By Todd Cornelius
Did you find that old pen that you lost? You must've. I'd missed reading your junk for some time, but enjoyed reading it today, and am especially happy to hear that the team is happy and horny and drinking and as successful as ever. I have many, many fond memories of hanging out with you and Burnsy and 18 and Eicher and Shithead and Lucky, the Professor and Mary Ann and the rest. Thanks to all you dopes who never gave up on me and always welcomed me back whenever I felt sane enough to show, though the thanks don't extend to those times that Eicher felt compelled to kiss me on the cheek.
I miss you all. Really. I wish I could be there to hit some infield/outfield before games, be the butt of a few jokes, listen to 18's wit, marvel at another Burnsy pitching perfomance but making sure I didn't visit him on the mound to wreck his rythym, roll my eyes when Joe beans another batter when ahead 0-2, shake my head on another Gatzke chink hit, chase another Staller way foul ball, run away from a Noonan bench fart...Where, oh where, is Larry? If he's on deck, why is he still putting on his cleats? You're all Joe DiMaggio, to me.
Yes, I must miss it. I've even convinced myself.
Good luck Saints. I wish you all the best. Maybe some day when you're working on that ninth or tenth pitcher at the Lone Spur you can clink your glasses together once for old Cornball.
When it was over Sunday afternoon at soggy Alimagnet Field, no fat lady was singing. Instead, the Big Donkey sang.
Jay Wright had a cold beer in his hand, a couple shots of Petron Tequila in his gut and a fifth Classic League Tournament Championship in his back pocket. He was, understandably, giddy. So giddy was Donkey that he led a small group of his teammates in a horrible rendition of a sappy seventies tune.
Luckily, for Donkey and the Minnetonka Saints, they'd played much better than they sang. They'd just taken care of business in the final game, defeating an exhausted Woodbury team 4-1 to win their third straight title. Earlier in the afternoon, Woodbury outlasted Burnsville 3-1 in a long and grueling 11-inning elimination game.
They were tired and everyone knew it. The Saints, as long as the hangovers from Saturday afternoon and night had subsided, were well rested.
Saints pitcher Kevin Burns had the luxury of a whole one day's rest when fellow pitcher Joe Perzel threw a brilliant three-hit shutout against Burnsville on Saturday. Burnsy, who'd beaten the Lakers, the Saints arch-rival/enemy on Friday 4-2, was as fresh as Gracie Radam after a four hour nap. And, after a slow start this season, Burnsie'd been pitching like his old dominant self for the past several weeks.
When his "twelve to six" nasty curveball whiffed the Woodbury batter with two out in the seventh, it was goodnight Gracie.
"I had another four or five in me," Burnsie said after the win. He later added that he should've had a shutout.
Woodbury did score its' lone run because of a Saints miscue in the third inning to trim the Saints lead to 2-1. The Saints took advantage of several Woodbury miscues themselves to get, and keep, their lead. Jeff Schmitt, recently dubbed Mr. August, scored in the first inning when Woodbury's shortstop muffed Ken Manning's puny grounder. A few innings later Donkey doubled and later scored on another Woodbury boot.
Schmitty, along with a few of his speedy teammates, was a terror on the bases the whole tourney. It seemed like he was always getting to first base, then stealing second, and then scoring. Schmitty, Manning, Scott Wilgenbusch, Dave Packard, Troy Martin and others must've really pissed off opposing pitchers and catchers with their baserunning.
Martin, our shortstop, more-often-than-not is hobbled with wobbly legs.
He's had bad quads, pulled groins, sprained ankles, ingrown toenails, plantar faciatis, turf toe, stubbed toe, sore calfs, shin splints, pulled groins...until, finally, Friday, when he showed up at the ballpark healthy and horny with speed. Wow, that TroyKid sure is a fabulous player when he has his legs. Along with his aggressive baserunning, Martin made key plays on defense, especially a lunging back-to-the-field catch of a sure would-be bloop single during the title game.
Wanting to be a speedster, too, Mike Eicher felt left out. He was at third base in the final game when he told Corny that he was going to steal home.
Are you fucking kidding me, Mike? He didn't steal home. He was thrown out at home after the third baseman fumbled a slow roller, turned around to pick it up, fell down, looked at first and second base, fell down again, and then lobbed the ball to home plate well in front of Eicher.
Remember Mike, you have all the quickness and range as that of your 190 pound Mastiff, Bella.
You're on the team to hit the ball hard, Mike, like you did when you hit the ball over the left field fence Friday night against the Lakers for a two run homer. Apparently, his confidence had grown when later that game he'd stolen second base without a throw on the back end of a double steal. He'd also finished off a double with a perfect belly flop into second base.
We finally realized why Don Whritenour is on our team--to get beaned and on base. HR Donny, or Donny Baseball, took no less than three baseballs off his body during the tournament. In his final at bat, ball four whizzed just an inch or so past his chin. He was subsequently gunned down at second base during a botched hit-and-run play.
Now, the only botched thing was Donkey’s singing. It didn’t matter.
Shauna and Sophie were chasing Dylan, and Gracie was well back chasin’ them all. It’d been over an hour since that nasty curveball made the Woodbury man whiff. We were still in and around the dugout. There was plenty of cold beer. Nobody seemed to want to leave. All was right in Saintsville.
Todd Radam, #18, was unable to make Friday or Saturday’s game but returned Sunday and made a run-saving play at third base. With enemy runners on first and second and none out, he knocked down a fast grounder and stepped on third for the force out. Burnsie then fanned the next two batters to squash the threat.
Larry Gessler also missed some games while starring for the Jordan nine in a different 35+ state tourney. He immediately approached me before the game Sunday and told me not to worry about his playing time. It was a very classy, team-first thing to do. Thanks Kiddo!
Scott Lawrence was another player I was thrilled to have during the tournament and didn’t give me any problems about not playing in the final game. Lucky reached base several times during the tourney, including a nice line drive to left center and did a nice job coaching first base.
Everyone should give Scott Gatzke a big slap on the back. Gatzke (the Classic League MVP—Most Valuable Photographer—for the past three years) is the most dependable teammate I’ve ever had. For those who forgot, Scott does a wonderful job on the Saints and Classic League website, takes great photos of the whole tournament, brings beer for his teammates, helped work on the flooded Burnsville field last week to get them playable, gets the sac bunt down all the time, and is on call to give Eicher body rubdowns. Way to go, Bob!
There is nobody more responsible for all the success and fun we’ve had on this team than John Noonan. We missed having you there, John, and hope to see you swinging your big Max and Jake model bat for the Saints when we play in the upcoming Minnesota World Series tournament.
by Dr. Louis Donect
Unscramble the following current and ex-Saints (and friends) hint: You get Dr. Louis Donect from using all the letters in Todd Cornelius
a) where Donkey took his family on vacation this summer
b) plan B for the Griswold's after Wally World was closed
c) a.k.a. Pack Attack
d) the amusement park in Bedrock
a) Mafioso wanted for murder and racketeering
b) he beat up his baseball coach in Florida
c) Chong's doobie smoking friend
d) his minor league home run record was bested by Crash Davis
a) a Sushi bar for chink hitters
b) a used car salesman
c) hyperactive Saints ringer
d) both b and c
a) Germany's Greyhound
b) a pesky lead off hitter
c) a wizz at sports trivia
d) both b and c
De De Graveson
a) woman pro softball pitcher
b) Noonan's sixth grade girlfriend
c) Noonan's current girlfriend
d) once made own bobble head doll for himself
a) Burnsy's favorite umpire, Squeeze
b) Carrot's dad
c) Todd Radam's mother-in-law
d) Top ranked Texas Hold 'em player
a) Hungarian weightlifting champ
b) a.k.a. Young William
c) Baby Face Nelson's machine gun
d) Norwegian soccer star
a) Donny Baseball
b) Jeff Cook's favorite law professor
c) inventor of the slider
d) the Groupers new shortstop
a) once paid $200 for a baseball hat
b) also known as Donna
c) second baseman whose been know to read the ball before throwing it to first
d) all of the above
a) a left handed freak
b) once pinned AWA champion Nick Bockwinkle in a non-title bout
c) Curt Gowdy's fishing buddy
d) Sweden's current president
Mad Dr. Toad
a) Tim Hadler's cousin
b) once hit three dingers in game against JT's
c) a Saturday morning cartoon
d) last survivor of the famous Toad brothers
a) Schmitty's favorite cologne
b) an all-time favorite Saints teammate
c) a bad Cuban cigar
d) played one game for the Minneapolis Legends
a) the Classic League secretary
b) a Jewish pastry
c) a Slovak dish made with dumplings, cheese and potatoes
d) minced polish sausage mixed with sauerkraut and beans
Nan Joo Honn
a) a Japanese pitching star
b) the best water boy the Saints ever had
c) Hawkeye's maid
d) world champion hot dog eater after eating 54 last month
a) Mexican candy
b) famous bull fighter
c) a special sombrero worn only on Cinco De Mayo
d) long time Saints pitcher who wears tube socks
a) Johnny Bravo's make-up girl
b) Corny's girlfriend
c) Scott Gatzke's Harley riding friend
d) the Saints fifth-string catcher and occasional clean-up hitter
a) a bug that lives in dead trees
b) the umpire who tossed Abby
c) hemorrhoids for Eicher
d) Saints shortstop
Sarge R.R. Yells
a) Beetle Bailey's boss
b) the "big toe" drill sergeant in Stripes
c) Staller's ex-wife
d) Hurricane Kiddo
Boh Tie Jackson
a) Bo Jackson's son
b) Saints player who knows the way to the "hotel"
c) famous blues singer from Arkansas
d) pasta special at Reggie Jackson's restaurant
a) grumpy ex-Saint
b) a 1980 graduate of Edison High School
c) once hit a homer at Parade Stadium wearing tennis shoes
d) all of the above
a) a homosexual candy bar
b) Dave Sodegren's favorite exercise
c) where the Saints drink beer
d) it emptied the pool in Caddy Shack
K. Smile Later
a) plays with choo choo trains
b) tries to hit the ball hard and foul
c) has never been injured but did have a fish bone lodged in his throat once for three days
d) all of the above
22 wins, 2 losses, followed with the playoff title and a big shiny trophy and shots of tequila all around. That was last year. That was when the Minnetonka Saints were the Classic League bullies. That was when they often had a full squad. That was when they had all the horses.
7 wins and 5 losses. This is now. What’s happened? Where have all the kings horses and all the kings men gone?
“The ship is sinking,” distraught Saint Scott Gatzke warned long time Saint Joe Perzel, who disagreed, and argued that we could still turn it around by playoff time.
Perzel couldn’t persuade Gatzke, who’s admitted to being wrong twice in his life, but never publicly.
There are many reasons for the Saints mediocre play this season. In the end, they are all excuses. Excuses, my friends, are for losers.
Apparently, “everyone,” according to Gatzke, has a problem with team leadership. It didn’t help that manager Corny and his lame goatee showed up at 7:35 for a 7 p.m. game recently and Perzel went to the wrong field. Also, Corny had the equipment bag that held most the helmets and several bats. Still, last year’s bullies held a 2-0 lead over Burnsville heading into the bottom of the seventh, and our ace, Burnsy, was pitching.
On an 0-2 pitch, the Burnsville lead off man belted a pitch an inch and a half off the ground through the hole for a base hit. The next hitter also singled sharply, past third baseman Gatzke, for another single. Burnsy then got two strikes on the next hitter, before watching him chop an outside pitch into left field for another hit. 2-1. No outs. Shit.
The hit parade continued with a base hit to right center, and when the throw to third was late, runners were on second and third with no outs. Tie game. Fuck.
After a short conference, Burnsy reluctantly agreed to intentionally walk the next hitter, Darrel Grover, to load the bases. A short fly to right and then a strikeout followed. One more out and we’d be in extra innings. But a botched throw from our catcher to Burnsy squirted away and the winning run scored.
Catcher Jeff Schmitt, who was subbing for regular catchers John Abercrombie and Ken Manning, must’ve felt like Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax.
No one should point a finger at Schmitty. No one should point a finger at anyone, unless it’s your middle finger pointing at the lady on the cell phone that just cut you off in rush hour. You may, however, point a non-middle finger at Corny. I’ll take it. I could’ve put in Perzel after that first or second or third Burnsville hit off Burnsy. I could’ve given better signs. I could’ve showed up on time.
It’ll turn out better, though, if everyone looks in the mirror and points at themselves. The main point if for each player, individually, to worry about getting themselves ready to play and to not worry about team management or any other players.
If anyone has any suggestions for Corny or Perzel or Frazier Crane, we’re listening. Gatzke has made some good ones. So has Joe. What we can’t have is a group of dumb asses standing around in the parking lot drinking beer and making up excuses for why we’re no longer the league bullies.
Excuses. They’re for losers.
The Saints rebounded with a 4-1 win over Northfield last Sunday in a sauna at Big Willow. Perzel, whose face was as red as a monkey’s ass after the game, pitched a nifty game. Corny showed up 90 minutes before game time…
Hickory High basketball coach Norman Dale once said that one player doesn’t make a team. Everyone in Hickory, though, save for that acting principal bitch, kept telling coach Dale that they couldn’t win without star Jimmy Chitwood, who was bummed out after the old coach. Dale didn’t really try to persuade Chitwood to join his team. Instead, he told him “I don’t care if you play on the team or not.” The town voted to heave ho Dale. Chitwood saved Dale’s job when he said he was ready to play some ball, but only if coach stayed. Maybe a guy named Abercrombie, or Lenny Manning, can be Corny’s Chitwood…
Corny is currently 18-4 in whiffle ball contests and hasn’t had any new challengers. Schmitty and Mike Eicher have expressed interest in being the next victims. Anyone else? I’m thinking about having a tournament sometime this fall. The field, which is incredibly awesome, is close to my house and we could also have a barbeque…
Larry Gessler recently had his daughter time him with a stopwatch going from home to first. He first ran forward, and then was timed again running backwards. It was a dead heat, Larry’s daughter reported…
It was in 1987 when Mitch Eldorado showed up at our baseball game. Our team, Jimmy’s Bar, was in the middle of our first year, and I don’t think I’d seen Mitch since we’d graduated from high school in 1980.
The orange-haired, tough, hockey-playing, good catcher that’d skipped his senior year because he wanted to get drunk down in Florida on spring break hadn’t changed at all. After our game, he made a proposal to us.
“Give me a uniform and I’ll bring suds to every game,” said Mitch, who always referred to beer as suds. “I don’t even have to play that much. Whadya think?”
It sounded good to us, and when we found an extra uniform that fit Mitch, he and his suds were in. We could really use the suds, and maybe, just maybe, Mitch could still play ball like I remembered he could. We’d grown up together. In fifth grade, it was Mitch who got me into the most trouble I’d ever be in during my public school days.
Mitch had an unbelievable appetite, mostly for junk food that he’d steal down at the Mini Mart. One day our teacher, Mrs. Holtz, decided to raid Mitch’s desk in front of the whole class. Mrs. Holtz found an impressive supply of Dorito’s, Bubs Daddy’s, Cheeto’s, Funyon’s, Oreo’s and baseball cards. She didn’t find a single pencil or a single book.
Anyway, I really got myself into trouble because I really coveted the stack of baseball cards that Mitch had and he knew it. He also knew that I got free lunch tickets, so he offered to trade his cards for my lunch tickets. It would be easy enough, I figured, to tell my mom that I didn’t like the school lunches and that I wanted to bring a bag lunch from home.
The trade worked well for both of us. I soon needed another shoebox for my growing collection of baseball cards and was very happy about that. Mitch had what he wanted—trade bait for other class suckers. Mitch, a frequent class trader, once traded a dumb kid in our class a Snickers for a pair of tennis shoes. He always seemed to get great deals.
Then, a few weeks after our agreement, Mrs. Holtz called me to her desk and showed me several lunch tickets that had the numbers blocked out with black magic marker. She asked me if I knew anything about them. I lied. She said that her and the principal, Mr. Coffman, could still see the blocked out numbers on the tickets and knew they were mine. I pissed my pants.
I was sent to Mr. Coffman’s office, where I received a loud lecture and my first ever strike. It was strike number seven for Mitch. I got to keep the baseball cards, though, and the only punishment my mom gave me was an afternoon of weed-pulling in the front yard.
Now, the guy that Lester Levy--the town bum who was a genius--called “Cadillac,” was back. He lived up to his end of the deal and brought suds to the rest of our games that season. He’d always bring at least a 12 pack, and usually a case. The next year, it changed.
Instead of his usual 12 pack or case, Mitch started bring four cans of suds to each game.
“Two for me and two for whoever gets to my car first,” he once said.
Mitch said that when he brought a 12 pack, he would only get to drink two, because everyone else would drink the rest. By bringing four cans, he figured, he still got his two.
I think it was Tim Hadler that made up the name “Mitch Pack.” Anyhow, it stuck, long after Mitch and Jimmy’s Bar parted ways. Many players, who never knew Mitch, use the term “Mitch Pack.” I think it’s funny. I thought you should know the story.
Something you should know: All of the above is true, unlike most of the crap I write about. I have a ton of other good Mitch stories, but I’ll keep them to myself.
Bill Ferris got things going with a bang. Joe Perzel blew up. John Noonan had a baby. Donkey doubled three times. Burnsy saved the day. Donkey had beer. It was in that order, sort of, that events took place Wednesday night at Bloomington’s Valley View Field, when the Minnetonka Saints beat Apple Valley 10-4.
Ferris gave the Saints a 2-0 first inning lead when he followed Jeff Schmitt’s line single with a homer, his team-leading fourth, to left field. Another run scored on a Donkey double and a Todd Radam single. It then seemed like this would be another coast for the Saints, who’d recently won games by 10-0 and 16-1 scores. Perzel, the pitcher, must’ve figured that’d be too boring, because he allowed four second-inning runs to Apple Valley and the Saints lead was gone.
When the Saints offense went away for a few innings, a red-faced coach Noonan decided to fire up his team by yelling at umpire Larry Gessler, a teammate who was filling in behind the plate because there was no official umpire for some unknown reason. Assistant coach and chink-hitter Scott Gatzke took offense to Noonan’s antics and told him so. Burnsy chuckled like a little girl. Mike Eicher shook his head and farted. Ferris loved it.
Whether or not Noonan was right, it seemed to work. He replaced Perzel with Burnsy and Apple Valley would score no more. Noonan’s offense came alive again, sparked by a couple more Donkey doubles, a Dave Packard double and a Gatzke chink to right that the first baseman could’ve caught if he’d of had more range than a rock.
“I thought we needed to get fired up,” Noonan said later. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get my team going, including pinching Donkey and punching Corny.”
Corny wanted to punch Noonan late in the game. Noonan pinch hit for Corny and laced a single to left. Corny pinch ran for Noonan and stole second. Then, when the ball got away from the catcher, Corny tried for third. Noonan, who was supposed to be coaching third, was picking his nose near the dugout instead of instructing Corny to slide or stand up. It turned out alright because Corny was safe.
“Sorry,” Noonan told Corny. “I thought you’d forgotten how to slide anyway.”
So far this season, Noonan’s way has led the Saints to a 15-1 league mark. Maybe we should all lay off Noonan, and let him have an occasional baby and pick his nose at will. Besides, he has the biggest biceps on the team and we don’t call him Brutus for nothing. Sorry, Abby, he does have bigger pipes than you, even though yours are more defined.
…Lucky had a key that fit the fence locks at the Valley View field. He worked for the Bloomington park board in 1969 and 1970 and still had the key.
…Packard looked like he’s fully recovered from an injury when he beat ass to second on his double.
…Noonan passed out some new warm-up tops to the team that are more comfortable than pajamas.
…Abercrombie commented that Donkey’s swing is level “all the time.” Donkey credits his power hitting and stroke with reverting back to a steady diet of whiskey and tuna fish.
It’s been a long time and I’m very sorry I haven’t written. The last time I saw you was 21 years ago, and you told me “don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” Since then, I think of you often and remember some of the things you used to tell me. One of them was “be good to your mom.” It’s not hard, dad, to be good to someone who always cared more about me than about herself. So, don’t worry, mom will be fine and I’ll ALWAYS be good to her.
The other thing I remember most is you asking me “what do you do when you’re done practicing (baseball)?” After several times I’d finally know the answer, but would always say “I dunno dad, what?” You’d answer: “practice some more.” You’d go on to tell me that playing baseball should be like “walking down the street, where you don’t have to think about it.” I’ll never forget that, dad, and have told many teammates about it. One, in particular, is John Noonan, who probably practices more than anyone I’ve ever known. John, who never played organized baseball until he was in his mid thirties, has his own batting cage and lets us come out to use it any time we want. He’s even planning on building a baseball field at his place and told me he’d reserve your favorite spot for you—behind a tree.
You’ll be glad to know that I’m still playing baseball, even though most of my skills have gone away long ago. I know, I know, “keep your dobber up. There’s always the next game.” I can still hear your voice saying those things, even though you’re not physically here. I miss you so much that it hurts. I miss your wide grin, especially after ball games when you’d show up out of nowhere, from behind a tree or bush or building. You told me you didn’t want to make me nervous and you were probably right. I miss having breakfast with you, even though you’d always show up way too early Saturday mornings and wake me up. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now, that I was very lucky to be your son.
I thought you’d get a kick out of hearing about my teammates. They are the only reason that I keep playing. We play for a team called the Minnetonka Saints—though I don’t believe any of us live in Minnetonka—in a 35 and over league. We were the regular season champs last summer, but lost in the championship game to Woodbury. We should be really strong again this year. Like you always told me, baseball is all about pitching and defense. Well, we probably have the best pitcher and catcher in the league. Kevin Burns, a left handed pitcher, gives us a great chance to win whenever he pitches. His only flaw is that he doesn’t realize that BP means “batting practice” and not pitching practice. If you were here, I’m sure you’d convince him. Our catcher, John Abercrombie, played several years of pro ball. He hit a homer last year off a change up that was nearly in the dirt. He is the only catcher I’ve ever played with that sometimes WANTS the pitcher to throw the ball in the dirt, even with base runners, saying “don’t worry, I’ll block it…that’s my job” Joe Perzel, a right handed pitcher, can be even better than Burnsie at times. He’s inconsistent though, and unlike Burnsie, he’s human.
Another teammate that played professionally is Mike Eicher. Mike has a bad knee now, and probably eats too much, but he has very quick hands. Even though he punched me several times once and gave me four bruises, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. You’d call him “a peach of a guy.” Scott Gatzke, a punch and judy hitter who’s sorta shaped like a peach, is also a good friend. He showed me that body types and baseball talent don’t always go hand in hand. He plays third base and shortstop—a shortstop that topped anything I ever played. No one believes me that I played shortstop though high school—until I tell them I set a school record for throwing errors. Our other shortstop, Todd Radam, might have the most overall baseball talent on our team. He also pitches, throws pipe shots in BP, hits for power and average, and says some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Andy Stavast is another funny man, and he could probably make a living doing stand-up comedy. Andy, a notorious high ball hitter, plays left field because it’s the closest outfield spot from the bench. His short, choppy running stride resembles that of Babe Ruth.
Keith Jacobson is our team cheerleader when he’s not terrorizing opponents on the bases with his blazing speed. On a clear day, even you may be able to hear Jake’s booming voice. Jeff Schmidt, Dave Packard and Scott Wilgenbusch are also very fleet footed players that bat at or near the top of our batting order.
I think your favorite player would be Bill Ferris, a recovering boat rocker who tries harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. All of Bill’s fundamental baseball skills are unfundamental, but regardless, he gets a lot of hits, makes the catches and throws out runners. Mostly, like your favorite player Billy Martin, Bill Ferris has never been known to back down from a fight. It’s not that he looks for them, but he does seem to be some sort of fight magnet. Bill’s getting more mellow now and I’m glad he’s on our team.
Our biggest baseball fan, or nut, or kook, is Jeff Cook, who had a tremendous season two years ago when he turned fifty. Jeff is obsessive about the baseball movie “Bull Durham,” and insists on being called Crash. He’s called me from his cell phone many times from really cool baseball places like Fenway Park and Durham, North Carolina to tell me what I’m missing. A cell phone? Trust me, dad, you don’t want to know. And I don’t have one.
I don’t want to forget Mike Staller, a second baseman who’d bat about .700 if all of his line drives foul would count. If Mike had a choice, we’d be living in the 1950’s, which wouldn’t be all that bad. And then there’s David Sodergren, who’s been sort like a ghost the past few years. Although he’s missed most of our games, David has always shown up off the field when his teammates needed him. The one who needs the most support right now is Scott Lawrence, who was told he had cancer last November. Scott had surgery, finished treatment, was at practice last Sunday and then had a few beers with us at the bar afterward. We’re counting on him being in right field for us again this year, and maybe, if he were really Lucky, to see him hit his first career homer.
Larry Gessler reminds me a lot of you, dad. He plays on three different teams during the summer and absolutely loves to practice. He’s helped me, as well as others, stay positive when things aren’t going well. Did you send him here to keep an eye on me? We have some new players this year, too, but I don’t know much about them yet. I’ll keep you posted. I hope you enjoyed learning some things about my teammates. They are like my family.
I gotta go, dad. My butts getting sore from sitting on this little stool. Also, I better go out and the garage and swing the bat. We have two games Saturday, and I still have to think about it when I walk down the street. Say hello to Lefty for me.
TRUE or FALSE
John Noonan and Scott Gatzke will be co-managing the Saints this summer. “We still hate each other, but we’ll try to get along for the sake of the team,” Gatzke said.
Todd Cornelius was thrilled to find out that he had seven more hits than Jeff Cook last season and had just one more whiff. The moment was short-lived, however, when his brother, the Beaver, informed Corny that Cook didn’t play last year.
Mike Eicher recently bloodied his girlfriend Sherri’s nose during a drinking binge with Florida buddy John Tatley. Tatley couldn’t confirm or deny the assault and said he could remember nothing except for the exceptional grilled tuna that Eicher made for him. “I’ve never hit anyone in my life,” Eicher told Corny. “Are you kidding me?” Nobody believes you, Mike.
Joe Perzel got $500 from Brutus for wearing that stupid hat at the Saints awards party last month. “The joke’s on Brutus,” Perzel laughed. “I love that hat.”
Mike Staller took a vow of silence on January 1st and has not talked to anyone since. Instead, Staller uses his email to communicate with everyone. “He should make it a permanent vow,” said Gatzke.
When young Bill Ferris heard a rumor that the Saints were offered a trade that sent Todd Radam to the Lakers for either Randy Moselle or John Tatley, he said “no way, I wouldn’t do it.” Ferris, later wise to the joke, said “it’d been different if they were going to give us Wheeler.”
This will be Larry Gessler’s 45th straight season playing amateur baseball. He is third on the Minnesota state all-time consecutive years playing organized baseball list, behind Jim Botten and Tim Kiemmel. “I think I’m still in my prime,” Larry said.
Andy Stavast agreed with everyone that he did a great job as MC at the Saints awards banquet.
John Abercrombie has requested the jersey number 92 in memory of former football great Reggie White. White, also a minister and Christian leader in the NFL, passed away a couple months ago at age 43.
The Saints will mock team tradition and wear caps with an “M” on the front this season, instead of the usual “S.”
In an attempt to legally change his name to Crash Cook, Jeff Cook was horrified to learn that the Mexican-American U.S. government official who was handling his case left off the C in Crash and instead wrote in Rash. “Any of you homo’s call me Rash, and I’ll kill you,” he said.
Former Saint Jay Wright, who switched back to play with the Lakers last season, desperately wanted to return to the Saints this year. Wright said the Laker players refused to call him Donkey and didn’t have the same kind of love that he received from the Saints. John Noonan, reluctant at first to take Donkey back, told him that he could be a Saint again if he gave him a back rub. The Donkey is in.
Jeff Schmidt was the 2004 runner-up for the American Dental Society award “Best Teeth of the Year.” Schmitty recently took third in his neighborhood’s no-limit Texas hold-em poker tournament.
Todd Radam’s self-imposed beer drinking curfew has been reduced from 9 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., unless the game goes into extra innings.
Dave Packard and Keith Jacobsen have learned that they are half-brothers, but Jake won’t accept to being related to Cuz. “I’ll still be nice to Cuz, like throwing him a chair at family gatherings,” Jake said.
Kevin Burns is the best pitcher in the Classic League, but he’s a terrible stink pickle of a batting practice pitcher.
I heard John Abercrombie as I stood in the batters box, with the count two balls and no strikes, and awaited the next pitch. Oh, yeah, I heard him alright, louder than a fart in church was the guy we sometimes call Foghorn Leghorn.
Abercrombie, our stalwart catcher, was right when he said I’d be dumb if I swung at the next pitch. The bases were full Wednesday night in the bottom of the eleventh inning with just one out and the score tied 1-1. Burnsville, a team that finished dead last in the Classic League this summer, was threatening to beat the first-place Saints, in the playoffs.
I may be a doofus but I’m not dumb. I let the third pitch from the Burnsville lefty, a pitcher that had pitched the entire game, sail way high and away for ball three. No one had to tell me to not swing now. I took strike one. Now, I was ready to be the hero and drive in the winning run.
Not yet. Strike two caught the far outside of the plate as I stood there with my wood composite bat and watched. Now it was a full count. Did I mention that the clock was nearing 11 p.m. and that we’d been told at about 10:45 that the lights were on a timer and were due to go out at 11pm?
Full count, bases loaded. But with just one out there really was no pressure. I feel more pressure every day to deliver all my papers on time. Our leadoff hitter, Schmitty, stood anxiously on deck. He would not bat, though.
Instead, the Burnsville pitcher, who had pitched his ass off all night, threw a low fastball that was almost in the dirt. I didn’t swing, and as a result, collected the second walk I’ve had this summer. Oh, by the way, all I had to do was to trot to first, where I was greeted by a beaming John Noonan, and the game was over.
And then the lights went out. It was kind of hard to celebrate in the dark, but I did manage to high five and hard knuckle several teammates, I think, before I got in line to shake hands with all the Burnsville guys. It had been quite a game, and I was far from being the hero.
Three Saints that really stood out were Larry Gessler and pitchers Kevin Burns and Joe Perzel. Gessler had driven in our only other run and had three hits. Burnsy, unquestionably the leagues top pitcher this summer, didn’t have his best stuff but somehow managed to hold Burnsville to just one run in the seven plus innings he pitched. Nervous Joe inserted himself onto the mound for Burnsy in the seventh inning with runners on first and second and two outs.
Nervous Joe had his hummer tonight. He blazed three fastballs past the number three hitter to whiff him and end the threat. Benny Soup, one of our spare catchers, was impressed with Nervous Joe and wanted to call him Linda Ronstadt, because of the hit song she had titled “Blew by You.”
Nervous Joe then pitched the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh innings without allowing any runs. It was far from easy. Burnsville had a runner at second and two out when the hitter chopped a grounder at our shortstop, Todd Radam. Radam handled the ground ball as easy as one would handle spaghetti with a butter knife. The ball rolled away as the lead runner hauled ass around third. Radam recovered the ball quickly, though, and his throw arrived to catcher Abercrombie as the runner stopped midway between third base and home plate. I will no longer consider any of my future dates as sure things after Abby’s throw nailed the runner’s back and bounced away.
It didn’t matter when Nervous Joe got the next hitter out. Then, we had our big chance when we loaded the bases in the tenth inning. With two out, young William Ferris hit a polite grounder to the third baseman and the inning was through.
Nervous Joe whizzed through the eleventh inning without any problems. Gessler then led off the Saints half inning with a hard ground single up the middle. Lucky Lawrence pinch ran for Gessler. Lucky advanced to second when Mike Staller laid down a splendid sacrifice bunt. Earlier in the game, Staller made a bid to be the goat when he failed to report himself as a pinch hitter and was called out and then later tagged only a bunch of air, instead of the base runner, on a stolen base attempt.
Benny Soup then walked, bringing Mike Eicher to the plate. During Eicher’s at bat, though, the pitcher threw a really bad pitch that got away from the catcher, putting runners on second and third. Eicher was then walked purposely. Now, I was up.
See above for the rest of the story.
I gotta go. It’s 1:45am and all the Star Tribunes and Wall Street Journals and N.Y. Times and USA Today’s have to be delivered on a deadline. Now that’s pressure.
It’s all happened before, so why even mention it. I will anyhow, because all of this may end up on the final exam.
As sure as the shine on Schmitty’s teeth and Eicher’s bald head was Burnsy, the Saints pitcher who allowed just one Edina run. Burnsy, thank God, should be pitching exclusively for the Saints after his A squad team, the Metro Merchants, were bumped from the playoffs Saturday. Aunt B led his young squad in pitching and was voted to the Minneapolis Park National All-Star team.
The only run Sunday off Burnsy occurred when the fourth inning leadoff guy hit a routine bouncer to second baseman Mike Staller. Staller bobbled the ball and then gunned a perfect strike right into the enemy dugout, allowing the runner to take second. Normally, Mike, we’d be thrilled when someone whips one into the Edina dugout.
One run didn’t matter. The Saints already had a comfortable lead. Todd Radam had put them ahead in the first inning when his single knocked in Shithead Perzel and Wheelie Ferris. Shithead and Wheelie had singled and moved up a base when Corny bunted one to a 64-year-old guy. Radam, as reliable a hitter as Shithead’s friend Sylvia is a Saints fan, later became unreliable and whiffed against Edina’s mush throwing reliever.
“I just can’t hit that shit,” Radam said. “My daughter Sophie could hit that pitcher better than me.”
Ferris and Bennie Soup surely did. They capped the Saints 9-1 win with a pair of long doubles. Ferris’ shot off the left centerfield fence knocked in three runs, the last being big Mike Eicher, who scored all the way from first base. It’s the farthest Mike’s run, all out, since chasing Corny around Fort Myer’s beach last November. Mike got to jog around the bases in Friday night’s 9-6 win over Burnsville because his hit went over the fence.
Another Saint who probably won’t run a marathon anytime soon is Andy Stavast. He avenged his first at bat—a groundout double play—with a base hit and later reached third without hurling. He also filled in the leftfield spot with a couple of put outs.
While Eicher and Stavast would never have to slow down for a speed bump, Jeff Schmidt needs a fuzz-buster. Schmitty caught the first inning and later moved to centerfield. With a runner at second Schmitty fielded a single and threw home towards an invisible cutoff man. Corny, the first baseman, had forgotten he was the cutoff man. He hauled ass toward the pitcher’s mound, fielded Schmitty’s throw on one hop and relayed the ball 40 feet to a screaming Benny. Out at home. It wasn’t exactly Tinker to Evers to Chance…but it wasn’t bad.
Scott Gadget, the Florida “Hit Man,” contributed a run-scoring chop single and didn’t offend any of his teammates all day. Another surprise came when Kiddo Gessler, who’s been hotter than a Pott’s waitress, failed to get a hit Sunday. Kiddo’d gotten three hits in Friday’s game, including a single to tie the game after the Saints had been down 5-1. Kiddo, did however, collect a couple of hits for the Chaska Diamonds in a Federal League game earlier Sunday.
Another thing missing was the big Gatorade water jug on this muggy early evening. Not since last season when someone swiped Crash Cook’s 1962 Topps Pumpsie Green baseball card have we had such a mystery. It’ll turn up, though, just like Pumpsie did last year. And, Crashie, it wasn’t me that stole your card. Maybe if it was a Mickey Mantle, or even a Marv Throneberry, but certainly not Pumpsie Green. Somebody (Noonan) please bring the water jug.
If Sunday’s game was as exciting as getting underwear for your birthday, then keep buying me the basic whites. The Saints, a team that played crappy in a couple losses last week, needed the win as badly as I need underwear. But if you do buy me underwear, make it something other than white. My brother, the Beaver, wears the Homer Simpson style whites, and I don’t want to strap a pair of his on by mistake.
Joe Perzel was right when he described yesterday’s game with Woodbury as “ugly.” Right from the start, nothing looked good for Perzel and his Saints.
Soon after Joe arrived at Big Willow Field, he realized his team would have just eight players that day. With a roster of over 20 players, how could this happen? Perzel wanted to make sure that if the Can O’ Corn came out today, he wanted everyone to know that he didn’t want any more grief about our roster being too big. Say it’s so, Joe.
Todd Radam, one of the eight Saints, said he’d talked to some Woodbury players and that they’d probably have eight, maybe nine, players themselves. They’d have nine, though, at the start.
Joe did try to get a ninth. He made several calls with his cell phone as he sat in the grass and put on his uniform. Lucky Lawrence was injured, and besides, he had a cold. Andy Stavast was out of town on business. Eunice Eicher was playing with his number one team, the Bandits, in that ridiculous, Mickey Mouse Gaulke League. Right before game time, Lucky informed Joe via the phone that his brother Kevin would be heading over from Chaska, but he’d be a little late. Kevin, nor any other player, showed up.
We’d have to play with just two outfielders. One was Bill Ferris, who is a fine outfielder with good range and a strong arm. The other outfielder, Corny, is half blind and has a terrible throwing arm.
Woodbury took advantage of the Saints outfield holes, hitting several duck farts for a pair of first inning runs. It looked to be a long afternoon for the Saints eight. Woodbury, last year’s playoff champions, failed to score in the next few innings, though, and the Saints finally got their offense going in the fourth inning.
John Abercrombie hit a screaming liner off the bottom of the center field fence for a double, and Scott Gatzke courtesy ran for him. Radam’s hard grounder then found the wrist of third baseman Kent Rogers, for an error. After two outs, Corny hit another bouncer that found Rogers wrist, and the bases were full. Mike Staller, the eighth hitter was up. Because we had just eight batters, the ninth slot was an automatic out. In hindsight, Woodbury could’ve walked Staller, given up one run, and the inning would’ve been over.
Instead, Staller hit a short fly ball to left that dropped just in front of the outfielder. Gatzke scored easily and when the throw from Rogers to get Radam sailed over the catcher, Corny kept running and scored, too. The Saints led 3-2.
Woodbury managed to tie it at three in their half inning, but the Saints quickly regained the lead in the fifth. Ferris led off with a rope to left that went for a double. One out later, Ferris scored on Abercrombie’s double, also to left. Abercrombie had been intentionally walked twice in the last game against J Thomas. Woodbury, apparently, is not afraid of the ex-pro Abercrombie and his big swing.
The Saints one run lead seemed thinner than the hair on Staller’s head. It surely couldn’t last.
Woodbury loaded the bases with none out in their half inning, but pitcher Perzel shut them down. He stuck out the next hitter and then induced the next to hit a slow grounder to Gatzke at third. Gatzke threw to home for a force out. The next hitter then popped out and miraculously, the inning was done without a Woodbury run.
Neither team scored in the sixth, and the Saints failed to score in the seventh. Rogers then led off with his third hit of the day, a double to straight away center that probably would’ve been caught if the Saints had three outfielders. At least it would’ve been only a single. Then, the Saints got luckier than Lawrence.
Woodbury’s three hole hitter drilled a liner that headed right for the right center field gap. But, because of only two outfielders, Ferris was playing right in the gap and caught the ball for an out. It was tit for tat, even though Woodbury had many more tits than we had tats.
With just one out and the clean-up hitter up, it wasn’t over. But it quickly was over when his hard liner found Staller’s mitt near second base and Rogers was doubled up. Game over. Saints win. Unbelievable. Ugly.
But not as ugly as Corny’s car.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Shauna and Dylan Burns, a couple of kids you might say have an over abundance of energy, were allowed to run the bases following the Saints game last Sunday. Larry Gessler, a gent approaching a half a century years old who has an over abundance of enthusiasm for playing baseball, decided to join the Burnsy kids.
It was no contest. Kiddo, who was losing ground rapidly to the youngsters, never made it to second base.
Normally, one could say that almost anyone could beat the wagon pulling, slow-footed Gessler. This time, though, he had a good excuse. He was pooped.
Kiddo’d had quite a busy day prior to the big mismatch. Earlier during the hot, muggy afternoon, he’d pitched all seven innings for Chaska in a Federal League affair in St. Paul. He then made the drive west, to Bloomington, for the Saints game against Apple Valley, where he was notified that we needed him to strap on the catchers gear.
Abby, the Saints and probably the leagues top catcher, was somewhere in the Deep South attending a funeral. Benny, the Saints solid, dependable second string catcher, was stuck somewhere in southern Minnesota and wouldn’t make it. Schmitty, an athletic specimen who usually does a fine job behind the plate when needed, was gone as a chaperone on a church retreat.
Another option could have been Scott Gatzke, who would never be accused of being an athletic specimen. But Gatzke had left his catcher’s gear in his fancy SUV all the way in the parking lot, and besides, he isn’t nuts about the game like Kiddo, not nuts enough to catch when it was this hot and we didn’t have our usual Gatorade bucket full of ice water.
So it was Kiddo that caught the pitches that Shauna and Dylan’s dad threw. Kiddo survived five innings before someone talked Gatzke into relieving him. Shauna and Dylan’s dad didn’t need any relief. Burnsy pitched the whole game and didn’t allow any runs, and the Saints won 3-0.
The Saints got all their runs in the third inning, courtesy of an Apple Valley gift. With one out and a runner on first, Dave Packard zipped a one hopper back to sender, and it seemed like it be an easy double play and the inning would be finished. But the pitcher gunned the ball into center field and all were safe. Joe Perzel then got his first hit of the season when he laced a liner down the left field line for a double. Gatzke’s chopper scored the second run and Todd Radam, a former Apple Vallean, dinked one to right for another.
And that was that. The Saints remained in first place and continue to amaze the Amazin’ Crash Cook, who retired at age 50, following his fairy tale 2003 season.
“Hey Corny,” Crash said recently, “be sure to tell everyone I’m proud as hell of how well the team’s doing. Shit, it’s amazing that you’re in first place without me.”
Larry Gessler is amazing. Amazingly slow. Amazingly knowledgeable in finding baseball fields. And amazingly fanatical about playing this little kids game.
I wonder if Kiddo stopped off at Noonan’s for some BP before he went home.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
As new Saint Bill Ferris, a highly combustible and controversial character, put it, “a bunch of stiff old men” defeated a group of grumpy old men (Edina…aka Crosstown Traffic) 4-1 in a baseball game Monday night in Bloomington. Ferris has claimed to have become kinder and gentler, especially after the birth of a son a few years ago. He exhibited his claim when he reacted only with a smile when Corny conked Ferris’ elbow with his bat.
Pitcher Kevin Burns was once again the hero. Burnsy pitched the first six innings before giving way to Shithead Perzel, who easily retired three consecutive grumpy Crosstowners to finish the game.
“I just threw fastballs down the middle,” Shithead said.
Burnsy and Perzel had to throw it down the middle so the poor umpire, who must’ve been blinder than Corny, could see it. Early in the contest, Saints second sacker Mike Staller fielded a grounder and tried to flip the ball to shortstop 18. The ball eluded 18 and both runners were safe…but the ump, somehow, called the runner out at second. Huh? After the Crosstowners had several babies in protest, the ump decided to ask 18 what he thought of the call. 18 was honest, and the ump reversed his boner. Hopefully, this chap just had an off night.
Later, the ump called a few Saints runners out at first that were clearly safe, costing them at least one run.
The Saints finally scored twice in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead. It all started when 18 drove a long liner to center that the centerfielder somehow didn’t catch. Mike Eicher, after missing a couple breakers by about five feet, lined a shot right at the third baseman, who somehow, didn’t catch it.
“Stupid,” Eicher called himself for his first two swings. “Are you kidding me?”
18 and Eicher later scored, somehow, but the Saints blew their chance for a big inning when Staller and Corny hit infield knubblers. Staller’s did bring in a run, though, but also cracked his $70 wood maple bat. The added insult came when Staller was called out at first even though he was clearly safe. The soft spoken Staller quietly ran to the bench, sat down and wondered if the Saints official scorer would maybe, just maybe, give him a hit.
Kiddo Gessler gave the Saints a safer 4-0 lead a couple innings later with a two-run double to right center field. Kiddo, like Eicher, can often look hideous in an at bat, and then regroup in that same at bat and get a big hit. How they do it, no one knows.
The lead appeared, and was, safe because of Burnsy and the good defense behind him. The Saints completed two nice double plays during the game and third baseman Scott Gatzke made a sparkling play, stabbing a hot grounder heading to the hole and then spinning around to nail the runner at first.
“Sometimes I’m just good,” Gatzke said.
It’s all good right now. The Saints are 6-2 and in first place in the 35-and-over Mid Life Crisis League.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
It couldn’t have been a better afternoon as me and John and Scott and Cuz took turns hitting baseballs and pretending we were kids once again. John, with his brand new hair cut, still looks sorta like a kid. Cuz acts like a kid, especially when he tries to be all tough and everything and says how he can beat all of us up. I really don’t think that Scott was ever a kid, so he’s trying to be one now.
As we finished hitting baseballs the humid air had already started to turn cooler and dark clouds blocked the sun. It was going to rain and we were going to go to Dairy Queen anyway. Cuz couldn’t go. He had grown up stuff to do.
Me and Scott road in the back seat of John’s brand new car. We pulled up to DQ just as it started to rain. We stood outside, just under the small roof, and ate our medium-sized vanilla cones that John treated us to. It was raining real hard now and we watched a few motorcycles whiz by and get soaked.
It was as if it were 1973 and I was twelve and sitting at the A & W drinking a root beer in a frosty glass mug. My buddies and I always stopped at the A & W after baseball practice. I remember that the small mugs of root beer cost 16 cents and the big ones 26 cents. Mr. Freezes were a nickel and ice cream cones a quarter. On Tuesday’s, Coney dogs were twenty six cents each. My friend, Mitch, would always drink his root beer too fast and say that his brain was freezing. Stub, the guy who owned the A & W, sponsored our team one year and bought us orange mesh jerseys.
The only thing missing Sunday afternoon was my banana seat fire engine red Sting Ray bike, with my baseball glove hanging over the handle bars and a tennis ball stuck in the wheel spokes. John’s car was very nice and all, but I’d still prefer my bike.
As John drove us back to our cars at the field, I still hadn’t finished my ice cream cone. John had eaten his faster than I could eat a single malted milk ball. I am usually a big-time champion slow eater, but in this case, I wanted to savor not only the cone, but the memories. Before we left, Joe showed up. Joe had called the practice earlier that day and the doofus was only showing up now?
We all went to the Lone Spur and had dinner and a few beers. I had a burrito. When I finally got to my car and started to drive, I had a craving for a couple of Coney dogs and a root beer. I had two bucks on me and that would be enough, I figured. Then I could hurry home and watch Gilligan’s Island and later shoot baskets in the driveway. If only it was 1973 again…
Boy, what a great afternoon. Can we do it again?
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Brutus and Corny recently took a psychological test, which consisted of them giving their first
thoughts (first thing to pop into their heads) to words or phrases. Here’s how they answered:
Brutus: When I buy low, sell high and the Saints have a ball game that night.
Corny: A good possibility when Noonan’s batting with Larry on first and Eicher on second.
Hit and run
Brutus: I get a base hit and some shlub like Staller comes in and pinch runs for me.
Corny: Why give the sign when no one does it anyway.
Brutus: The enemy
Corny: An ump with a big strike zone.
Brutus: None of your business.
Corny: I go home to a warm one every night—my cat, Newman.
Brutus: Madlock, Russell, Bradley, Williams, Murray…
Corny: The one thing I have too many of.
Brutus: The banker’s first offer, of many, to recruit my money to his bank.
Corny: A good one to hit.
Brutus: I used to drive one until too many people flipped me off.
Corny: A high, tight hard one.
Brutus: He hate me.
Corny: How can a chubby guy like that get so many hits?
Bryn Mahr baseball field
Brutus: Too many liberals live in that neighborhood.
Corny: It’s the closest field to my apartment.
Brutus: He struck out Eddy.
Corny: He own me.
Brutus: Can you say that again?
Corny: I once knocked off my helmet attempting to bunt.
Corny: I don’t have any; let me check under my couch cushion.
Brutus: A 3” thick 24 oz. bowel cloggin’ New York steak.
Brutus: I get six and I’ll use ‘em all.
Corny: Brutus once fouled me six times on one play.
Osama Bin Laden
Brutus: Find him and kill him.
Corny: Who’s he? Is he related to Bud Selig?
Brutus: Don’t have one.
Corny: Used to have one.
Best baseball memory
Brutus: I struck out Eddy.
Corny: Beating Lyon’s Pub to advance to the state tourney.
A good secondary lead
Brutus: A stock tip from someone who heard it from someone else.
Corny: Something Crash never got, and never will.
A Baltimore chop
Brutus: I had the pork chops at Boog Powell’s restaurant and it was great.
Corny: Usually when you hit a high chopper that goes for a hit. Once I hit one off my thigh for a foul and then grounded into a double play.
A good Cuban
Brutus: Nothing better than smoking one after that bowel cloggin’ steak.
Brutus: I struck him out.
Corny: A great player and good cook--especially at cooking rice.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Saints on Anabolic Steroids
Scott Gatzke’s entire body swells out of control, but his head remains the same size. We now call him wood tick. The Tick can still hit, though, and you should see his rolling block take-out slide.
Mike Eicher cleanly fields a perfectly laid sacrifice bunt. Pitcher Joe Perzel, realizing Eicher has no play, screams at Eicher, “eat it!” Eicher stuffs the whole baseball in his pie hole, chomps it into little bits and swallows it. “It’d been a lot better with lemon,” he says. Eicher was banned recently from Old Country Buffet.
Todd Radam begins the season with six straight homers. Then, after whiffing in his seventh plate appearance, number 18 walks quietly to the bench and pushes over the concrete dugout, which crumples on his last living brother, killing him.
Todd Cornelius, who’s always believed in swinging at the first pitch, laces a base hit to left. Corny, who is now thrilled to have a full chest full of hair, is called out and ejected from the game because the pitch he’d swung at was just a warm up pitch. “I couldn’t resist,” he says, “it was right down the pipe.”
Andy Stavast makes a brilliant running catch down the Big Willow left field line but can’t stop himself. He continues past the warning track and through the side cyclone fence.
Mike Staller sells his truck and his hot rod when he adds up all the money he can save by walking everywhere. “And I also find a lot of change in the road,” said Staller. Mike plans to walk to the Roy Hobbs tournament in Fort Myers this November.
Keith Jacobson steals second base, and when the catcher throws the ball into centerfield, Jake digs for third. The centerfielder overruns the ball and Corny waves Jake home. When the throw to the plate sails over the catcher, Jake rounds home and heads for first. He makes it. The umpire, impressed at Jake’s hustle, lets him stay there.
Joe Perzel is still as chatty as a schoolgirl when pitching, but now he’s mean. He gets ejected once for calling the umpire a bigger Donkey than Jay Wright and often encourages his players to throw bats and helmets when they’re upset.
John Noonan is King Kong in another remake of the sci-fi thriller. He lands the role when the movie producers realize Noonan will need no makeup. Noonan still finds time to play for the Saints and thrilled everyone when a pitched ball deflects off his forearm and into left field for a base hit. “I may never use a bat again,” grunts Noonan.
David Sodergren realizes a lifelong dream come true when his chest becomes bigger than his ass. Sodergren changes his first name to Aanold.
John Abercrombie plays the entire season without catchers gear and later decides he doesn’t need a catcher’s mitt either.
Dave Packard customizes his Saints jersey with a cape and a big U on the back instead of a number. Pack’s throws from centerfield frequently go over the cutoff man and clear over the backstop.
Scott Lawrence takes first in the Carver County Fair keg throwing contest when he heaves two kegs 159 feet. Lucky is disappointed upon learning that the kegs were empty. He’d already finished them off.
Larry Gessler leaves the Saints when the Twins sign him to be their new closer. Kiddo duped the Twins, telling them he was just 32 years old. Larry’s lie is revealed when he tips his hat to the crowd.
Kevin Burns loses a lunker when his fishing line snaps. Burnsy quickly dives into the lake and an hour later returns to the boat with his fishing lure and a ten pound walleye.
Jeff Schmidt meets a female weightlifter at the gym. They begin dating seriously, but soon have a disagreement and start throwing punches at each other. Schmitty wins.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
For the 25th time in the past twenty-five years, I’ve thought about giving up baseball. And, for the 25th time, I’ve decided to keep playing. Again. It’s really not that I enjoy playing baseball so much anymore. There’s nothing more frustrating than dribbling one back to a thumber and having to dig toward first when you know you’re cooked. I suck, more and more each year. I thought I was a still is and now realize I’m a has been. If anyone told me I'm a never was, I wouldn’t argue.
There are just too many reasons for playing again. Mostly, it’s my teammates. It’s about seeing Burnsy walking toward the park and instantly knowing that we have a real good chance to win that day. It’s about Jake and his “break his heart send ‘em to the hotel” routine. It’s about #18’s wit. It’s about being thankful that Gatzke’s on the team and I won’t be the ugliest Saint. It’s about Noonan dumping a bucket of ice water on Shithead’s head. It’s about collecting one liners from Andy. It’s about making fun of Sodergren. It’s about Crash losing his Pumpsie Green baseball card and then finding it. It’s about calling Kiddo to get directions to the field. It’s about taking BP at Noonan’s barn and drinking beer and eating a big fat juicy steak and then tickling his sons. It’s about watching little Pack and listening to all the goofy comments he makes.
Way, way too many reasons to keep playing. Someone will have to kick me off the team to get rid of me.
The best thing of all is that all the memories of last year won’t be forgotten, but instead, replaced with this summer’s. Here are some of my predictions for the summer of ’04.
-Burnsy will pitch two no-hitters but get credit for just one because Shithead pulled him out of the game in the sixth inning.
-Staller will get two hits to right field and make a decision to have just one girlfriend.
-Kiddo will get lost, just once, on his way to a field.
-#18 will get a new curfew, but still be out too late
-Lucky will get his first career homer, but it’ll be of the inside-the-park variety.
-Noonan will grow a beard after slumping at the plate, get hot, and then make everyone grow beards.
-Gatzke and Corny will get a date—not with each other—but with some real hotties.
-Hadler won’t be fishing during the playoffs this year, but instead, he’ll show up and play.
-Jay Wright, no longer the lovable Big Donkey, will wish he was on our team again.
-Sodergren will admit that he really does love Larry.
-Schmitty will leg out an infield double.
-Crash will unretire, get one last hit, and then retire again.
-Abercrombie, who’s now old enough to play any position, will be so dominating on the mound that Ron Cottone will insist that the league make a new rule prohibiting him from pitching.
-Eicher will break his bat while hitting a home run and then sprain his ankle jogging around the bases. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
-Andy’s wife will give him an ultimatum, “lose the beard or lose me.” Andy will shave.
-Pack will make a perfect throw to Gatzke, the cutoff man, but Gatzke will drop the ball—allowing a run to score.
Sounds like a fun year, doesn’t it?
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
2003 Top 10 Saints hits
10. Todd Radam cranks out three homers in a scrimmage against J. Thomas Number 18 really got his season, and the Saints, going with his big day. Though Joe Perzel won’t recognize the three dingers in the records (because it was a scrimmage), they all count in my book. Does anyone know what happened to my book? I left it in the dugout after the last game…
9. Larry Gessler returns from his Florida happy place. Kiddo returned to his wife and Minnesota in the spring with an injured shoulder and slowly worked his way back into the Saints lineup. His hot hitting streak at the end of the season and in the playoffs helped the Saints advance and had one teammate call coach Corny a “miracle worker.”
8. Keith Jacobson, the Saints part-time cheerleader and full-time troublemaker, should have charged admission for his dugout banter. Jake helped keep things loose and fun with his “break his heart, send him to the hotel…” routine, and several of us nearly soiled ourselves because of it.
7. Scott Gatzke, computer geek, puts together an impressive Saints website. As I looked through the player profiles and saw the pictures alongside the cartoon character of each player, I laughed harder and harder. Then, when I came upon John Abercrombie, as Foghorn Leghorn, I completely lost it. No offense, John, but it was REALLY funny! All the sound bites are great, too. I still can’t get the Roadrunner tune out of my head.
6. Radam comes up with the best nickname of all—Big Donkey—for Jay Wright. “Just look at him” said Radam. The Big Donkey came up big in his first year with the Saints with many key hits and a slew of long doubles. Don’t moon us anymore, though Donk, Larry still has nightmares.
5. Kevin Burns just keeps going and going and going…There’s absolutely no player more valuable than Burnsy, who I’m sure pitched over 100 innings this season and earned a majority of the Saints victories in the tough Classic League. His curveball so impressed a group of Winsted youngsters that they sought him out after the game to get pitching tips. I’d hate to think of the Saints without Burnsy, the Franchise.
4. Jeff Schmidt leads off the Metrodome game against the Lakers with a booming triple to right centerfield. Schmitty later scores and the Saints upend the defending champs 2-1. The Laker monkey was finally off the Saints back. The Saints later defeat the Lakers again, 5-2, but fall to them in the playoffs.
3. Joe Perzel whiffs 13 to lead the Saints over Richfield 3-0 to take the Federal League title. Perzel was fabulous that night. He was so hot that Noonan snuck up behind him afterwards and dumped a half a cooler of ice water over his head. The win was sweet—Richfield had beaten us three times in the regular season.
2. Jeff Cook gets 50 at 50. All in the same summer, Crash turns 50 and bangs out 50 hits. Big deal? It should almost be added to the Bible, this miracle. Sure, this relic spent hours upon hours at the batting cage, but this is a guy that collected as many hits last season as Nancy Sinatra. Comeback Player of the Year wouldn’t be good enough for Crash. By the way, Crash, I’ve been living my life vicariously through you this summer—you’re Sam Malone, and I’m Cliff Clavin.
1. Thanks everybody for an enjoyable and memorable summer of baseball! I really do hate you all, even though you’ve given me many great memories that will last forever.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
I nearly panicked last night when I heard that Jennifer Radam’s water had broken, even if I didn’t really know exactly what that meant. And why was it that I thought we should be boiling water, and that Eicher should start ripping his jersey in pieces? I surely know when it’s appropriate to give a hit and run sign, or who to bat in the leadoff position, so why don’t I know anything about a woman’s water breaking?
It happened last night, the water breaking stuff, late in the playoff game with the St. Paul Senators. The Saints had a comfortable lead, and with Dan Smith pitching like a madman, it was safe. I started to worry about Jennifer Radam. I couldn’t see her and heard someone say that she and her daughter, Sophie, were running. I wondered how much time they would have before the new baby came. Would Todd drive really fast? Would Jennifer drive because Todd was too nervous?
Everybody gave Mr. Radam their pre-baby congrats as he hurriedly packed up his baseball gear. Soon, very soon, it was business as usual. We had baseballs to hit and catch and throw and a ballgame to win. We had beer to drink afterward. There must be people at the hospital that would help the Radams bring their new baby into the world. Does anyone know if a bunch of females could continue playing if one of their teammates’ water had broken? I’d really like to know.
The final stats, for the record, was Saints 7, Senators 1. Our baseball season life would continue at least until Friday, and I was relieved that we weren’t the third shocking upset victim of the Senators, who won just one regular season game. I thought about the Radams as I drove home—it was much better than worrying about my car overheating, which I normally do.
I called the Saints secretary, John Noonan, early the next morning to get the baby news. Surprisingly, even John didn’t know, yet. Later, I read several emails that announced the good news: Grace Radam, born 9-10-2003, 9 lbs. 3 ounces. I’m very happy for you, Todd and Jennifer, and hope everything is great.
Can anyone fill me in on that water breaking stuff? Anyone?
Or, is it better than I don’t know?
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
POP QUIZ—SAINTS BY THE NUMBERS
a.) Times Big Dog Ruff doesn’t swing at the ball mightily, causing him to grunt.
b.) The number of baseball fields in Minnesota that Kiddo doesn’t know how to get to.
c.) The tolerance level Tim Hadler has for playing on shitty fields.
d.) The average number of pitches Corny takes in an at-bat combined with the number of chest hairs he has.
e.) This many Saints are tougher than Cuz.
a.) Number of times Jerome Ivy has been on time for a game this season.
b.) The distance, in feet, that Crash feels is a good secondary lead.
c.) The number of times, including infield/outfield practice and playing in his backyard with his son, that Pack has hit his cutoff man this season.
d.) Attempted steals against Abercrombie this season.
a.) The time, in seconds, it takes Schmitty to go from first to third.
b.) The average number of fans at a Saints game this summer.
c.) Number of at-bats David Sodergren has this season.
d.) Mike Eicher’s vertical jump, in inches.
e.) Minutes it takes Noonan to leg out an infield hit.
a.) Dates that Crash has had the past three months.
b.) Candles on Crash’s last birthday cake.
c.) How much Jeff Schmitt weighs.
d.) The number of brothers Todd Radam has lost that way.
e.) The wingspan, in feet, of Dan Smith.
a.) The heart rate of Keith Jacobson during a game.
b.) Rounds of BP Donkey has taken in Noonan’s batting cage barn since January 1.
c.) Balls that Mike Staller has driven solidly foul.
d.) Times that Lucky could’ve pegged out the runner at first from right field if his first baseman was paying attention.
a.) Hairs on Scott Gatzke’s back
b.) The number on the sunblock tube Joe uses to rubs his entire body with each morning.
c.) Jokes in Andy’s repertoire.
d.) Number of pitches Burnsy thinks he can throw before getting tired.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Richfield 040 000 0 4
Saints 300 000 0 3
First inning highlights: Lucky Lawrence and Scott Gatzke singled. Mike Eicher blasted a three run homer, his third wood homer of the season, over the fence, onto the road, into the woods and towards grandmothers house. He claimed he was winded after jogging around the bases. Kiddo retrieved the lopsided ball to the dugout. It had a big dent in it. It really did.
Second inning lowlights: Richfield scores four runs on a medium deep fly ball that dropped for a double, a bunt hit, a walk, a weak grounder, a bleeder to right and a line drive double to left. The ten hitter got that double to left on an 0-2 count. That’s no ball and two strikes. There were two out and runners on second and third, when Saints pitcher Dan Smith hung a slider. Dan knew he’d committed a cardinal mistake. At the time, though, I don’t think anyone figured we wouldn’t score another run.
That was it. Game over. The Saints did manage to collect ten hits in all, but a bunch of whiffs combined with a lack of clutch hitting kept them from getting another run.
Bits & Pieces
-Eicher wouldn’t touch the ball with his bat again after he connected in the first. The Richfield pitcher did throw him some nasty sliders, though.
-Smith hadn’t pitched in ten days. Before the game, the Richfield manager demanded to see Smith’s identification, claiming he’d never seen him before. I wonder why he failed to check Burnsy’s back pocket for a nail file and sand paper.
-The Saints nine game-winning streak was busted. They hadn’t lost since blowing a last inning lead to Richfield a few weeks ago.
-Highpants Tommy Tuttle once again played a stellar shortstop for Richfield. Does anyone else think that he looks strikingly similar to Jeff Cook? Except for the pants hike, they could be brothers.
-I read somewhere once that in the majority of baseball games, the winning team scores more runs in one inning than the losing team scores in the entire game.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
It was hot and sunny and dry. Too dry. You had to hide behind Eicher to get any shade at all. So, nobody really moved very fast Sunday afternoon at the Lakeville desert that they called a baseball field.
The quickest any Saint was that day was when Donkey blew out a bench clearing fart midway through the game. By then, the Saints offense was well on its way to getting 11 runs.
“What did you do now, Jay?,” asked Donkey’s wife Terri from her lawn chair behind the bench. Donkey’s little daughter Jamie giggled and then jumped up and down. Todd Radam, back from a weeklong vacation, was one of the ones that bolted from the bench. I’m sure he said something real funny, but I don’t recall what it was.
Donkey found a way to make the other team move, too. He blasted out four hits, two of them long doubles, to lead a Saints line drive barrage. The Saints scored three runs in each of the first two innings, when line drives seemed as commonplace as milk and cereal. It seemed as though everyone was hitting line drives. Then Jeff Cook, who is approaching 50 hits on the summer, did something uncommon for him. He struck out to end one rally.
Crash, the closest thing to a living and breathing cliché possible, later redeemed himself with his thirty-fifth bloop single of the season.
“Ah, c’mon, that shouldn’t count,” griped coach Corny when seeing Crash’s pop up drop. “Hey Crash, why don’t you mix in a double or two?”
Corny had earlier watched a very long, horrifying third inning, when his defense combined to blow three easy outs, allowing Lakeville its only four runs of the game. During that painful inning, pitcher Jerome Ivy uncorked several pitches that had catcher Cuz diving and digging and running to the backstop.
“It was just too damn hot,” said Ivy, who conserved energy by not covering home plate a couple of times. Ivy rested after his three frames but resurfaced later with a solid pinch hit single and a Willie Mays like circus catch in left field. Darcy Ruff pitched two scoreless innings before John Noonan, who filled in as the spare umpire the first three innings, retired all six batters he faced to finish up.
Cuz, normally and infielder who played catcher because no one else would, made a fantastic, lunging catch on a pop up that should’ve been as simple as tying his shoes.
“I wanted to add some excitement to the game,” Cuz said. “I was getting bored, and besides, I wanted to work on my diving catches.”
After the game, Donkey invited everyone over to his house for beer. Nobody said anything. It was too hot, and Donkey might just have another bomb under his belt.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
John Noonan had a feeling about Sunday’s second game with Coon Rapids. The Saints had just defeated the Coons 4-3 on Scott Gatzke’s two-out eighth inning Lueder bleeder and ace Kevin Burns was warming up in the pen.
“We’ll beat them bad in the second game,” Noonan said. “To lose that first game was tough for them. Just watch.”
Noonan, who has made an okay living on forecasting the future, was right again.
The Saints scored fire times in the first, and for the rest of the sunny afternoon, it seemed, their biggest problem was finding a comfortable place to sit. It didn’t hurt, either, that first string catcher John Abercrombie and long-baller Jay Wright decided to show up for the second game.
“Thanks for noticing me,” Wright said.
Wright’s 390-foot double to dead center got the Saints going. Andy Stavast delivered another big first inning hit when he lined a high fastball into left to drive in two more. That would be plenty of offense for Burnsie and his sharp breaking curveball.
Burnsie whiffed 12 batters in his six-inning stint. He gave Coon Rapids a break in the seventh inning when he obeyed the coach and took a seat in the grass. With Burnsie striking out an average of two an inning, the Saints fielders had to make just one play each inning. Darcy Ruff, who collected six hits during the day, mopped up.
“We could’ve had Dilbert at short and Sponge Bob Squarepants at second,” said Burnsie, who came through offensively with a pinch-hit two run chop single. “With all my strikeouts, all the boys had to do was toss the ball around the horn.”
Second baseman Mike Staller, a dead ringer for Sponge Bob Squarepants, was targeted by wood bat specialist David Sodergren late in the game.
“Look at his crotch,” Sodergren marveled. “Is he wearing two cups, or does he just have another ass up front.”
Sodergren, only Sodergren, notices such things.
Burnsie picked up both wins Sunday. He relieved starter Joe Perzel in the seventh inning with the Saints leading 3-2. Coon Rapids tied the score off Burnsie, before the Saints won it in the eighth. Perzel impressed himself with his fastball velocity and the sharpness of his curveball…When Todd Cornelius joined the Saints three summers ago, he was given a jersey with “Lopez” on the back. The real Lopez showed up pitching for Coon Rapids Sunday. He surrendered a bases loaded two out single to the fake Lopez that tied the score at two…Corny called Noonan the “straw that stirs the Saints drink. Noonan laughed and said, how about “the crap that clogs the toilet…Jeff Cook went hitless in the first game before switching to lefty in the second. The lefty Cook got two hits…Perzel, maybe the most patient hitter around, walked four times…Larry Gessler, another patient Saint, caught Perzel in game one and stood at third base in game two. He also had a pair of line drive singles…
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Saints Send Lakers to the Hotel
It was an intense and emotional baseball game Sunday afternoon at Big Willow as the second place Lakers hosted the Saints. An outsider might have trouble believing that a bunch of 35-and-over fellows are so serious about a child’s game. A baseball fan, though, would have been pleasantly entertained.
The Lakers, a team that has won the league title the past two seasons, had lost their last two games. The Saints, a team that had been a long-time whipping boy for the Lakers, were looking to beat the Lakers for the second time this season. While two former Lakers had come over to the Saints this year, the Lakers big shot, Jim Wheeler, is an ex-Saint.
Wheeler, who homered for the Lakers lone run in the loss earlier against the Saints, was the starting pitcher for the Lakers. His homer last year in the playoffs helped beat the Saints 3-2. Dan Smith, a youngster whose Minneapolis Merchants team had recently lost in the playoffs, was given the ball for the Saints.
The Saints struck first with a run in the second inning. Todd Radam led off with a long double into the left center gap. Radam and his sore hamstring then departed for the skinny and fleet legs of Keith Jacobson. John Abercrombie’s fly out to right sent Jake to third. He then scored when former Laker Darcy Ruff hit a roller to first. The Saints pushed across another run in the fourth inning when Todd Cornelius scored on John Noonan’s hot smash to first. Cornelius had reached when his sacrifice bunt attempt was promptly hit right back to Wheeler, who threw to second and forced out Ruff. Ruff slid hard into shortstop Matt Miller, who told Ruff to cut it out. Miller soon got another owie when Smith plunked him in the arm with a fastball.
Smith continued to sail for the Saints. He did have to work out of some jams, like when Lakers cleanup man Alan Arthur hit a line drive to right with runners on first and second and one out. Arthur’s drive was speared by Jeff Schmidt, who then threw to second base to nab the overzealous runner and complete the double play. The Lakers came even closer to scoring when, on a steal attempt of second base, Saint’s catcher John Abercrombie rifled the ball into center field. Dave Packard’s attempt to get the runner at third found the chain link fence next to the dugout and the runner kept going. Saints third baseman Scott Gatzke retrieved the ball and was shocked that the runner was trying to score. Gatzke threw to Abercrombie, who tagged out the runner and held the ball even though the Laker runner gave him a forearm shiver.
The 2-0 slim Saints lead looked pretty fat going into the sixth inning. Then, a walk and a homerun, and the scored was tied at two. The Saints had blown an opportunity at a third run earlier when, with runners on first and third and one out, Radam’s chopper up the middle was turned into a double play.
Smith held the Lakers without another score in the sixth and then gave way to Kevin Burns. Burnsy had throttled the Lakers in the big Dome win, and was ready to choke coach Corny if he had to sit in the dugout any longer.
“My arm was getting sore because I haven’t pitched enough,” said Burnsy, who threw two innings earlier Sunday in an 11-2 win against the last place Senators. “Why do you keep avoiding me?,” he asked Corny.
Burnsy and his well-rested arm were there to save the day, but the Lakers quickly mounted a threat in the eighth inning by putting runners on first and second with none out. The batter failed to bunt, however, and whiffed. The next hitter lined a base hit to right and Schmidt’s toss to home went past Abercrombie and toward the backstop. The runner, luckily, held at third. Burnsy then retired the next hitter on a pop fly.
The reprieve gave the Saints another shot. Schmidt and Pack both reached in the ninth and Tim Hadler’s sacrifice bunt moved them up. Radam was then Barry Bonded to first and it was up to Abercrombie, who’d been frustrated so far by Wheeler.
“I wasn’t going to get jammed again,” Abercrombie said. “I was looking for his slider, but when he threw a fastball I was able to punch it to right.”
It was more like a haymaker. Abercrombie’s drive easily few past the Lakers right fielder and skidded to the fence. Schmitty and Pack scored easily, and Smith, running for Radam, got his long stride going to score all the way from first. It was 5-2. Corny told Burnsy to hold the lead or he’d choke him.
Burnsy's burger and beer went down easy at the Lone Spur.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Joe Perzel felt he hadn’t pitched enough lately so he decided to take the mound Friday night against the Cavaliers. Perzel usually doesn’t care about this wood bat league and he encourages and allows players to play out of position. This time, though, Shithead Joe wanted to beat the Cavaliers. He doesn’t like them.
“They’ve been screwing with us in this league the past two years,” Shithead said. “I want to beat them and beat them badly. Their coach is a moron and their uniforms are hideous.”
Shithead was satisfied enough with a 5-0 lead and surrendered the mound to Larry Gessler—who itched to pitch because he hadn’t pitched one inning for the Saints this year—in the fourth inning. Earlier, during batting practice, Kiddo beaned John Noonan twice. Noonan immediately pulled Larry from BP and inserted himself as the practice pitcher. Once in the game, however, Kiddo was able to mix in some strikes. In his first inning, Kiddo walked two, threw three balls behind hitters, threw four dirtballs and struck out three. He beaned none. It was vintage Kiddo.
Larry hadn’t pitched since he lived in Florida earlier this spring because of an injury he suffered while playing first base.
“I still can’t throw a curve so I went with my fastball, slider and change,” said Kiddo, who allowed one run in the two innings he pitched. “It was fun to get out and pitch for this group again.”
Noonan again replaced Kiddo, this time in the sixth inning of a real game. Kiddo’s itch had been sufficiently scratched. Noonan, who last pitched against a Saints split squad when Chaska showed up with just seven men, held the lead and the Saints won 7-3.
“I would’ve pitched better but I forgot to drink that second Red Bull,” said Noonan, who found the Red Bull in the water cooler after the game. “I wish that Larry could have batted just once against me. I would have opened up a can of Whoopass on him.”
The Saints offense was anything but Whoopass. They managed to score five second inning runs when the Cavalier pitcher walked everybody and everybody’s cousin. Dave Packard, whose cousin, Cuz, caught the game for the Saints, started the inning with a double to left field. Later, with bases loaded, Jeff Cookie singled to right field, and while the Cavaliers right fielder held the ball as if it were a winning lottery ticket, three runs scored. Another run scored later when Bob Gatzke drove in a run with a hard roller up the middle.
Noonan invited umpire and Todd Cornelius look-a-like Steve Ashwood to his shindig Friday night. He also invited Todd, the grounds crew guy, and two women that he was waiting next to at a stop light. John said everybody except Jay’s gay friend can come…Ashwood, who’d umped the American Legion playoff game that preceded the Saints game, sat in the dugout for most of the game. He said he might want to play next year…Right fielder Scott Lawrence got to play third base Friday and made some real nice plays there. Too bad you play so well in right, Lucky…
Can O' Corn (Cliff Notes version)
By Todd Cornelius
Todd Radam, Kevin Burns and Dan Smith combined to shut out Apple Valley 8-0 Sunday. Radam pitched four innings against his old teammates and said he knew all was right when catcher Jeff Schmidt caught a pop up. Smith was so confident that he had his top stuff that day that he told third baseman Mike Eicher to play way off the line. Long Dan was right as he overmatched the three batters he faced…Jokester Andy Stavast recently gave me some advice about being with and impressing women. He told me never to order a turkey drumstick while dining with a date. We were at the Lone Spur and Andy was attacking his spare ribs when he advised me...Burnsie took John Abercrombie fishing recently and said he helped Abercrombie catch some nice walleye. Abercrombie was impressed with Burnsie’s fishing expertise but later had an upset stomach because of all the rough waves they plowed through…Jay Wright and family sent a postcard from Wally World and the Donkey said they were having such a good time that they might just stay for the summer…John Noonan defeated Joe Perzel two games to one in a cribbage contest the other day. Perzel said that Noonan didn’t cheat…While Noonan has said that he hates to sleep and that it’s a waste of time, David Sodergren disagrees, saying that sleeping is one his favorite things to do. We all like you better when you’re sleeping, Dave…Scott Gatzke has assembled a Saints website and wants all players to give him a baby picture of themselves to post on the site…
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
The totals, not on the board, are correct: five errors, three hits, one run. Delete this from your computer right now. Toss it out in your garbage with that smelly old bag of trash, or cat litter, or dirty diapers. Erase it from your memory.
Those numbers told the story of a disappointing 5-1 loss to Loretto Tuesday night, and the sooner the Saints forget about it…
The night began with Tim Hadler showing up in Loretto for a Federal League wood bat game. He was promptly given the ball and was shown where the pitchers mound was. Hadler found his way to the big clay hill fine. The problem for Tim was that he had trouble finding home plate with his pitches. For Hadler, the strike zone seemed as elusive as trying to find the light switch in someone else’s bathroom. When he was able to steer one in there and the Loretto batters hit it, Hadler’s defense often had trouble catching it.
“We gave them five outs in two innings in a row,” said Saints ace and umpire baiter Kevin Burns, who pestered the ump several times and then giggled when the ump kept responding loudly to him. Burnsy, resting from a recent heavy pitching load, was otherwise helpless on the bench.
Helpless was the Saints offense, also. Darcy Ruff did manage a long double to right, and later scored on Scott Gatzke’s dribbler to first for the lone run. The only other hits were Jeff Cook’s lazy fly that dropped in short right centerfield and Jay “Schlonkey” Wright’s last inning single. Otherwise, the Saints were very successful at keeping the Loretto defense off the field.
There were some hard hit balls--John Noonan’s fly to left center and Jeff Schmitt’s two hard grounders--but the Loretto defense made all the plays.
“It was hard to see the ball because of the sun,” said Mike Staller, who saw one pitch well enough to hit it foul into the parking lot, just over Noonan’s Hummer and off Hadler’s Beamer. “I told Hadler I was sorry but said it was his fault for parking there. He called me an asshole.”
Hadler retreated to right field in the fifth inning and kept quiet. Todd Radam mopped up, pitching the last two innings for the Saints, without incident.
Keith Jacobson’s 14 game hitting game was snapped as he was 0 for 3…Larry Gessler bought a new wood bat on Friday and shattered it on Tuesday. I don’t believe he got a single hit out of the bat…
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
When the first two Edina players got to their home-away-from-home field Sunday afternoon, the Saints were already in the middle of taking batting practice. The problem, the Edinians said, was that we had taken their side of the field, and they wanted us to move immediately.
“It’s our field and we paid for it, so we get to be where we want,” the Edinian complained. “We need you guys to move so we can warm up.”
He WAS really rattled about this. Or was something else bothering him? Maybe his mom had taken away all his toys, or made him eat all his spinach before he got to go out and play baseball. Did someone take his lunch money away from him again?
“I couldn’t believe what a prick he was,” said Mike Eicher, normally a gentle giant whose demeanor usually resembles Sgt. Schultz. “He’s an idiot.”
After an attempt at some lighthearted humor, the Saints realized their crime and obliged, moving their equipment and BP session to the third base side. The Edinians appeared grumpy. They would get grumpier as the day wore on, even though they got their way and got be on the side they wanted to. I remember the look on my nephew’s face when I took his nook away from him when he was a baby. Some Edinians had that same look.
Maybe it was because the Saints followed their pre-game batting practice with game-time batting practice. Joe Perzel opened the game with a double and later scored. There was a small one inning lull for the Saints, before they combined for a bunch of hits to score six third-inning runs. Jay Wright keyed the rally with a long, wind-bucking double to dead centerfield. Also, utility man Jeff Cork continued his season-long offensive surge with a polite single, driving in two runs.
After getting a big lead, the Saints replaced Cork, who took advantage of his bench time to line up a few dates using his cell phone. Cork’s success has not only been on the field this year.
The Edinians tried a few more times to get their way. They tried screaming at the umpire. They kicked dirt. They made faces. They tried to say they had more runs and that the Saints had less. Nothing really worked, though, as Saints rubber-armed pitcher Jerry Burns snuffed out a couple of Edina threats. Burnsie left the mound after four innings with a 9-2 Saints lead.
The hot, humid sunny day was getting long for the Edinians. The season was getting long. Their faces were long. Dan Smith was long.
They did muster a couple runs in the fifth off Saints spare pitcher Poison Ivy. But after Perzel gave Ivy a bit of a pep talk, Ivy regrouped and made the Edinians sadder. The Saints added a couple of single runs to make the final 11-5, which made the post game parking lot beer taste better.
And all the grumpy Edinians had gone home.
Dan Smith collected his first ever hit and RBI for the Saints when he hit a hard ground ball single to right…Scott Lawrence’s friend Benny made his first Classic League appearance, catching the entire game. Lawrence, whose been sidelined with an unexplained wounded knee, loaned his #13 jersey to Benny…Larry Gessler, who is still rehabbing his sore shoulder, continued his impressive patience at the plate, coaxing three walks in three at bats...Todd Radam, who can’t seem to shake his hamstring injury, hung up his #18 and took the day off…Jay Wright says he sore, too…Tim Hadler, when given directions to the Edina field, wondered if the field was any good, “if it’s shitty, I’m driving right by and going home.” We’re all glad you decided to stop and play, Tim.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
We couldn’t have had a better start Monday at the Dome when Schmitty lined a triple to right center. I had so much fun watching him run that I didn’t wave him to third until he was half way there. I’m not convinced that Christian Guzman would’ve made it to third faster than Schmitty, who at least looks like he’s trying and that he gives a rip about the game.
It was fun to watch Burnsy mow down the Lakers Monday. I think he allowed just a Wheeler single in his five innings of pitching. Lakers ace Randy Moselle commented after the game that he couldn’t believe how sharp Burnsy's breaking balls were and wondered how long Burnsy's arm would hold out. Burnsy, who whiffed Moselle on a nasty slider, later cornered Moselle at Hubert’s to convince him to play with on his Roy Hobbs team in Florida this November. Those two would make a pretty fair pair, wouldn’t they?
Late in the game a Moselle fastball knocked Dave Packard on his rear end. “I’ve never been decleated like that before,” Pack said. Moselle said he had a blister on his finger and that he was trying to throw that pitch inside, but not that far inside.
Someone told me that we had 22 players at the Dome. Wow! It was exciting to see but difficult for me to deal with. I know that everyone wanted to play and contribute and I apologize that I didn’t get more people in. Please be patient, I’m doing the best I can. I appreciate that I didn’t get any pressure from anyone for playing time. Guess what, I really wanted to play, too.
A special thanks to our bat girl Jamie Wright, Donkey’s daughter, and to bench coach Derrick Ruff, Darcy’s son. I think I had as much fun watching them as they had helping out.
One last thing: we beat the Lakers. I’m not at all surprised. I’m convinced that we will beat them again and that they have nothing on us. Hell, we made four errors and still beat them. If we stay focused and don’t get uptight, we’re going to be the champs this year. I called Joe Namath and guaranteed it.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
I was extremely impressed by the efforts of Joe and Burnsy this weekend. They both pitched seven innings Saturday at Litchfield and then combined for seven more Sunday in the 6-2 win over Gopher Bar. Shithead seemed cooked after recording the last out Sunday and seemed real grumpy after giving up a two-run homer in the seventh. Way to go Shithead and Burnsy!
Following Saturday’s first game 6-0 loss to Winsted, two of the opposing players sought out Burnsy for a quick lesson on how he throws his curve. That was cool. Burnsy kept us in the game and we did out hit Winsted. Younger legs and younger arms were the difference. But ol’ man Burnsy did impress the young bucks.
My ex-Druk teammate Bill Bragg pitched for Litchfield in the second game Saturday. Bragg, who turns 35 this year, would have shut us out but for Todd Radam’s solo home run. Two years ago for Druks Bragg pitched nine innings one night at Maple Lake and then nine more the next night at Cold Spring. We led a strong Cold Spring team in the ninth before they tied it up. I took Bragg out in the tenth and their first hitter blasted a walk off homer off my relief pitcher. Bragg told me Saturday that he had a good opportunity to secure a new job in St. Paul soon and that he and his wife would be moving back to the Twin Cities and he’d be very interested in playing in the 35 and over league. Wouldn’t he look good in a Saints uni?
Keith Jacobson and Larry Gessler are two Saints players that really weren’t expected to play this year. I’m very happy they’re on the team. I love the team first, play me where you need me unselfish attitude both players have had this season. Not that others don’t have this attitude, but it’s very obvious to me in these two. I hope we can all take their lead—the more we do the more success we’ll have as a team. Not everyone can, or will have the opportunity, get the big hit in any given game. But if we all try to contribute something positive in each game, however small, good results will come.
I think a few players, me being the biggest culprit, are pressing at the plate. Larry told me to relax Sunday and I really did realize that I was trying too hard and to hit the ball 400 feet. I’ve never hit one out when I tried to or was thinking about it. Let’s try and help each other relax. Remind me. Please.
Let’s try and get as many practice grounders and fly balls as we can Monday at the Dome. Ground balls will come much faster than we’re used to and it will be difficult to locate fly balls coming from the roof. I don’t think we can wear metal spikes so bring alternate shoes if you have them.
I encourage any comments and will not be mad if you are critical, unless your last name is Gatzke.
Your anger management counselor,
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Here’s a few thoughts on Sunday’s Lakeville game and other things to think about:
-Joe Perzel did a nice job pitching without his best stuff. One thing that stood out to me was Shitheads’ “quick pitch” with a runner on first. The runner had a short lead and spare catcher Scott Gatzke threw him out at second. The Lakeville batter should have stepped out of the box to give his runner a chance to lead off again after Shithead stepped off the rubber. Remember, if you’re batting with runners on and the pitcher steps off, step out of the box—to prevent a quick pitch. The runner, who had a poor lead and jump, should not have gone. Remember, if you don’t get a good jump on a steal sign, you don’t have to go—unless we have the hit and run on.
-Larry Gessler had a big run-scoring hit in his season debut. I thought Kiddo had some good at bats, working deep into the count, being patient and getting good pitches to hit. I’ll keep saying it and saying it: get a good pitch to hit, work the pitcher and be patient—avoid being overanxious and trying too hard. Now I have to take my own advice and hope my teammates will remind me to settle down and be patient. Another important thing is to forget about those bad at-bats, like when John Noonan got rung up on a high outside curve in his first time up. Brutus fumed for a short while, then settled down with a single in his next at bat and later hitting a frozen rope double to score two runs. I try to think that every time you step to the plate, you’re 0 for 0.
-Every little thing counts—doing the little things right during a game will produce big results. We did a good job Sunday at helping each other adjust in the outfield. A few other little things to keep in mind: talking to teammates that bat right in front of you and right behind you in the order about steal and hit and run possibilities; watching the other team during infield/outfield to check out their arm strength/weakness so you know who you can take an extra base on; studying the opposing pitcher to find out what his tendencies are; getting a good secondary lead on the bases, especially with two outs. I’m sure I’m forgetting some other little things, so feel free to bring up some more.
I gotta go. I have to poop.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
Cook and Big Donkey Star in Ugly win
In spite of five errors (not including numerous mental errors) and being outhit by its opponent, the Saints managed to defeat Loretto 9-7 Monday night. Jeff Cook, who enjoys being called Crash, collected two hits while Jay Wright knocked in three runs with his pair of hits.
“The karma was positive for Crash tonight,” Cook said of himself. “But I did manage one blunder in the field when I became a statue instead of being the cutoff man for the throw home. I was also encouraged that I didn’t fall down rounding first on either of my two hits.”
Wright, the Big Donkey, had a bases loaded single to tie the score at 5-5 and later added a booming run scoring double.
“I still need some new pants,” Wright said. “Until I get all the stuff everyone else has I won’t feel like I’m part of the team.”
Burnsy Runs Wild
Kevin Burns, lifted after four innings of pitching, reentered the game as a pinch runner. He promptly stole second on his own and then had a great jump when Joe Perzel bunted back to the pitcher. The problem was that Todd Radam was already on third base, so Burnsy got in a pickle and was tagged out.
“I got a great jump off second and would’ve scored if Radam wasn’t in my way,” Burnsy said. “I stole second, could’ve stole third and would’ve stole home until Radam broke my rhythm.”
If we were cartoon characters
Saints players if they were cartoon characters: Joe Perzel: Shaggy from Scooby Doo; Mike Eicher: Bobby Hill of King of the Hill (he could also fill in as Yogi Bear); Scott Gatzke: Yogi’s little friend Boo Boo; Jay “Big Donkey” Wright: Winnie the Pooh’s pal Eeyore; Scott Lawrence: Homer Simpson’s drinking buddy Barney; Jeff Cook: the intelligent Mr. Peabody; Keith Jacobson: Dennis the Menace; Dave Packard: Underdog; Jeff Schmidt: the Road Runner; John Noonan: Brutus or Mr. Burns; Mike Staller: Thomas the Train; Kevin Burns: the Tasmanian Devil; Todd Cornelius: Charlie Brown or Ziggy; Andy Stavast: Barney Rubble; Todd Radam: Dagwood; Tim Hadler: Snow White’s Grumpy; Tim Kreig: Ned Flanders.
Corny/Gatzke Go Golfing
Even though he beat Saints lineup maker Todd Cornelius by about 20 strokes, Scott Gatzke was disappointed with his 103 score Saturday at Columbia Golf Course.
“I stunk,” Gatzke said. “I think I was just playing down to Corny’s level.”
A couple of young bucks filled out Corny and Gatzke’s foursome. When told that Corny and Gatzke played amateur baseball, they thought they were kidding.
In a way they were.
For the Cook archives
Quick, name a major league baseball player who was born in San Reno, Italy, lived in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and couldn’t hit.
His name was Reno Bertoia. In 1958, Bertoia batted .162. On the back of his baseball card it said that, although he did not get to play in too many ball games, he gained valuable information about American League hurlers that would help him in the future. I suspect that the information he gathered was that every pitcher in the American League could get him out, and that perhaps he should try a different line of work.
Trivia Question of the Day
Who was the only player to pinch hit for Ted Williams?
Carroll Hardy holds the singular distinction of being the only man ever to pinch hit for Ted Williams, which on the face of it might seem ridiculous unless you stop to consider that Williams was injured at the time and that the Red Sox didn’t have anybody better they could put up to bat. No, on second thought I take it all back. It is ridiculous.
Can O' Corn
By Todd Cornelius
New Turkey Award
The Non-Player of the Game, or goat, will be awarded with a free turkey leg at the Lone Spur following games played at Big Willow. Scott Gatzke will decide who the first turkey is, and thereafter the incumbent turkey will pick his successor. Turkey winners include the following actions/traits: missing signs, missing the cutoff man, showing up late to the game, not showing up at all, swearing at the coach, making fun of the coach, sulking on the bench, farting on the bench and any other behavior detrimental to the team.
No Nude Noonan
John Noonan said he’d sit in the dugout nude at the Lakers game if Jerome Ivy got the field by 6:30. Ivy, a habitually late arriver who has used frozen pipes, dead car batteries, faulty alarms and bad directions to the field, was to be the starting pitcher before the game was rained out. A disappointed Noonan instead took a couple of rounds nude in his batting cage while Jay Wright watched.
Lakers catcher John Tatley, who has assumed his team's leadership role this season, guaranteed a victory over the Saints.
“We know how to get Darcy (Ruff) out and Jay will be drunk,” commented a tipsy Tatley on his ex-teammates. “The Saints will have 25 guys there, get uptight and start booting the ball all over. We’ll win, I guarantee it.”
Stick the pig and pop the corks, kiddo’s coming back. Larry Gessler, who recently moved to Florida, is moving back to Minnesota in early June. Kiddo may not be able to step right in for the Saints, though, because he hurt his shoulder playing in Florida. We may have a Welcome Back Kiddo party at Noonan's, but probably won’t do another T-shirt.
Ex-Saint Orlando Ricardo, who has relocated to his roots in Chicago, is also injured. O pulled a groin digging around second in his first game. “it was a bitch, bitch,” O said, “you think it ain’t.” O, if you move back to Minnesota we’ll definitely have a party WITH T-shirts.
Burnsy Wants Coverage
Saints ace Kevin Burns was wondering why Gatzke and Jeff Cook haven’t given him any coverage in their pieces.
“He’s kind of boring,” Gatzke said, “but don’t tell Burnsy that I said that.”
Cook agreed: “He’s married with two children and lives in Suburbia. Burnsy’s just your ordinary blue jeans and flannel shirt blue collar guy who’s satisfied with catching his limit at Mille Lacs and then pounding some Bud at the lodge.”
Satisfied now, Burnsy? Or do you want more?
Stolen From the Cook/Gatzke Files
John Abercrombie said he wouldn’t use aluminum bats because he didn’t want to kill anybody, but then changed his mind and went 0 for 3 with metal…spare outfielder and pregame infield-outfield practice hitter Andy Stavast will make an appearance at the Dudley Riggs Comedy Club next weekend…Dave Packard said he has three more buddies that he wants to have try out for the Saints…Scott Lawrence, who is still in search of his first career dinger, is thinking about starting a weight lifting program…Jeff Schmidt ate a hot dog for the first time in 20 years. He didn’t like it.