THEY CALL ME COACH
This weekend I concluded my 15th and last season coaching American Legion Baseball as my Cubs lost to the Knights 9-7 in the league tournament.
It's been a long ride since 1996, when I was asked to coach my son, Phillip's baseball team. Over the years there have been some ups (winning Zone and going to State, watching my son grow into an outstanding ball player (and man) and downs (losing Zone (and not going to State), the tragic deaths of two players) but I know that all of those experiences made me a better person. I hope these boys have learned as much from me as I did from them, both on the field and off. I'm still going to be involved in the program, especially in planning the annual Jake Walkup Tribute Game, but I won't have to deal with the almost daily June - August grind of practices, games and travel. I'm sure I'll miss sitting in the dugout and chatting with the boys but if I get bored I can always go sit in the stands and yell at the umpires!
| The 2010 Lansing Cubs|
Last week I forgot to give a hearty thumbs up to broadcaster Jon Miller, who was inducted into the broadcasters wing of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. If you follow the game you probably know that Miller is the voice of the San Francisco Giants as well as the main man on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Jon was the voice of the Baltimore Orioles from 1983-1997 and he and I became good friends. He was a frequent visitor to my theatre in Baltimore (always ordering a bag of Twizzlers and a Diet Coke). In fact, when he would come out to KC with the team he and his booth mates would come to my theatre to check out a show. He actually inscribed his book "to the greatest theatre manager I've ever known" when he gave me a copy. Congratulations, Jon. Much deserved.
"aja" by Steely Dan
FM - Original Movie Soundtrack - Featuring songs by Boston, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty and Steely Dan
Just announced this week is a musical tour called the Dukes of September, featuring Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald and Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. So I thought I'd pull a couple of Steely Dan albums off of the shelf this week.
Released in 1977, "aja" was Steely Dan's 6th album. Based on the popularity of such hits as "Deacon Blues" and "Josie" (as well as great album tracks like "Black Cow," "Peg" and the title track) the album hit #1 in the US and was won of the first albums to be certified as "Platinum", noting sales of 1,000,000.
In 1974 Steely Dan hired Michael McDonald as their keyboardist for a short tour (the band stopped touring that year after a July 4 concert, mostly because of Fagens' stage fright, which made it hard for him to sing in public). They didn't play live again until 1993. I bring this up because I had a friend in high school who SWORE that he had seen Steely Dan in concert in 1977, even though he was told by tons of people that Steely Dan didn't tour. McDonald stayed around with the group through their next album, "Gaucho," leaving to join the Doobie Brothers.
Give a listen to "Peg," ironically played live:
I pulled "FM" off the shelf not only for it's Steely Dan connection but for a great (to me) story that goes along with the purchase of the album.
Released in April 1978, the movie "FM" is probably best remembered for it's soundtrack. Featuring great songs from Boston, Jimmy Buffett, the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Randy Meisner, Steve Miller, Tom Petty, Queen, Linda Ronstadt, Boz Scaggs, Bob Seger, James Taylor, Joe Walsh and, yes, Steely Dan (REO Speedwagon makes a live appearance in the film but is not included on the album), the movie told the story of a group of DJs who take over their radio station in protest of running commercials for the U.S. Army. Of course wacky hijinx ensue and at the end the station owner fires the management staff and pledges his solidarity with the jocks. I'm pretty sure that the film laid the groundwork for "WKRP in Cincinatti," with Howard Hesseman playing the Martin Mull role, Tim Reid in the Cleavon Little role, etc. If you really want a capsule of the great music of the late 1970s, this is the album for you. Now the story:
In early 1978 Matt and I got jobs at the Woolworth's in West Shore Plaza. We mostly worked in the stock room, moving boxes, taking out trash and doing whatever else needed to be done. One of the perks of working at Woolworths was that, if you wanted to buy an item but didn't have the cash you could take it to the office, they'd make a note of the price, you'd take it home and then, when you got your paycheck, you'd cash it and pay for your goodies. A nice perk. I'm thinking it's mid-July 1978. I hadn't started working at the Tower Drive In yet and I had recently wrecked my car so I was bussing it to work. Sometime during this week I "purchased" the "FM" soundtrack at work, fulling intending on "paying" for it when I got my check. For some reason known only to those who can remember the event, the night before payday found myself, Matt, Rick Sousa and Bob Sauer in Mark Goshen's garage/bedroom listening to music and, possibly, imbibing of some of nature's finest. Somehow during the night we came up with the idea of driving up to Tallahassee to visit our beloved ex-drama teacher, Sharon Long, who had left Plant to take a job there. As night became day we decided to do it. We all squeezed into Mark's car (which I believe was a Datsun 240 Z) and Matt and I picked up our paychecks. We cashed them and then, instead of heading back to pay for our previous purchases (I think Matt had a couple of albums to pay for as well) we headed to a local liquor store and purchased many items, including the dreaded Night Train Express. Made by the Gallo company, Night Train was a very low end wine that contained more alcohol then the other vino of choice for discriminating high schoolers, MD2020 and Boones Farm. Somehow I ended up driving up I-75 with a car full of idiots. Bob Sauer was one of the kids in drama and was very high strung. He had directed a student production called "The Sacrifice" which pretty much blew and he knew it. The more he drank the more verbal he became. Finally he was so tanked that he began kicking the back of my seat and cursing me. I pulled the car over to the side of the highway, got out and pulled him from the backseat. We stood at the back of the car and I listened as Bob went on and on about how he knew I didn't like him and that I was mad because I didn't get the role I wanted in the play. A lot of stupid stuff that I'm sure he wouldn't have said had he not been drinking (I call it the Mel Gibson effect). Finally he went into a tirade, telling me to hit him. "Hit me if you're such a big man! You don't like me anyway!" "I'm not going to hit you, Bob." "I said hit me you..." From over my left shoulder came the right hand of one Matthew John Drinnenberg, whose fist connecting to Bob's jaw was enough to quiet the situation. We put Bob back in the car and continued our trip. However, by now the effects of the sun and the booze and no food and no sleep was overtaking us so our trip ended at a hotel outside of Kissimee. With the exception of Matt and I, who still chuckle at the memory, the events of that day were never brought up again.
Here's a look at the trailer for "FM":
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "Mike's Rant" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.