Bobby Murcer

February 12, 2007

I was working a full-time job last year when I decided to cut back on my hours. I wanted to spend more time on my writing. Since then I have tried unsuccessfully to sell a novel that I spent the last several years writing (and not writing). I have tried to find an agent for the book by utilizing a small list of personal connections. So far the agents I have contacted have said thanks but no thanks. I am now going to send it out to 20 people whose names I will pick out of listings in a book I bought at a Barnes and Noble. The way I feel about the novel right now, it seems as if I’m about to send 20 people a manilla envelope full of dried rabbit turds. It is a slow jerky trip to nowhere, my supposed book. It is a pretentious and flimsy shield against life and death. But what the fuck, I might as well go take a trip to the post office and send out 20 copies of my novel to a bunch of assholes who I will surely come to bitterly hate soon enough. It will get me out of the house at least.

Meanwhile, as I lose money on a weekly basis by not working full time the only writing I have been able to do has been about these fucking baseball cards I grew up with. And lately I have only barely been able to do that. Some people build houses or feed the hungry. I spend days on end trying to say something meaningful about Toby Harrah. Who the fuck cares?

Yesterday when my wife was done studying for her grad school classes in social work we went to a bar for some dinner and we started talking about how we have to move out of our shitty apartment when the lease is up. There aren’t any apartments out there anymore. Everything is now condos that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are the size of a van. Maybe we can find some shithole to rent for a lot of money. Cross your fingers! We will have to find something. I started thinking about going back full-time to my job. It’s not a bad job. I’ve certainly had worse. But the thought of going back while still a failure as a writer made me want to take the glass of beer in my hand and smash it into my forehead. (Employer: this is a completely fictional first-person narrative. Its author is excited about the prospect of expanding his role in the organization.) Our food came. We ate it and talked and drank our beers. My wife calmed me down a little. Eventually my urge to smash a glass of beer against my forehead lessened slightly.

Anyway, today I got up and for fucking six hours I have been trying and failing to write about Bobby Murcer. I tried writing about the odd picture on this card, an opposing player taking up more of the picture than Murcer. I played a couple hands of solitaire, you know, to “loosen up.” I wandered around on the Internet and discovered that this photo must have been taken during the second game of a doubleheader on July 18, 1976, because that is the only time Joe Ferguson caught for the St. Louis Cardinals in a road game against the San Franscisco Giants. I also found out that on that very same day, at the 1976 Summer Olympics, Nadia Comaneci’s performance on the uneven bars garnered the very first perfect 10 ever awarded. I tried to write about perfection but the writing was atrocious. I took a break and ate a sandwich. Halfway through the sandwich I took a digital photo of our cats, who were lying together in a cute way on the couch. While finishing up the sandwich I bit my tongue pretty badly and stomped around for a few moments feeling sorry for myself. I went to the bathroom and stuck my tongue out at my reflection. My tongue was bleeding a little. Why me? Then I went back to the computer and tried again to write about Bobby Murcer, who seems to strike most people as a very nice man. I got nowhere.

Anyway, here’s the deal: Bobby Murcer is currently receiving chemotherapy after having a malignant tumor removed from his brain. He found out about the tumor this past Christmas Eve after going to the hospital for a bad headache. He is hoping to be in the broadcast booth by opening day. I’m rooting for him. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in his shoes. I’m sure I would be cowering. Bobby Murcer seems to be facing the facts bravely.

So here I am, several hours after the cold day began, still with nothing of any shape. Another unpaid day down the tubes. Everyone always says to not waste your life. Don’t waste your life! You never know when it could all end! That type of shit. A headache could be a tumor. Live each day to the fullest! What the fuck does that mean? I don’t know how not to waste my life. Anyway I’m calling it quits on this Bobby Murcer entry. I already deleted pages of shitty writing on Bobby Murcer and I am tempted to do it again but instead I’m going to say here I am in all my ugliness. Maybe that’s better than hiding, maybe it’s just as useless. Probably what I should have done is just wish Bobby Murcer well. If it’s not too late that’s what I want to do. I am rooting for him. I don’t know how to do much but I do know how to do that, to root for somebody. Kick some ass, Bobby Murcer. This strange Joe-Ferguson-clogged 1977 card aside, the Bobby Murcer cards of my childhood always seemed to be festooned with the exciting “N.L. ALL STAR” insignia. For that reason I always have and always will think of Bobby Murcer as a star.


  1. 1.  8 comments from the old cg site:

    peterk said…
    Don’t worry buddy. I LOVE reading your essays, and even if the book doesn’t gel, what you’ve got here is pretty wonderful. Keep your head up, I’ll keep reading.

    5:28 PM

    Big D said…
    I love the site and I hope you can keep it going.

    2:10 AM

    mbtn01 said…
    I envy the living shit out of you.

    8:58 AM

    Michael said…
    I’m telling you, put these pieces together, self publish it, and this will sell.

    At least I’ll buy one. I’ll tell all my baseball-besotted friends to buy one, too.

    This is good-real, real good stuff. It’s personal, emotional, funny, rocking stuff.

    Seriously, keep it up.

    10:22 AM

    Anonymous said…
    Yep this could be the follow up book to the early 70’s “Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book”

    Your book book would look at he players of the 70’s and 80’s…but do send me a copy when that comes out this summer…!

    Always good stuff…

    11:07 AM

    Anonymous said…
    You could always move somewhere else, near family and friends and culture and opportunities and find a cheaper pad…
    uh…New York City?
    Stranger thoughts have surfaced.

    Alls I know is that someone who after hemming and hawing decides to say “fuck it,” and fly to Vegas last-minute for a bachelor party, someone who is game to circumnavigate Lake Superior to spend five days sloughing through mud and getting eaten alive even though the timing isn’t perfect, someone who sneaks into Democratic Party HQ on election night under the guise of being an “emergency back-up sign language interpreter,” to scope the ladies and help himself to hors d’oeurves…

    This is not a person who is wasting his life.

    Keep yr chin up.

    1:54 PM

    peterk said…
    Yes, these would make a hell of a book. Self- PUBLISH!!!

    3:37 PM

    Josh Wilker said…
    Thanks for all the support, everybody. I really appreciate it. I was in a bit of a panic there for a second but it seems to be passing. Chin is up, more or less.

    Now I say turn the good vibes in the direction of Mr. Murcer. I sort of wish I would have tabled my own whining to just post a get well wish for guy fighting a much scarier battle than my own little jousts with the February blues.

    8:55 PM

  2. whaddya mean “who the fuck cares” about your writing? geez, last week i started at the very beginning of your blog (whatever the date of the first post is, sometime in ’06) and am reading each and every post up until i get to the present day (april 16,2009). i can’t get enough. your writing is great.
    and i’ve passed it along to at least a dozen people – some of them fans of baseball, some of them fans of good writing.

  3. Just wanted to say that I think the ‘recent comments’ portion of the blog is awesome, because I hadn’t read this before jamesguitarshields posted a comment.

    Did the new book come to pass with the help of those twenty assholes, and did you come to hate them? 🙂

  4. jamesguitarshields: Thanks for the praise and for digging through the archives.

    redsoxeveryday: The plan to contact all those names from listings in a book didn’t specifically lead anywhere, no. But after the initial burst of disappointment and hurt that always follows rejection I couldn’t really blame anyone I tried to contact. For them my query letter was just one in an infinite pile of pleas.

  5. When Murcer was traded for Bobby Bonds in ’75, he had slipped from his heyday but was still a major star. I was always fascinated with this trade because it is so rare for two big name players to be traded for each other in a straight swap…of course both players would be traded again in about a year’s time. Still, Josh is correct, when you think of Bobby Murcer you think of a star.

  6. Bobby Murcer was a hero of mine. Probably because (as he is MOST famous for) being the (mostly)SUCCESSFUL Mickey Mantle replacement! I clung to his every box-score! It was the saddest day ever when he got traded.

    He is in my strat-0-matic all time greats (and I made sure it was not JUST because of my hero worship) as an update. Side note, he has done very well there overall.

    I also had a malignant tumor removed from my brain. I wish him well, it certainly does not mean his life is ended!

    You, certainly, know most writers don’t get publish — especially easily. Everyone has their place and everyone is important!

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