Entries tagged with “baseball”.

Get a load of the star power on this ball. Man, ain't that something?

Get a load of the star power on this ball.
Man, ain’t that something?

This is the last installment profiling a priceless ball in my possession. While most baseballs are covered in horsehide, this one is covered in history, stories and legends for the ages. If you missed the first three installments, you can catch them here–– PART ONE, INSTALLMENT DOS, SECTION THREE.

Now, prepare to get all goosebumpy.

When baseball was invented in Cooperstown, New York in 1839, little did anyone suspect that one of the game’s best players would go on to become the nation’s eleventh president. James K. Polk, nicknamed “Lil Jimmy Bang-Bang-Sheboom-Lacka-Woo-Boo-Zippy-Poo-Poo”, was as pure a talent who ever graced a diamond. Baseball historians say no records exist of his accomplishments, but they’ve “heard tell that he was awfully good, maybe the best ever” from ancestors who passed down their eyewitness accounts. “We’ll never know for sure how good Polk was,” said Buddy Morsetin, a noted baseball historian, “because you have to remember, this was thirty, maybe forty years before baseball was televised.”

There’s no debate, however, as to the greatness of the twenty-eighth president, Woodrow Wilson. Before he was elected to the oval office, “The Woodman” played the hot corner for three seasons on the St. Paul Apostles. His career batting average was an astounding .838, and perhaps most amazing, every hit was a bunt that he ran out. Wilson’s speed was incredible. In fact, his manager Skip Lewis once told a reporter, “Woody is fast as all get out!” You think, Lewis? Criminy, could you be any more obvious?! Wilson retired because he ran the numbers and determined that he would never have a career average of 1.000. “I’ll settle to being president of Princeton or maybe these United States,” he said at his retirement party.

Porn star Ron Jeremy signed the ball after throwing out the first pitch in the XXX classic “Spherical Object Lovin’ Lasses“. The pitch went wild.

Sammy Davis, Jr. was short and had a glass eye, but that didn’t stop him from being a giant talent when he played center field for the Cincinnati Reds on August 5, 1985. He had five at bats and hit five grand slams. His twenty-five RBIs in a single game is a record that stands today. After the game an exuberant Davis said, “I got rhythm, who could ask for anything more–– except maybe a gold Rolex, a fifth of Jack and a busty brunette.”

When most people think of Larry Bird, they think of his days playing basketball for the Boston Celtics, but LB also appeared as a pinch hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers on June 28, 1988. He struck out on three pitches, two of which were in the dirt. Unbelievable.

Tina Fey is known for her comedy writing skills and ability to make delicious creamy milkshakes without milk, but she is also known for her abilities with a first baseman’s mitt. Fey played six seasons for the San Diego Padres, from 1992-97. In 8,748 innings played, Fey did not have a single error. “That girl had a magnet for a mitt,” said first base coach Wilson Harbinger. “Of course, leather doesn’t attract metal and balls aren’t metal so I guess that’s a dumb metaphor. God, I’m dumb,” he said as he pounded a bat against his head.

Folksy Burl Ives had one major league appearance for the Chicago White Sox as a starting pitcher on July 4, 1958. It was part of a publicity stunt for the release of his album “Feel The Folk”, and Ives set a record promoting his record walking sixty-four consecutive batters. “I had to pull him,” said Manager Al Lopez. “Burl just didn’t seem to have his stuff.” Ives was nonplussed by his performance on the mound. “Seems to me that Lopez and the rest of the White Sox are a bunch of whiners. I was just starting to find my groove.”

If you would like to bid on this priceless baseball, please let me know. Thanks.

Play ball!

A priceless gem, now in my possession. Click for close-up.

I have successfully bid on and now own the rarest baseball EVER. I share this picture with you for posterity’s sake––and to make you envious.

This is the ONLY known baseball signed by a solar system of diverse luminaries including: Vic Tayback (Mel in “Alice”) who threw an 18-hitter for the Pirates against the Reds in ’84. His breaking balls weren’t breaking so well.
Tommy Smothers (Dickie’s little brother) had an unassisted triple play for the Mariners in a ’77 game against the Angels. Smothers didn’t even wear a glove and smoked a pipe of Cherry Blend tobacco throughout the entire game–– even when batting!
Mr. Ed, who in 1964 became the only horse to every steal home plate in a game the Tigers played against the Orioles. He almost trampled O’s catcher John Orsino to death. Orsino ironically had the nickname “horse” and laughed about the incident from his hospital bed. Well, some say it wasn’t laughter so much as moans of agonizing pain and suffering, but the story is still classic. Mr. Ed rarely gave autographs, making this baseball an invaluable sports relic.
Dan Rather hit six home runs playing for the Indians against the Yankees in ’92 (he weighed 278 at the time and looked like the Michelin Man, but it was never proven the newscaster took anabolic steroids– so there!)
Kate Hepburn lept 13 feet over the centerfield wall for the Dodgers to rob Hank Aaron of a home run in ’81 (allegedly, Aaron hasn’t watched any of her movies since!)
Keith Moon. The madman drummer of The Who in 1976 played two innings at shortstop for the Kansas City Royals and compiled nine errors and hurled sick on two umpires. Moon was ejected from the game and immediately bought a tray of ice cold beers.
Paul Lynde, “Mr. Middle” of Hollywood Squares fame pitched six games for the San Francisco Giants in 1973 with an incredible ERA of 0.62. The management of the Giants begged Lynde to join the roster, but he declined. “If I’m going to play games, I’ll play Squares, thank you very much,” he said flippantly adding his trademark cackle. Those fans who saw Lynde pitch said he was an incredible hurler with heat, precision and balls that broke like nobody’s business.
Cher, the woman who defines diva, was the designated hitter for the Yankees in a game against the Royals in ’89. The singer had four at bats with a long drive to left center that was caught, a triple down the right field line, a ground rule double over the centerfield wall and a towering home run into the left field bleachers. “If I weren’t such an incredibly talented singer and gifted natural actor,” she told reporters after the game, “I might just wear some pin stripes full time. They’re slimming on the butt. Hey, Mattingly– buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, ’cause I don’t care if I never get back!”

Those are just a few of the autographs on this priceless item I now own. I will not disclose how much I paid for this baseball, but let’s just say it was a king’s ransom and a queen’s 401-K. But, I am a tough negotiator– I got the seller to throw in some magic beans. Later I’ll give you a peek at some other famous names on this baseball.

Only belligerant tattooed man ass could ruin these seats.

Only belligerent tattooed man ass could ruin these seats.

They were the best seats I’d ever had at a baseball game. Eight rows back, between home plate and third base.

Seats so close when the players scratched I felt it. Ahhh, that’s the spot.

Seats so close one could almost feel the showers of spit.

The kind of seats where you can park your lazy ass and eager servants stand at the ready to take your order and fetch whatever food or drink your highness desires.

Seats like what the swells sit in, from cradle to coffin to seated at God’s right hand.

Oh, baby, these were prime seats. But here’s the thing about any seat: it’s a confined hunk of real estate. You have no control over who occupies the surrounding seats. And that’s where this story gets interesting.

Directly in front of me was a twenty-something dude with more artwork on his arms than the Sistine Chapel. He was sporting loose jeans and a thick chain from a belt loop to his wallet, as if it were a Doberman that needed to be choked back. He had short red hair and a classic rock T. He was enjoying the game with his woman, who appeared to be eight months pregnant hunkering down on delivery at any moment. She was not drinking alcohol so the man was drinking for three: he, she and baby2B.

The Atlanta Braves were getting beat up by the lowly Seattle Mariners. Gregor Blanco was playing outfield and a fly ball was smacked his way. Gregor ran full tilt for a moment, then downshifted to a trot and fielded the ball neatly on a short hop, throwing it to the cut off man as a runner scored from second. The dude in front of me stood and angrily began shouting at Blanco.

“Come on, man, what the hell was that?! Hustle, you lazy overpaid son of a bitch! HUSTLE!”

His woman stood by her angry man as he berated the fielder returning to his position. Suddenly my prime seat was worthless–– I had a view of the angry man and his woman’s asses and little else. The man had his hands balled into tight fists as if he might just go down onto the field and administer a healthy beating to Blanco. The tats on his forearms seem to gain color intensity as he ranted. And rant on he did.

“Jesus, you’re making millions–– hustle, man–– run! You should have had that! What the hell are you doing?! Shit, I could have caught that. Come on, man! You suck, Blanco!”

I got the feeling the madman fan actually thought Blanco could hear him in the outfield and was shamed enough to come apologize to him. Nope.

Meanwhile, the game continued with a man on base on a field I couldn’t see for the blue jeans ahead, butts at eye level. The guy was obviously tanked and angry but I finally had to ask him to sit down. He did so begrudgingly. The Mariners scored some more and eventually he and his woman vanished into the night, like a beer burp that just escapes unexpectedly.

At least those Indians had them some sweet style.

At least those Indians had them some sweet style.

Those minutes where he stood before me and raged were testament to why I don’t follow sports as closely as I used to. Long ago I allowed myself to believe I could control the outcome of events I had no control over. I’d deliver newspapers listening to the Cleveland Indians of the early 70’s attempting to play baseball. I’d hope and wish they would not find new ways to blow games and disappoint me and their fans. Alas, no dice. Those Indians were God-awful and could manage to blow any lead, crush any spirit.

Still, I believed I could sway some power over their lack of athletic ability. I only set myself up for disappointment and the rage would manifest itself with my right arm hurling the transistor radio down the street, breaking it into pieces.

It was costly to follow the Indians. I began to wean myself off sports. I had to. Seeing the tatted man reaffirmed I’d made the right decision.

(But I still sneak peaks at the box scores of the Indians.)