Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've been a mild to moderate baseball fan most of my life, starting with watching the Portland Beavers at Vaughn Street Stadium. A team in the Pacific Coast league, which at that time included the San Francisco Seals, the Oakland Oaks, the Los Angeles Angels, the San Diego Padres, Seattle Rainiers, and probably a couple more, and which was pretty much separate from if not quite equal to the "major leagues," the Beavers had players several of whose names I still remember: Frankie Austin, Eddie Basinski, Henry Arft, and Clyde Someone-or-other. Or maybe it wasn't Clyde. Royce Lint, Dino Restelli. Managed by Clay Hopper. Year after year, the same players, the same manager. Unlike today's Triple-A, the PCL was sort of a destination, not a way-station.

Anyhow, I remember going there with my dad, who used to go there with his dad; and in that third generation back, my dad told me, they had buckets of water all over the wooden stadium to throw on fires that regularly started from tossed away cigars and cigarettes. Money changed hands constantly among the baseball-crazy immigrants like my grandfather and his pals, who bet on everything: the next pitch, hit or miss, score. Runs were enumerated at the end of each inning by the clang of a hand-pulled bell, like at "prize fights" in those days, sponsored by Gillette Blue Blades and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I'm no expert, and never kept a scorecard; it's not until fairly recently, mostly from listening to Joe Morgan on Sunday nights, and maybe a little back when my son was good enough to play in a Mickey Mantle League World Series in Dublin, Ohio, that I began to understand at least the first layer or two of strategy. Pitch locations, doing what on which count, stuff like that. Only a little.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I just learned something I'd never known. Until, like, maybe yesterday, I always thought that when fans hung out those "K" signs after strikeouts that they were too drunk or just weren't paying enough attention to know when they sometimes had one backwards.

After all these years, I should have known.


  1. So you like Beavers but not Bush??:) Wow, something we have in common besides spending time in the OR... I was a triple A fan too, Omaha Royals to be exact, for a glorious 2 years until we moved to North Dakota which didn't even have highschool baseball...
    You didn't know the "Backwards "K"" stood for a called strike 3??? I learned that at age 7 or 8, yeah, before I learned to read English good.
    Thats cool, we all have our weak areas, can you believe I just recently learned the Lettera and (+) in Blood Types referred to something called "ABO serotypes" and "Rh Factor"??? I always thought it just referred to the quality of the blood, and since I want the best for my patients, I never transfused anything except A(+), sometimes B(+) if they were runnin low. Whos says it doesn't pay to send your kids to private school???
    Frank, "Lets Play 2" Drackman

  2. I was expecting a beaver comment, Frankie; in fact I almost said something about it in the post, like "not in the "Ball Four" sense of the term..."

    Wow. Good info about blood types. Now you tell me.

  3. A different kind of pitching strategy (and one of my favorite youtube videos):

    Margaret, who grew up in the 70s as a Pirates fan


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