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 he 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.

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 9, 2022

Barbarians at the Fence

I don’t know if Rob’s writing up a post as I write, but I have a concert to go to tonight so I’m going to double up for sake of continuity.

April 8, 2022

Hey look, Milford High has a girls’ tennis team! I can’t remember the last time there was a girls’ tennis plot in Gil Thorp. I don’t think there’s been one since I started blogging here, anyway.

A new name, Charis Tompkins. Charis isn’t a very common name; the only one that springs to mind is Charis Wilson, model and one-time wife of the famous photographer Edward Weston. Charis Tompkins IRL appears to be Canadian.

St. Casilda of Toledo was born a Muslim princess, the daughter of the ruler of Toledo, who showed kindness and charity to Christian prisoners. She appears to be the patron saint “against sterility.” Her feast day is today. I cannot find any record of a St. Casilda High School on the North American continent.

There’s no cheering during points in tennis, but wouldn’t it be more interesting if there was? Same goes for golf. There are also no tennis balls that color. That thing almost looks like an Osage orange.

April 9, 2022

Know what else is cute? How the Milford teams always show up to watch their opposite number play after their own practices are over. I’ve long suspected they only do it to check one another out wearing less clothing than they typically do in school. Today they might’ve gotten more than a glimpse as Charis went from Milford red to green and black in the blink of an eye.

Know what’s not cute? Charis’ boyfriend. Is it Scooter? The mind boggles at the thought. What strangeness brought these two together? Will it keep them together through the spring? Reckon we’ll find out.

March 26, 2022

Somebody Could’ve Used a Magic Peacock

Admit it, gentle readers: Unless you’re a fan of one of the other remaining teams in the Big Dance, you’re all St. Peter’s fans now. March Madness has its own magic peacocks this year, and they have nothing to do with an imagined reincarnation of a player’s recently deceased sibling. Not the Catholic university in North Jersey anyone would have expected to shine in the tournament, is it? Always great to see a Cinderella in March, and yet another reminder that it’s easier for schools to be competitive in college basketball that they can be in college football.

It’s also something to talk about besides this arc-ender that feels like a mistake. This story feels like it should have ended yesterday, with these two mooks hanging Pranit Smoothie upside down by his ankles in front of a stunned home crowd an emptied-out gym. (A shame Pranit Rock couldn’t have them doing the same to his welchers. It would’ve made more sense than that cockamamie bunch of lies he cooked up.) Betcha Gil wasn’t expecting his hired muscle to flex on his own teammates.

Reading today’s strip give me the feeling that Rubin & Whigham intended yesterday’s strip to be the last in the arc, then realized that they had not only counted the days incorrectly but also forgot to end it with their signature touches:

Lame joke? Check!

Main character exiting through doorway? Check!

Awkward high-five/fist bump? Check!

Jazz hands? Check!

Hey, did anybody notice they’re playing baseball again? With more wacky rules to make the game more attractive to the attention-span challenged? Wonder how Rubin will approach the season. Another spunky, talented out-of-towner moves to Milford and joins the Mudlarks? The team rallies around a stuffed animal or some other superstitious good luck charm? A slight infraction leads to the benching of a star player until the last game of the season, when nothing’s on the line? What’s the over/under on any of these happening?

See you Monday to find out where it all starts. Until then, go Peacocks!

February 19, 2022

Future: it’s not just what Steve Luhm uses on the floors

Sound General Quarters! General Quarters! All hands man your battle stations! Wait, wrong branch. Let’s try some other rallying cry.

Wonder Twin Powers, activate!

Shape of – a Milford victory!

Form of – a ??? defeat!

Shape of – a teenage growth spurt!

Form of – post-game dap!

Shape of – a sophomore sensation!

Form of – a senior benchwarmer!

Shape of – new hotness!

Form of – old busted jawn!

“Perfectly hilarious” per faithful TWIMer hitorque.

February 9, 2022

Cressa? She Is FIERCE!

I’m sorry but whenever I hear someone referred to as “fierce,” I think of… Cory Booker’s cousin.

Hey, there’s a basketball reference in there, too.

Cressa’s had enough of stale off-brand toaster pastries – she’s going where the action is! Hollis should catch the clue that bribing people with food won’t always guarantee the results she wants. She might also catch the clue that she’s not always wanted, either. Why else hadn’t she heard about the Tiffani Palmer shindig?

No matter, she and her right-hand snitch Cathy have crashed the joint. But Cressa’s nowhere in sight. Could be it’s more than her knee that’s feeling frisky; let’s hope she doesn’t reinjure that knee busting some kind of dance move. Legend has it that the Lady Mudlarks refrain from dancing until they’re eliminated from the playdowns. Hey, today’s strip has to advance the plot somehow…

February 2, 2022

It’s No Secret: This Is Boring

Happy Groundhog Day, everybody! Just like in the movie and just in time for the rodent to see his shadow, we get a strip that feels as boring and repetitive as many before it in this arc.

Pranit “Call me Bob” Smith has been bragging about his online gambling from the moment we were introduced to him and pretty much every time we’ve seen him since. The only thing he hasn’t done was jump up on a cafeteria table and shout it to the entire student body (though he has bragged about it in the cafeteria proper). Why he’s acting surprised when Chubsy-Ubsy* rolls up and asks him about his gambling is a surprise in itself.

It’s only a matter of time before Gil, either directly or through his mouthpiece Kaz, confronts Pranit Smoothie about his little racket. What it does to Pranit and the Mudlark hoopsters remains to be seen, but odds are it won’t be positive.

Do those Milford High lockers keep getting bigger or what? Pranit Rock could stuff big boy in one of them without skipping a beat – that is, if he wasn’t so scrawny.

*Fun fact of the day: Norman Chaney, who played Norman a/k/a “Chubsy-Ubsy” in the Our Gang comedies, was a native of Cambridge, MD. Apropos of nothing, here’s a photo son of teenchy took of some ducks wintering in Cambridge.

January 1, 2022

And Pranit Was His Name-o!

Welcome back and Happy 2022, TWIMers!

The year and the Milford boys’ basketball season starts off on a high note when Trevor Lawrence Gabe Landau kicks it outside to the one Mudlark who hasn’t been chilly stinking it up from beyond the three-point line, Pranit Smith. Pranit drains the trey, or so we’re told; no onomatopoeic “swish” of confirmation but no onomatopoeic “clang,” “clunk” or “thunk” either.

Cut to the bench where Gil has pulled off his jacket and given it to Kaz to wear for the final seconds, or at least it looks that way. This is the first we’ve seen of Kaz during this game, and maybe he had one on this whole time. Is Gil in shirtsleeves or still in his jacket? Did Pranit drain the color of of Gil’s jacket like he drained the trey? Are we gonna have to figure out the teams and the players from one panel to the next from here on?

meta: It pains me to have to post this, but as I write news comes over the wire of the death today of Deacon Dan Reeves. Bad enough that we’re reeling from the loss of Betty White and Celtics hero Sam Jones yesterday. Deacon Dan got a shout out from yhs in TWIM some time ago.

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