Okay, I never saw Denny McLain pitch in person. As a matter of fact, his career ended in 1972 when I was only five years old. That being, said, even though he did not have a very long career, he accomplished something that very few players have done in their careers. As a matter of fact, he is the last person of the thirteen who did it in the 20th century. Of course, 1968 is known as “The Year of the Pitcher” in baseball, when pitchers basically dominated both the National and American Leagues, McLain included. He wound up winning 31 games that season as the Tigers made their way to the World Series and the eventual championship over the Cardinals.

That wasn’t his only good season. Even though baseball changed the height of the pitcher’s mound and shrunk the strike zone in 1969, McLain still won 24 games and won another Cy Young Award, to go along with his award in 1968 (he also won American League Most Valuable Player that year). No one ever doubted his talent. His first game in the minor leagues for the White Sox in 1962 he threw a no-hitter and struck out 16 batters. He won 20 games in 1966, 17 games in 1967, 31 in 1968, and 24 in 1969. If his 131 career wins, 92 of them came in that four-year span.

Unfortunately for McLain, his personal life led to his undoing. He was always seen as something of a troublemaker and never failed to rouse the ire of teammates, management, fans and baseball itself. He spoke his mind, which often got him into trouble. He was long rumored to have served up a home run ball to Mickey Mantle so Mantle could take over 3rd place on the home run list since he was always a fan of Mantle’s. Besides being outspoken, he seemed to find trouble. He was a known gambler and found himself involved in a bookmaking operation, which led to a suspension. Subsequent suspensions followed him through the 1970 season for other infractions, including carrying a gun onto a flight. The Tigers eventually had enough and traded him to the Senators in October, 1970 in a package deal that also sent Elliott Maddox to the Senators. In return, the Tigers got a package including Joe Coleman, Aurelio Rodriguez and Ed Brinkman. Brinkman and Rodriguez were Gold Glove infielders and Coleman had a good career with the Tigers, so it was quite a steal.

McLain clashed with Senators’ manager Ted Williams, lost 22 games, hurt his arm, ticked off management and got himself traded to the Oakland A’s, who shortly after traded him to the Braves for Orlando Cepeda. He finished 1972 with the Braves, they released him in spring training of 1973, and he was out of baseball at 29.

Granted, McLain became infamous for all of his legal troubles after his baseball career and has spent various stints in prison for things like racketeering and embezzlement. He has also done various sports radio and talk shows and a column for a sports magazine and still resides in Michigan.

It’s sad his career didn’t turn out better than it had as he, like so many others, had the potential to be a Hall of Fame pitcher. He won 131 games and still had all the troubles he had; if he had managed to stay healthy and out of trouble, who knows how good he could have been.

I tried for years to get his autograph but often got no response until I got this card back in 2011, nearly 3 years after I had sent it. it’s from K-mart card collection I had many years ago, and it was nice of him to sign it.

Next time up, we’ll go back to another former Met.

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Gack, it seems like it has been a constant cycle of sickness around here for the last few weeks and I haven’t had time to get anything done. I was going through some illness with withdrawal from the Lyrica and then got a cold, and then Sean has been sick with a respiratory infection, so it has been one thing after another, leaving no time to do anything at all for anyone. Now that everyone is feeling better and I am trying to get life back on the rails, I hope I can get back to more regular posts again. I just have to be more strict and regimented about what I am doing and when I am doing it and then I think everything will fall back into place.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot going on all around the world of politics, religion, sports and media since I last posted. The Pope is resigning, companies are getting hacked by the Chinese military, the government is nearing yet another financial standoff/crisis, gas prices are ridiculously out of control and there seems to be a countless stream of bad weather all over the country. It sounds like another typical couple of weeks the world over.

in the sports world, today is the Daytona 500, which is great for racing fans. I am not a huge fan, though I do follow and watch some of the races with my brother and I do root for one driver, Travis Kvapil. I just like his style, attitude and name, even if he doesn’t win the race. He tries hard and does his best each time out and had some good finishes last year, so let’s hope for the same this year.

It is also the start of spring training in baseball, bringing about my favorite time of year. I watched the Mets first spring training game on television yesterday and I am really looking forward to the season starting. I have a 15 game package this year, so we’ll be going to a lot of games to root them on and hopefully we’ll have some fun at each game. I’ll be doing a post later on about baseball memories and another player if you want to check back and see who it is later.

The other big news for today I guess is that today is the Academy Awards. I love to watch movies, but I have to be honest and say that I rarely actually go to the movies. I prefer to watch them in my home, so I usually wait until something comes on cable or Netflix before I get to see it, so I haven’t seen any of the nominated films yet this year. it takes a lot for me to actually go to see a movie, one because I think the price is really high to see a movie today and two there just aren’t that many movies that I would actually want to see. Michelle and Sean go to the movies a lot so they see much more than I do, but I do watch a lot of movies late at night on cable, so I have seen more movies as far as volume, but nothing quite as recent. So that leads me into a question for today:

What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

As I said, I don’t get out to the movies very often. The last one I saw in a theater was the installment of the Saw movies in 2010, so it’s been a while since I have seen one, but I have to admit there are a few I wouldn’t mind going to the movies to check out. Personally, I don’t often see much out there that looks interesting enough to me to go and see, although I am intrigued by “Dark Skies.” So what is the last movie you went to see in the theater? Let me know what it was and we’ll see what people seem to like the most.

Sean and I are getting back to our writing project as well. Here’s the topic from the latest cards that were drawn from The Storymatic:

A person who can’t wait any longer

At last, love

Sean didn’t like the choices, but we promised to stick to it. Personally, I think it will be easy to write about it, so check back and see about that one as well. Feel free to write along and contribute as well if you would like.

That’s it for this post. I have some other posts to work on now, so keep checking back to see what else goes up. Thanks for sticking with me through all the craziness. I’ll be back later. I think I’ll ask some celebrities what the last movie they saw was as well, so we’ll see if any reply. Talk to you later!


As we creep closer to the start of spring training, today’s baseball post is about a player baseball fans are likely familiar with. Mitchell Page was a player with tremendous promise. He put up some great numbers in just two seasons in the minor leagues with the Pirates. The Oakland A’s always wanted him, drafting him out of high school in 1970, though he chose to go to college instead. The A’s made a big trade for him, getting Tony Armas, Doc Medich, Rick Langford, Dave Giusti and Doug Bair for Phil Garner, Tommy Helms and  Chris Batton. it was a pretty good haul for the A’s, all things considered. Armas and Langford were mainstays with the A’s for a number of years. Giusti and Medich were near the end of their careers and did not add very much. For the Pirates, Helms was nearing the end of his career as well, though Garner would go on and have many good years for the Pirates, including helping them to the 1979 World Series Championship.

Anyway, back to Mitchell Page. Page came up as soon as he was traded and took over left field for the A’s. His first year in the majors was pretty impressive as he hit .307 and had 21 home runs. He finished second to Eddie Murray of the Orioles in the American League Rookie of the Year voting that year. He had a good year in 1978 as well, hitting another 17 home runs. Unfortunately for Page, he got into a contract dispute with A’s owner Charlie Finley after that. Pretty much everyone around that time had a dispute with Finley, who was known for being more than frugal when it came to paying his players and had rid the team of anyone of any value by this point. Page was suspended in the spring, relegated to DH once the season was under way and struggled, hitting just 9 home runs and batting .247. It was pretty much the end for him after that.

He rebounded a little in 1980, hitting 17 home runs but batted just .244. 1981 was a nightmare, batting just.146 even though the A’s made the playoffs. he was left off the playoff roster and spent most of the next couple of years wither in the minor leagues or on the disabled list. The A’s released him in the spring of 1984 and he hooked up with the Pirates, his original club. He only got 12 at-bats with the team in 1984 and none in 1985, spending the whole time in the minors, before he was released and his career ended.

Page bounced around as a minor league and major league coach for years, spending time with the Royals as first base coach and then spending a number of years with the Cardinals as their hitting coach. He was their hitting coach in 2004 when they made it to the World Series and lost to the Red Sox. He spent 2005 and 2006 with Nationals organization and then coached again for the Cardinals organization in 2010.

Sadly, Mitchell Page passed away in 2011. he was known to have his demons and an alcohol problem and was a heavy smoker as well. He had left his jobs with the Cardinals and Nationals for “personal reasons” along the way. He was only 59 when he passed away.

Page had a lot of promise as a young player and maybe he just lived too hard of a life and it caught with his ability at a young age, an all too familiar story for a lot of young ballplayers. I always liked him as a player as he had some home run power and could run pretty well when he first came up. I also had an affinity for those 1970’s A’s teams even though I was a Mets fan. They just had some great characters on those teams who were also good ballplayers. Page at least got a chance to share some of his baseball wisdom with younger players in his years as a coach.

I have a couple of autographs from him that I got from him back in 2010. He was nice enough to sign a couple of old cards I had, including this one from the 1979 Topps set.

Anyone have any memories of Mitchell Page? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Also, if you have any players you might like to see featured, feel free to ask. I have thousands of autographs, so there’s a good chance I might have one from someone you are interested in. There will be another baseball post next week and a couple of regular posts from me along the way. Until next time, only a few more days until spring training officially starts!

 

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With Spring Training right around the corner and only about a week from now, once or twice a week I’ll be posting a baseball article about one of the players I have autographs from. As many of you know, I am a die-hard Mets fan and one of my goals has always been to try to get the autographs of everyone who has every worn the Mets uniform. No easy task, for sure, and while I have many, there are still some I don’t have and likely never will. Guys like Rogers Hornsby, the Hall of Fame second baseman from early in the twentieth century, was the Mets batting coach in 1962 and died in 1963, making his autograph well out of my price range even for those that I have purchased over the years. Anyway, it has led me to get some autographs of players that many fans may not have heard of, but I often find those players more interesting and fun to get anyway.

Such is the case of today’s subject, Hank Webb. Webb did not have a long career in the majors, spanning 6 seasons, but most of those he only appeared in a couple of games each year. He showed great promise in the minor league system of the Mets as was often talked about as a prized prospect. Unfortunately, he didn’t pan out and ended up getting traded to the Dodgers in 1977 for the great Rick Auerbach, who never actually played a game for the Mets. The only year he had significant innings was in 1975, when he started 15 games for the Mets. He was actually a part of two clubs that made it to the World Series, the 1973 Mets and the 1977 Dodgers, though he didn’t appear in the postseason and only pitched 2 games in 1973 for big club and 5 for the Dodgers. Some Mets fans may remember Webb mostly for being the losing pitcher in the 25 inning game against the Cardinals in 1974. Lesser known is that he did pitch a seven inning no-hitter for the Mets minor league team in Tidewater in 1974. Another interesting fact about him was that while he appeared in 29 games for the Mets in 1975, he also managed to hit .258, which is pretty darn good for a pitcher. The 1975 Mets team had a lot of potential with some good players mixed in with young talent, but things just didn’t come together that year. Sadly, we Mets fans are all too familiar with that mantra. Some people might also remember Hank Webb because he is the father of Ryan Webb, who pitched for the Marlins last year out of the bullpen.

I don’t remember ever seeing Hank pitch myself, in person or on TV, but I was only 8 when he had his busiest season with the Mets. This is the only autograph I have from him, on a 1976 Topps card. You can add him to the list of Mets that might have been or obscure Mets no one seems to remember well. One thing I did notice when I was scanning this card is that he shares the same number as Ike Davis, my current favorite Met on the team.

That’s my baseball memory for today. I’ll have another one later on in the week of another player. Anyone out there have any particular memory of Hank Webb? Please feel free to share it in the comments below. Enjoy the rest of your day as we creep another day closer to the start of spring training.

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A chill wind  went through the entire forest, blowing some of the late summer leaves off the trees. Darrin lay behind one of the larger rocks on the ridge, providing him with just the right amount of hiding space and protection. It allowed him to avoid the view of the enemy and still keep watch on what some of the sentries were doing near the top of the hill. He had silenced his walkie-talkie an hour ago when he realized the rest of his team had been taken. He saw the three others being marched up the hill,hands tied behind their backs while they were flanked by guards on both sides carrying their weapons. Darrin hoped they weren’t going to be tortured to give where he was since he was the only member of the team still free. it was up to him to help liberate his mates, including Jessica. She was the first female they had in combat with them and was wondering how she was faring now that she was a prisoner of war.

Darrin wasn’t just worried about her because she was fighting in his unit. They had developed a special bond over the last few weeks as they spent time together training over the summer. They had practiced nearly every situation that could come up, including what to do if caught. Darrin knew Jessica had great resolve, but there was a big difference between practicing with the rest of the unit and it really happening.

They had been trying to take Martin Hill all summer long, with setback after setback turning them away. Things got so discouraging that they even brought in a new leader for the unit, Greg, who was now being held with Jessica and the fourth member of their unit, Tom. Tom was the brains of the outfit, helping Greg lay out the maps and strategies that they had hoped would bring them victory today. Things weren’t looking good at the moment.

Darrin knew he had to act. Just sitting behind the rock wasn’t going to accomplish anything at all. He took a quick inventory of what he had left as far as weapons. He still had three grenades but the ammunition for his rifle was just about gone  he had three, maybe four shots left and that was it. It might not be enough, but it was going to have to do for now. He was only going to get one shot at this and he had to make it count.

He stealthily crawled up the hill, trying to move quickly and as quietly as you can on a carpet of twigs and leaves. The only sounds around him were the few birds around since the sun was starting to go down. He had circled around and reached the top of the ridge in no time at all. The enemy must be on the other side of the hill looking for me, he thought to himself. He crouched down behind a few bushes and peered up the structure on the top of the hill. He could see one sentry guarding Greg and Tom, who were sitting on the ground, tied back to back. he could hear some shouting and laughing go on inside the structure and then heard Jessica yell out “Go to hell,” and more laughing from the inside. They must be interrogating her. Darrin had to do something now.

He whistled the bird whistle the whole unit had learned as a signal. Tom perked up when he heard it and began to look around to see if he could notice anything. He met Darrin’s eyes as he spotted Darrin about 10 yards away. Darrin signaled to Tom that he was going to work further up the hill and then come up from behind. Tom knew that meant he had to distract the sentry somehow. He immediately began a series of short breaths and then feigned having some kind of respiratory attack and fell over onto his side, taking Greg down with him. The sentry looked down in a panic as he saw Tom struggling to breathe. Darrin inched closer and closer, his rifle at the ready. “What’s wrong?” he heard the sentry gruffly shout. “He’s having an asthma attack,” Greg yelled. “His inhaler is in his pocket. Get it out and help him or he’s going to die.” The sentry bent down and began to go through Tom’s pocket searching for an inhaler Greg knew wasn’t there. He glanced over and saw Darrin moving forward at a rapid clip now, weapon drawn. “I can’t find it,” the sentry yelled as Tom gasped louder and louder. As the sentry went to stand up, yelling for his cohorts in the structure, Greg quickly swung his legs around, clipping the sentry and knocking him to the ground. The stunned sentry tumbled back into the turf with a loud thud. Darrin was on him quickly and fired a direct shot right into his chest, eliminating him.

The two in the structure were out now due to the ruckus and Darrin fired one shot into each of them, striking them dead center before they could even react. He quickly untied Tom and Greg as Tom looked and smiled broadly, happy that the ruse they had worked on all week had actually paid off. They quickly informed him that they had their weapons taken. Darrin was down to one shot and his grenades. He then heard some shouting off in the distance. Darrin reacted quickly and peered into the structure. It was empty. He saw Jessica being dragged towards the other side of the hill by one lone person and he took off in pursuit. He knew he couldn’t throw a grenade and risk something happening to Jessica.

He had gotten close enough where he was finally able to yell “Halt!” The soldier froze, and put his arm around Jessica’s throat. He grinned directly at Darrin, knowing he had him. Jessica stared at Darrin, not showing any fear. She may have even cracked a little smile as she saw Darrin draw closer to them, raising his rifle. “Let her go,” Darrin yelled, as the soldier gripped Jessica tighter. “Take him out Darrin!” Jessica yelled. “Just do it.” No one knew he had only one shot left but Darrin. One shot and he had to make it perfect. The soldier grinned again as he began to raise his pistol from his hip. Darrin could swear he saw Jessica roll her eyes as she swiftly elbowed the soldier in the chest, striking her elbow right into his diaphragm, knocking the wind right out of him. As he bent and gasped, Jessica pulled away, turned, and he kicked him right in the groin. The soldier shrieked and crumpled to the ground. Darrin was astounded as he saw Jessica move away. She yelled to him to snap him out of his stupor as he moved closer and quickly fired into the prone soldier on the ground.

Jessica went over to the soldier lying and the ground and rolled him over. She reached into the front pocket on his shirt and removed the red flag that was there. The soldier looked up at him in anguish. “Your flag is captured Jerry Nelson,’ she said with a smile. “Martin Hill is ours this week.” He looked at her in anguish, still reeling from the kick to the crotch. He looked down at the water splotch on his shirt from the shot Darrin had fired. “And that kick was for trying to kiss me before, you jerk,” she said as  she pulled her leg back as if to kick him again. Darrin reached over and pulled Jessica away as Jerry cried out and went into a fetal position.

Tom and Greg came running over to Darrin and Jessica and saw Jessica holding the flag. “Yes!” Greg shouted. Darrin beamed with pride as he got slaps on the back from Greg and Tom, who quickly grabbed the flag and did a victory dance over Jerry, who was still on the ground. Jessica sidled up next to Darrin and slowly reached down and grabbed his hand, gently squeezing it. “Thanks for saving me,” Jessica whispered to him as she kissed him on the cheek. “Although I could have done it myself,” she said as she nudged him with her shoulder. Darrin knew she was right. She was clearly the toughest 14-year old girl on the block. For today though, he would savor the moment of being the hero and getting the girl. “Success at last,” he thought to himself as he watched the sun glint off the metal jungle gym on top of Martin Hill.


I just wanted to ask a quick question as it crossed my head and I had five minutes to write something while my little buddy Liam was taking a nap, so here it is:

 

What is your favorite song lyric or line from a song?

We all have song lyrics we remember that stick out to each of us for one reason or another. Whether it conjures up a special memory of a person, place or  time in our life, a lyric that makes you laugh, smile or think deeply, or one that you just can never get out of your head once it’s there. Whatever it may be, leave a comment and let me know. I’ll post mine later.

Still working on my next baseball post and on my story. The theme of the next story is:

prisoner of war

success at last.

More to come later today. Check it out and leave a comment about your favorite song lyrics!


It happens to me every three months. I have doctor appointments that I must tend to so everyone can make sure I am still alive and staying on the  course of the living. I took care of two of the visits this past week, and so far everything is okay, so that’s good news. I am hoping now that the neurologist is taking me off Lyrica that I can stay off it, stay feeling better and get my head back on straight. I really do think the medicine was messing with me a little bit, so I will be glad to be rid of it once and for all.

Nobody likes seeing doctors. I think that is pretty much a given. I really hate going only because it seems like every time I enter a doctor’s office I have to re-live the entire events of my illness all over again, even if the doctor already knows the story. Somehow I end up having to go over things all over again as if they haven’t been paying attention to everything for the last 3 years. I still have other doctors that I really should go back and see, but I just dread having to go through it again so I keep putting them off, which isn’t really the ideal solution. I know I should go, and I’ll get there eventually, but all they are going to do is rubber stamp my medication, tell me I should be glad to be alive and want to see me again in another 3 months. I understand doctors are very busy people with more patients to see probably than they can handle, but to me after a while the whole routine is getting pointless. Nothing much has changed over time, I have gotten better not worse, so let’s agree that we don’t need to do this anymore and you can start collecting a fee from someone else’s insurance.

I am going to do a baseball post today in a separate posting to keep them apart from my regular posts. I think it works out better that way and this way those who are interested in reading about it can check it out and everyone can just pass on it if they like. I’ll get to that one later on today.

To pass the time at the doctor’s office, I did some more reading of “The Prague Cemetery” by Umberto Eco. It is a tough read. It’s been slow going at the beginning and part of the problem I have with Eco’s books is that he uses multiple languages throughout the book so it can be hard to follow if you cannot read French, German, Italian, Latin or one of the other languages he uses. I am determined to plow through it though and I’ll keep reading it, hoping that the storyline does actually get somewhere and I can understand what is  going on.

Also, while I was at the doctor’s office, I was gazing out one of the windows but I also happened to glance at WordPress on my phone while I was there and it gave me a good idea for something to ask everyone today. If you have a free minute, try this:

Go to the nearest window. Take a full minute and look out on the scene and then describe what you saw.

It’s a good writing drill if you are just looking for inspiration, but you also might see some strange things while you take that one minute. Give it a try and see what comes across your view. Let me know if you see something great, astonishing, bizarre or whatever. I’ll let you know what I see in my post later on.

Speaking of writing drills, I completed my last writing task with Sean in my last post called “Lydia” if you want to check it out. Sean drew two new cards, so here is the subject of our next writing experiment:

prisoner of war

success at last

 

This one actually leaves a lot open for things to do and actually makes sense. I have an idea of what I want to write about already and will start working on that as well. Hopefully Sean follows through and does the same. Feel free to participate and write along with us if you like. It doesn’t have to be a long story or anything. It could even just be a few sentences if that’s all that you want to do. Sean and I don’t put any restrictions on it; our agreement is you write about what you want, no matter how long it turns out to be. When you are done, you are done.

So that brings me to the song of the day to try to lift us up out of the doldrums of this Tuesday. Just to let you know, the song of the day is often completely random, unless I feel like choosing something particular to fit my mood that day. I usually just press shuffle on my iPod and whatever comes up is it. So here is today’s which is a favorite song of mine and Michelle’s, although we prefer the version by Peter Gabriel:

Sara Bareilles  – In Your Eyes

Don’t get me wrong – I like her version a lot too, but the original has more meaning to Michelle and I.

That’s it for now. Take a look out your window and see what the world has to offer. Hopefully we get some sun to get out of these winter doldrums and everyone is feeling better, avoiding the flu and viruses running rampant everywhere so you don’t have to go to the doctor. I’ll be back later with my baseball post. Enjoy your day!

 


Lydia

21Jan13

Frank pulled into the rest area off I-95 heading south in Virginia. He had been driving for almost ten hours at this point with only breaks for gas and he was pretty tired. There was no way he was going to reach Raleigh, North Carolina by the time he had hoped. It was already 3 AM and he was supposed to be at the sales convention by 9 AM. He hadn’t slept, showered and other than the fast food he had stopped for, he had nothing to eat since he left home in New York that morning. So he would miss the first round of seminars, but he should get there in plenty of time to be at the booth for the convention to make some sales. Frank had been selling shirts and jackets in the high school team market for a few years now and he was good at it. He had quickly risen to one of the top salesmen on the East Coast for the company and had earned some good bonuses along the way. Sure, maybe he had been a little underhanded in some of his tactics to get in at some schools, costing some other salesmen big sales and commissions with other companies, but that was all part of doing business, wasn’t it? At least that is how he always rationalized it to himself. Frank was far from the model person and he accepted that and expected those around him to just accept him that way as well.  “Trust yourself and no one else” was his favorite motto.

He pulled his red Chevy Cavalier up to one of the close spots right in front of the rest area. He thought about parking in one of the handicapped spots that were right in front, but with his luck a cop would come along and he would get another ticket, not what he really needed right now. There was practically no one at the stop anyway. He noticed two other cars when he had pulled in,  a sky blue minivan with Florida plates with some kids in the back and a black pickup parked near the front as well. He couldn’t tell if there was anyone in the pick-up as the windows were tinted black, but he didn’t wonder too much about them with all the skulls and cross-bones all over the rear gate of the pick -up.

He walked into the rest area, rubbing his eyes and heading right for the men’s room. This rest area was surprisingly clean compared to some others he had been at. The floors looked like they had just been taken care of not that long ago, now paper towels bundled up near the trash bins, and the room till smelled of whatever antiseptic cleaner they used to scrub the place down daily. Frank relieved himself of the three cups of coffee he had so far the first urinal. He washed up, and looked himself in the mirror, rubbing the stubble on his chin. He wished he had brought his electric razor in to shave, but figured he would go out to the car, get a few hours sleep to re-charge and then shave and be on his way when the sun came up.

He walked back out to his car just as the blue mini-van was pulling away out of the rest area. He breathed in the fresh, still air of the night. It was eerily quiet and Frank couldn’t even see much traffic on the highway other than the occasional semi going by. He thought about sitting at one of the picnic tables near by for a moment but a quick chill came over him and he thought it would be better to get back in the car. He strode over to the driver’s side of his car and reached for the door handle. It was locked. Frank hadn’t remembered locking it, but it was always possible. He reached into his pants pocket for the keys and noticed they weren’t there. He check both pockets and then his shirt pocket and found nothing. He could feel the unease of panic starting to set in. He peered down and looked into the car. He could just see thanks to the light in the parking lots the glint of his beer bottle opener/keychain hanging from the ignition. He also saw his cell phone and wallet sitting in the center console.

Under normal circumstances Frank wouldn’t panic. There was always a hidden key in a magnetic case in the rear tire well for him to open the car. That was until his brother Randy, who had been staying with him this summer, had needed a key to the car and Frank let him take that one two days ago. Frank cursed under his breath and then decided since there was no one here he would curse out loud and yelled “Fuck!” at the top of his lungs while he kicked the car door. He was pissed, he was cold, and now he would really be late if he had to wait for someone to come by to help him out or someone with a cell phone.

It was after Frank had yelled his obscenity that he looked over and saw the cab of the black pick-up stirring. He had awakened whoever was inside. Frank thought about going over and asking for help and even took a few steps over that way when he felt that chill again. Something was telling him to stay away from there. Frank was not a real big guy, only six-foot tall and in decent shape, but not great for a guy in his thirties. He looked far from tough wearing his collared blue polo shirt and khakis anyway. He slowly backed away from the pick up and sat down on the trunk of his car after checking the other doors to make sure nothing was open. No such luck.

About fifteen minutes had passed and Frank was getting pretty cold, even if it was Virginia in July. It had cooled significantly and felt like it was down in the forties. The rest area itself offered no warm spots, just the rest rooms and a couple of vending machines. He didn’t even have enough change in his pocket for some bad coffee from the vending machine. Now all Frank was thinking about was how Bill Stevens, the new guy on the sales team, was going to get his chance to shine and brown-nose the bosses while he drove furiously to get there before he was forgotten. He seethed more over it and slammed his fist down on the trunk, harder than he thought he had. This caused him to yell “Fuck!” again as he felt his pinky crunch against the metal. He looked down at his right hand and could see the pinky swelling.

This time the black pick-up not only stirred, but it moved. Frank heard the passenger side door open and close. He saw some black boots hit the ground and slowly make their way around the back of the truck and turn the corner towards Frank. He felt that chill again and for the first time in many years, Frank felt afraid. He saw the body turn the corner, a tall shadow in black jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt covering the head so Frank couldn’t see a face. It walked directly over to him, swiftly. Frank began to mutter and stutter “I… “I’m really sorry…” as he climbed off the trunk and jumped over to driver’s side door tugging hard on it as if a genie had come along and unlocked it for him. He looked down and kept tugging, harder and harder and then he noticed a hand on top of his. The hand was covered in tattoo ink from the tips of the fingers down to what disappeared under the sweatshirt. Frank gasped as the hand gripped his tightly, now noticing the black nail polish on the fingernails as they lay on Frank’s hand. He looked up quickly, fear in his eyes. The left hand, equally tattooed, reached up and pulled the hood of the sweatshirt down, revealing not just long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, but a face that was completely covered in ink as well. It was hard for Frank to make out what the design was, and he honestly didn’t care at this point he was so scared.

“Why do you keep yelling so loud?” the voice asked in hushed tone. It was then that Frank realized that this person was just a young girl, maybe 19 or 20. He looked closer at her and notice at least 5 piercings in her left ear and a large ring in her nose. She was a good size, easily as tall as he was, and looked larger all in black. “I… I got locked out of my car and then punched the car… it’s okay, I’m alright…” he said trailing off, hoping she would just go back to the pick-up.

“Well my dad is in there sound asleep. I didn’t want you to wake him up. Are the keys in there?” she asked quizzically as she peered in the window.

“Yeah,” Frank said dejectedly, but still wary and afraid of this girl. He slumped down to the ground, clutching his hand, shivering. “Here,” the girl said to him as she unzipped the sweatshirt and tossed it to him. “I’ll be right back.” Frank sat holding the sweatshirt for a second as he watched the girl walk away. He tentatively put it on and zipped it up, glad for the warmth it provided. He could smell some kind of scent on it, one he did not recognize at all, and wondered what they were smoking in that truck. He zipped up the sweatshirt, noting the heaviness and good quality, thinking he should get the brand name and recommend it to his bosses and maybe score some make-up points.

The girl came back over to Frank’s car carrying a long piece of metal, a small tool bag and what looked like some blue ice. “Put this on your hand,” the girl said, handing the blue ice to him. “It will help with the swelling. I took it out of our cooler.” Frank placed the cold pack on his throbbing pinky. He then watched the girl unzip the tool bag and take out a small, black item and start to feel in the frame of the car door. “What are you doing?” Frank asked, worried about what was going on as he stood up. She placed the item in the door frame and began to pump it. “It’s a wedge. it will give me a gape in the door frame.” He watched the girl work quickly as the wedge inflated and made the gap. She then took the piece of metal and slid it into the gap. Frank watched her try to work the metal to find the controls for the door locks. It was then Frank noticed that she was only wearing a black tank top and in the light he could see her whole body was covered in tattoos. He couldn’t see a bare spot anywhere he looked. It only took her a few seconds before Frank heard the door unlock. She turned and smiled at Frank as she pulled the door open. “Where did you learn that?” Frank asked her. “Do you really want to know?” she said to him.

Frank stood there aghast. Here was the complete stranger, a young girl no less, looking like part of the Manson family, who had just helped him out. Frank shook his head and went to unzip the sweatshirt when she said “you can keep it if your cold.” Frank quickly got in the driver’s seat and sat down and started the car, turning the heat on. He reached into the back seat and grabbed the first sample he saw, a black baseball cap with a gold lightning bolt embroidered on the front. He handed it to the girl. “As… as a thank you,” he said handing her that hat. “Hey thanks,” the girl said, feeling giddy from the gift as she put it on, pulling her ponytail through the back of the hat.

Frank then handed the ice pack back to her. “How’s your hand?” she asked with concern. “Oh I think it will be okay. I should be on my way. Thanks again….um, I never got your name,” he said sheepishly.

“Lydia,” she said with a smile.

“I’m Frank, Lydia,” he said with an awkward smile.

“You better go Frank,” Lydia said, her face turning serious. “If my Dad wakes up and sees you, he’ll kill you.”

Frank’s face went pale. Lydia burst out laughing when she saw him. ‘Lighten up Frank,” she told him. My Dad is a computer engineer. We’re on our way to Disney, father-daughter bonding trip,” she said rolling her eyes. ‘Have a good night Frank,” she said to him as she leaned in and lightly kissed him on the lips. ‘Don’t believe everything you see,” she whispered as she broke the kiss and walked away.

Frank rolled up the window and pulled out of the lot. He saw the pickup disappear in his rear-view mirror as he got back on the highway and looked at the dashboard clock. It was 3:45 AM. he could still make it on time and felt suddenly refreshed. He spent the rest of the drive contemplating whether he would tell anyone about his run-in with Lydia that Tattooed Lady.


So I said I wanted to write a little bit today about some baseball, and I thought I good thing for me to do until the season starts, and maybe afterwards too, is to write a little bit about some of the guys who have gotten autographs from over the years. I have been collecting autographs for over thirty years, and I have primarily baseball players in my collection, although I do have some others as well. I would have to say about 90% of what I have I obtained myself, mostly through writing letters to players and from meeting them at card shows, conventions and ballparks. The other 10% are autographs I have purchased over time, mainly players who I liked who for one reason or another I was never able to get  (mainly because they were deceased, but others simply changed their signing philosophies over the years and don’t sign anymore). Anyway, over all this time I have amassed about 5,000 autographs or so. I still send out letters occasionally, though very infrequently over the last few years.

I will say that even though times have changed and many more players and former players do not sign anymore, the majority of them still do, although some ask for a donation to a charity before they will sign anything. I have no problem with that and have given money to some players over the years for that reason. I have no problem with these guys trying to raise money or make money off of this since there are many people who are making much more money selling the stuff than the players get from it, particularly if the stuff they are selling is fake.

Two things about me and my collecting. I never have any intention of selling all this stuff. I’ll leave that for Sean to decide on when I am long gone. Sure it takes up a lot of space (I have about 30 years worth of baseball cards too) but it makes me happy. Two, I am sure some of the signatures I have are fake, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t collect them with the hope that they are worth anything since I don’t plan on selling them anyway. If someone gave me or sold me a fake, oh well, that’s the way it is. I collect them because I like to  collect them. To me, it is a part of history and a sport I love to watch and each piece reminds me of something.

That being said, I had another in mind I was going to talk about today, but with the passing of Earl Weaver earlier today, I thought I would start with him. He was one of the first people in baseball who I got an autograph from. At the time, he was still the manager of the Orioles, so you know it was a long time ago. Earl Weaver was one of those people in baseball that you just had to like. He never played in the major leagues himself, although he was a ballplayer in the minors for the Cardinals, Pirates and Orioles before he got into managing. From what I have read, he wasn’t much of a hitter but was a decent fielder. Back at the time he was playing, in late forties and early fifties, small guys like him who were good fielders but didn’t hit well populated the majors and minors.

He started managing with the Orioles organization in 1957 and was basically with them his whole life after that. he managed in the minor leagues until 1968, when the Orioles brought him up to be their first base coach and he took over as manager later that year. he managed great Baltimore teams and players like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, among others. He won over 1,400 games as a manager, led them to the World Series four times, winning once in 1970. The Orioles retired his number 4 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996.

He was known for a few things throughout his career. he was legendary for his arguments with umpires and getting thrown out of games. If you are a baseball fan, you have no doubt seen clips of him kicking dirt on umpires, which he seemed to do with great frequency.He was also widely known for his “three run homer” philosophy toward the game. Weaver wasn’t much for the tactical part of the game where you use things like the stolen base, bunting or the bullpen very often. He expected great starting pitching and home runs to carry his teams, and for the most part they did when the Orioles were successful.

I never met him personally, but he was nice enough to answer my fan letter all those years ago and I thank him for it. RIP Earl.

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Now that the baseball portion of my post is done. I’d like to ask a question that I actually came across on Twitter yesterday that I saw was getting a lot of attention and trending. It made me think that it would be a good question to ask everyone and see what their response would be. The question is:

Finish this sentence: For one day I wish I could hang out with . . .

To me it is a pretty wide open question, so approach it however you would wish. It could be someone who you see every day today, a family member from the past or present, someone famous, it doesn’t really matter who you pick. Choose someone who you think it would be fun to hang out with. You can leave your answer in the Comments here or on Facebook if you would like. I’ll ask some other people on Twitter too and see how they reply and I’ll give my answer in my next post.

Okay, I need to go work on my fiction from yesterday. If you are playing along remember, the topic is a person covered with tattoos and a rest area. Sean and I have been shooting ideas back and forth to each other all day long, so hopefully he will come up with something too.

As for today’s song of the day, it also turns out to be another legend, not of baseball, but of movies and music.

Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain

That’s it for today. Check back next time to see my answer and whatever else I feel like writing about that day, and check back for the next piece of fiction too. Have a great day!


Okay, so it took me longer than I wanted to before I got back here, but here we are again. Last time I mentioned that I had started reading “The Prague Cemetery” by Umberto Eco, and I am still trying to wade my way through the beginning of it. There is just something about the way that he writes his fiction that I find difficult to get through, but I am determined to do it this time, so I am going to stick with it. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

My intent is to start getting into some baseball stuff tomorrow, so I am going to try to stick to that and really get to it then. I have thousands of autographs to choose from to start with, and some of the players are kind of obscure but they have interesting stories to them, so we’ll see who I decide to start things off with tomorrow.

So I guess I will get back to the question I asked with my last post, which was:

What do you think is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?

Most people had answers within the same realm that had to do with their spouse and children. I agree 100%, that is probably one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me. For me though, luck is kind of an odd thing. I have an awful lot that I think that has been lucky in my life. Of course, meeting Michelle and ending up marrying her is at the top of the list. When you think about it really, the odds of any of us meeting a person, falling in love with them and marrying them takes a tremendous amount of luck. I know my family came close to moving away from here when I was in high school, which would have taken me away from the area and Michelle and I would never have started dating. It all fell through, but it came pretty close to happening. The same happened to Michelle’s family. The fact that it didn’t and we ended up going from friends to close friends to dating to marrying seems like an awful lot of lucky things falling into place at the right time.

For me, it seems that a lot of things like that have happened. To get right down to it, maybe it is all luck that I am still alive. I somehow got through a sickness when other people in the hospital who were sick like me were not surviving. Do I think other things were involved in that besides luck?Absolutely. I think there was a lot of faith, prayer, good will and hard work from a lot of different people who all came together to make it possible for me to live and recover to the point I have. I also think that there had to be some luck involved in that too though. The doctors tried a treatment they had never attempted before and were hoping it would work. They didn’t know for sure that it would, so there was something else going on there, whether it was luck or divine intervention.

Besides that whole thing, I feel like I am pretty lucky person besides all that. I also me besides the usual things of having a loving wife and son, great family and friends, a roof over my head, food to eat and things like that. The fact that I get to write every day as a job to me is completely lucky for me. The more I thought about all this, I also seem to have some luck at winning things. I always used to complain that I never won anything, until about 15 years or so ago when I won $1,800 on a slot machine in Atlantic City and then a few minutes later won another $300 on another machine. I won the trip to Ireland from Guinness. Then I have won a bunch of little contests, winning books, gift cards, t-shirts, baseballs and things like that. Everyone keeps waiting for the big payoff when I win the lottery but I tell people I already did (actually, when I was in the coma, one of the things I remember happening was me winning the lottery, but that’s a story for another day about the other life I led for 4 months).

So that’s my story about luck. Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my question, and a special thanks to Les Stroud, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria who took time to answer me on Twitter. if you happened to read my last post of fiction, called “Where There’s a Will…” it was part of a little fun thing that Sean and I are doing involving something called Storymatic. Well Sean drew two new cards tonight so here is the topic for our next piece:

A person covered in tattoos

A rest area

I think it certainly has some possibilities to go in a lot of directions. Hopefully Sean will write something about this one. He felt too stumped by the last one to do anything. We’ll see what the both of us can come up with. If you feel like participating, please feel free to do so. You don’t have to write anything long, it could just be a few sentences if that’s all you want, or even a poem if that’s what you like, but feel free to play along and share your writing right here.

I’ll leave you this evening with the song of the day, since it’s really too late in the day for me to get into anything else. Today’s song of the day is:

The Temptations – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

I’ll be back tomorrow to add something new. I’ll do some baseball stuff, a new song of the day, and I did see a question I would like to ask everyone. Until then, have a great evening. Hope it’s a lucky one for you.



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