROJAN AT USC OR A SUNDEVIL AT ARIZONA STATE. THE STANFORD OFFER MADE IT EASY. I DIDN’T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE TROJANS AND SUNDEVILS…………….
………….BACK TO MR. MCGWIRE. MARK SHOWED UP IN MODESTO AFTER THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN 1984 AT 6’5” AND ABOUT 190 LBS, THE SAME WEIGHT AS CANSECO, BUT TWO INCHES TALLER. HE WAS TIRED FROM THE USC SEASON, THE NUMEROUS GAMES AND TRAVEL LEADING UP TO THE OLYMPICS AND THEN THE OLYMPIC GAMES THEMSELVES. HIS BAT WAS SLOW. HE HAD TO MAKE THE SWITCH FROM AN ALUMINUM BAT TO THE WOOD BAT OF PRO BASEBALL. WOOD BATS ARE WEIGHTED DIFFERENTLY AND WEIGH MORE THAN ALUMINUM BATS. MARK WAS A VERY NICE YOUNG MAN, ALSO RAISED WELL BY HIS FOLKS. I ENJOYED SPENDING TIME WORKING WITH HIM AND MEETING HIS FIANCE, ALSO FROM USC.
WITH MARK, HIS SWING WAS SHORT, WHICH WAS GOOD. HE HAD SOME BALANCE ISSUES, AS I RECALL, SO WE WORKED ON THAT BY SPREADING HIM OUT A BIT. HE WAS PRETTY UPRIGHT AND TENDED TO PULL OFF THE BALL SOME. NOTHING TERRIBLE LIKE THE ISSUES WITH CANSECO. MCGWIRE WAS MUCH MORE POLISHED THAN JOSE AT THAT TIME, AND HE WAS ALSO 2 YEARS JOSE’S SENIOR AT 21.
DID ANY OF US HAVE A CLUE THAT SKINNY MARK WOULD BECOME ONE OF THE MOST FEARED HITTERS IN BASEBALL HISTORY? NOT A CHANCE……BUT I THOUGHT HE HAD A CHANCE TO BE A GOOD MAJOR LEAGUER. HE WAS JUST WORN OUT, PHYSICALLY WHEN HE WAS IN MODESTO. HE NEEDED TO GET STRONGER, STRONG ENOUGH TO ENDURE A PRO SEASON OF 140 GAMES IN THE MINORS AND 162 GAMES AT THE MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL.
LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT FROM THE TIME OUR 1984 MODESTO A’S WON THE CLASS A CALIFORNIA LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP IN MID SEPTEMBER OF 1984, TO THE START OF SPRING TRAINING IN 1985, THAT MY TWO SKINNY HITTING PROJECTS WOULD BLOOM FROM 6’3”/190 LBS AND 6’5” 190 LBS TO BOTH WEIGHING IN AROUND 250 LBS…………..FROM OCT 1, 1984 TO MARCH 1, 1985. NOW THAT, MY FRIENDS IS SOME SERIOUS WEIGHT LIFTING AND GOOD NUTRITION! MY OH MY! LOL AND THE REST IS, AS THEY SAY, HISTORY.
4. Brian Kingman (ex Athletics pitcher) told me that you would have some stories of young baseball players on the road engaging in debauchery. Can you talk a bit about that without incriminating anyone? (specifically Brian!)
WE ALWAYS BEHAVED IN THE MOST EXEMPLARY FASHION, CHOIR BOYS, IF YOU WILL………………..WELL, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE CASE IF IT WERE NOT FOR MY VERY CLOSE FRIEND AND FORMER TEAMMATE, BRIAN “DISNEYWORLD” KINGMAN (“DIZZ” TO ME). I HAVE A LOT OF BASEBALL STORIES THAT COULD KEEP ME TYPING FOR AN ENTIRE BOOK. I HAVE OFTEN THOUGHT I SHOULD WRITE A BOOK OF MY BEST STORIES, ALONG WITH THE BEST ONES OF MY TEAMMATES. THERE IS PLENTY OF MATERIAL FOR A CLEAN BUT HILARIOUS BOOK AND I GUESS WE COULD WRITE ONE THAT IS A BIT DISPARAGING, NO, A LOT DISPARAGING……………BUT JIM BOUTON BEAT US TO IT WITH “BALL FOUR” SO WHY GO THERE?
I WILL TELL YOU ONE KINGMAN STORY………..PROBABLY THE ONLY ONE THAT CANT SEND US TO JAIL………….AND THAT IS TAKING INTO ACCOUNT STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS! LOL
OK, DOUBLE A CHATTANOOGA………..13 HOUR BUS RIDE FROM CHATTANOOGA TO ORLANDO. WE LEAVE AFTER A SUNDAY DAY GAME FROM ENGLE STADIUM IN “NOOGA”. KINGMAN AND I HAD FASHIONED A PLYWOOD SHEET OF WOOD TO CONFORM TO THE CONTOUR OF THE BACK TWO ROWS OF SEATS ACROSS FROM THE BUS RESTROOM. WE GOT COMPLAINTS FROM OUR TEAMMATES BECAUSE WE WERE GETTING SPECIAL TREATMENT GETTING TO TAKE UP 2 ROWS (4 SEATS) FOR TWO PLAYERS. AND, THE “BED”, AS THE PLANK WAS CALLED, ALLOWED DIZZ AND I TO STRETCH OUT AND SLEEP, RATHER THAN BE FORCED TO TRY TO SLEEP UPRIGHT IN A BUS SEAT. (YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS WAS 1976, THE BUSSES WERE REALLY AWFUL AND BEING WITH THE A’S MEANT THEY WERE EVEN WORSE THAN AWFUL BECAUSE OUR ORGANIZATION, OWNED BY FERVENT CHEAPSKATE, CHARLES O. FINLEY, WAS RIFE WITH THRIFTYNESS UP AND DOWN THE ENTIRE ORGANIZATION. IN FACT WE WERE SO NEEDY THAT OUR DIRECTOR OF MINOR LEAGUES WAS, SERIOUSLY, SID THRIFT! YOU CAN’T MAKE THAT STUFF UP!)………….BOTTOM LINE, THE OTHER PLAYERS WERE JEALOUS THEY HAD NOT THOUGHT OF “THE BED”……AND I HAD AN AILING LOWER BACK WHICH GAVE ME A REASON TO NEED TO STRETCH OUT…………..AND BEING THAT KINGMAN AND I WERE THE STARS (LOL), WE COULD GET AWAY WITH IT…………THAT’S JUST HOW IT IS………RIGHT? YEP!
CONTINUING…………WE HAVE TO STOP AND CHANGE BUSSES IN ATLANTA………GREAT, ALL LOADED UP WITH OUR PERSONAL STUFF, SUITCASES, BASEBALL BAGS, TEAM GEAR, TRAINER’S EQUIPMENT, WE HAVE TO STOP AND CHANGE BUSSES. WELCOME TO THE “ SID THRIFTY” OAKLAND A’S MINOR LEAGUES. WE GET THE GEAR SWAPPED OUT AND ARE GIVEN 1 HOUR TO GET SOMETHING TO EAT AND BE BACK ON THE BUS. SO IS THE EDICT FROM OUR MANAGER, RENE LACHEMAN (BY THE WAY….ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE ALL TIME IN PRO BASEBALL………..LACH WAS AND IS A GREAT GUY AND I AM STILL IN TOUCH WITH HIM AND ONE OF HIS SONS WHO WAS ABOUT 7 AT THE TIME). YOU SEE, WHAT LACH SAID WAS THE LAW. WHEN THE BUS LEAVES AT 7:30PM, THE BUS LEAVES AT 7:30PM. BE ON IT OR GET YOURSELF TO THE NEXT CITY, EVEN IF THE DOORS CLOSE AND YOU ARE STANDING OUTSIDE TALKING OR RUNNING TO IT IN PLAIN SIGHT WITH FOOD FALLING FROM YOUR GRASP. TOUGH LUCK CHIEF! LACH TAUGHT A FEW PLAYERS ABOUT THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORD, “PUNCTUALITY”.
CONTINUING……….WE HAVE ONE HOUR TO GET OUR FOOD AND BEVERAGES OF CHOICE. KINGMAN DECIDES HE SHOULD LEAD A GROUP OF US TO PEACHTREE PLAZA TO ASCEND THE NEW 80 STORY BUILDING. SOUNDS LIKE FUN. WE HAVE PLENTY OF TIME AS IT IS ALMOST ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE BUS STATION. WE CAN GRAB A QUICK COUPLE OF BURGERS, FRIES AND A SHAKE RIGHT BEFORE GETTING ON THE BUS.
OUR GANG OF ABOUT 10 CHATTANOOGA LOOKOUT BALLPLAYERS, INCLUDING OUR FEARLESS LEADER, DISNEYWORLD KINGMAN, GET IN THE ELEVATOR AND GO TO THE TOP OF THE NEW SKYSCRAPER. GREAT VIEWS, NOW LET’S GET BACK, GET SOME FOOD AND GET ON THE BUS. SIMPLE. WE PILE ON THE ELEVATOR, HIT “1” OR “L” FOR LOBBY AND BEGIN PICKING UP SPEED ON OUR DESCENT OF OVER 900 FEET. ABOUT 20 FLOORS FROM THE TOP, KINGMAN DECIDES HE WOULD PULL THE DOORS OF THE ELEVATOR APART TO WATCH THE FLOORS SHOOT BY LIKE A CAR DRIVING PAST A PICKET FENCE. MAYBE NOT SUCH A SMART DECISION………GEE BRIAN, DO YOU THINK THAT IS A SMART THING TO DO? (I WAS ASKED THIS ONCE BY A HOTEL MANAGER AS I WASHED MY CAR IN HIS PARKING LOT………WITH BRIAN IN MY PRESENCE DURING OUR VERY FIRST SPRING TRAINING (WITH RICKEY HENDERSON). SEEMS THE HOTEL MANAGER DIDN’T WANT ME GETTING HIS ASPHALT WET…..REALLY, THAT’S WHAT HE TOLD ME.) THE ELEVATOR CAME TO A SCREECHING HALT AT ABOUT THE 54TH FLOOR OF THE PEACHTREE PLAZA. STUCK, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 54TH AND 53RD FLOORS, WE PULLED THE DOORS APART AND, ONE BY ONE, CLIMBED OUT OF THE ELEVATOR, HOPING IT WOULDN’T START BACK UP AND SEVER ONE OF US IN HALF. WE FOUND THE STAIRWAY AND RAN DOWN 53 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS, ACROSS THE STREET, AND DOWN TWO BLOCKS, LAUGHING AND SWEARING AT KINGMAN THE ENTIRE WAY.
IT WAS A LONG 11 HOURS TO ORLANDO WITHOUT FOOD…………WE DIDN’T HAVE TIME, THANKS TO OUR TEAMMATE, DISNEYWORLD KINGMAN………..BUT, WE DID MAKE THE BUS.
5. Your legacy will be sealed forever because you invented the ” Robby Pad” in 1980. (for those of you that don’t know, the Robby Pad is a hinged flap on the Right/catchers throwing shoulder of the catchers chest protector. Almost every catcher in MLB uses this today.) Talk a bit about how that came about and the ensuing lawsuit.
ALTHOUGH I HAD NEVER BEEN HIT BY A FOUL BALL ON THE EXPOSED RIGHT SHOULDER WHILE CATCHING, I HAD SEEN A COUPLE CATCHERS GET HIT THERE…….AND HAVE TO MISS 3 TO 5 GAMES. BALL ON BONE AT 90 MPH IS NOT FUN, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE TO THROW WITH THOSE BONES. FOR THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL, A CATCHER’S CHEST PROTECTOR PROTECTED THE NON THROWING SHOULDER BUT LEFT THE THROWING SHOULDER EXPOSED. THE RATIONALE FOR THIS DESIGN FLAW WAS THAT THE CATCHER NEEDED TO HAVE HIS THROWING SHOULDER FREE FROM PADDING TO BE ABLE TO THROW WITHOUT INTERFERENCE.
AFTER SEEING ANOTHER CATCHER TAKE A FOUL BALL TO THE THROWING SHOULDER, I THOUGHT THAT A HINGED FLAP WOULD BE A GOOD SOLUTION. I CUT UP A CHEST PROTECTOR TO MAKE A FEW FLAPS, PUT THREE HOLES ON THE FLAT EDGE AND TIED ONE ON TO EACH OF OUR TEAM’S CHEST PROTECTORS WITH SHOESTRING. PLAYERS ON MY TEAM CALLED IT A ROBBYPAD. CATCHERS FROM OTHER TEAMS LIKED MY INNOVATION. I MADE SOME FOR THEM FROM MY CUT UP PROTECTOR AND THE ROBBY PAD WAS BOTH BORN AND IMMEDIATELY ACCEPTED.
DURING SPRING TRAINING OF 1981, WILSON SPORTING GOODS APPROACHED ME, TOOK PHOTOS OF MY ROBBY PAD OUTSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM, SENT ME LETTERS ABOUT WORKING WITH ME……….COOL……….THIS MIGHT LEAD TO SOMETHING. I HAD A PATENT ATTORNEY AND MY PATENT WAS APPLIED FOR WITH THE U.S. PATENT OFFICE. THEY DENIED MY APPLICATION, STATING THERE WAS SOME PREVIOUS APPARATUS FROM THE LATE 1800’S THAT WOULD PRECLUDE THEM GRANTING ME A PATENT. THIS 1890’S DEVICE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH BASEBALL GEAR.
WHEN WILSON LEARNED OF MY INABILITY TO GET A PATENT, THEY WENT TO WORK AND PRODUCED IT, LEAVING ME IN THE DUST. WE WENT AFTER THEM, BUT THEIR ATTORNIES LIED, SAID THEY HAD BEEN DEVELOPING THE HINGED FLAP PRIOR TO ME AND BESIDES I DIDN’T HAVE A PATENT.
6. What are your thoughts on new commissioner Rob Manfred trying to ban the infield shift? (personally I think it’s ridiculous). STUPID………THEY SHOULD WORRY MORE ABOUT DEFLATED BASEBALLS, THE ADVENT OF THE LEFT HANDED RAKE AND MOVING THE MOUND BACK TO 70 FEET…………….AND TALK TO KINGMAN AND I WHEN NEW STADIUMS ARE DESIGNED…………HARD TO BELIEVE THE STUPID DECISIONS MADE BY NON BASEBALL PEOPLE INJECTING THEIR “WISDOM AND EXPERIENCE” INTO THE GAME.
7. You are passionate about music and have even played the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Talk a bit about your music and what are your favorite bands/influences.
THANKS FOR ASKING. MUSIC HAS BEEN A BIG PART OF MY LIFE, EVER SINCE 1962 WHEN I PURCHASED MY FIRST 45 RPM RECORD, “RHYTHM OF THE RAIN”……..AT AGE 8. OF COURSE, WHEN THE BEATLES APPEARED ON THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW IN 1964, MY WORLD AND THE WORLD WAS NEVER THE SAME. I’VE BEEN A BEATLES FAN SINCE THAT EVENING AND OWN EVERY CAPITOL RAINBOW LABEL OF EVERY BEATLES ALBUM PRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. I ALSO OWN EVERY PARLOPHONE LABEL BEATLES ALBUM. 1ST PRINTINGS OF ALL OF THEM. OTHER INFLUENCES WOULD HAVE TO BE JAMES TAYLOR, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, JACKSON BROWNE, CAROLE KING, ROBERT JOHNSON, MISSISSIPPI MUDSHARK SEKINS……….SO MANY FROM THE MID TO LATE 1960’S PLUS CURRENT COUNTRY ARTISTS LIKE TIM MCGRAW (SON OF FAMOUS MET’S RELIEF PITCHER, TUG MCGRAW) AND BLAKE SHELTON.
AT THE PRODDING OF CLASSMATES, I BECAME PART OF A MUSICAL GROUP IN THE 6TH GRADE. I SANG AND PLAYED ENOUGH LOW NOTES ON A GUITAR TO PROCLAIM I PLAYED BASS GUITAR. I WAS PROBABLY THE ONLY ONE OF OUR 5 MEMBERS TO HAVE THE GUTS TO SING, SO I WAS THE LEAD SINGER. THE BAND PLAYED AT SCHOOL CARNIVALS AND SOME CHURCH YOUTH GROUP PARTIES BEFORE I DROPPED OUT TO STICK TO MY COMMITMENT TO BECOMING A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER.
I STARTED PLAYING GUITAR AROUND MY SENIOR YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL AND KEPT AT IT THROUGH COLLEGE, DURING MY TEN YEARS IN PRO BASEBALL AND INTO MY PROFESSIONAL AND FAMILY LIFE. I ALWAYS PLAYED OTHER ARTIST’S SONGS, NEVER IMAGINING WRITING MY OWN MUSIC.
FAST FORWARD TO IDAHO, WHERE I MAINTAIN A HOME, PERCHED ON THE SNAKE RIVER. I WAS OUT ONE NIGHT IN TWIN FALLS, IDAHO. I MET TWO MUSICIANS WHO WERE PRETTY GOOD. I TALKED WITH THEM DURING A BREAK AND DISCOVERED THEY HOSTED A WEEKLY OPEN MIC NIGHT AT THE RESTAURANT/BAR. THEY, AND OTHERS ENCOURAGED ME INTO PLAYING AN OPEN MIC THE NEXT NIGHT. I SHOWED UP, NERVOUS OUT OF MY MIND (REMEMBER, I HAD PLAYED BASEBALL IN FRONT OF 50,000 PEOPLE AND ON NATIONAL TELEVSION……….AND HERE I WAS NERVOUS IN FRONT OF 25-30 PEOPLE….PRETTY FUNNY). I SANG SEVEN COVER SONGS AND GOT MORE COMFORTABLE WITH EACH ONE, BUT IT ALL SPED BY PRETTY QUICKLY.
I DID A FEW MORE OPEN MICS, THEN ACCOMPANIED MY FRIENDS DURING A COUPLE OF THEIR GIGS, ALWAYS JUST COVER SONGS OR BLUES JAMS. I LEFT TWIN FALLS FOR THE WINTER FOR MY OTHER HOME IN SAN DIEGO. WHEN I RETURNED IN THE SPRING OF 2009 I, ASKED THE RESTAURANT OWNER IF I COULD PLAY ONE NIGHT A WEEK, SOLO, FOR TIPS. HE AGREED AND I BEGAN PLAYING 2 HOURS A NIGHT, EVERY WEEK THAT YEAR INTO THE FALL AND AGAIN IN 2010.
BY THAT TIME, I HAD STARTED WRITING SONGS. I WROTE ONE IN 2008, 2 IN 2009, 3 IN 2010 AND 16 IN 2011. IN JANUARY OF 2011, I HAD MET A GUY WITH A RECORDING STUDIO IN KANSAS CITY. HE WAS A BASEBALL FAN AND OVER THE MONTHS OF OUR COMMUNICATION ABOUT SPORTS AND SUCH, HE OFFERED TO RECORD ME AT HIS STUDIO. IT WAS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE. I HAD NEVER USED A CLICK TRACK (A METRONOME CLICKING IN MY HEADPHONES) TO KEEP THE TEMPO AND ENDED UP BEING THE RHYTHM GUITAR PLAYER, UKULELE PLAYER, LEAD GUITAR PLAYER (WHICH I DON’T DO), VOCALIST AND HARMONICA PLAYER (WHICH I DO JUST A LITTLE BIT OF). NO PERCUSSION, NO KEYBOARD, NO BASS, NO BACKING VOCALS……..IT WAS FUN, BUT TOUGH AND A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE. I RECORDED 20 ORIGINAL SONGS AND THE CD CASE AND COLLATERAL MATERIAL WERE WAY, WAY, WAY BETTER THAN THE MUSIC!
AS 2011 PROGRESSED, I WAS PLAYING MORE AND MORE GIGS, INCLUDING LAS VEGAS, GIGS IN IDAHO, SAN DIEGO AND THEN RECEIVED THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME. I WAS PRESENTED WITH THE CHANCE TO PLAY A 90 MINUTE SOLO SHOW ON THE BIG STAGE AT THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME IN CLEVELAND, OHIO. ME, ARE YOU KIDDING? YEP……….WELL THAT TOOK ABOUT A NANO SECOND TO SAY YES. THE NEW YORK YANKEES WOULD BE IN TOWN THE WEEKEND I WAS ASKED TO PLAY, THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME THOUGHT I WOULD BE A GREAT FIT FOR A CROSS PROMOTION. I HAD SO MUCH FUN PLAYING, TOURING THE HALL FOR MY 3RD VISIT, GOING TO THE CLEVELAND INDIANS GAME THE NIGHT I PLAYED AND SITTING IN AN OWNER’S BOX. PRETTY HEADY STUFF.
OK, SO WHO IS THE ONLY PERSON WITH A CONNECTION TO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME? THAT WOULD BE BRUCE ROBINSON………AS IN ME…..INVENTOR OF THE ROBBY PAD AND SINGER SONGWRITER. PRETTY FUN!
I WOULD BE REMISS IF I DIDN’T PLUG MY MUSIC. TO DATE, I HAVE WRITTEN AND COPYWRITED 57 SONGS AND PRODUCED 3 CDS, THE MOST RECENT TWO OF WHICH I AM VERY PROUD. THE SECOND CD, “IN GOOD HANDS” IS FULLY PRODUCED WITH PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS BACKING MY VOCALS, GUITAR AND UKULELE PLAYING. IT CAME OUT IN JANUARY 2012 AND HAS ALL 20 OF THE ORIGINAL SONGS FROM MY 1ST CD, “IT’S ABOUT TIME”, PLUS 13 NEW SONGS. IT IS A TWO CD SET WITH 33 ORIGINAL SONGS. TO BE CANDID, IF I WERE REALLY IN THIS FOR THE MONEY, YOUNG AND CARING ABOUT MY IMAGE, I WOULD HAVE ONLY PUT ABOUT 18 OF THE 33 SONGS ON THE 2ND CD. I STILL PLAY ABOUT 21 OF 33 WHEN I PLAY GIGS, BUT THE OTHERS, NOT SO MUCH.
THE 3RD CD, TITLED “3” WAS RELEASED IN JUNE OF 2014 AND IS VERY POLISHED. AS WITH THE SECOND CD, “IN GOOD HANDS”, IT IS FULLY PRODUCED WITH BOTH STUDIO AND TOURING PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS BACKING MY GUITAR PLAYING AND LEAD VOCALS. WE PUT TWICE AS MUCH STUDIO TIME PER SONG INTO “3” AS WE DID INTO “IN GOOD HANDS”. “3” IS VERY POLISHED AND HAS GREAT SONGS. YOU’LL FIND, IN ADDITION TO MY GUITAR, KEYBOARDS, BASS GUITAR, GREAT DRUMS AND PERCUSSION, PEDAL STEEL GUITAR, HARMONICA, BACKING VOCALS, LEAD GUITAR AND EVEN A TROMBONE ON ONE SONG. I HAVE AN AMAZING RECORDING ENGINEER WHO OWNS THE STUDIO WHERE THE MOST RECENT TWO CD’S WERE MADE, BLITZ RECORDING STUDIO IN SAN DIEGO.
I ENCOURAGE ALL OF YOU TO VISIT MY WEBSITE AT: WWW.BRUCEROBINSONMUSIC.COM YOU WILL FIND MY HOMEPAGE, BIO, LYRICS & CHORDS TO MY FIRST 50 SONGS (7 NEW ONES HAVE BEEN WRITTEN FOR THE NEXT CD), BLOG, PHOTO GALLERY AND OF COURSE THE STORE WHERE YOU CAN ORDER CD’S AND POSTERS. YOU CAN ALSO ORDER FROM iTunes, CD BABY AND OTHER ON LINE STORES, BUT I GET MORE MONEY (A GOOD THING) IF YOU ORDER FROM ME DIRECTLY OFF OF MY WEBSITE. PLUS, I CAN SIGN THE CD’S AND POSTERS WHICH IS A DROP DOWN MENU OPTION. YOU WANT THE MUSIC DIGITALLY YOU SAY. WELL, JUST ORDER FROM ME AND DOWNLOAD ON TO YOUR COMPUTER INTO YOUR iTunes AND THEN ON TO YOUR I-Pod. GOT IT? THANK YOU! ANY QUESTIONS, CONTACT ME OFF OF THE EMAIL ADDRESS ON MY WEBSITE.
FOR EVEN MORE PROPAGANDA, YOU CAN GO TO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Robinson_%28baseball%29 OR GOOGLE: BRUCE ROBINSON SINGER SONGWRITER OR BRUCE ROBINSON BASEBALL AND GET TO MY WIKIPEDIA PAGE.
The following was re-printed from Robert W. Creamer’s book, Babe: A Legend Come to Life.
Because of the Babe’s prowess, there were the inevitable stories that Ruth was exceptionally well equipped sexually, and a male nurse who took care of him in his terminal illness was impressed by the size of Ruth’s genitals. One teammate, asked if he had an exceptionally big penis, frowned a little and searched his memory and shook his head. “No,” he said, “It was normal size, judging from locker room observation. Nothing extraordinary. Del Pratt’s was. And Home Run Baker’s. My god, you wouldn’t believe Home Run Baker’s. It looked like it belonged to a horse. But Babe’s wasn’t noticeably big. What was extraordinary was how he kept doing it all the time. He was continually with women morning and night. I don’t know how he kept going.”He was very noisy in bed, visceral grunts and gasps and whoops accompanying his erotic exertions. “He was the noisiest fucker in North America,” a whimsical friend recalled.
Bob Hale was tired and just wanted to eat, have a beer and perhaps grumble to a stranger. He spotted a flashing motel sign in the distance and pulled his station wagon into its gravel strewn parking lot. There was a small light above a window/door that said, ring bell for service. The bell hadn’t stopped ringing before a short, twerpy guy popped up from behind the window, leaping from a portable cot that was hidden from sight.
“Yeah, I’ll take a room for the night.”
“That’ll be ten dollars for the night and it comes with a hot shower,” the twerp said, adjusting his thick horn rimmed glasses.
Hale pushed the ten spot across the wooden counter, all the while thinking about a card game he had lost a few weeks earlier.
“There a place to get a drink around here?”
“Yeah, The Double Deuce, right down the street. You’ll be in room 5 and check out is at 10.”
“Thank you kindly.”
The Double Deuce was a small place with sawdust on the floor and a jukebox in the corner. There were a few local toughs milling around mingling with their girlfriends. This was a cesspool, a dump, a junkpile and a shithole all wrapped in one, yet it was fine for a few quick drinks before stumbling back to the room with a melancholy residue. Hale was used to the more classy joints in his hometown of Chicago, but he was here on business so the intricacies of this hick town meant nothing to him.
Hale had driven to Kansas City from Chicago a mere 12 hours ago. Arnold Johnson, the Athletics owner had set up a mandatory scout meeting earlier in the day at Municipal Stadium. The meeting was not pleasant in the mind of Hale as Johnson was more of an industrialist-capitalist than a baseball man. He despised men like Johnson who had Yankee Stadium in his possession and were using the game for profit. He also had no respect for a man that had weaseled the team from the Mack family with the help of his rich cronies. Baseball was a little different, a little sadder, for the era of one of the game’s greatest figures in Connie Mack was over.
“What’s it gonna be, buddy?”
“Tom Collins,” Hale said as he lit his Cuban cigar.
“Sorry, pal, we don’t have the mixins’ for that. I can get you a gin and tonic if you’d like.”
One of the locals, the one with the Elvis Presley haircut, stood up suddenly and started barking at his girlfriend. Hale had the prescience to know that this would happen and didn’t move a muscle. There was a minor dust-up until order was quickly restored.
“The kids today and their rock and roll,” Hale snorted.
“Yeah, they’re a goddamn pain in the ass, but I’m not one to turn away customers…say, are you from around here?”
Hale was wearing a Panama hat with cuffed khaki trousers, a sign that he definitely was not from around “here.”
“Naw, but I’m a baseball man…the Athletics.”
“Wow! They sure are big around here, buddy, you can be sure of that! Are you some sort of big-wig or somethin’?”
“Naw. I’m a nobody, an ass-kisser, a smudge, a nothin'”
“Fair enough. Well, we love the team around here…I just took my kid last month.”
“Actually, I’m just in town for a few days to meet up with my shit-kickin’ boss and to scout a local kid for the ball-club.”
“A local kid! Sheeeeeeeit. What’s the kid’s name?” said the bartender as he looked over Hale’s shoulder at the toughs.
Hale took a long drag off his cigar and exhaled just as “Rock around the Clock” poured out of the jukebox. The hoodlums started to dance in unison.
(To be continued……)
As longtime readers know, I like to incorporate different facets of life into this blog, mostly from the realm of modern art and literature. It tends to get a bit tedious talking about baseball players and stats and free agency and Bud Selig’s ego and PED’s and Hall of Fame voters and the widening strike zone until I’m blue in the face. We’re getting closer to the Christmas holidays, I drank too much Crown Royal and I’m feeling a bit silly.
John Kilduff was a loco personality. He hosted a “painting show” that I would watch late at night here in Los Angeles while sucking on the hash pipe. I was supposed to be writing a thesis on “Modern Art and Capitalism,” but this show seemed more interesting and vital at the time. I couldn’t tell if the guy was gifted or if he was a charlatan looking to make a buck, (he turned out to be both) and I loved it. Some of his work had titles like, “Hot dog eating a hot dog,” and “African-American titty burger.” All this talk is meaningless, you simply must see for yourself…