Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Players Profile #11 and 12- Dave Johnson and Richard Baluyut

So the Satch ignored his own advice about taking it light on the vices, and drank some liquor tonight. Its Wednesday for gods sake, and I tried to be good, but goddammit, sometimes a man just has to let the demons out. It seemed like a good time to talk about Dave and Richard, and not just because they used to keep me company at the 500 Club on Thursday nights (Open til 2, serving the finest in hipsters, junkies and mission rats). Dave and Richard were a team, I can barely remember a time when they didn't play together, or at least arrive together. They probably deserve their own separate page, but fuck em, they moved to New York just when we had a chance to really break this MBC thing open.

Anyway, Richard and Dave were playing before I showed up, and I quickly figured out that they were two forces to be reckoned with. Dave was a competitor, in one of the first games that I pitched more than the last inning, i remember Dave swinging a bat, while I warmed, up, talking shit, and telling his teammates that "This guy ain't shit." I smiled at him, cuz we were friends, he did not smile back. That's Dave. Serious man. The passion was great, and anyone who was at his final game will tell you that he was very sad to leave the MBC.

Richard may have been more sedated, but by no means less competitive. My vision of Richard continues to be him warming up on the mound with a cigarette drooping from his mouth, his hat placed high on his head, is long, black hair heading in ten ways. That cigarette would stay behind the mound, and sometimes he would get it, sometimes he would leave it for the other pitcher to find. Richard had back surgery, and three weeks later he was back out at the game, not just present, but catching and pitching, much to the chagrin of those who thought he might collapse and never walk again with each pitch.

Dave and Richard were stalwarts in that they could both field any position, and do it well, and it often was that they were the center of one team, and challenged all others to join their cause, or face the thunder. It worked out nicely for the balance of the teams, because both could catch and pitch, play infield and outfield, hit and run.

So a few years ago, they moved to NY, and started the East Coast version of the MBC. From what I hear, they have had some luck in getting quality people out, but the vibe and hours are not the same. They play on Saturday, at 9 in the morning, in Central Park. Dave lugs the equipment down and hopes that enough people show up to make it worth it. I have this awful vision of Dave carrying baseball equipment on to the subway, and seething as he make his long ride. I know he drives, and hopefully it is still the El Camino, but I can't shake the idea of Dave, buried in duffel bags and being harassed on the subway. And from what I hear, more often than not, people flake out. When you have the the years of participation that we do, and the weather, you can make do, but in NY you have a limited window of nice days, when it is not snowing or so hot and humid that no one can stand it.

Richard introduced me to a poker game in SF that was great for a while, and he was a good player, calm in the moment, and willing to bluff his nuts off for the right pot. We had us some great times, and some awful times, but such is the nature of poker and I am grateful. Dave became a regular at the 500 for a time, and I would play Misfits and Link Wray songs for him on the box, and we would talk Pittsburgh, where he hailed from, and I had had a family connection (Yinz want ta ga daaawntawn, enat?)

When they left, a piece of the MBC went with them. I still have a hope that one day we can form a team of players to go to the East coast, meet up with Richard and Dave, Pete and Peter, Ezra, and the rest, tour up to Cooperstown, play a few games and check out the Baseball Hall of Fame. At the very least, it would be a great story.

Time to hit the sack

S. Paige

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