When Walleyes Wept

Just to prove to Gene and  a few others that I am working, following are a couple of shots of Pony parts I’ve been steadily refurbishing out in the garage.

There’s a “mash-up” depicted there of steering and break parts in various stages of completion.  Although the clean-up takes place in the garage, the painting takes place in the paint booth.  Here’s a shot of one of the pieces hanging in the booth.

The machine shop did get the steering wheel removed from the steering column, so I have been able to proceed with work on that.  Their work on the brake parts and the steering wheel bumped-up the COM by $35.

By the way, what will happen when all the 55 to 75 year-old guys pass-on to their rewards, and there’s no one left with the desire and knowledge to work in a machine shop?  This is hard, hot, dirty work that requires expertise, precision and a clever mind, a tough combination.  When these men are gone, are we doomed?  I know life will get harder for tractor guys.

Speaking of old guys, and I think I can speak with authority on this subject now that I have a Medicare card, I saw a lot of them Friday.  The Princess and I went to the afternoon matinée of the movie “Best Marigold Hotel” or some such nonsense.  It was a movie about old people and it was attended by old people.  I don’t think anyone in the theater was younger than me.  When the movie was over the Princess went to “powder her nose,” so I thought, well I’ll powder mine too.  Jeez, every spot in the men’s room was filled with old guys waiting for gravity to get the plumbing to work.  I walked out, but of course, before we got home I had to pee so bad I was seeing yellow!

It’s been a quiet week in Young America, my home town.  The box elder bugs have been beaten into submission, mostly, and folks have gone on to fuss about other things, like the local ball club.  Otter Feltman, coach of the YA Cardinals is under a lot of pressure.  He’s coming off two back-to-back losing seasons, and with this year’s season well under way, the Cardinals 2-5 record has people looking down at their shoe laces when he enters a room.  He’s got lots of excuses, but fact is his talent pool (using that term loosely) is small and getting smaller.  This, while teams like the Waconia Walleyes keep getting new blood from immigrants streaming out of the twin  cities.

So Otter has to keep a keen eye out for anyone who might improve the team’s chances.  And that’s what he was doing a last week when the milk wagon from Bongard’s pulled into Gob Herm’s farm where he was helping out by watching Gob work as he sat on a stool just inside the barn eating sunflower seeds and spitting.  He figured he was safe from the town folk over here on the other side of the Mud Lake.  Otter couldn’t believe his eyes when the driver stepped down from the cab.  He figured him for 6′ 4″ at least and about 180 pounds.  Then he got a look in profile and even in coveralls and a cap there was no mistaking it, he was a she.   Hmmm, without even thinking about it, Otter envisioned this  Amazon in a Cardinals uniform, slipped off his stool, and moved over to the truck to introduce himself.  Gob peered out the door, noticed the rather intense look on Otter’s phiz as he spoke with the driver and went about his business.

It wasn’t five minutes and Otter was in his old beater heading over to Central High to find Otto Uenks, Principal.  Otto has the only copy of the Carver County baseball handbook known to exist; it was issued in 1932 and to this day has not been translated from the original German.  Poring over the manual the two eventually determined that even though the masculine article, “der,” was used exclusively when referring to the players, nothing prohibited a member of the fairer sex from being recruited by a team.

And that’s how it happened that Wednesday night a week ago at their home field in YA, Bessie Hinden, sat on the bench in a hastily altered Cardinals uniform awaiting the start of the game.  Otter hadn’t said much to anyone other than Ferdy Schwarz, the right fielder.  “Ferdy, this here gal is gonna take your place tonight, so get on over to the bratwurst concession stand and see if you can hit a few of those out of the park.”

Bessie had agreed to this crazy business not knowing one damn thing about the game of baseball, but she did understand Otter’s promise to let her order anything she wanted from QVC (up to $100) using his Amex card.  When the Cardinals took the field in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Walleye’s manager rocketed from the bench, confronted the home plate umpire and demanded an explanation.  Long story short, the game proceeded, but under protest, until such time as someone with the Walleyes (that could read German) had a chance to review the rule book.

To say that things did not go well is an understatement.  Thank the good Lord the Walleyes only had two left-handed hitters, as out in right field Bessie used her glove as kind of a deflector and swatted at the few fly balls that came her way just to save her life.  At the plate things went no better.  Bessie swung mightily for the fences, but missed the dang ball every single time. 

It seemed a miracle, therefore, that the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals down only 3-0.  The Walleyes pitcher was tiring, and through sheer doggedness those pathetic YA Cardinals managed to load the bases for who…yup, Bessie Hinden, the milk truck drivin’, baseball playin, QVC shoppin’ phenom from Bongard’s.  I’m not gonna drag this out.  Otter pulled her aside before she went to the plate.  He said, “Look it, Bessie, when that ‘bleeping’ Walleye pitcher throws the first pitch, I don’t care where it is, how fast it is, or whether it has eyes, I want you to stare it down, I mean stare it down until its right in front of you and then swing like you’re gonna cold cock that last boy friend of yours.”  She understood that and walked somberly to the plate.  

Fearing the disgrace he’d be held in should he fail against this Amazonian Cardinal at this critical moment, the Walleye pitcher got flustered, through the ball behind Bessie and it went to the back stand.  The ball got wedged under the fence, the catcher couldn’t get it loose and all three runners scored.

Folks in the stands went crazy.  A lot of mustard and sauerkraut was lost under the bleachers; beer went everywhere.  The game was tied and Bessie was still at the plate.  The next pitch will be talked about for a long time.  It was very high, eye level for Bessie, but following Otter’s instructions, Bessie stared that thing down and at just the right moment she swung at it like it was a ripe July melon.  That ball leapt from the bat, was still rising as it went over the fence, landed just short of the stairs to the back door to St. John’s Lutheran Church, bounced once and broke the window, walk-off home run. 

The headline the following week in the Norwood Young America Times read “Church Window Broken by Dairy Maid.”  Bessie and Otter sat in front of the TV for hours on the Thursday after the game until Bessie zeroed in on a pair of rose-colored, cultured pearl earings set in sterling silver.  They were a bit more than the $100 limit Otter had set, but what the heck, they were on “easy pay,” so he was able to spread out the payments.  Bessie didn’t leave Otter’s place  until well after midnight…ah, but that’s for another time…. 

That’s all the news from Young America.  Have a great Memorial Day, and thanks for reading.


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