This Week in Milford

May 18, 2022

Time, Limp!

Today’s baseball history lesson is the story of Jackie Hayes. Hayes, a shortstop on Wallace Wade’s Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team (yes, Wade coached baseball in addition to football at the time), got his start in the majors in 1928 as a utility infielder for the original AL Senators. Having been awarded the starting second base job for 1929 by the Nats’ new manager, future Hall-of-Famer Walter Johnson, Jackie would lose that job to Buddy Myer, a .300-plus hitter who Washington had reacquired after an ill-advised trade to the Red Sox. While Hayes was the better glove man, Myer was the better hitter and baserunner (he led the AL in stolen bases in ’28 for Boston and would win the AL batting crown in ’35 for Washington). After two more seasons playing sporadically for the Nats, Hayes was traded to the White Sox in a multi-player deal.

While still a great fielder, Hayes struggled with injuries on the South Side, including several beanings; in two seasons where he managed to stay healthy, he hit over .300. Things would take a turn for the worse during spring training 1940. After a shower one afternoon, he felt as if he had soap in his right eye. The next day his vision was blurry, and the club sent him back to Chicago for treatment. After several misdiagnoses and no relief from deteriorating vision, Jackie Hayes would be diagnosed with glaucoma.

Hayes wouldn’t give up. He played in a handful of games, but didn’t start for the first time until August 21 when, wearing a makeshift helmet with ear flaps and closing his right eye when he stepped into the batter’s box, he went 2-for-3. Hayes batted .195 in 18 games for the White Sox and retired after the 1940 season. He would go blind in his right eye soon thereafter and went completely blind in 1943, but he did manage to have a productive life after baseball, serving as a county tax collector and occasional visitor to local and regional schools for the blind as a motivational speaker. Still, Jackie Hayes will always be remembered as the first major league baseball player to wear a protective helmet.

The Hammer’s apparent obliviousness to the comebacker whizzing past his right ear made me wonder if wasn’t already completely blind in his right eye, which triggered my memories of Jackie Hayes. Wonder if Gil could track down one of those padded caps offered to MLB pitchers a few years ago for Gregg, the ones that made them look like the Great Gazoo. I think only Alex Torres ever wore one in a regular season game, so there’s probably a bunch lying around some equipment manager’s cage somewhere.

Finally catching a clue that something is wrong with the Hammer on the bump, Gil quickly tells the suddenly popular Morrison to hit the showers and wait for him with a loofah to get hot fast. Without adequate warmup, there’ll soon be another Mudlark pitcher out with an injury, and Gil’s 10-3 record will be gone quicker than you can say “lemonade on the back porch.” Of course Gil will lay into Gregg before realizing the true extent of the situation and turning his wrath to Papa Hamm. Why Kaz is being spared for letting Scooter Pie talk him out of fielding practice for the Hammer is beyond me, and yet another of the gaps in this plot as massive as the ones left after an infield shift.

May 16, 2022

Heather Burns Is Impressed

Filed under: actual action, baseball, freak hands, Gil Thorp, Mimi Thorp, New Thayer — nedryerson @ 8:35 pm

The Thorps are relaxing at home with some coffee and the morning paper. Hey Gil, your team is off to a ten and three start! Say, that’s pretty darn good. Yeah, Heather Burns thinks that’s hot! Oh no! My pinky is looking weird again and I can barely hold on to this supposed newspaper and neither one of us can focus our eyes, so let’s go back to bed until say, June. Sounds good. Wake me up when it’s time for lemonade.

Meanwhile, Half Blind Hamm is back on the bump against New Thayer. It’s a chopper to the left side. Is that good or bad for Hamm? As long as he’s not trying to field it, so what. Guys are going to hit choppers, and dribblers, and squibs, and grounders, and bloopers, and comebackers. It depends on what you do with them. We’ll find out what happens to the chopper later.

May 7, 2022

You, Reading Gil Thorp. Me, Trying To Snark About It.

Charis the tennis player (the only Milford High girl we’ve been introduced to this season so far) points out how ludicrous it seems to jump to conclusions about Papa Hamm’s camera-shyness. Since the witness protection program idea has already been thrown out, it can’t be the reason. Odds are it’s something really stupid he’s using as an excuse for ghostwriting books for business executives.

Smash cut to La Maison Du Jambon where we have another Milford athlete’s mom ticked off at that Milford athlete’s dad’s bizarre behavior. Shades of last spring, non? Mama Hamm’s appearance begs the question: If he’s the one trying to hide, why’s she the one who’s constantly changing her hair, clothes, and glasses? Mama’s confrontational speech reads like a lame Milford Mad Lib:

“You, fantasizing about Marjie Ducey. Me, indulging your fantasy by dyeing my hair blonde and putting on wire-rimmed glasses.”

“You, trying to live down the failed tryout for Colonel Sanders you lost to Norm McDonald. Me, suggesting you should be the one who dyes their hair.”

“You, thinking you can’t be seen. Me, thinking our son can’t see.” Wait, neither of them are thinking this. That’s how this plot has remained even remotely plausible.

Have at it with your own Milford Mad Libs in the comments, gentle readers, and stay dry this weekend.

April 30, 2022

Marjie Ducey Never Lugged a Monster Camcorder Around. Neither Should You.

If you told me today’s strip had been written and drawn twenty years ago and fished out of a drawer for today, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Wonder what was going on in Milford twenty years ago today? I don’t even think this blog had been started yet.

April 30, 2002

Well whaddaya know, Milford was playing Central then too. The laws of gravity weren’t quite as rigid then as now. Okay, what about ten years ago, then? Well thankfully TWIM was in existence, and we were getting to know young Scooter Borden Jaxxxon Kiser.

Back to the present day and still trying to figure out this nonsense. Amazed to find out there’s an online version of the Star, and that it has employees who are dedicated to capturing video for that online version. That’s probably a lie the editor-in-chief told Heather to cover up the fact that it’s not only payroll but also headcount that’s been slashed since Marjie’s retirement. Probably told her this dinosaur of a camcorder was state-of-the-art, too. How naive is she to think that the “beast” takes better videos than today’s smartphones?

Naive enough to know that the only VHS player in town belongs to the Milford High Athletic Department. Between her and Kaz, they’ll go to the videotape and discover the little ruse G-Hammm, Scooter and Wilson have going on. That’s the only way this strip of anachronistic non sequiturs has any relevance to the plot.

meta: Thanks to tdrew for covering for me on Thursday. I owe you one.

April 29, 2022

Singing the blues

Bad enough that we have a blind pitcher nobody knows about. Now we have another guy who can see just fine bitching about the umps calls. Nomar is blaming the ump for his pitiful performance. Wah wah wah. What a bunch of freakin losers on this team. Of course Chief One Eye didnt notice and has to be warned on the bus postgame about it, so he can bitch about calls when its his turn to draw Blue Narrow behind the plate. Nothing like team camaraderie the wrong way. Didnt Atherton have the same ump? Hey we scored 5 runs.

That bus must be as narrow as Blues’ strike zone with only one ass to a seat.

This team is so mentally weak I have no idea how they survive the season anywhere near the playoffs unless Gil has a meeting to address the whole thing. But we havent seen Gil lately.

April 20, 2022

Nothing Here Is Really Surprising, Is it?

When son of teenchy was young I, like most parents of young children, read bedtime stories to him. As SoT got older, the bedtime stories got more age-appropriate as well. We went through a phase where we read the books of Kate DiCamillo. Kate DiCamillo has written some outstanding children’s lit, beginning with Because of Winn-Dixie; two of her books won Newberrys (The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.) Kate DiCamillo has a distressing trope of giving her characters peculiar names (e.g., Despereaux Tilling, Edward Tulane, Peter Augustus Duchene, Louisiana Elefante) and referring to those characters only by their full names.

The last DiCamillo book we read was Flora & Ulysses. The title characters are a 10-year-old girl who looks like Terry Gross and a squirrel who becomes possessed of writing ability after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner. One of the supporting character in F&Y was William Spiver, an 11-year-old boy who is only ever referred to by his full name, William Spiver. Never William, or Willie, or Bill, or Billy, but always William Spiver. William Spiver suffers from hysterical blindness due to some never quite specified family trauma. When it comes to names, Wilson Henry is this season’s William Spiver. When it comes to visual acuity, Gregg Hamm is this season’s William Spiver.

More exposition piling on: Hamm has had problems with his eyesight for years, and has never done anything about it. Hamm is also not From Milford, so Milford’s shallow gene pool cannot be blamed for his vision (some other genetic cause or parental neglect) or credited for his talent (as Milford never grows its own).

The solution to Hamm’s problem can be found today in that other, slightly more realistic, sports comic, Tank McNamara.

April 18, 2022

Play Ball!

Filed under: actual action, baseball, freak hands, Gil Thorp, google nonsense, metapost — nedryerson @ 3:48 pm

Here we go, gang. After several weeks of lead up to baseball season, the Mudlarks hit the field against Westview and it’s a breeze. Eldrick Boston is plating runs left and right and Gonzo Aceves is baffling Westview hitters with some sort of mystery grip that involves maybe an extra thumb. 8-1 is the final and we can put that in the book. One strip and one road win. Now we can relax and get back to some Scooter and Gregg crap that can spread out to fill panel after panel before we see more actual action!

Let’s take a look at Gil out there in a coaching box (not clear which one). Gil is old school and needs no helmet. Sharp liners bounce right off his noggin. Speaking of sharp, what’s up with the pants? Are they uniform pants that were miscolored? Does Gil suit up? Maybe he soiled his Mudlark pants and had to borrow some from a Westview coach, or he went down to the local Sacino’s and rented some tux pants. Either way, he’s not looking to good out there, all stoop shouldered and barely able to proffer a hand for Eldrick to slap. I don’t think Eldrick is interested anyway.

Let’s hold our noses and check in on Scooter and Gregg (who’s a blonde again…he puts on a silver tone wig to get the senior discount at the Coffee Cantina?) to see what’s up with the wacky plan for Scooter to read the catcher’s signs then relay them to Gregg with some name calling scheme. What’s this, Scooter says Gregg must talk to the catcher? Has common sense prevailed and has Scooter decided his plan is stupid and overly complicated and that the best course of action would be that Gregg confront his vision issue directly? I doubt it, or else why would we have spent days building the dumb problem up and even more time having Scooter come up with his brilliant plan. I think Scooter thinks Gregg needs to tell his catcher what Scooter has planned. Maybe the catcher can throw in some complicated wrinkles of his own to make it even more ridiculous. Ol’ Gil the coaching statue won’t know what’s going on.

I like how this conversation is happening at a snack vending machine. I’ll bet Whigham has been dying to draw a vending machine for variety. Too bad we can’t see what snacking options exist. Are there Nutboys in there?

The next opponent is the Cooley Cardinals, presumably from Detroit, although the fictional high school from the film Cooley High would make for a fun cameo. Where would Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs play?

metapost: Due to my work schedule, I will probably be putting my Monday posts up in the afternoon going forward.

April 16, 2022

The Mudlarks’ second baseman develops wacky signals, a breakdown

Hey kids! Didja ever wonder whatever happened to Jaxxxon Kiser? Well wonder no more! He grew up and changed his name to Eli “Scooter” Borden. Just look at him – the same monster paws, the same glazed-over stare at no one and nothing in particular – no way they’re not out of the same gene pool.

Anyhoo this little trivia buff has obviously burned a lot of brain cells coming up with this scheme that he’s only gonna use with this one pitcher, that’s gonna require the catcher to buy in and, oh yeah, that the coaches are gonna go along with too. Think Scooter and the Hammer are gonna let Gilberto and El Kaz in on this ploy? How many games into the season before Milford’s opponents pick up on it? It might work in a non-conference game against one of those school’s Neal’s buddies went to, but it won’t take long for, say, Goshen to pick up on Borden’s chatter and start banging on trash cans.

Smirky Charis does nothing to dispel the notion that she’s definitely not with Scooter because of his mouth.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Back to bed.

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