Archive for the ‘Bob Stanley’ Category


Bob Stanley

May 24, 2022

Worcester Birds notes, games 61 through 72.

  • G61: L 8-5
    • Decent start by Fidrych squandered with bullpen implosion by McClure and Tekulve. This whole thing is about Fidrych. If I can’t make it work out for him, what’s the point?
  • G62: W 5-4
    • Bostock with triple, single, and 2 RBI supports good start by Dixon. On the night of this game, I said good night to my older son and walked our dogs, and when I came back in my son was crying. My wife was comforting him. “What’s wrong?” I said. “He’s worried about death,” my wife said. I told him I knew how he felt, thinking about Lyman Bostock, who died when I was the same age as my son and when he seemed immortal, perched near the top of the Sunday batting averages.
  • G63: L 8-5
    • Forster pummeled. I’m in therapy now. Finally. I started a couple of years ago. I want to be as healthy as I can to be there for my family.
  • G64: L 5-2
    • Stanley ineffective; Lee with 4.1 scoreless in relief. I started writing in notebooks when I was 12, in imitation of Sparky Lyle’s The Bronx Zoo. I wanted my life to seem that funny. It wasn’t, or not very often. Much more often it was just me, wrestling, flailing. My first stack of notebooks became such a burden by the time I was 19 that I threw the whole stack in a dumpster. I have all the notebooks from that point on. Open up any one of them and you’ll see someone who could have used therapy. But I avoided it. Found other ways to keep going, most of those ways different forms of numbness.
  • G65: L 5-2
    • Tiant pitches pretty well but Mingori is a gas can (3 runs in 2 innings). Three losses in a row. In therapy I have not bloomed into some magnificent creature able to fly above pain. In fact it’s been the opposite. The numbness is starting to thaw. I am feeling things. I am feeling pain. I am learning to track that pain.
  • G66: W 1-0 (Fidrych 9-3)
    • Fidrych with 6.1 scoreless innings; Morgan with two key defensive plays and two walks, including the one that starts the game-winning rally.
  • G67: L 4-2
    • Offense stays cold. When I was a teenager and diving deep into solo Strat-O-Matic to numb myself with the buzz of imagined winning and the winning wasn’t coming I kept rolling the dice and rolling the dice, hoping to will the home runs back into the bats of the guys who were my psychic avatars. The spiraling of the dry, clicking impotence of that, those dice rolling across the plywood shelf I used in my room as a desk (though never for schoolwork—I kept falling farther and farther behind in everything), the buzz never coming. The anger rising. I can still feel it now. It’s in my throat, my jaw, my teeth.
  • G68: L 6-4
    • Forster authors another sloppy mess. My only significant point of connection outside that room and that desk and my notebooks and those dice rolls was on my sports teams. I kept playing baseball in the Babe Ruth league, but I was overmatched at that level as I’d never been in little league, and near the end of a losing season I quit. I kept playing basketball for my school team. In 7th grade we lost all our games, In 8th grade we lost all but 2 games. In 9th grade we lost all our games. In 10th grade we lost all our games. I wasn’t exactly friends with the players on those teams. We’d see each other in the halls and say hey but there wouldn’t be eye contact.
  • G69: L 3-2
    • Bill Lee continues to shine with nothing to show. Bob Stanley, after a strong 3.2 innings in the previous game, is unavailable for middle relief, and the available pitchers struggle. Back when I was losing with my own sports teams I kept rooting for the Red Sox, hoping to find the numbing buzz of winning in fandom. Bill Lee was gone by then, but Bob Stanley was still there. He would come in and give up a lot of hits and sometimes wriggle out of trouble and other times not, and he carried the weight of a poor performance in the 1978 playoff game, and then in 1986 he was the man on the mound when it all went completely to shit.
  • G70: L 5-3
    • McClure and Tekulve blow a 2-run lead in the 9th, squandering a strong Tiant start. Thank god for alcohol. Thank god for marijuana. Thank god for that feeling of rising above it all. That’s how I felt for a while, sincerely, but then for a long time I didn’t feel that way but kept rolling the dice and rolling the dice, waiting for the feeling to return.
  • G71: L 7-3 (Fidrych 9-4)
    • The Bird struggles, and his 6-game winning streak comes to an end. I’ve got to make changes with this team! But I can’t gut the strong defense behind Fidrych, and the team is already struggling to score. The bullpen was performing over its head for a while, allowing the mirage of a first place finish to materialize for a while. Now McClure and Tekulve are coming back to earth. But there are no relievers available who would be an upgrade. The only possibility is to recycle some of the midlevel shitty handymen on the staff such as Forster, Mingori, Dixon, and, especially, in terms of allowing me to imagine grabbing hold of the painful feeling that’s been inside me all my life, in my throat, my teeth: Bob Stanley. He’s as good as gone. Dumping him and the others will probably only steepen the slide of my team, as the only way to trade in players in my league is by picking up more cheaply priced players in return. Worse players, probably. But there will at least be the tiny little buzz of destruction, of quitting, of dumping, along with the tiny little buzz of stupid hope that the new slightly different collections of probabilities will bring the dice rolls back into my favor.
  • G72: L 3-0
    • I am a loser. I have always been a loser. My therapy isn’t merely an exploration of struggles but an attempt with the help of a professional to identify and question the thoughts in my head. Are they true? And why do they come up? And are there other thoughts that I might bring more to the fore, any things that are going OK, any things I’m thankful for? This is part of it too. I’m dumping Bob Stanley today, but I know I’m not dumping the burden of my past, the feeling in my throat, my jaw, my teeth. I’ve still got a lot of work to do with that. And I’m thinking of how Bob Stanley used to attack beachballs at Fenway with a rake. They used to fly and bounce around the bleachers on fists and boozy cheers and eventually they would land out on the outfield grass or in the bullpen and he would stalk them with a rake and pounce and swing down and puncture them. Bob Stanley was never a loser. Bob Stanley made me smile.


Bob Stanley

August 26, 2007


Chapter 5

(continued from Big League Brothers)

Years after my brother was apprehended trying to steal an Elvis Costello cassette, I finally followed his footsteps into shoplifting, stealing easily pocketable items from a small grocery store in Santa Barbara, California. This was in 1987, a decade removed from the heart of my childhood, which had been located somewhere not far from this 1978 baseball card of a young man with everything still in front of him. By 1987, of course, whatever promise Bob Stanley once possessed had been pummeled to microscopic dust.

That summer Greyhound announced a deal allowing passengers making a purchase a month in advance to travel anywhere in the country, one way, for $29.99. I happened to be poor and aimless, so I bought a ticket from Vermont to California, where my old boarding school friend Bill was going to college. The ticket was the size of a James Michener novel, its pages filled with the names of cities I’d never been to: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cheyenne, Boulder, Provo, Sacramento, San Francisco. At that point, besides a family trip to Mexico when I was five, I hadn’t seen anything beyond the northeastern United States. But in the previous couple years, ever since getting the boot from boarding school, I’d become a disciple of Jack Kerouac, whose writing made me believe that even a life adrift could have beauty and meaning, that if you wandered far and wide enough you’d eventually find a mythic heartbeat centering the scattered days.

I brought a couple books with me for the long ride that reflected this Kerouackian bent, Woodie Guthrie’s Bound For Glory and William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. I finished the first breezy, enjoyable tale within a few hours, before I’d even crossed into Pennsylvania, which left me alone for the ensuing days and nights and nights and days of spine-eroding bus seat monotony with nothing but some cheap brown marijuana and the latter book’s anti-narrative nightmare of unrelated scenes always seeming to eventually work their way around to the strangulation of pubescent lads shooting cum from their penises as they died. After I spent the majority of a week in this manner, Bill met me at the bus station in Santa Barbara. He was barefoot and tan. He had a friend with him, Tex, who was also barefoot and tan. They had brought along a dog, Luna, who though not tan was also of course barefoot and contributed to the general feeling of untroubled health and cheer, her nails clicking happily on the grimy bus station linoleum as she jogged closer to smell the stench of alienation radiating off of me. I was pale. My coordination and balance seemed irrevocably damaged. My inability to converse must have made it seem to the tan barefoot fellows swarming me that I’d spent the previous several years in a cave.

In the ensuing days and weeks I had trouble finding work. I probably gave people the creeps. Finally I took a job canvassing for CalPirg. They took anybody, but the catch was you only made money on commission, taking a percentage of whatever contributions you could wheedle out of people. I’d done a similar job the summer before for Greenpeace and had both loathed it and been terrible at it, so I guess I must have been desperate.

There were some lean days in Santa Barbara, both before and after I started not making any money with CalPirg. So I started stealing from a grocery store near Bill’s apartment. I mostly swiped rectangular packages of cream cheese. The store had security mirrors everywhere, but there was one blind spot near the back. News of this blind spot had spread. Sometimes there was a line to the blind spot, shoplifters queuing up with their pocket-sized items.

Occasionally on the way back from the store I spotted a newspaper in a trashcan. I’d fish it out, find a bench somewhere, and read the sports page while dipping flour tortillas into my stolen cream cheese. Baseball seemed a million miles away that summer, farther away than it ever had. Baseball had ended. Everything had ended. The sky was blue. The Red Sox sank in the standings, a little farther with each garbage-tainted sports page. Days passed. I stole some more cheese. The sky remained blue. The Red Sox sank lower. Bob Stanley’s name showed up in the box score from time to time, an L beside his name.

(continued in Tom Burgmeier)