Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Roots of the MBC

In case you didn't realize it, the Mission baseball Club is not your standard baseball club. 

In fact, the roots of the club are found in trying to parse out what was fun about baseball, without the aggro-drama that seems to go with it.  I have long theorized that baseball players are assholes because the really good ones are told from such an early age that they are good at something and are groomed to believe that what they do is deserving of endless praise.  I agree, being a skilled athlete is impressive, and is very valuable in one small section of society, but really, good baseball skills have no real value to our collective well-being.  Yes, throwing a ball 98mph is spectacular, and very rare, but in a natural disaster, I'll always take the person who has great skill in bandaging wounds, or an innate ability to construct quality emergency structures.

More so, in reference to the "ego" that a lot of baseball players develop as they get better, I think you can't pay someone 15 million dollars a year to hit a ball with a bat, and not expect them to feel like they are superior to others.  But what are you really celebrating?  It would be like if the guy who was the best stapler in the office got twenty times the salary as anyone else.  He provides a service, yes, and he is better than the others around him, but by how much?  The value of that service is really debatable.  And what if he is a terrible person, a real bully, but he staples very well?  If it was baseball, he would still get signed, and the press would call him "difficult to manage," and maybe "clubhouse cancer," but year after year, teams would still offer him jobs.

In short, while major league baseball honors Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Judge Landis, and Mariano Rivera (he's probably a decent guy, but is there a personality behind that cutter?), the MBC patron saints skew towards players like Buck O'Neil, Bill Lee, Al Schacht, Josh Gibson, Rube Waddell, Earl Weaver, Mackey Sasser, Dock Ellis, Ron LeFlore, Glen Hubbard, Satchel Paige, Billy Ripken, Kevin Mitchell, Chuck Knoblauch.  All of them famous in their own right, but maybe not for being particularly good at baseball.  Indeed, some of them are famous for how bad they were. 

But they did it colorfully, and hopefully, without malice. And that's the point.  Why not celebrate our quirks and more human side, along with the love of the game?

I am a firm believer in baseball showing us how to lose, lose well, and lose often.  To that end, what many people might not know about the MBC is that there is a rich undercurrent of musical talent, complete with musical losses as much as wins--some bands went through the roof, some bands went down the drain, some bands just went.  You learn a lot when you're trying to start something, maintain something, or desperately keep something alive.  And you do it because you love it.  I think that drive has always been present in our players.  

I have long tried to figure the best way to present this aspect to the blog, and finally realized that the best thing to do was write the damn thing, and figure out the rest later.

Here is a compiled list of some of the musical forays our former and current MBC players have been involved with, or are still doing.  Bands are mostly not listed in chronological order, as I do not mostly have that kind of time.  For those that did not respond, I have taken the liberty of investigating you and putting up what the interwebs tells me:

Nick Werthman- (It may or may not count)
Jazz Band in high school

Sean Paul Presley- 
Nodzzz with Anthony Atlas (one time player)
White Fence
The Sleeper Band

Tim Presley- 
White Fence
The Fall
Darker My Love
The Nerve Agents
Ty Segall

Johnny Bartlett-
The Dangling Genitals
Wig Torture
Phantom Surfers
The Ogres
The Barbary Coasters
Saturn V

Greg Snyder- 
Bedlam Rovers
Majority Whip

Dani Leone- 
Ed's Redeeming Qualities
Sister Exister

Tim McCrystle-

Brian Girgus- 

Adam Pfahler
Whysall Lane
The Moons
Old Hangtown
J Church
The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black

Rich Janeway- 
The Pee Holes
The Twits

John McGrath- 
Celtic Voices Choir

Richard Baluyut- 
Whysall Lane 

Duane Harris- 
Various Punk Bands 

Tony Rojas-
Dig the Gibberish- Florida - late 80’s
1990 - moved to SF
Secret Heroes - 1991
Flophouse - met JC and Ben - 1992
Androgynauts - teamed up with Mark Zanandrea from the Catheads -1995
Shotwell - originally Jimmy, Greg, Aaron Cometbus, me - 1995-1997, 2002-2007
Majority Whip - Americana band Greg and I started  1997-2003
Jack Shack - classic punk cover band - We played New Years parties at Doc’s clock for many years in a row 2001-2006
Solo TR - Time to Burn - 2005
Dirty Marquee -political pop punk band, nice blend of folks who didn’t think I was too old to still rock, bless them.  My last touring band - 2008-2013

Aaron Daley-
Timber Giants
Bone Cootes and Living Wrecks
Old Hangtown
San Similar
Ramshackle Romeos

Richie Garcia-
The Candy Apples
New Granada

Sonny Smith-
Sonny and the Sunsets

Rick Kvoriak- 
The Not Yetis
Orbit and the Purple Knifs
Barbary Coasters
The Ogres

Pete Simonelli-

Mike Lattig- 
Strictly Promotion and Concert booking (e.g., the guy that ends up with the lion's share)

Phil Hereso- 

Ezra Gale (MBC and Brooklyn Ramblers)
Bitches Brew
Mas Cabeza

Super Hi-Fi
Donovan (yes, that Donovan)
Spanglish Fly

The Highs, the Lows, the What the Fucks:


My first gig was being a lounge lizard piano player in a ski lodge bar when I was 19 Friday nights for about four hours. I had to play four hours of music so I repeated a lot of songs. People walked around clumsy in ski boots spilling their drinks everywhere. My first night, a man dropped a cigarette in the piano and the piano began to smoke a few minutes later. A patron got a little dramatic and grabbed three or four drinks from the bar and threw them all into the piano to extinguish the smoke. The bartender became irate and beat the shit out of him, more or less. The bartender also changed my name to Sonny when he ran an ad in the paper some weeks later.

John McG:

[We sang the National Anthem] for Irish heritage night at the 2019 A's game as part of the Celtic Voices Choir.  Sang at the Warriors game last year (choir - nat'l anthem, but no Irish night, with only 41 home games, the Paddies don't get a night) and also at a Giants game a few years ago (again Irish night, but we sang Danny Boy - in true Paddy fashion).

Tony R:

Flophouse were all baseball players.  We even brought a tv to band practice to watch the playoffs.  Then we joined the men’s senior baseball league (msbl) and played for 2 years.  It was great competition but we couldn’t tell any of our teammates that we were smoking weed or they would’ve kicked us off the team.  We also did acid one game, but that’s a whole other story.  As soon as we found Jimmy and a bunch of musicians and poets playing ball at Jackson park on 17th, we were in and the Mission team had its roots.   

Majority Whip was originally Greg, myself and Lee and Phil from Paddlefoot, all ball players.  We met Paddlefoot at Jackson park when they were just hangin around playin catch.  Just like today when we need players, we asked them if they wanted to play.  Our bands ended up playing countless gigs together and, out of 5 members of Paddlefoot, 4 played for the Mission team at some point.

Mike L:

We had the Muffs come play our annual festival in 1994. They arrived less than 10 minutes before their set time, pulled up in a van looking like a mess, Kim got out, went straight to the Port a Potty, commenced to puking, came out, wiped her mouth, walked on stage and yelled "I just puked my fucking guts out. One, two, three, four..." and off they went...

Amazing. RIP Kim Shattuck


Some band stories- Played at the Shrine in Nigeria with Femi Kuti; also in Lansing MI in the infield of a minor league ballpark, Voted best band in 2001 from the SF Weekly?

Greg S. (Godfather of the MBC gives the skinny on the evolution):

Early days - Bedlam Rovers. This was the band that led to meeting everybody. The general pre-baseball music scene key players (band-wise in terms of baseball) Rovers, Paddlefoot, Flophouse, Jawbreaker, couple others whose names evade me right now, because it was 30 fucking years ago.

Then - Strawman. With Jimmy Broustis (see below) and other non-baseballers.
As baseball began - Shotwell. Key to the whole thing being successful. Me, Jimmy, Tony, then shortly after, Pete Simonelli.

Later - Majority Whip with Tony
Some Old Pics 


Bedlam Rovers


Phantom Surfers (duh)

Sister Exister

The Sleeper Band


Adam and Duane showing off LPs





 Tony in the back with the cats eye, and possibly Greg's hand on the basse

A Note on Jimmy Broustis

A lot of us who were in the Mission during the 90's and 00's knew Jimmy.  He was a semi-regular at the 500 Club, always with a cackling laugh, a handrolled, and a scheme to outmaneuver the capitalists and turn the whole economic game on its head.  I was astonished from my place behind the bar when Jimmy—in between gulps of Speakeasy—exclaimed that not only did he know all the guys in the MBC, he had been there at the beginning.

As Greg puts it,  "Jimmy really should be given more credit as an early creator of Mission Baseball. [He was] too erratic to have made it stick without others, but he had the gear and was the most unemployed."

Jimmy had a resurgence in the MBC a few years ago, showing up in patchwork flannel baseballer pants, a wooden bat with a nail in it, and a gangly, yet effective playing style.  He was there for a few months, and then gone again, off to fight his next battle.

Lastly, here's a story on Jimmy, who was amazingly ahead of his time in the landlord fights that predominate the landscape of SF these days:

So, in summary, support your local bands and your local baseball team, 

S. Paige


Anonymous said...

Throwback Thursday. Oh man, how much I loved those days and playing right field where you had the luxury of sipping a Red Tail and inhaling the wafting malts from Anchor and not having to worry much about too many balls to snag with a beer in your hand.

Afterwards heading to Puerto Allegre for a well deserved sit down. Then figuring out where the wind blew, the Albion, Uptown, 500, Kilo, Chameleon, or if you'd find yourself at San Carlos in some kinda weird rasslin' match involving Jimmy, hopping the fence to an old bathhouse, picking avocados, or find some random bands playing in his garage.

Thank you for this post. Brought me back.

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Unknown said...

just came across this blog. brought back great memories. the mission baseball club WAS my social life in the mid 90's. before we joined the league, it was a casual weekly sunday double-header in potrero hill, followed by drinks and dinner @ puerto allegre. paddlefoot got more gigs thru connections w/ MBC than any other way, and was how i hooked up w/ tony & majority whip. thanks for sharing! phillip

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