Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pervis,Gaddis & Zippy

The back of my house is located on a canal. Each morning I step outside, retrieve my fishing rod from the shed and cast my lure out. It’s a meditation in motion. A few weeks ago a large peacock bass followed my lure and at the last moment turned and swam away, kicking at the surface as it did so. “Nervous?” I would call out. “What are you scared of…just take a bite!” This fish has made several repeat appearances, and thus I have given it a name, Nervous Pervis. 

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    Another character that swims by, is a  large catfish. I am not interested in catching it, but I do muse at its age, I am certain if it could talk, it would have many tales to tell. I have named this fish “Gaddis”. Many years ago, one of the first sports fishing shows on TV was hosted by a very talkative fisherman, Gadabout Gaddis. Also frequenting my mornings is a small blue gill that zips around. Like that catfish, I have little interest in landing that blue gill, but I do admire its energy.Thus,he has earned the name, Zippy.


    Last week my son visited from college. His trademark is to leave something behind and  once he has returned to his dorm, he’ll call and ask if I can mail it out “next day”! On this occasion he left behind his favorite lure, “the wounded minnow”. For me, I just don’t see why a fish would even give this thing a second look, but my son swears by it as if it had magical power.


   This morning I decided to change, I clipped off my old lure and tied on my son’s favorite, the wounded minnow. My first cast out, I slowly retrieved, a huge splash, and my rod was bent in half! It was Pervis! Thunderbolts of excitement went through my arms as I fought to reel him in. Just as I he neared, he gave one final strong tug and then…..the line broke! He was gone,,,with my sons wounded minnow lure firmly hooked in its mouth!


   There was a deafening silence …silence that comes with disbelief, shock and disappointment. I stared into the water….and became part of it.


   “Whoa there Pervis, what’s your hurry?...and what the heck is that hanging from your lip?” inquired Zippy.   Thrashing a bit, Pervis replies, “my lip? Why is something hanging from my lip?”   “Yes, Pervis, you got something there…hold still and I’ll get a closer look”  Zippy slowly swims closer….”hmmm….hmmm…oohhh..eeEEEKKs!”Zippy shrieks…”it’s a lure!”   “A lure??” questions Pervis, “what the heck is a lure?”

  “A lure is a one of those fake fish that has sharp hooks in and when they grab you, you get pulled out of the water by these monsters that live outside the water!”

Pervis’s eyes bulged. “What do the monsters do when they catch you?” 

“They eat you!” chimed in Gaddis, the catfish who now was on the scene. “Let me see what you’ve gotten yourself into” Gaddis swam closer to Pervis to investigate.

“Oh that is bad, those hooks are in your lip, they’re in  solid” Gaddis officially remarked.

“Pervis swam nervously in a circle, “oh my, now what, now what am I going to do? I’ve got this lure on my lip for life!..How am I going to eat?”

“Ya know,” piped in Gaddis, you’ll just have to become a vegetarian”

“Vegetarian!!” exclaimed Pervis, “No way!..C’mon guys, give me a hand here, help me, please!”

Gaddis and Zippy swam off and could be seen having a discussion between them. They slowly swam back.

Zippy spoke, “We think we have come up with the only possible solution”.

Gaddis then took over, “This guy that tosses the lures in here, I’ve seen him come here everyday. I don’t think he’s really a monster. I have seen him catch us fish, and then toss us back.”

“Toss us back?” said the puzzled Pervis. “Why catch us and then toss us back, what a waste of time!”

“I don’t know” continued Gaddis. “As far as I can make out, anyone who lives outside the water is crazy.Anyhow, this is our plan. When he comes here in the morning he will be tossing out that lure that you have been following, this time, bite into it”

“Are you nuts!” shrieked Pervis, “and get hooked again?”

“Will you let us finish?” Zippy bust out..then continuing Zippy said,”bite on the lure, this time ease up on your thrashing……he’ll pull you in….and he’ll be so darn happy to get both his lures back , for sure he will set you free.”

“And, what if he decides to keep me…to eat me?” asked Pervis.

“Talk to him…grant him three wishes” laughed Zippy.

The three fish burst out in laughter! “That’s the oldest trick in the book” laughed Gaddis. “Fisherman believing if they toss fish back in the water something good  comes their way”.

“Well”, continued Gaddis….its either bite the lure or become a vegetarian, you decide”.


    Later in the afternoon I spoke with my son. “Dad, I can’t believe you lost my wounded minnow lure” he said with great disappointment in his voice. “Don’t worry” I said..… “I have a feeling that I’ll be getting it back by tomorrow.”


Yes, I’ll have his lure…and three  more wishes to ponder!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

You Gotta have Heart!

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  Fifteen years ago on a cool September afternoon, my 10 year son and I went to the baseball field to work on his pitching form. He was not in his teams “rotation’, but I had assured my son, with practice his turn would come.


    After a few minutes into our routine a half-pint sized kid appears by the dugout. Dressed in catchers gear, he calls out “nice throwing, pitcher!” I looked over at this kid who was considerably smaller than my son. “So, you’re a catcher?” I asked. “Yup..and if you don’t mind, I’ll catch your son and you can go down to second base and I’ll throw a few down to you. I chuckled to myself while admiring this young boy’s gusto.


   My son had made a few throws, when in the distance I could hear a mans voice call out, “whoa, what do we have here, another Nolan Ryan in the League?” He was a middle aged guy with a salt and pepper beard, wearing a torn t-shirt and shorts that were riddled with holes.  “NICE THROW KID” he yelled out.His voice  with such enthusiasm, it sent chills down my spine! He was carrying a giant equipment bag on his shoulder, and let it fall to the ground. He walked briskly towards me while not taking an eye off of my son. “whoa kid, you keep throwing like that and one day you’ll be selling your autograph!”  He extended his hand out to me, “howdy, I’m Bill Riggans, coach of the Dodgers. We have a scrimmage game today against Quackenbush. Your son throws nicely; does he pitch in our league?” I explained that he was on a team that already had 4 pitchers, so getting a turn on the mound was not easy. “Well, that shouldn’t be” he commented. “Well, I have a scrimmage game in an hour, how about if he starts on the mound for my team?”  My jaw dropped, “start?....won’t your parents object to seeing a strange kid start on the mound” “Heck, he answered, “if any of the kids on my team could throw half as good as your son, they would start….”  My pride had to be showing, “thanks, sure, he’ll be ready to start for you.”  I walked over to my son and explained to him that his chance had come. I told him to stay with the coach while I raced home for his athletic cup, a baseball jersey and a bottle of Gatorade.

    My wheels schreeched as I pulled up the driveway.  “Where’s Adam? My wife quizzed. “I left him at the field, he’s with the Dodgers, the coach, Bill Riggans thinks he’s the next Nolan Ryan and wants him to start on the MOUND in an hour.” I was back in the car when the word “hour” reached her ears.


   When I returned to the field my son was in the dugout with the rest of his new teammates. As I handed my son a bag with his things, I casually asked if he had told Shawn Riggans, the catcher, his different pitches. Shawn piped out, “yeah, its all taken care of,  1 is a fastball, 2 is a change up 3 will be high and inside” “High and inside?” You want him throwing at the batters head?” I asked. “Yeah, cause the next pitch will be coming down the middle of the plate, but the batter will be too shaken to even swing…don’t worry Mr. I’ll take care of the batters”.  I could barely believe what I was hearing, psychology from a 10 year old catcher who needed extra bungee cords to keep the mask and chest protector from sliding off his small frame!


   Shawns plan worked. Adam pitched splendidly and looked like a genius with Shawn calling the pitches. After that day, word got back to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Adams coach, and he  finally did geta turn to pitch!


    The next season, Coach Bill picked up Adam in the draft. Bill and I coached baseball together, and the park was not the same for the next 6 years. Bill and I  have remained best of friends, and our memories of the days on the baseball diamond have sustained through good times and the bad.. My son Adam, had a fine little league and High School baseball career. Shawn….. Shawn’s growth was slow in coming, and while he made the H.S. baseball team he was used as bullpen catcher. He had six at bats in H.S.  While this may have bothered Shawn, he pressed on. His work ethic, relentless.His heart, filled with this dream of playing baseball!


   On September 6th of this year Shawn Riggans got his turn. He was called up to play in the  Majors by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  This “half-pint”, grew ,and  has now had more at bats in the major league than he had while playing H.S.!!  He has played in Yankee Stadium, hit ground balls fielded by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.


Not all wishes and dreams come true. But, without a heart filled them what would this world be like!


Way to go Shawn!   Game against Boston Today!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


     I worked for a company that each year, the week prior to Christmas, they would order in lunch for all the employees. Each day of that week a different food was ordered in. There was always plenty to go around, and the left overs were quickly scooped up who get excited over "free food".

    On the last day of the week, a Chinese buffet was always brought in. This would really get Hilda going. Hilda was short, stocky , large breasted dame that loved Chinese food! She had been known to charge the line, pile up a mountain of food, only to return to the food line moments later! "Where does she put it?" we would laughingly ask.

    There is a  marvelous protocol that we are all born with. This "protocol" has us instinctively care for and protect our young. This "protocol" will have us jump when we hear another human cry in pain. This "protocol" will have our hearts open up and share with others who are less fortunate. The only thing that disrupts this "protocol" is selfishness. It's a selfish love that disrupts the simple logic of our nature. Thus chaos gets invited to the picnic.

    Hildas love, her selfish love of Chinese food which forces her to get on line, again and again, and have us wonder about that sagging bra she is wearing, is proof enough how our love, when executed with selfishness spoils the wonderful protocol that we were blessed with!

I guess her husband always looked forward to that sweet and sour breast of chicken!