Monday, May 13, 2019

A Note about My Brother and Becoming a Pro Baseball Player

This post involves my older brother, Mike. He is seven years older than me, the oldest of six. He is three years older than my recently deceased and wonderful sister Pat (who designed the MTV logo and did design work for the B-52s, Sting, Billy Idol, and a host of others), five years older than my sister Peg, seven years older than me, nine years older than Barbara, and 11 years older than Reg. We were a great family with a lot of laughs, sometimes not enough money, a father who was a Broadway actor and a mom who was a radio star. We did a lot of reading as kids.
But my brother wanted to be a professional baseball player. He worked at it and worked at it and made the famous Archbishop Malloy High School team and then a half-scholarship at national powerhouse St. Johns University.
He worked his butt off. Exercises, running, fielding, swinging a bat with a 5 or 10 pound weight at the end. And he played with the Queens Aliance teams, a semi-pro outfit that made him gas money every week, until he was older than 50 and got Bell's Palsy--which he's recovered from. He was a street cop in NYC, made his way to Lieutenant without connections, became a lawyer and is now a freaking judge in NYC, part time. He's 75 and going strong. He just busted his knees while running up to the 10th floor courtroom he presides over in NYC last year, but is better from that as well.
Growing up he gave me rules: If I wanted to be a pro base ball player I could not eat cheese, could not listen to rock and roll, and could not be interested in women. I got that the rock and roll and women would distract from the work to be a pro baseball player, but I never figured out the cheese. As a kid I though it was probably because cheese eaters were slow and fat; as a grown up I think he just didn't like it.
But not all music was banned. I could listen to r and b, and I could listen to certain songs without endangering my future career: "That's the sound of the men, working on the Chain Gang", and "Going to Kansas City", and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons", and whomever's "King of the Road", and "Love Potion #9", and "Walking to New Orleans" was cool too.
And those are songs I sing almost daily, now that I have my real voice, a deep baritone. I don't sing no damned sissy Everly Brothers, or damned Elvis. But Nat King Cole is okay, are Muddy Waters, and BB King.
Can you imagine? They made that guy a judge!!!!
I love you Mike. I never had the skills to be a pro ballplayer, but you gave me a great sense in music!!!!!

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