Billy Bucks

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Can I be honest with you, my readers?

Another thing I don’t like doing anymore is obituary posts – they tend to be downers. But my blogging policy tends to be that there are exceptions to every rule, and I think this is one of those times where an exception applies.

William Joseph Buckner passed away yesterday, known to baseball fans as simply Bill Buckner. Instead of looking at his career accolades of which he amassed 2,715 hits – he is sadly remembered for an error he made during the sixth game of the 1986 World Series that allowed the New York Mets to score the winning run that night after Boston’s Red Sox had a 5-3 lead going into that fateful tenth inning. Had Boston gotten that final out that wound up eluding them – they would have won their fourth game that series, which more importantly would have given them the World Series championship.

I was a Mets fan when that chain of events happened, and when the Mets scored that run to win – the 15 year-old version of me went crazy, even though there was a seventh game of the series yet to be played. But the first team I followed religiously was the 1979 Chicago Cubs, thanks to that absurdly crazy 23-22 game on May 17th of that year against the Philadelphia Phillies. On that team was a first baseman named – you guessed it – Bill Buckner.

Buckner is the main reason why I don’t like to use the word “choke” when it comes to sports. I never thought it was entirely fair to blame him for the Red Sox not winning the 1986 World Series and for Boston fans to turn on him as they did. When you get two teams of high skill together, games seem to get determined more often than not on sheer luck – and luck was with the Mets that night to the fault of no one else.

Rest in peace, Bill. Whatever suffering there has been with time is now at its end.

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Mount Hillary Revisited

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It’s always the most unlikely things that mentally kick you in the shins.

About five years ago, I wrote a story about a young lady I went to school with who I named “Hillary” for wanting not to give out her real name. Much like the political Hillary we all know about in the here and now, this Hillary always got into trouble, or found ways to get out of such trouble.

You’d think someone like the Hillary I knew would be on social media these days with a Twitter account, more likely one of a legion of people with Facebook accounts. In doing some elementary searching, I found out that Hillary is no longer with us – passing away sometime around 2000.

If that were the story in whole, I wouldn’t be mentioning it here. But one day after I returned to Florida from North Carolina in the summer 2000, I’m on a PSTA (the local bus transit company here in Pinellas County) bus for some reason. As fate would have it, Hillary got on – and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s her. For some reason, I’m too shy to go and say hello – I bury my head in the St. Pete Times newspaper, figuring acknowledging her and vice versa would be too awkward,

And that would up being the last time I saw her. The moral of the story: make every second count – tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Flashback: “Miserlou” by Dick Dale

In putting this piece together, I didn’t know that Dick Dale had passed away this past Saturday, March 16th. More of a reason to play the song made famous in Pulp Fiction and some other media outlets circa 1994 that was originally recorded in 1962.

Aircheck: AWA Syndicated TV Outtake, 1/1/1984

In honor of the passing of Gene Okerlund yesterday (who I’ve mentioned before on here), I thought I’d share this gem.

In the scripted world of professional wrestling, you may wonder – do things ever go wrong? Yes, though most of the time such bloopers weren’t shown so that “kayfabe” (the art of thinking that wrestling was real, thus treated as if it was real) could be maintained.

Before Okerlund went to the WWF and become a household name to even casual wrestling fans, he cuts this promo in the AWA with Jesse Ventura – soon to be WWF bound himself. Ventura introduces a new tag team partner, Mr. (Masa) Saito. To get the promotional vignette “over” (to sell to the audience that they should go watch them in live matches in their local arena), Saito tries to headbutt a small piece of wood so that it breaks in half.

(In most promotions during that era, the wood board would have been broken ahead of time, then pasted together so that it would resemble being broken as a result of the villain’s karate move to promote the premise that the “bad guy” had a strong chop, a hard head, a lethal kick, et cetera.)

As you can see, they run into complications and had to abandon this singular take – but not without a good amount of laughter breaking out.

41

We begin the eighth year of this blog with the sad news most of you know by now. Former President George H.W. Bush passed away on Friday night at the age of 94. He is the fifth former President to expire in my 47-year lifetime and the first in nearly 12 years since Gerald Ford died in 2006.

I do feel a sense of sadness, though. He was the President when I graduated high school and made some tough decisions in his four-year term in office. (To show you what I geek for the news I used to be – I snuck in a radio to school on January 20, 1989, the day Mr. Bush became President. None of the classes I had that day had shown the inauguration on TV, and the school year was either in exam week or was close to it – so the event went ignored.) He is also, perhaps, a cautionary tale for the current President in one respect: after the first Persian Gulf War, his approval rating was above 90 percent – but he wound up losing the following year to an upstart governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.

Around the time of 9/11, my mother worked at one of the St. Petersburg nursing homes (of which there are many), and one of her residents was someone who worked for “Poppy” Bush at one time or another. She (the patient) was upset with some issue regarding the aftereffect of 9/11 (or so I seem to remember) and went on a hunger strike, so former President Bush took the time to call this woman up and had attempted to talk her out of it. I don’t remember whether or not Mr. Bush’s talk was successful or not, but I admired the fact that a former President would go out of his way to support someone like that.

The outpouring of love for “Poppy” will no doubt surprise a few. In a nearly unprecedented move, the stock market will close this upcoming Wednesday, December 5th – the day of the former President’s state funeral. Like many leaders, he has his critics – but I always thought he had a quiet dignity about him, and there’s nothing wrong with being quiet or having dignity.

(CORRECTION, 12/3/2018, 4:40 pm ET: I was erroneous in saying Mr. Bush was the fifth president to pass in my lifetime. He was the sixth. I forgot that Harry Truman died on December 26, 1972 – and I was born September 6, 1971.)