This Week in Milford

May 11, 2022

“Know Who Else Had Trouble Handling Balls? My Mom!”

Filed under: actual action, Bad Jokes, baseball, talking hand, Valley Tech — teenchy @ 9:03 am

Today’s baseball history lesson is the story of Bert Shepard. Bert Shepard’s major league career lasted all of one game, a relief pitching stint for the Nationals/Senators on August 4, 1945 against the Red Sox. It was his journey to the bigs that made Bert’s career all the more memorable.

Shepard, a lefty, had played semipro and was playing sandlot ball when he was discovered and signed by the White Sox in 1939. He struggled with control problems, was released, finished high school, and then signed another pro contract in 1941, this time with the Cardinals. In their famed system, Bert again showed flashes of talent at the C and D level but still struggled with control. At the beginning of 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he attended flight school, earned his pilot’s wings and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. In early 1944, Shepard joined the 55th Fighter Group in England and was soon flying P-38 Lightnings over the continent.

On May 21, 1944, Bert was flying his 34th mission over Germany when, after having destroyed a train and an oil tank on a strafing run, his P-38 was taken down by flak. He was knocked unconscious when a shell grazed his chin and his plane hit the ground at full speed. Miraculously, Shepard wasn’t killed, but soon faced another threat when the angry German farmers who found him turned their pitchforks on him. A Luftwaffe doctor, Ladislaus Loidl, and two armed soldiers soon arrived at the scene and held back the farmers at gunpoint.

The Luftwaffe doctors amputated Shepard’s leg 11 inches below the knee. He was later transferred to a prison camp where a Canadian medic fashioned an artificial leg for him. Shepard began playing catch with a cricket ball and then resumed pitching a baseball. In February 1945, Bert was involved in a prisoner exchange and returned to the US. He began practicing baseball with some players from a local semipro team. Realizing that he was still able to throw his familiar pitches, Shepard became determined to resume his professional baseball career. Shepard went to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to be fitted with a new prosthesis, where he was visited by Robert Patterson, the Undersecretary of War, who presented him with a commendation for his service, valor, and courage. Patterson asked Shepard what his goal was, and the former flyer replied he wanted to play baseball. Undersecretary of War Patterson called his good friend Clark Griffith, owner of the Senators, who then offered Shepard a tryout.

Griffith signed him to a major league contract, but had no intention of using him in a regular game, figuring to keep him around to serve as coach and batting practice pitcher. In addition to pitching BP Bert visited veteran’s hospitals, offering encouragement to other wounded veterans, and made a training film for amputees returning from the war. Finally on August 4, with the Nats down 14-2 in the top of the fourth, and the Red Sox with the bases loaded and two out, Washington manager Ossie Bluege brought Shepard in to try and stop the damage. The Nats were playing their fourth consecutive doubleheader, and an already thin pitching staff was getting battered by Boston. Shepard struck out the first batter he faced, George “Catfish” Metkovich. He stayed in the game and, for the remaining five innings, gave up only one run on three hits.

With the Nats battling the Detroit Tigers for the AL pennant in 1945, Bluege was reluctant to use Shepard again. His only other on-field highlight occurred on August 31 when he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross between games of a doubleheader. Washington released him on September 30; he was resigned in 1946 but, with the return of so many pleyrs from the war, Shepard failed to make the team and would never play in the majors again. He would, however, meet Ladislaus Loidl, the Luftwaffe doctor who saved his life, at his home in Austria in 1993.

The reason I’m posting the Bert Shepard Story is because, unlike Gregg Hamm, Shepard could field bunts.

Of course, you need to see bunts to be able to field them but, once fielded, you should be able to make the throw to first. Why Valley Tech baserunner feels the need to share his insights with Scooter is beyond me; he should have saved them for the bench. Now Scooter will have to come up with signals for the Milford infielders to play in for the bunts. His Nolan Ryan reference implies that the Hammmmer will start striking out a bunch of Techsters but still lose the game anyway.

Today’s post title, of course, a reference to Regular Show‘s Muscle Man, who never was able to get the mom joke format down pat.

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.

March 2, 2022

Kaiser Gilhelm Steps Up

Man, check out the withered arm on Gil! Is he ready to be Emperor of Germany or what? Actually, his forearm looks to be appropriately sized, but his bicep has shriveled considerably. Must be hard keeping his arm still above the elbow while he shoots pocket pool. That, or all the blood in his arm has traveled to his super engorged hand.

Now that Dr. Pearl’s involved, Pardon My Pranit is just steps away from taking the express bus to Valley Modified. He should’ve gone there first to find his hired muscle.

What’s today’s lesson, gentle readers? All together now: “Always get the money up front before you place someone else’s bets.” Sheesh, what an amateur.

February 19, 2022

The captains ship is sinking

I guess what Hollis is figuring out is – on the court she can be a leader, off the court is a different story. I think almost everyone no matter what their age can separate their work life from their social life, and when the 2 get too close together, friction like this can result.

The girls obviously dont care what Hollis thinks about their off-the-court entertainment, and they really shouldnt. I wouldnt either. Like I said above, what people do with their free time is their business, and I’m sure all Hollis has to do is avoid these situations if they make her uncomfortable. If she’s gonna blame her teammates for not making the academy, as the girls in P2 inferred, Thats being selfish. Suspensions to other players should have no bearing on her admissions. You can only control what you do ultimately. How long Hollis takes to figure this out will determine how long this storyline runs its course.

Hope we get back to SportsDuke next week- I’m actually interested in how that turns out, as I have heard from many degenerate gamblers who blew their life savings in short order for the rush of the possible jackpot that never comes. Maybe Prannit and Hollis will have a chance meeting somehow and tie this all together?

Thats a bet I’ll make today.

January 12, 2022

Sasaki Gets Stitches

The Lady Mudlarks struggled through the name-dropping shout-out non-conference portion of their schedule. Rather than leaving it to Mimi to help the girls gel and improve their game, appointed captain Hollis Talley, at the suggestion of teammate and friend(?) Cathy Sasaki, decides to lead by example. The example she uses to lead by is an unscheduled, voluntary practice after practice, followed by a thirst-quenching, electrolyte-restoring round of hot joe at the Coffee Cantina.

Now it’s time to move on to conference* play, where It Just Means More®. Despite a yeoman effort by the stalwart Landry Carlson – sinking shots while getting tickled under the armpit – Milford loses again, dropping to 1-3, 0-1 on the season. Now what’s a captain to do?

Ignore her rat fink of a bestie, if Hollis’s hand is any indication. It doesn’t take a space cadet to see that the post-practice practice was held with no advance notice, was clearly made optional and, most importantly, was not held with Mimi’s endorsement. Now Cathy’s gonna dime out two girls who weren’t at that practice (Cressa, another stalwart from last season, and the heretofore unmentioned Maddie Bloom) and somehow blame them for the loss? Hopefully Hollis threw that hand up for Cathy to talk to it, rather than as a sign that she’s going to take that info to Mimi to act on… or to act on it herself.

Does the Air Force engage in fragging? Asking for a friend.

*Rubin has been calling it the Valley Conference since time immemorial. What’s this “league” crap? Did he watch The Big Lebowski before cranking out today’s strip?

December 11, 2021

Thanks for Coming to TEDx Milford. Now Zip It.

Just because a plot is plausible doesn’t mean it isn’t dopey.

Some really dumb things happened in the fall arc, none of which would have led to negative consequences if someone hadn’t stepped up to stop them from happening. As soon as Boyd Spiller called Tevin Claxton a choker more than once, one or more of his teammates (maybe that voice of reason Gordon Achebe) should’ve shoved him in a locker or otherwise nipped it in the bud. As soon as word of Spiller’s hypnotricks got around, Tevin could’ve revealed that he’d be seeing a sports shrink, preventing multiple people from believing there was magic in Boyd’s pen light. But then he wouldn’t be able to give his preliminary TED talk which, though it kinda bombed, set the stage for Chance Macy’s better-received speech. As soon as Kianna Bello passed out at The Bucket, someone could’ve told her to stop burning the candle at both ends, which would’ve kept her from staring into Boyd’s pen light and, well, you know the rest.

As has been mentioned here multiple times over the course of the fall, a Coach, more than likely a Thorp, could’ve stepped up and and put a stop to most if not all of this. When Kianna started showing signs of fatigue, either Mimi or the gymnastics coach could’ve told her to quit one or the other team. At the very least, Mimi could’ve powered her by coffee. Even when Tevin kept his mouth shut and let people start believing there was something to Boyd’s pen light, either Gil or Kaz could’ve shut it down. No way word doesn’t get to the coaching staff until just before the Madison game.

Ah, well. Order is maintained in Milford. Mudlark teams underachieve. No one has to live up to anyone’s expectations but their own, especially Gil, Mimi and Kaz, who can always blame their teams’ shortcomings on their superstitious players. Everything is bound up as tightly as those kids’ digestive systems after eating all that Bucket food. Well, except for Kianna’s sitch. We’ll never know how that got resolved, because girl.

December 3, 2021

Stand in the place where they eat

Like pulling a tooth that wont come out, Chance continues his speech as whoever will next eat where his dirty shoes are standing better get Steve Luhm to mop the table first. Just ungodly how he can get away with this for that long, as the cafeteria workers by now should be escorting him not only off the table but off the premises for defacing public property and disturbing the peace. 99% of the student body doesnt give a flying fuck about what he’s saying anyway. Our cafeteria was easily the loudest room in the school, as the bare floors and crowded atmosphere meant you couldnt hear anyone beyond your immediate tablemates. Although it was fairly quiet during study hall the one year I had it there.

One time I was golfing at a out in the country course with a small clubhouse and walked in after my round to see a pair of feet right in front of me. The girl working in the office was standing barefoot on a table cleaning the ceiling fan in the middle of the room, and I said I had run into many things in my life but not feet.

Chance is really gonna turn the ‘floor’ (table) over to Tevin?? If I’m Tevin I’m flipping the table over and watching Chance crash to the floor with a THUD!! Go for it!

December 1, 2021

“Sure I have expectations. I expect you to keep my name out of your mouth, starting now.”

Boy, Chance Macy is presumptuous, isn’t he? Since when has the Milford student body outside of Chance’s teammates said anything about what he does after high school? They have wondered aloud about why he and Tevin have decided to use cafeteria tables as their personal soapbox, though. Shows you who rules the roost in the Milford High coop.

As if that wasn’t enough, he feels the need to share his conversations with Gil with the school at large. Yeah, I get it that he can fall back on the “Tevin made me do it” excuse which, if he’s as much a “take my own advice” and “keep my opinions to myself” guy as he’s been painted to be, makes him a huge hypocrite. Chance should have shut up as soon as he said “McGill” and sat right back down.

But wait, there’s more! Macy has the nerve to bring Kianna Bello into the picture. (Is it coincidence that she always happens to be sitting in front of the table the football player stands up on?) Guessing he doesn’t Kianna to talk to him, either. Wouldn’t the casual listener hear Chance and think he’s been talking to Gil about Kianna?

If tomorrow’s strip doesn’t have Kianna interrupting Chance’s mansplaining with a verbal – if not physical – beatdown, I will be sorely disappointed. Of course, disappointment is a way of life in the Thorpiverse. Pity she doesn’t still have those crutches; she could put them to good use in short order.

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