Cranks My Tractor

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 12:59 PM.

In 1977, like every year I can remember while playing baseball, I collected baseball cards. It was a lot different then, you didn’t simply buy the complete set in a cardboard box and it was over. You bought cards a pack at a time, chewed the cardboard flavored bubblegum that came with the cards and discussed the statistics on the back of the cards.

I remember things like this because getting every Topps baseball card every year was a necessity. Not an option, but something I had to do. I did it one pack at a time. There were 660 cards that year and I only needed one to complete my set for that year – Topps Card #10, Reggie Jackson. Not many guys would simply give you a Reggie Jackson card.

As you probably can easily predict, Jerry showed up smiling before a game late in the season and handed me that Reggie Jackson card. I remember the joy it gave him to give it to me. And yes, I still have it.

The other thing that I treasured was the conversations with Jerry when we were shagging balls during batting practice. We would stand close enough together to discuss important things while our teammates were hitting.

Jerry invented words.

Not on purpose, not to be funny, he just used them in conversation. I’m bad to say, “I don’t know the word I’m thinking of.” He would not do that. He would simply insert a word that might be similar to the word he wanted to use, a combination of two words or just simply make a grammatical error while shagging balls. I’m pretty sure you don’t keep up with those on the baseball field.

We were at practice one day out in a big open field. I’m sure it had a backstop made out of chicken wire and bags of sand the coach had brought for bases. I shared with Jerry my interest in archery. At the time, I had a pretty simple bow that I liked to use to kill cardboard boxes and plastic milk cartons. I asked him if he knew where I could get a better bow and noted that a used one would be preferable because of the cost.

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