Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Letter of Complaint

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Rob Watson
City, State, Zip

Chief Hospital Administrator
Scott & White Clinic
Temple Texas

When I was a child, my mother had some unidentified medical problems. She first went to the local doctor, then the regional hospital in Shreveport, then the big boys down in New Orleans. All concluded she had a spot on her lung and it was Lung Cancer and should have her lungs removed... not the solution Mama had in mind. By some means, Mama was refered to your clinic, back when it was in the old location in downtown Temple. After a number of visits and an extended stay, A pathologist there determined the pyloric valve at the bottom of her esophagus was cramping shut and food was overflowing into her lungs when she lay down at night. After further study, they disabled that valve and solved the problem.

Mama came away thinking yours was the greatest hospital in the history of the world. And so she taught me, her son. In later years, acting on this belief, I went to your hospital three or four times, when I felt I needed a complete physical examination. These exams usually took three or four days. The examinee met with a pathologist first thing, then scheduled appointments with specialists in various fields. In the end The pathologist collected the results from the various specialists and met with the examinee at the end to discuss the results. I always came away feeling I had the best possible examination, and well worth the vastly greater expense.

This preamble brings us to events beginning a few months ago. My wife was just entering Medicare and was due the initial physical examination they will pay for. Her last real physical was with you, some 25 years ago. Well, Back to Scott & White for the best. LOL ( if you are not in with current slang, that stands for Laugh Out Loud!!)

I called your main number to schedule her appointment. I spoke to eight or ten people before I even found someone who recognized my description of the type physical exam I wanted. This Young man forwarded my call to a group in “Internal Medicine” who claimed to do just that. Our records were updated and the appointment was made. Much to my surprise he said this would cost $395.

This morning, My wife calls as she is leaving Scott and White. She tells me she is done after one hour. The doctor says she is in good health and all her complaints are age related. “Well” says I, “did they do any tests?” “Yes, they took blood. The doctor will call me to come back if they find any problems”
Google Maps says that will only be 606 mile back down there, after a 1,212 mile round trip to get there in the first place. Needless to say I am disappointed.

My Medicare physical is due next August, if I want to talk, for an hour, to someone who is completely ignorant of my medical condition, I will go to my Priest. He is only six blocks away. And, he would be happy with a donation of $390. (a penny saved is a penny earned.)

Call me irritated and vastly disillusioned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Wedding

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The Wedding
by Rob Watson

I promised to tell you about the wedding of the socially active woman and the old farmer.
Bride, mature, age unknown, is an administrator at the local hospital/rest home. She is active in the Chamber of Commerce, the Carnival Heritage Museum group, Town Pride an other things whose name I don't recall. She is always dragging Wife into stuff (and vice-versa)... {this year I have been assigned the task of lining up the Christmas parade entrants and getting their forms to the judges booth. Note the difference between assigned and volunteered} Bride is heir to a large farming operation.

Groom is a 65 year old bachelor farmer. To fill in between crops he also runs two car washes here in town. Groom has a large farming operation. He also participates in the church mens group.

To explain later developments, you need to know that large farming operations usually have huge, expensive, farm equipment... trucks, tractors, combines, etc.

Prolog: Here in Town, most everyone knows everyone else, (way better than you or I would like to be known) and, have great numbers of relations. This lead to greater than normal discussion of the marriage, months in advance of the event, people were heard discussing WHY?? (that topic has still not entirely died out months later) Weeks in advance, the invitations went out and I heard a couple of old biddies discussing the guest list... "...well I heard so and so had not gotten an invitation..." "... That's because she is not in the phone book..." I personally heard several people comment that everyone in town had been invited. In the few days before the event a carnival atmosphere prevailed.

Wedding Day: Milo harvest had been delayed by unusual September rains. Many fields were still unharvested because of wet spots, but the day dawned clear and warm, with promise of good harvest conditions. Early risers found Groom cleaning his car washes. Downtown Town is normally completely abandoned by noon on most Saturdays. But today, the day of THE wedding, the town was all abuzz... early arrivals from out of town, farmers knocking off early, gossips distributing the latest... 

We got to church half an hour early and got the last two seats in the church. By the time Fr. Priest, Groom, and the best man walked out onto the alter, the church was full. People stood in the side isles, the back, and the choir loft. Even the vestibule, sporting huge glass windows into the church, in the entrance of the church was full. Fr. Priest walked to the center of the altar. He slowly scanned the contents of the building, and brought the house down with "Well, I guess everyone in town did come."

Church attire in most non-Catholic churches is usually “nice”, often referred to as “Sunday-go-to-meeting” attire. Catholics, especially in farming communities, are more informal and may include work clothes. The Wedding attire, while not all the way up to “Sunday-go-to-meeting” did include several pairs of “dress” bib overalls.

Bride has two sisters, each with a beautiful and strong voice. One lead the congregation in song from the front of the church and the other filled the space with wonderful solos from the choir loft... The bride and groom recited their vows unaided, (much to the surprise of many who knew Groom) It was as well planned and executed wedding as I have ever attended. The reception lined formed on the steps of the church and all attendees took part. But no one left.

At the corner was "the getaway car" all painted with ribald slogans and a few strings of cans attached to the rear... then the truck appeared. It was a 600 bushel grain truck (15 ton) with the sides attached, decorated with ribbons, crape paper streamers, flashy metallic reflectors, and painted with more ribald slogans. Attached to the rear were half a dozen long, heavy chains, each strung with hundreds of beer cans. The bed of the truck had two big recliners. A stepladder was placed at the end for climbing aboard.

After finishing the reception line, Groom and Bride climbed aboard the truck amid shouts and good natured banter, for the drive to the other side of town, for the reception dinner at the VFW hall. The truck did not go alone. All attendees, None of whom had left yet, climbed into their cars and formed a noisy parade. We were not near the back end, but the truck had turned the corner at the other end of town (six blocks away) before we got our place in line and drove away from the church.

At the corner, six blocks away, was the bank parking lot... decorated... Two huge farm tractors chained nose to nose and decorated with ribbon, streamers, and ribald slogans. At the VFW parking lot were two full size combines chained together in similar manner, with the addition of several pieces of mens and women's underwear dangling from the chains.

For dinner there were three or four choices. (I had the steak.) along with salad, rolls, and dessert... followed by music and dancing. All in all, an event for the ages.

Epilog: The day after THE wedding dawned warm and clear with the promise of another great day. Early risers saw Groom cleaning out his car washes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daddy at War

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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2008 06:35:03 -0600

My father was Platoon Sgt. Robert H Watson Troop F of 88th mec cav, 8th armor div. He served from the formation of the unit as a training battalion in 1942 until it was disbanded in dec 1945. The men who served with Daddy called him "Pop" because he was 28 in 1942 and was much older than most of the troops he served with. I have a few short stories (usually only one or two sentences) from my father. that I am willing to share.
I found your name and email in the 8th armor website.

Rob Watson

Dear Rob,
What a great way to start a Christmas morning...thanks for writing. My father died in 89, when I was 30. He was 18 when he went in via the draft. He first went to a special school in Illinois before joining the armor, but he was with them the whole time in Europe. I think he was the gunner on his tank crew. After the war he graduated from Mississippi State and worked about 35 years as an engineer for IBM. I have lots of photos with names on some. I will go back see if your dad's name is written on any. They are all on my computer if you would like for me to e-mail them or send a disc.
Dad spoke very little of his wartime experiences, so I have always been hungry to hear about it all. When I was in my early college years and could not decide what I wanted to do he would chide me that by the time he was my age he had won a war! Our family roots are all in north Mississippi, near Memphis. I have never lived more than 100 miles from that area except for a couple of short stints in NY and CO.
Have you ever been to one of the reunions? This year is the last, I hear. and I may try to go and meet some of the men they served with.


My dad was from Lake Charles La. He joined in April 1942. He was sent to Ft Knox Ky. for training. While there, he met a man from Morgan City La. who was in the training battalion. Daddy said he knew the guy from before the war (I think). This guy got my dad transferred into the training battalion. Otherwise he would have been in the first combat units to go over seas.

When the 8th armor was formed Daddy became Platoon Sgt. for second platoon and "commanded" two tanks. The platoon officer commanded the other three tanks in the platoon.(called a troop back then)

Daddy's bitterest memory was of the mine explosion that killed a lieutenant and (he said 9 men) 10 men. I copied the official report below. I have a photo, Daddy took, after the fighting was over, of the cemetery in France where the men were buried. there are 8 crosses and a Star of David between the two standing soldiers. He said they went there right after the men were buried and it was a huge muddy mess. On the second visit they were amazed at the difference. The picture showed a neat well manicured cemetery. They had been given leave in Paris and chose to take their day to find the graves of their friends.

Copied from an after action report: {22 Jan 45, An accident killing 10 EM and 1 officer and injuring 4 EM, all from the 2nd plat., "F" Col, occurred when the officer was conducting training on foreign mines. Remainder of Sq – no change. c. The accident resulting in the deaths of 10 EM and 1 officer of the 2nd platoon of "F" Co. as a result of a booby trapped mine would not have happened if the officer had followed his instructions as taught in standard mine schools. Namely, do not handle foreign mines remaining on the battle field.}

A few months ago I was looking through a box of Daddy's stuff and found the picture and a map of the cemetery. I went to Google and found the satellite photo. The cemetery is no longer there. I began researching the postwar disposition of graves and found an interesting story: The army contacted the family, of soldiers killed, and gave them the option of returning their loved ones to any place in the US or leaving them in Europe. Apparently the original burials were done ASAP. When the army went to move the men they found live ammunition and grenades had been buried with them. They had to get ordinance disposal to check each body before prepping it for transport.

Those left in Europe were consolidated into a few cemeteries in Normandy and Belgium. The one in Belgium has an event annually where the school children, from the nearby city, all go out and decorate the American and other graves to show their thanks for what these men had done for them. I once read a comment that said: "Whenever you begin to think this is a mean and selfish world, go to Normandy and see what a group of young Americans did for a nation of strangers." (referring, of course to the 12,000 graves that are still there)

Daddy ran a feed and seed store in northwest Louisiana for more than 30 years. He died in april 2005 at the age of 93. He would wake up screaming at night... especially if there was a thunder storm. He would never say what the dream was about, until a couple of years before he died. For all the horrors tankers faced in that war, his dream was about a german soldier walking up to him and was about to shoot him.

I am looking for stuff on 2nd platoon, F troop, 88th Mec Cav Re-con Sq. I have a scanner on my PC so am eager to exchange stuff... if you can recognize your dad... I have some pics, no names on them. I am considering going to the reunion... taking a blowup of Daddy to see if anyone remembers him. I have a company picture from the 8th armor... I will see if I can find your dad.

Your new friend, Rob Watson


Thanks for the photo, it is one I have not seen. I cannot recognize my dad in it yet. I was familiar with the mine incident from postings on the 8th armored website, but not all the detail you gave.

One of the men that my dad was friends with at MSU, Leon Standifer, has written a few books about his wwii experiences. He mentioned my dad in one book, as they were in a special training program together that I mentioned before. You can check out his books:
He was a rifleman in the infantry. He was a professor at LSU.

Many, but not all, of my photos are posted on the 8th armored page
One we are particularly proud of is the chalk drawing done on browm wrapping paper by a German POW after the war in Poland.
Is this the unit you are talking about? I do not see any references to platoons. I am not familiar with military organization.
When I first contacted the reunion website a few years ago, one of the men my dad served with actually called me to tell me a little about the unit and answer any questions I might have had, I think it was Seldon Jones. I did not really know what to ask, but it meant a lot to hear from him.
I have a pretty high resolution scanner and will try to get my other photos to you soon.


While in the training battalion Daddy would go driving around the woods and hills of Kentucky teaching men how to drive the tanks. He would sit in the turret with his feet on the driver's shoulders. The driver had two levers. One was forward, neutral, and reverse on the right track and the other the same for the left track. A tap on the left shoulder meant “turn left”. A tap on the right shoulder meant “turn right”. Tapping on both shoulders meant “stop”. On one particular day Daddy had an officer as trainee. They were speeding (top speed of his tank was about 40mph) through unfamiliar territory. As they topped a rise, there was a large gully directly ahead of them. Daddy kicked the officer in both shoulders to signal “stop”. They crashed into the gully because there was not time enough to react. In his excitement Daddy had broken one of the officer's shoulders.

Daddy's unit trained in central Louisiana at, then, Camp Polk. In the movie “Patton” he got a kick out of a quote Patton made about “...shoveling shit in Louisiana...”

In the convoy from New Jersey to La Harve, France, Daddy's ship had engine trouble. It had to drop out of the convoy because the convoy would not wait for them. He said they spent several anxious hours waiting for the thing to be fixed, fearing submarine attack. They eventually caught up with the convoy to the relief of all aboard.

Daddy spoke about being quartered with families in Holland. His family was poor and had suffered many hardships. He gave them food and other necessities, mostly provided by the army. They gave him very fine handmade lace doilies. These doilies were used as decorations around our homes for many years. I am sorry I do not know what happened to them.

Daddy told of driving all over Europe in vehicle convoys. They were frequently stopped, then would rush forward for a ways then stop again. Daddy was tank commander for his two tanks and sat in the turret directing the driving. One night after many hours of this, he fell asleep at his position. When he woke up the convoy ahead of him was gone. Not just gone but gone gone! He climbed down onto the front of his tank, holding on to his main gun and using a flashlight, followed the tracks of the tanks ahead of him until they caught up. He always claimed that if he had been caught he could have been shot. (military historians will tell you that Private Slovac was the only man actually shot for dereliction of duty, during WWII. Eisenhower's aid witnessed the execution and advised against the practice. Eisenhower ended the practice.)

The mission of the 88th Mech Cav. was reconnaissance. When the army approached a town, the 88th was to drive their little tanks into the town and look around... presumably for the enemy. After the Germans had abandoned a town, they would zero their artillery in on the highest thing in town... the church steeple. The purpose was to shell the incoming Americans. Daddy always called the German 88mm artillery “the 88's”. One day as he was snooping around a town, “the 88's” began to zero in on the town. A shell hit the church just as Daddy was driving by, and buried his tank under a huge pile of bricks. It apparently took the other elements of his unit a while to figure out where his tank was, then four hours to dig and pull them out.

The first tanks Daddy drove had a 37mm main gun. The shell was about the size if a 4oz fruit juice glass. The whole cartridge, slightly larger than a 1/10 liter wine bottle. One night his unit watched an engagement between 5 big German tanks and 5 American Sherman tanks. He said it was like watching a huge fireworks display. The Americans were destroyed and the Germans were essentially unharmed. I asked why he did not fire on the Germans. His reply: “Our little guns would not have scratched the paint on those Germans.”

Later the frontline tank units were equipped with new bigger guns, “76mm” Daddy called them. His unit then got the old frontline tanks with the “75mm” main gun. This shell was about the size of a one pound coffee can and the whole cartridge was almost 2 feet long. One day his unit was given orders to drive up on the side of a hill and shell a town, an unusual assignment, considering their “mission”. After they had been at this task for a while, they suddenly got radio orders to button up and get out fast. As they drove away the whole hillside blew up. Daddy always believed his unit had been sent out as bait for one of those big German guns. He said the army never found it.

The German V1 rocket made a distinctive buzzing sound and was universally called the “Buzz Bomb”. The rockets were launched from Holland and directed at England mostly. It would buzz in flight then the engine would shut off and the device would fall to earth and explode a 2,000 pound warhead. In his first encounter with the buzz bomb, Daddy heard the thing buzz over them then shut off and later explode. About the same time, a pilot was seen parachuting from the sky. Everyone thought it was just an airplane that had been shot down. They later learned what it really was.

The Rhine River was always seen as a huge obstacle to the advance into Germany. Most attempts to capture a bridge across it ended in failure. Usually the target bridge blew up in the face of, or under, those trying to capture it. (The first bridge to actually be captured was a railroad bridge just outside of Remagen, Germany. The explosive charge on the bridge failed to explode when the Germans tried to destroy it.) Needless to say there was desperate fighting to defend and to capture any bridge. Daddy's tanks were near another such bridge when an infantry unit captured it. They were ordered to  be the first armored unit to cross this bridge to help hold it against the German counter-attack. They were lined up to do their duty, but were greatly relieved when ordered to pull back and allow a unit with bigger tanks, that had just been found, to be sent across first. This bridge did not blow up either.

There is a unit history of the 88th Mechanized Cavalry, It mostly follows Troops A, B, C, and D. Troop E, and Daddy's Troop F are hardly ever mentioned. He was exceedingly irritated about that. I followed the unit by looking up the towns described in the unit history. They landed in La Harve, France and drove north through Belgium and Holland into western Germany. They then turned east and were engaged in combat north of Cologne. One time he said they had spent a lot of time assigned to the British as the reason they were not in the unit history much.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bear Hunting

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Bear Hunting

During the early’90’s I owned and operated a gun store. As a result, I heard lots of tales of adventure... some no doubt true, others, perhaps adjusted or enhanced. Here are a couple of my bear hunting stories.

First some technical information. Often we humans are deceived by simple hype. For example, Dirty Harry’s “most powerful handgun in the world” the .44 magnum. Lots were sold for just that line. One appears in this story. The whole cartridge is about the size of the first two joints of your index finger, if you have a large hand. The other pistol was a 45-70 caliber derringer, 6” barrel. This cartridge originated in the 1870’s as a military round for the US Army Springfield rifle. George Custer’s men carried a less powerful version, 45-55 into battle with them in their Springfield Carbine( a short barreled rifle). The bullet is about the size of the last two joints of your little finger. The whole cartridge about the size of your middle finger, if you have a large hand... roughly twice the size of the 44 magnum. Now to our tales.

Customer A, a good and loyal customer comes in the store one day and relates the “taking” of a grizzly bear in Alaska. It seems that he and his brother had gotten licenses and proceeded on their own for their great adventure. After a few days wandering around the Alaska wilderness, the brothers came upon a fine grizzly bear of trophy quality. Customer A took the shot and knocked the bear down. The brother stayed behind to spot the place where the bear went down. Customer A left his rifle with Brother, he had his .44 magnum revolver, “the most powerful handgun in the world” to finish off the bear, if the need arose.

Any hunter will tell you, dead animals universally die with their eyes open. Customer A noticed, but did not immediately register the fact that, the bear’s eyes were closed. He quickly reassess the situation when the bear’s eyes opened. The bear got up and came after his attacker.

“Never fear”, says Customer A, “I have the world’s most powerful handgun... I shot the bear six times as it approached me. I knew I hit it because I could see the fur puff out each time as the bullet struck.” The six shots apparently had no negative affect on the bear. Customer A was contemplating the end of his future when Brother dispatches the grizzly with a finely executed, 300 yard head shot. (hitting a moving target the size of a large hand, from a standing position, at 300 yards, approached miraculous.)

Customer B was a lover of large caliber firearms. He had recently purchased a collection of elephant rifles before coming into my store and offering to trade in his 45-70 derringer. At the time I had not even heard of such a weapon.

I have fired .44 magnum handguns and found them decidedly unpleasant to shoot. Now, here was a derringer, roughly one quarter the weight of a 44 revolver, firing a cartridge of roughly twice the power. In my view, pulling the trigger on such a device made as much sense as hitting one’s hand with a four pound hammer... but who am I to judge.

A careful examination of the trade offering showed a 20 round box of ammunition with 10 fired and 10 unfired rounds and a large (for a derringer) derringer with scratches on the, otherwise, like new finish.

“Customer B,” says I, in mock surprise, “I thought you liked large caliber firearms. Why are you trading this in?”

“I have been planning a fishing trip to Alaska and wanted something to protect myself in case a grizzly got after me. I thought this derringer would be light and easy to carry and powerful enough to do the job if I needed it.”

“I noticed the scratches. What happened?” says I.

“It got away from me a couple if times while I was trying it out.” (recoil ripped the gun out of his hand, over his shoulder, and across the rough finished cement of the range.)

“So,” says I, “why are you trading it in”

“Well,” he replies, “after shooting that thing a few times, I decided I was going to be damned sure the bear was going to bite me, before I ever fired it again!”

Note to the batting coach

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A Simple Game
By Rob Watson
Oct. 2009

Quoted from the Kevin Costner movie “Bull Durham”: “Baseball is a simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball.” Last night as I watched the first game of the 2009 World Series, I could only grind my teeth and shout at the TV “swing at the ball” while these “poor sad multimillionaires” (from You’ve Got Mail) nervously fidgeted beside the plate and let some tall skinny kid throw strikes past them.

I have been a Yankees fan since Mickey Mantle was a rookie. I have played the game from the age of 8 and continued with the softball version into my late forties. (I would have played longer but none would have me) For most of that time, it is fair to say, I couldn’t catch a basketball in a number three washtub. but I was a batsman of the first order. Due to a quirk of genetics my left eye is my master eye. I see the approaching ball better than 99% of players. Few things were more embarrassing to me than to let a strike get past me. Old Diz (Dizzy Dean) would have called me a “bad ball hitter” like Yogi Berra. I could, and usually did hit anything within reach... but enough about how great I was.

Some years ago I coached Little League for two years. I took a team because one had been formed but there was no adult willing to coach it. Two local guys had done the drafting for it. I had 19 players. Rule was all 19 batted even though only nine play in the field.

When I was a kid we practiced five days a week. Actually, Coach Marshall met us at the field beside the city swimming pool. We divided into two teams and played baseball for four hours, five days a week. I cannot recall receiving a single tip from the coach on how to play the game. Perhaps I was just not listening.

As I learned, so I coached. The first team I “coached” met five days a week and we mostly played the game. I tried to give the kids useful tips, but I got the feeling they just weren’t listening. Entirely unknown to me, that was the way to win in little league (or, in fact any league, as I was to later discover).

We were the Tigers. Our color was bright orange. A local trash hauling company was named Tiger Trash and had an advertisement bolted to the outfield fence. Eventually we acquired the name, intended as an insult, “Trashy Tigers”. My players took the insult as high praise and called themselves “Trashy Tigers”.

During the preseason my players started to call me “Coach” I told them to call me “Mr. Watson” until we won a game. In our first game we beat the other team by a fair margin. At the end of the game my littlest player, A cute little 8 year old girl came up to me and, with her prettiest smile said “Mr. Watson, can we call you coach now?” Yes, call me coach.

Going 8-0 during the first half of the season, in fact, 11-0 before we lost a game, was not the way to win friends among the other coaches. Most of these guys had been coaching Little League for a few years. None of them spoke a civil word to me until late the next summer when my second team went a more modest 8-8. They, and I, the second year, practiced twice a week.

All of this is leading to a tale from which the “poor sad multimillionaires” should take a lesson. At the end of the second half season the Trashy Tigers were 12-2-1. If we win this last game we become league champions without a playoff. The other coach only had 9 of his players, his best nine, available for the game. The other ten were apparently sick but were well enough to watch the game from the bleachers. My 19 all showed up, all batted.

In the last half of the last inning the Tigers were down by two runs but got two on base with no outs, before the other coach brought in his best pitcher. A hit, any hit, would get the ball moving, and in Little League almost guaranteed the Tigers two runs. I have seen Little League "home runs" travel less than six feet. So, my thoughts were... three outs... nine swings... fair chance of a hit!!

Two of my players were brothers. Actually, I had two sets of brothers. One set were princes of the “Que sera sera” group the other set was of the “lets make it happen” group. You can guess who were the next two batters at the critical moment. I grasp the first of the Que sera sera brothers and said “It is OK to strike out, but you must swing at every pitch.” I asked if he understood, he nodded yes. I repeated the command a second time, and sent him to the plate. There, he rested the bat on his shoulder while the pitcher threw him three straight strikes. I took his brother and repeated my command twice to him. The result were exactly the same... bat on shoulder... three straight strikes.

The next batter was a smallish kid. He had been drafted because his much older brother was “the best outfielder ever to come out of Williamson County”. Early in the season, based on this information, I made him an outfielder. Center field. An inning or so into this earlier game I noticed my center fielder sitting in his position picking flowers. (Oops, bored, needs an action position) Because outfielders and pitchers have the same natural throwing motion, I made him a pitcher. He became my number two pitcher.

This young man had been at my shoulder while I fruitlessly instructed his teammates. I looked at him and asked if he had heard what I told them. He nodded yes. I asked if he would do it. Another nod. I repeated “it is OK to strike out”. He walked to the plate. If he strikes out, we meet these same guys for a playoff. One mighty swing and a miss was followed by a second mighty swing and a miss. The third pitch was sent bouncing and rolling to the fence. As fate would have it, the ball hit the Tiger Trash sign. We went 13-2-1. The Trashy Tigers were league champions without a playoff.

A number of years later, playing in a company league, I got on a winning team, the Mullets. The Mullets were usually league champs at 8-0 or 7-1. Another team was the league doormat. It was unusual for them to win more than a game a season. One season they decided to practice everyday after work to see if it would improve their fortunes. To make a long story short they won the league championship. They never practiced again and quickly went back to 0-8 and 1-7 seasons.

My advice to big leaguers and little leaguers alike is this: Practice every day, swing at every pitch (within reach) and sooner or later the ball will be sent bouncing and rolling to the fence, maybe hit the Tiger Trash sign, and you to will be league champions.

FOOTNOTE: I mailed this essay to the “batting coach” of the Yankees and invited him to share it with his players. He must have taken these lessons to heart because they won the 2009 World Series.