On this Memorial Day, I remember the late Victor Gross who died in Viet Nam. RIP.
Victor is pictured here, top right. I’m 2nd from left on the top row, next to Hoagy [Howard] Bock, who is next to Mike Foley. Paul Walenski is on the right [middle row].
You can talk about the Big Red Machine, Charlie Finley’s or Connie Mack’s A’s, the Boys of Summer, McGraw’s Giants, earlier or later editions of the Bronx Bombers, or the recent success of the Atlanta Braves. All great teams, all runners up to the New York Yankees of 1949-53. They were Casey Stengel’s first five years manging the Yankees after unsuccessful stints with the Dodgers and Braves. They won five World Championships in a row. It was a dynasty that included Joe Di Maggio’s retirement and Mickey Mantle’s rookie year. It was Yogi in his prime. Rachi, Reynolds, Lopat, and Ford comprised the greatest group of starters in history. They were solid, deep, and versatile.
In 1994, I produced and hosted Sports From The Top Of Hill for the University of California, Hayward. One of my guests was the backup catcher to Yogi Berra, Charlie Silvera. We talked about his teammates [Phil Rizzuto, Yogi, Bobby Brown, Johnny Mize, Joe Collins, Vic Rachi, Allie Reynolds, Gene Woodling, Hank Bauer, Ed Lopat and Jerry Coleman] who, like himself, played on all five World Series winning teams.
What struck me then, as it does on this Memorial Day, was how many of those players [Charlie served in the Navy during WWII] gave up substantial parts of their baseball careers to serve their country.
Here’s a link to a story about Jerry Coleman, who not only served in the WWII, but was called back for the “Police Action.” As I recall, that was the year I learned the definition of “semantics.”
Photos below are from the book, “The October Twelve,” by Phil Rizutto with Tom Horton.
As an afterthought: When Coleman, the slick-fielding second baseman [whose double play-making ability was Mazeroski-like] was recalled to service, Billy Martin stepped in. 1953 World Series MVP Martin’s career was interrupted by military service the following year. Many words describe the late Alfred Manuel “Billy” Martin. You can start with “winner.”
Tony LaRussa will be remembered most for:
A] Managing teams in both Major Leagues to championships?
B] His animal rights work?
C] His apparent lack of human rights work? [RIP Josh Hancock]
D] That he was [and is] instrumental in the steroid cover up in the late ’80s, early and late ’90s and entire 2000s.]
E] Driving the Wizard of Oz [Ozzie Smith] out of the Cardinal family and his car while [allegedly] zonked?
The image of Tony is from a Pacific Trading Card, one of my favorite sets.
The frustration I’m feeling at the Democrats el foldo regarding the continued funding of the Iraq war is overwhelming. Checks and balances my aunt Fanny.
I hereby retire as an “activist” [here’s a sign I wrote and that my then fellow Socialist/Peacenick buddy, Jeremiah Duboff, carried at a peace rally in San Francisco] and resume my pre-Nixon “don’t bum me out about it” stance when I was a happy [well, at least happier] ostrich.
Edit to add 12/10/08
I haven’t given up the “good fight.” We have, however, lost Jeremiah. He’s become a born-again conservative. What a mindfuck.
In September 1965, the war in Viet Nam was escalating at an alarming pace. I received an invitation from Sam for a pre-induction physical. Within three months, the chances were I’d be marching off in khaki with a future in fodderdom. This thrilled me not. By than I was tokin’ along to Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. All I knew about the military at that time came from watching Sgt. Bilko, listening to radio personality Jean Sheppard wax nostalgic about Lt. Cherry and reading books such as “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Catch 22,” and “Soldier in the Rain.” The Air Force recruiting Sarge had moving lips [an indication that he was lying] spewed and promises of technical training. Tech School gave me training to input data in an already obsolete computer.
Almost every working day during the nearly three years I spent at Travis Air Force Base, my Capy-tan, Robert L. Woods, would ask me about the whereabouts of my name tag. “Back in the barracks, sir,” is the way I’d normally answer. His pasty face would turn red as he spewed his nonsense [to me] about conformity. One day, in a premeditated attempt to stroke him out, I told him that it was my wish to go incognito from then on and that, for security purposes, I wanted to be addressed by my serial number, not my name.
He told me that day that because of my attitude he wouldn’t recommend me for overseas service. I had to spend the rest of my “Air Force career” in California. I asked that he reconsider and not put me in the “briar patch.”
He just wouldn’t relent.
The smile on my face, way back then, is much like the one that hasn’t left my face since I received these pictures from Chuck. Keep ’em coming, people.
[Notes about who is who in each picture come from Chuck.]
l-r: bottom row, Michael Foley, Stephen Kravitz, Stevie Blank
middle row, Jay Goldberg, myself [Chuck Bretzin], Eddie Sacks
top, Don Blank
l-r: Stephen Kravitz, Aaron Kait [my co-counselor], myself [Chuck Bretzin], Bennett Altman
l-r: bottom row, Stevie Blank, Eddie Sacks
middle row, Donald Blank, Jay Goldberg
top row, Michael Foley, Stephen Kravitz, Bennett Altman
l-r: bottom row, Stephen Kravitz, Michael Foley
top row, Stephen Kofsky, Jay Goldberg, Bennett Altman, Mark Himmel, Ralph Tyko, Donald Blank
[Please note the honor roll plaque over the door for the cleanest and most orderly bunk.]
l-r: Stevie Blank, Stephen Kravitz
l-r: Ralph Tyko, Donald Blank, [the unknown camper]
He’s the “Frank” and the “Willie” of stand-up. George Carlin is far and away the most prolific comic of our time. More importantly he takes on all that is “holy” [“I was a Catholic until I reached the age of reason” is one of my favorite Carlin lines.]
A friend of mine told me that he recently caught the former Hippy-Dippy Weatherman’s performance and that “he seemed angry.” I reminded him that Carlin makes his living by observing mankind. A lot of what he sees “ain’t funny, McGee.”
A comment from Dave Kristol, my former bunkmate, reminded me of the number of campers whose siblings and cousins attended – ofttimes, year after year. My brother, and I were both “lifers.”
Here are a few names of Kittatinny siblings from the years I attended: Pearson [the late Victor Gross was their cousin], Cabot, Levin, Rait, Sacks, Tannenbaum, Shore, Bock, Weiss, Berk, Karr, Himmel, Biron, Wind, Buckman, Ehrenberg, Balaban, Lundy, Blatt, Schmuckler, Chippen, Race, Kauffman, and of course Kristol. I have a good memory, but it’s short. Help out a blogga. Add to my list.
Here’s a picture of Dave Kristol in 1961.
This sickening news crossed the wires this morning. As you may or may not know, I spent the better part of the two years preceding the November election fund raising for the Democratic Party [and other liberal organizations]. I would assure folks that once “we” got our country back from these fascist pigs, things would change. We did and things haven’t.
If my kid were among the 35,000, I’d tell him or her to “just say no” to that one. Not just no, but a resounding “FUCK NO, WE WON’T GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I implore you, Ms. Pelosi: Please stop funding this no-win fiasco. We are, once again, in the middle of a civil war where both sides hate us. You promised change. Where is it?
Earlier this year the Sea Otters, Amerika’s [I’m back to spelling it with a k, given that even though the Democrats have taken back the House and the Senate, this illegal, immoral war in Iraq continues] team in my Fantasy League, had Seattle Mariner’s reliever J.J. Putz. I remembered that when I picked up Yankee starter Wang, earlier today. These are some great baseball names. Makes me wonder whether or not I overestimated the talents of Rocco Baldelli [still an Otter, after the league voided my trade] because of his name. He and David Wright have sucked out loud of late. I may just pull the trigger and pick up Hank Blalock and Elijah Dukes to replace them both. In keeping with the spirit of Frank Lane, of course.