As a bonus since I am left speechless by this logo, I bring to you a story that I wrote for Down With Pants! last night. Since my readers over there aren’t big sports fans, I figure my SLP readers will appreciate it more…
No Charley, Thank You
It got me thinking about my own short time in baseball and of former Houston Astros pitcher Charley Kerfeld.
In 1997 I was interning in Hoquiam, Washington for the Grays Harbor Gulls, an independent team in the Western Baseball League. Charley was the manager that season and you would be hard pressed to find a bigger character. Literally. He was around 6’7″ and weighed close to 400 lbs and a lot of that was muscle. He had to cut the sleeves of his jerseys open to get his arms through the holes. Charley was a great guy who loved to have fun and always had a smile on his face and made coming to work everyday an adventure. He also had a fiery temper when the right situation arose.
One night in the middle of the season the umpires were busy blowing a lot of calls. The ump out on the bases, in particular, was struggling hard and missed a couple of easy plays. You could see Charley’s temperature going through the roof with every blown call and you knew something had to give.
In the fifth inning our center fielder Al Mealing attempted a stolen base and somehow the base ump got himself out of position and didn’t have a good view of the play. He called Mealing out when it was obvious to every single other person in the ballpark that the shortstop didn’t come anywhere close to applying the tag. Charley had had enough and came storming out of the dugout toward second base. You have never seen a man that large run that fast, he was out there in less time than it took Mealing to get from first to second on the stolen base attempt.
And he let that ump have it. Charley was a fan of colorful language but was also a polite Texas gentleman so he wanted us to crank the music up as loud as we could whenever he came out to argue so that the kids and their parents wouldn’t be offended. The guy that ran the click effects had “God Bless Texas” pumping through Olympic Stadium as soon as the umpire called Mealing out and yet we could still hear Charley as loud as if he was standing next to us in the press box.
After a long argument the umpire finally gave Charley the heave ho, so he slowly started making his way down the first base line to the cheers of the crowd. Everybody thought the whole thing was over and he was finished with his tantrum but something didn’t seem right to me. The Gulls locker room was behind the third base dugout so unless he was planning on walking through the stadium back to the locker room or to the office, Charley was going the wrong way.
Suddenly, just before he got to first base he turned and bolted for second. He was a 400 pound freight train rumbling down the base path. Just before the base he dropped down into a perfect feet first hook slide, popped up with the agility of a cat and wildly called himself safe right in the umpire’s face. The entire stadium erupted in the loudest applause and laughter of the entire season.
To top it off he pulled the base up out of the dirt and chucked it into center field. He then stormed off the way that he came, showered and changed, grabbed a beer and watched the rest of the game from the grandstand; a hero’s reward for a job well done.
The next morning I came into the office and Charley’s truck was already in the parking lot. I knew something was up because he rarely made it to the ballpark that early. When I got in I could hear him giving instructions to the clubhouse attendant and shortly the clubby came out of Charley’s office carrying a base. It turns out that he ruined the base when he pulled it out of the ground and he found it bent and broken in the groundskeeper’s storage. He brought it back into the office, cleaned it up a little bit and promptly signed it…
Thanks for the memories.
Well played Mr. Kerfeld, well played indeed.
Coach Wellman: Are you taking notes for next time?