Bill Spaceman Lee and Melvin Falu

Yesterday was a great day in my long baseball fandom:  I got to see a great game pitched by a guy who is 6 months older than me and I got an autographed baseball from one of my all time favorite Brockton Rox, first baseman Melvin Falu.  The only bad thing about the game was that Falu (Pronounced FAH-loo with lots of ooo’s when he comes up to bat) was injured and couldn’t play.

One of the great things about being in a small independent league ball park is that you are very close to the action.  The other is that fans are generally really friendly.  I had struck up a conversation with two young women sitting behind us.  They were clearly fans, and they commented on the game in both English and Spanish.  We talked a little about Bill Lee‘s appearance while Bob was off finding us a beer.  Then later in the game they started talking about Melvin Falu and how he couldn’t play.  I turned and asked them if he were hurt as I had wondered by he wasn’t playing.  The one of the woman answered that he hurt his knee and had had a cortisone shot, but would be OK.  I asked if he would be able to play in the the play-off and she said yes.  I said I hoped to see him in a play-off game as he was one of my favorite players.

A short time later, one of the women walked down the steps to the dugout and came back with an autographed  ball which she handed me.  Falu was standing up in the dugout waving at us.  It was a great moment.  Turns out she is a relative of his.  He plays hard and well, clearly for the love of the game.  He is one of the Can-Am league all-stars again this year.

So on to Bill Lee. The Spaceman.  Lee last pitched for the Red Sox in 1978 and pitched his last professional game in 1982 for the Montreal Expos.  According to NESN, the Rox had first asked him to throw out the first pitch and he agreed only if he could do more.  So he did for 5 1/3 innings getting the win.  Two runs, 5 hits, one strikeout and no walks.  Pretty good for almost 64.


The Rox beat the Worcester Tornado who just happen to be managed by another Red Sox alum, Rich Gedman.

They are part of the Boston Red Sox alumni club, one player from the 1970s and the other from the 1980s.

Bill Lee’s stay with the Red Sox ended in 1978 and Rich Gedman made his debut in Boston late in the 1980 season, so they just missed being teammates.

On Sunday afternoon, though, their paths crossed in a Can-Am League game at Campanelli Stadium with the 63-year-old Lee pitching for the Brockton Rox against the Worcester Tornadoes, managed by the soon-to-be 51-year-old Gedman.

For Lee, the game meant a chance to venture into new territory, starting a professional game for the first time since being released by the Montreal Expos in 1982.

For Gedman, the game meant a chance for his team to stay alive in the race for the final playoff spot with the regular season ending today. [Monday]

With his team’s playoff hopes damaged, Gedman could only shake his head in amazement.

“I didn’t know whether to clap or be angry with him,’’ said Gedman. “I’m happy for him. There’s not a lot of people who can do what he did. First of all, they don’t think they can do it. That’s the thing that he has.

“How many people could pull that off? That’s what is special. He did it because he believed he could do it. He loves to play. That’s a wonderful tribute to him. Despite all the other stuff that people talk about, baseball is special to him and it’s fun to watch him.’’

According to the Yahoo sports story

I lift wood and make bats for a living,” he told reporters. “This is fun for me. It doesn’t take anything out of you to pitch.”

Yes, the “Spaceman” was otherworldly. Lee, who in his day job makes bats for David Ortiz(notes), among other major leaguers, is thought to be the oldest pitcher to appear in a professional game, let alone win one.

Satchel Paige was 59 when he pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Another longtime Negro Leagues player, the legendary Buck O’Neal, batted twice in the Northern League All-Star Game in 2006 at age 94. He swung at one pitch and walked in both at-bats. Earlier that year, Jim Eriotes, 83, led off the game for the Sioux Falls Canaries and struck out. He did foul off a pitch.

His first pitch was an eephus, a slow blooper that the batter banged up the middle for a single. Was that all he had? The 6,126 in attendance had to wonder.

Then Lee got down to business. He got out of the first without giving up a run. Nick Salotti homered to lead off the second, but Lee allowed only three hits and a run the rest of the way. Perhaps after giving up the homer, he reminded himself of one his most famous quotes: “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.”

The Spaceman was obviously having a great time and so were we.  And he’s added another great quote to his collection:

“It felt good out there. Everything was where I wanted to be,” the 14-year big-leaguer said, believed to be the oldest pitcher to earn a victory in a professional game. “I got pulled before I could use all of my pitches today,” Lee added. “I was hoping to be able to break out my Juan Marichal screwball.”

Thanks to the Spaceman and Melvin Falu for a great day.  For Lee, it is back to Vermont and making bats and for Falu and the Rox, it is play-off time.

Stick a fork in the Sox

The Sox are done.  Maybe not officially, mathematically , but they are done.  It is almost as if Dustin Pedroia’s surgery took the air out of the last tire.  And I don’t think we can blame Hurricane Earl for the double header loss. I was hoping that they could stay close enough to the Rays and Yankees to take advantage of any collapse, but I don’t think that is to be.

They didn’t have a bad season, just a not so good a season for the Red Sox since they broke the Curse. 

I know that everyone will blame Theo Epstein and management for not making trades, but deep down everyone knows that wouldn’t have been the answer.  No one counted on all the injuries. (It is now reported that Mike Lowell has been playing with injured ribs.)  Epstein is in it for the long term and the young kids, the Navas, McDonalds (even if he isn’t all that young he’s pretty much a rookie), and the guys in Pawtucket, Portland and Lowell are the future.  Of course, in a couple of years if things don’t bounce back, then we can say Theo was wrong.

Here is Peter Abraham on the games that ended the season.

Well that was quite a day for the Red Sox.• First doubleheader sweep since dropping a twinbill to the Yankees on Aug. 18, 2006.

• Fewest runs in a doubleheader since losing 5-1 and 2-1 against Kansas City on July 16, 1976.

• They were 13 of 67 at the plate including 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

There will be much written about the season, but this picture kinda says it all.

John Lackey

We can only hope that the Sox stay professional and win a respectable number of the games remaining.  Over .500 would be nice.  But we know for sure that next year’s Sox will look very different. 

Get healthy, guys!  As they used to say in Brooklyn, “Wait until next year!”


The facts against what people “know”

I’ve written several posts about this subject including the recent “Misinformation and the disappearance of the moderate Republican” and the earlier “Keeping the Faith”.   Both discussed the uphill if not futile effort to fight misinformation with facts and the impact this has on democracy.

I have been reading Angels and Ages:  A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik.  It has been my train book for the last month or so.  Fascinating book and lots to think about.  Coming home today, I came across this quote on page 186:

Science – scientific reasoning – seems to me an instrument that will lag far, far behind.  For look here, the earth has been thought to be flat.  It was true, so it still is today, for instance, between Paris and Asnieres.  Which however does not prevent science from proving that the earth is principally round. Which no one contradicts nowadays.

But notwithstanding this they persist nowadays in believing that life is flat and runs from birth to death.  However, life too is probably round, and very superior in expanse and capacity to the hemisphere we know at present.

                                               Vincent van Gogh, June 1888

“Science – Scientific reasoning – seems to me an instrument that will lag far, far behind.”  We still have people who believe the earth is flat, just as we have those that still believe that President Obama was not born in the United States and is a Muslim.  Just a people still believe that the health care reform bill will lead to death panels for Grandma.

My point is that difficulty is using facts to persuade is not a new phenomena.  Van Gogh, an artist not a scientist or philosopher or politician recognized this.  I don’t know if this cheers me up or depresses me even more.


Thoughts about Glenn Beck and the Lincoln Memorial Rally

I was sitting at dinner tonight and it occurred to me that for all of Glenn Beck’s call for all of us to return to church, I had no idea what church he attends.  Do you know? 

According to the Wikipedia entry about him, Beck was born Catholic and left the church.  He is now a member of The Church of the Latter Day Saints or Mormon.  No wonder he is so disparaging about President Obama’s religion calling him a follower of liberation theology.  If I am not mistaken, liberation theology began in the Catholic Church, the church that Beck left.  This obsession is not really new. 

In March 2010, Politics Daily reported on a segment of Beck’s show.

On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that “social justice,” the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a “code word” for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice.

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

Later, Beck held up cards, one with a hammer and sickle and other with a swastika. “Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That’s what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. . . . But on each banner, read the words, here in America: ‘social justice.’ They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy.”

This is the man who invoked the name of Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  King was a minister and an advocate of all that Beck seems to find evil: economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth and democracy.

[Thispicture is the Beck Rally, not the King Rally]

It appears that Glenn Beck is not only ignorant, but also confused.

Today, Kathleen Parker, the conservative columnist for the Washington Post wrote a column titled “My Name is Glenn Beck and I need help” in which she argues that his behavior is clearly that of an addictive personality.

Beck’s “Restoring Honor” gathering on the Mall was right out of the Alcoholics Anonymous playbook. It was a 12-step program distilled to a few key words, all lifted from a prayer delivered from the Lincoln Memorial: healing, recovery and restoration.

Saturday’s Beckapalooza was yet another step in Beck’s own personal journey of recovery. He may as well have greeted the crowd of his fellow disaffected with:

“Hi. My name is Glenn, and I’m messed up.”

Beck’s history of alcoholism and addiction is familiar to any who follow him. He has made no secret of his past and is quick to make fun of himself. As he once said: “You can get rich making fun of me. I know. I’ve made a lot of money making fun of me.”

Parker continues

Covering all his bases, Beck invoked the ghost of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who stood in the same spot 47 years ago to deliver his most famous speech. Where King had a dream, Beck has a nightmare: “It seems as darkness begins to grow again, faith is in short supply.”

Really? When did that happen? Because it seems that people talk about God all the time these days. Even during the heyday of Billy Graham, most Americans could get through 16 or so waking hours without feeling compelled to declare where they stood on the deity.

And the darkness? Creeping communism brought to us by President you-know-who. Conspiracy theories and paranoia are not unfamiliar to those who have wrestled the demon alcohol.

So we have a former Catholic Mormon alcoholic leading the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.  As Parker concludes, “Let’s hope he gets well soon.”