Monday, November 15, 2021

My Brother Mike's Regimen

Growing up, my brother Mike had a big influence on me. He was the one who let me know that if you ate cheese or listened to most rock 'n roll you would never be able to concentrate enough on the hard work of baseball to become a pro player. And he was a good player. Partial scholarship for ball at St. Johns, a perennial powerhouse and generally a team in the top 20 in the USA. He went on to play semi pro for 3 decades. And he got me, a kid who was really sick with rheumatoid arthritis midway through kindergarden to believe in myself and become a pretty good athlete in my own right, playing NYC handball against all comers and holding my own, riding a bike 10 miles a day for years, being shortstop on the High Times Bonghitters team when we went something like 15-1 and 17-0 against the likes of Playboy, New Republic, Forbes, Money, WBAI radio station and so forth. My brother turned me into a small "c" champ.
   Today I was thinking about some of the songs I could listen to without contaminating my drive to be a pro in baseball.
   "Ou e, ou a, a, ding, dang, walla walla bing bang, Ou e, ou a,a, ding dang walla walla bing bang." That is from My Friend the Witch Doctor
    Then this: "I took my troubles down to Madam Rou, you know the gypsy with the gold capped tooth," from Love Potion Number 9.
    And "Walkin' to New Orleans, Walkin' to New Orleans. Ain't got a plane, ain't got a train, so I'm walking to New Orleans." From Walking to New Orleans.
   And: "That's the sound of the men, working on the chain, gang....That's the sound of the men, working on the chain gang. All day long they work so hard... . From The Sound of the Men Working on the Chain Gang.
   Then there was: "Hang down your head Tom Dooley, hang down your head and cry, hang down your head Tom Dooley, poor boy you're bound to die." from Tom Dooley.
   And I could listen all day to 16 Tons and King of the Road or even Blueberry Hill without losing my edge. It was just those romantic songs you shouldn't hear because the next think you knew you were liking girls and that was the absolute death of any one wanting to become  pro player in any sport. Kissing softened you up and you had to be hard and focused on swing weighted bats, sit ups, push ups, short sprints, fielding, throwing, running routes if you liked football, or practicing dribbling or jumpshots in the dark if basketball was your aim.
   It was slightly crazy and by 16 all I wanted to was eat cheese and kiss girls, but it got me out of being a sick kid. Thanks, Mike, you were the best.


No comments: