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1. The Ballad Of Eddie Klep

 

The war had finally ended and America had changed

It had beaten back the nazis but the Jim Crow laws remained

There was talk of staging marches & talk of civil rights

There was talk about a Negro playing baseball with the Whites

 

He walked into the clubhouse and the card players quit playing

Everybody stopped in the middle of whatever they were saying

It was just like when the sheriff walks into the saloon

He said, “My name is Eddie,” as he looked around the room

 

“This man’s here to play baseball,” the manager said to the team

“We’re all gonna have to live with this...aw, that’s not what I mean...

You know what I mean” - and they all did...it went without saying

The card players looked at their hands and they went on with their playing

 

They ran him off the field before a game in Birmingham one night

Made him sit up in the grandstand in the section marked “For Whites”

In his Cleveland Buckeyes uniform, it was a new twist on the law

The marshals kept their eyes on him and the hecklers ate him raw

 

Eddie Klep, he should’ve run the bases in reverse

A White man in the Negro Leagues, that had to be a first

He could not ride the same busses, or stay in the same motels

He could not eat in the same restaurants, you couldn’t have mixed clientele

 

So while Jackie played for Brooklyn and wore the Dodger Blue

Eddie crossed the color line, the one without a queue

A White man in the Negro Leagues, might as well have been a Jew

Now you mention the name of Eddie Klep and most everyone says, “Who?”

 

2. Gone To Heaven

 

His uniform was baggy

He had gigantic feet

His hat was always cock-eye

And he had but a few teeth

And a schnozz as big as Baltimore

And a heart as big as Devon

Max Patkin made the children laugh

And for that he’s gone to Heaven

 

Max Patkin, he was Vaudeville

Last of the old time clowns

Funniest looking fellow

That ever went from town to town

With the kind of face that he himself said

Only a mother could love

With his loosey-goosey limbs

And his floppy leather glove

 

Max Patkin worked 3 innings

They let him coach first base

He’d call a meeting with the batter

And then kiss him on the face

Then he’d do his chicken walk

And then his geyser bit

Where he’d take a sip of soda

Tilt his head back and spit

 

Max would leave ‘em howling

Then be slumped upon his stool

With his back against a locker

Filling the whirlpool

Dirtied up and sweaty

Down to his stockinged feet

He’d give the clubhouse boy 5 dollars

To scrape the mud off of his cleats

 

The Clown Prince of Baseball

Did 5,000 gigs

For 50 years he shared the bill

With circus dogs & talking pigs

And by the 9th inning

He’d be back at the motel

With an early morning wake-up call

And the next night he’d be someplace else

 

The towels in every motel room

They all smell like chlorine

From the Rookie Leagues to Triple A

And all points in between

And all those hotshot prospects

Who ever were Big League bound

He saw ‘em on the way up

And some on the way back down

 

Oh, to be a clown these days

You’ve got to have thick skin

A flask in your back pocket

Or a bottle of aspirin

The drunks sometimes’ll getcha

Or the team that did not win

It’s tough to be a clown these days

You’ve got to have thick skin

 

Max Patkin loved the children

And the children, they loved him

His body would fall apart sometimes

But he’d patch it up for them

He never, ever, not even one time

Sold an autograph

A funny man, Max Patkin

He made people laugh

 

The times changed on Max Patkin

Along came Rock & Roll

They blare it from the speakers now

If ever there’s a lull

And some guy in a chicken suit

Is circling the bases

With a corporate logo on his back

And in 1 or 2 other places

 

If there’s a St. Peter

Sitting at the gate

He probably saw Max play sometime

And wiped clean Max’s slate

That corny old routine

Dated back to 1947

Max Patkin made the children laugh

And for that he’s gone to Heaven

3. Lefty

 

Lefty’s in the minors

Got his shoulder packed in ice

He’s trying to hang on there

Against all that good advice

Used to throw that sinker

But that sinkerball went south

And then they started calling him

For going to his mouth

 

Lefty holds the record for

Most strike-outs in a game

Once upon a time

He really threw a ball of flame

Some wish he’d gone gracefully

When his time finally came

They put Lefty on waivers

But nobody laid a claim

 

It’s a Godalmighty shame

He got too old to play the game

Where he made himself a name

And they call him Lefty

 

Lefty wore the pinstripes

For a good number of years

The bleacher bums all loved him

They were tanked up with their beer

He used to throw that heater

But the radar does not lie

And now when Lefty lays one up there

You can kiss that thing goodbye

 

It’s a Godalmighty shame

He got too old to play the game

Where he made himself a name

And they call him Lefty

 

Now they’re calling him from Cooperstown

Out on the bullpen phone

Some little field in Bumfolk

Where the grass is overgrown

It’s the bottom of the 7th

And a runner just got on

And they’re calling for a lefty

But Lefty’s not the one

 

There’s a capital “L” in Lefty

So say it with respect

He’s Senor Lefty down in Mexic

And he’s Lefty in Quebec

He could smoke you, he could fool you,

Throw a curve around your neck

He could paint one on the corners

He could fill the upper deck

 

It’s a Godalmighty shame

He got too old to play the game

Where he made himself a name

And they call him Lefty

 

4. Dock Ellis’s No-No

 

It was a lovely summer’s morning      

An off-day in LA

So thought one Dock Ellis

As he would later say

His girlfriend read the paper

She said, “Dock, this can’t be right...

It says here that you’re pitching

In San Diego tonight”

 

“Got to get you to the airport”

And so off Dock Ellis flew

His legs were a little bit wobbly

And the rest of him was too

Took a taxi to the ballpark

An hour before the game

Gave some half-assed explanation

Found the locker with his name

 

The organ in the upper deck

Played all the schmaltzy hits

You could hear it in the club house

Where Dock was getting dressed

His sunglasses he reached for

From his locker, in a case

Dock Ellis pulled his jersey on

Then he put them on his face

 

Time came to go on out there

Down the corridor

The walls were a little bit wavy

There were ripples in the floor

He went out to the bullpen

To do a bunch of stretches

Loosen up a little

Throw his warm-up pitches

 

All rose for the national anthem

People took off their hats

Fireworks were exploding

The cokes were already going flat

Dock was back there in the dugout

So many things to watch

Some players spit tobacco juice

Others grabbed their crotch

 

The umpire hollered, “Play Ball!”

And so it came to be

Dock’s Pirates batted first

And when they went down 1-2-3

Dock’s catcher put his mask on

And he handed Dock the ball

It was 327 feet

To the right & left field walls

 

The Pirates took the field then         

And Dock stood on the rubber

He bounced a couple of pitches

And then he bounced a couple others

You might say about that day

He looked a little wild

The lead-off batter trembled

Nobody knew why Dock Ellis smiled

 

You walk 8 and you hit a guy

The things that people shout...

Especially your manager

But he didn’t take Dock out

Dock found himself a rhythm

And a crazy little spin

Amazing things would happen

When Dock Ellis zeroed in

 

Sometimes he saw the catcher

Sometimes he did not

Sometimes he held a beach ball

Other times it was a dot

Dock was tossing comets

That were leaving trails of glitter

At the 7th inning stretch

He still had a no-hitter

 

So he turned to Cash, his buddy

Said, “I got a no-no going”

Speaking the unspeakable

He went back out there throwing

Bottom of the ninth

& He stood high upon the mound

3 more outs to go

He’d have his name in Cooperstown

 

First up was Cannizzaro

Who flied out to Alou

Kelly grounded out for Dean

The shortstop yelled, “That’s two”

It must’ve been a mad house

The fans upon their feet

The littler ones among them

Standing on their seats

 

Next up would’ve been Herbel

But Spezio pinch-hit

He took a 3rd strike looking

And officially, that was it

It was a lovely summer’s morning      

An off-day in LA

So thought one Dock Ellis

As he would later say

5. Letters In The Dirt

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen

I never understood why people did

He hit a homer every time he stepped up to the plate

That’s what I remember as a kid

 

Richie in the field out there by first base

The target of some mighty foul words

With his shoes he’d scrawl between the pitched 

“B-O-O” in great big letters in the dirt

 

Philly fans, they’ve been known to get nasty

When Joe must go, they’ll run him out of town

I saw Santa get hit by a snowball

And then get hit again when he was down

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen

Even if he did sometimes strike out

I was too young to read the papers

To know what all that booing was about

 

That big collapse of ‘64 was ugly

They blew a lead of 6 and one-half games with 12 to play

Some might say their fans were justifiably angry

World Series tickets printed up in vain

 

Philly fans, they’ve been known to get nasty

When Joe must go, they’ll run him out of town

I saw Santa get hit by a snowball

And then get hit again when he was down

 

Going back to old Connie Mack Stadium

You teaching me the rules of the game

We root-root-rooted for the home team

Those other people should’ve been ashamed

 

This was before the days of the million dollar contracts

Before the days of the artificial grass

He stood a bit outside the lines which made him fair game for those times

Richie Allen never kissed a white man’s ass

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen

No, we’d pound our mitts & we’d yell, “We want a hit”

How could they call a guy a bum after he’d just hit a home run? 

That didn’t make any sense to a kid

 

Now I’ve since found out all these days later

Now I know a lot more than I did

And if back then you knew, Daddy, why all those other people booed...

Thanks for letting me have my heroes as a kid

6. Bonehead Merkle  

 

September 23rd

19 Hundred & Eight

Cubs against the Giants

Giants at the plate

Bridwell came to bat

There were two outs & two on

It was the bottom of the 9th

The infield it was drawn

 

Two weeks left in the season

It was a classic pennant race

The Giants had a one game lead

And the Cubs were giving chase

Polo Grounds were rocking

Score was tied at one

Moose McCormick was on 3rd base

He was the winning run

 

Which brings us to Fred Merkle

Whose name would soon be cursed

He was the other runner

He took his lead off first

Bridwell drilled a line-drive

Out into right-center

McCormick could’ve walked home

And the Giants were the winners

 

The Polo Grounds erupted

Thousands rushed the field

The players all ran for their lives

Fans right on their heels

& Merkle was halfway to second

By the time McCormick scored

But then Merkle made a bee-line

Straight for the clubhouse door

 

Now the door to the clubhouse

Was in the outfield wall

Merkle never did touch 2nd

And the Cubs retrieved the ball

The throw back to the infield

Reached the wrong couple of hands

& Giants coach McGinnity

Threw the ball up in the stands

 

And after a long deliberation

The Ump ruled Merkle “out”

It would take too long to clear the field

Of the unruly crowd

And since night games were unheard of then

And it would soon be dark

He called the game a 1 - 1 tie

And would have to sneak away from the park

 

Giants manager McGraw argued

That this Rule 59

Never was enforced

And so why should it be this time?

But only two weeks earlier

It ran on all the wires

The same play happened to the Cubs

And to the very same umpire

 

But none of the New York papers

Deemed the story fit to print

And so it was that thanks to them

Their team was ignorant

But all throughout the Baseball world

And elsewhere people knew it

A runner has to touch his base

And Merkle didn’t do it

 

So the matter was turned over

To the Baseball powers-that-be

Who upheld the Ump’s decision

& they ruled prophetically

That if the season were to end

With the Cubs & Giants tied

They’d have to replay “The Merkle Game”

So First Place could be decided

 

Well, they replayed “The Merkle Game”

And fee-fi-fo-fum...

The Giants lost the pennant

And Merkle was the bum

The papers let him have it

They gave it to him good

They ran the kind of headlines

That only New York papers could

 

They dubbed him “Bonehead” Merkle

They made up Merkle words

One might “pull a Merkle”

And “to Merkle” became a verb

Some would yell “touch 2nd, Bonehead”

When he stood on first

Little kids yelled “moron”

And the older kids much worse

 

It haunted him his whole life

Until 42 years later

In front of 35,000

Former Merkle haters

Back there at the Polo Grounds

For an old-timers game

There was a long standing ovation

When they announced Fred Merkle’s name

 

8. Moe Berg: The Song

 

Moe Berg the catcher 

Good field and no hit

Somehow he lasted 19 years

‘till his knees made him quit

He never really played much

Ahe never really cared

He was happy just to hang around

With a uniform to wear

 

Moe Berg the Princeton graduate 

Went on to study law

Got his degree from Columbia

All the while playing ball

He caught the eye of the Dodgers

Who were trying to sign a Jew

Who might help ‘em sell some tickets

In The Bronx & Yonkers too

 

Moe Berg the professor of the bullpen

Joked with pitchers

Reading them the newspapers

He used to have delivered

He spoke to ‘em in Russian, Japanese & French

He was the greatest scholar that ever rode the bench

 

Moe Berg & The Babe

They went over to Japan

With a team of touring all-stars

Giving clinics for the fans

This was back in the 30’s

As the world prepared for war

Moe took a lot of pictures

Nobody knew what for

 

Moe Berg the secret agent

Never even told his mom

Of his mission to determine

If the Germans had the bomb

He learned to speak good physics

Without hardly a lisp

He infiltrated lectures

With the German scientists

 

Moe Berg the walking riddle

Would put his fingers to his lips

If you recognized him on the street

He’d nod & whisper “shhhh”

He kept a lot of secrets

No one will ever know

He knew a lot of people

But nobody ever knew Moe

 

Moe Berg the beloved

He had the gift of gab

The moocher, the celebrity

He never paid the tab

He could get in at the ballpark

With his lifetime player’s pass

He could eat up in the press box

Someone always filled his glass

 

Moe Berg son of an immigrant

Brought his father shame

All that education

Then to play a child’s game

Moe made it to the Majors

But his dad would never go see him

Moe’s baseball card is on display

At the CIA museum.

 

Long after he’d retired

There was still Moe Berg the myth

He rode into the sunset

Hanging sadly onto it

Appearing on a game show

As the mystery guest

Some say disappearing

Might be what Moe did best

9. The Unnatural Shooting of Eddie Waitkus

 

Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who was an office typist          

Went to a baseball game at Wrigley Field

With a couple of her girlfriends, it was innocent enough

Ruth Ann’s future though that day would be revealed

 

Some girls she didn’t know were yelling,

“Hey you, funny face”

To a player who was within shouting distance

And there stood her Adonis in the form of Eddie Waitkus

Who was blissfully unaware of her existence

 

It was April 27th of 1947

Ruth Ann blew a circuit in her brain

The 27th of every month would be the anniversary

Of the time she first saw Eddie Waitkus play

 

Every Saturday & Sunday she would ride the El to Wrigley

Sit halfway up the line behind first base

Cause that was his position and those were the closest seats

Where she could have the best view of his face                                                                                                                                      

Ruth Ann collected articles & photographs of Eddie                       She slept with pictures of him in her head

She learned some Lithuanian, to better understand his roots

Made a shrine to him beside her bed

 

Ruth Ann’s world was shattered the day Eddie was traded

To Philadelphia & for many days she cried

She wrote him letters often and she phoned & left him messages

But never once did she get a reply

 

On the north side of Chicago, the Edgewater Beach Hotel

When the Phillies came to town that’s where they stayed                  

Ruth Ann made her reservation a month ahead of time

On her calendar she ticked off every day

 

A room service daiquiri & a couple of whiskey sours

All three of which she nervously consumed

While waiting up for Eddie who was out late having dinner

After starring in the game that afternoon    

 

Ruth Ann bribed a bell hop to leave a note for Eddie

Urging him to come up to her room

1297-A, Ruth Ann wrote on hotel stationary  

That had the faintest trace of her perfume

 

“It’s extremely important I see you as soon as possible...

It would be to your advantage to let me explain”

It was very nearly midnight and the Phillies had a curfew

Eddie just kept staring at the name

 

Ruth Ann was the same name of the woman Eddie dated

But what on earth would she be doing in town?

She surely would’ve phoned first before coming to Chicago

Eddie rang the elevator down

 

A tall girl answered the door,

Said Ruth Ann stepped out for a minute

Eddie sat down by the window in a chair

Ruth Ann said, “I’ve got a surprise for you”

It was a pawn shop rifle

Eddie stood up & said “Baby, what have you got there?”

 

“Baby, why’d you do it?” asked a bleeding Eddie Waitkus

Over him a lifeless Ruth Ann stood

“You’ve been bothering me for two years,”

Ruth Ann said to Eddie

“And if I couldn’t have you then nobody could”

 

Ruth Ann phoned the desk clerk to say she had shot Eddie

That’s probably why he didn’t bleed to death

“Baby, why’d you do it?”  he kept asking from the stretcher

Struggling for every precious breath

 

Ruth Ann told the detectives

How she’d planned on stabbing Eddie

And how then she would’ve taken her own life  

But when Eddie sat down in the chair

A stabbing was impossible

So she used the rifle instead of the knife

 

Ruth Ann did three years in a mental institution

They set her free when they said she was cured

And after four operations Eddie Waitkus did recover

At least you see his name in all the old boxscores                                 

 

But Eddie took to drinking...

He turned into an angry man

People often wondered, and there were a bunch of rumors

Just how well he knew that crazy star-struck fan   

 

10. Whitey and Harry

 

Moonlight on the mountains

North Carolina two-lane

Trying to find a ballgame

No matter how bad the reception

Whitey, man, I miss you

When I listen to the Phillies

And there’s Harry going on without you

Harry...good old Harry

 

Radio under my pillow

Kept me up on school nights

The ballgames from the west coast

Wouldn’t start until eleven

Whitey, man, I miss you

When I listen to the Phillies

And there’s Harry going on without you

For the first time since I was seven

 

We wore red, the thousands of us

Who’d come to say goodbye & pay their last respects

This tough town really loved you

I saw grown men who wept

 

Bats & spikes & flowers

Made a shrine around your casket

And I signed in in the guestbook

As the line filed past it

Whitey, man, I miss you

When I listen to the Phillies

And there’s Harry going on without you

Harry...good old Harry

 

©2018 Chuck Brodsky  |  BMI