Thursday, February 10, 2011

Whites vs Bemos: Game of the Century

It’s been a long time since I’ve played softball for White’s Bar, about 20 years or so. Those were the good old days, we still playing like we meant it, diving for ground balls, swinging for the fences and taking the extra base. But in reality we had some sense that our time was up and we would have to reluctantly give up our childhood fantasies. So here I am years later, getting ready to play softball against my soon-to-be buddies from Bemos, a cool club situated on Bay City’s north end. They love music so they are my kind of people. In fact, Luann, the owner of Bemos was the singer for the Housecats back in the day. I was thrilled that she even considered calling me about this offer to play a softball game. I was on it like a white on rice. I thought no problem. I’m still in shape. I have what you call muscle memory, only my muscles have Alzheimer’s. I swear to god it’s true. I try to bend over for a ground ball and I fall over. I try to fire a perfect throw to first base and it bounces 10 feet shy of the bag and when I bat, oh, never mind - it’s too embarrassing…ok, I’ll tell you - my grandson laughed at me when I took a full bodied swing hitting the grunt-o-meter at 98.5 like a Serena Williams wannabe and coming up with only air.. By my third attempt, I took out all the stops and used my deadly and patented home run swing from the sixties to produce a weak–sissified dribble of a bunt. I was too winded to even bother to run it out. And that was in my own front yard. OH THE SHAME. So, instead of playing, I became the defacto manager and I was ready to pull out all the stops by using strategy, chatter, mind games and some real cool hand signals that looked more like ancient and obscene Gallic gestures. But it was made stone cold clear to me that I wasn’t allowed to pat anyone on the rear-end, even if they rounded third on a home run trot. Ok by me. Andy Reed was the only one to hit a four bagger and he’s not my style - though he just may have the sweetest heinie-butt in show business next to Donny Brown – enuf said. Game time.

I was fashionably late by an inning or three but when I got there I wasted no time in playing mind games with our opponents. I would back up Andy Reed at shortstop and scream at Josh Jekel just for the hell of it. In other words I was pretty annoying - so annoying that my own team put on waivers. Bemos passed on me and I was out in the cold. But I never gave up, no-sir-ee-bob. I finagled my way back in the game, pretending to offer a toast and a dedication. So, I led both of the teams in a 4th inning stretch. We hoisted brews and toasted to the collaboration and good feeling that exists between Whites and Bemos. We even did an impromptu yet rousing chorus of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Then I railed against social injustice, war and Wall Street malfeasance…oops, that’s another story. And as I waxed philosophical and all emotional about this wonderful event, my old buddy Josh Jekel of Thunder Chickens fame dosed me with an ice cold can of PBR - at least it wasn’t Schlitz (it was never the same after the formula was altered). It was sweet and refreshing but in the 90 degree heat it bubbled into a sticky gooey life-like creature that resembled a mini-version of the blob. It crawled all over and under me until I screamed like a girl. It devoured me until all that was left was my smile.

What an honor it was to pay witness to an incredible level of cooperation and respect between two great clubs. That the vehicle was a softball game was music to my body and soul.

Rob (BEMOS) and a little bit of Bo: It is a very cool idea to bring two bars together especially when we have so many things in common: love of music, great people and fantastic musicians. It was a year in the making but it all came together thanks to Luann and Maggie (from Whites). There were several exciting moments that happened in the game. Johnny-don’t-lose your-Johnson, the drummer extraordinaire of the Tosspints, ratted out White’s for Bemo's. He was a HOOVER and he was pretty good at shortstop too. Andy Reed (the unofficial MVP) hit two home runs .The lovely and talented Melisa May from the Thunder Chicken's slide into 2nd base producing a sizable yet exquisite strawberry - several of the men offered to dust her off and apply crèmes and analgesics to the wound, the Heimlich Maneuver and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. So kind.

Despite almost an hour of intensive practice and weight training – 12 oz at a time, White’s Bar went down to inglorious defeat. Both teams kept track but we could never quite agree about the final score - though we are pretty sure that Bemos had more touchdowns than Whites.

Back at Bemo's after the game, Katie Koski from White's was right at home behind the bar pouring shots that we didn't know how to make. We drank everything she concocted just to make her happy…then, all of a sudden, everyone was happy – real happy and it turned into a communal love fest like Joni Mitchell had at Woodstock. WHEW. Much appreciation goes out to piano man Jerry Jones, Bemo’s pitcher. He had more junk on the ball than Doc Ellis during his LSD-assisted no hitter in 1970. And he put on a great show afterward, tinkling the ivories and goofin’ on Elvis. He is a super talent. A special thanks goes out to Andy Reed, the Thunder Chickens, John Johnson, Don Zuzula, Dan Seaman, Jesse from the Formfitters, John Clark, Michelle O'Neil, Gabe Hunter White, Natalie and Maggie Shinaver, Nick Stockford, Sue Blair, Lenny Trinklein, Laura Weaver and everyone who lent their musical, organizational and athletic talents to this wondrous event. Also, a special thanks to Mike Finn from the Kingfish Restaurant who supplied the bases and the field for our game. A good time was had by all and everyone is looking forward to our next game.

Ok, all together now…

Take Me out to the ballgame
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks
I don’t care if I ever get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game

Bo White

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