Archive for the ‘Bud Harrelson’ Category

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Harrelson, Brusstar, Luzinski

March 28, 2017

Bud Harrelson

Three cards fell to the floor the other day. My younger son was tearing open some protective plastic sheeting around them, and they’d fallen together into a group. The cards hadn’t been mine as a kid. I’d never owned any Hostess cards, for one thing, let alone the card featuring the player most likely to have enjoyed several Hostess products after a day of blasting homers and mangling fly balls, and I’d never put my cards into protective plastic sheets. My mother-in-law had found the sheets of cards at a second-hand store and gotten them for me. I looked at them in the sheets a bit, but they had to be freed from the sheets for me to really see them. The first thing I noticed was Bud Harrelson’s eyes. Really all of Bud Harrelson, his thin lips, slight frame, sparse mustache, choked-up grip, everything about him radiating the feeling that he’s just hanging on. But especially the eyes. And just beside him, Brusstar, a hardened character. And then Luzinski, young blank-eyed Hostess strongman incarnate. A scenario began to unfold in my mind, a late 1970s film about amoral desperation, one last gasp from the decade of movies about losing before the candy-colored John Hughes years began.

Excerpts from Run Down (1979)

Scene 1 (interior, motel room)

Bud
One more score and I’m out.

Woman
Baby, I don’t want you to get hurt, not now that I’ve finally got you back.

Bud
I’m telling you, this one can’t miss.

[Walks to window, stares out at traffic on the highway]

This one . . . there’s no way I can lose.

Scene 5 (exterior, downtown)

Warren walks along a sidewalk in a mostly deserted downtown. He picks up a brick and throws it through a window. He takes some records out of the window. One of them is Saturday Night Fever, which he tosses into the gutter and then spits on top of it. The rest he takes with him. A cat crosses his path and he tries to kick it but misses and stumbles, falling into a puddle, spilling the rest of the records. A sound comes out of him like that of an animal pinned in a bear trap.]

Warren Brusstar

Scene 12 (interior, Extra Innings Bar)

Warren
I suggest you shut the fuck up and get the fuck away from me, Bud.

Bud
This is a. Is that any way to? Look, I’m doing you a favor here.

Warren
You still owe me for the last fucking favor you did me.

[Both men drink, smoke. The rock song on the jukebox ends and a disco song begins.]

Warren
[roaring]
Who put on this shit?!?

Female bar patron
[reacting to music]
Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Yeah!

[Warren stares murderously into his drink as the disco plays. Bud stares at Warren for a long time, until Warren finally looks up.]

Warren
How do you do that?

Bud
What?

Warren
Not fucking blink.

Bud
[smiling now, but only with his mouth]
Life is short, Warren. I don’t want to miss anything.

Warren
[after a long beat]
Fuck it. The fuck I care.

Bud
You won’t be sorry, Warren.

Warren
I’m always sorry.

Bud
We’re gonna win this time, Warren.

Warren
We’re still a man short.

Bud
Opportunities will arise, Warren. Opportunities will arise.

Greg Luzinski

Scene 15 (exterior, motel)

As Bud watches, smoking, from the railing outside his second story motel room, a large man on the ground level, Greg, dressed only in a small white motel towel, holds the small towel around him with one hand while pushing the buttons on a vending machine with his other hand. He waits. The vending machine does not produce any product. Greg pushes the buttons again. Scratches his head. Taps on the glass. Pounds on the glass. He moves methodically—he is not getting angry but wants what he is not getting. Finally he brings his other hand free and the towel falls to the pavement. He grabs the large machine with both hands and begins to rock it. The rocking increases until it looks as if the machine will rock forward and crush the large naked man, but instead he hefts the machine onto his back, swivels, and hurls it to the ground, where the machine bursts with a clattering of glass and crumpling metal. Coins and candy and bags of chips spill out. Greg ignores the money and picks through the broken glass and other packages for one package of Hostess Chocolate Cup Cakes, which he removes from the packaging and shoves into his mouth, one after the other as he crosses the parking lot back to his room, still naked. Camera closes in on Bud, who is smoking and watching Greg without blinking.

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Bud Harrelson

January 2, 2007

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite all-time personally witnessed instances of baseball fan behavior:

Yankee Stadium opening day brawls
I attended this early 1990s opening day game between the Yankees and the Red Sox with my brother (a fellow Red Sox fan) and our friends, the Yankee-loving Dolan brothers. I wore my brother’s grimy, decade-old Yaz painter’s cap into the stadium but by the second or third inning had quietly wadded it up and slipped it into my pocket after witnessing huge roiling brawls all around us in the vertiginous Yankee Stadium upper deck.

The biggest brawl, which seemed to last for several innings and which featured bodies periodically tumbling down the steep concrete aisle steps, climaxed, I swear to Yaz, in the draping of a gigantic blood-stained United States flag across the entire expanse of the brawl-infested section. OK, it’s possible that it wasn’t blood-stained, but I believe my brother and the Dolans, who were, along with me, stunned into silence for all but the first few moments of the game, would concur that the flag was in almost all respects not a hallucination.

The only other memories I have from the game are that the Yankees won, that Randy Velarde somehow contributed significantly to the win, and that just before the eighth or ninth inning I ventured from my cringing position in my seat to the bathroom. I was badly in need of a urinal, but when I got to a urinal I found that something in the surrounding drunken violent simian throng in the bathroom made me unable to release even the tiniest sprinkle from my bladder. I ended up mimicking “the shake” and returning to my seat, irreparable urethral damage undoubtedly ensuing.

Fathers and Sons and Baseball
In one of my mid-80s trips to the Fenway Park bleachers, I ended up sitting next to a friendly guy who’d driven up from Baltimore with his young son to see the Red Sox home field for the first time. Before the game began, the guy went on at some length about how much he was enjoying the classic old ballyard. Meanwhile, right behind him, a fat sunburned teenager in matching bruise-purple Hawaiian shirt and shorts drunkenly screamed Jim Rice’s name over and over. This teenager grew ominously silent just moments before the first pitch. He swayed back and forth a little, as if he was silently praying, and his sunburned face grew at first even redder before abruptly draining of all color but a pasty newspaper-gray. Then he of course spewed bruise-purple Fenway puke all over the Baltimore dad and son and was escorted from the grounds before seeing a single pitch.

The Sacred Green Cathedral
At another Yankee-Red Sox tilt at Yankee Stadium in the ’90s, my brother and I went down close to the field to watch batting practice and were within earshot of a guy in a Red Sox hat, round glasses, and a long, ex-hippieish, philosophy-teacherish gray-flecked beard going on at length to his luckless companion about the eternal verities of the sacred green cathedral of the baseball diamond and, worse, about the classic Aristotelian arc of the glorious tragedy that was the Red Sox continuous failure to capture the golden chalice of baseball immortality. I can’t remember if my brother and I were able to remark on the fact that assholes like this gave Red Sox fans a bad name or if we just stared on in mute shock at the appearance of such a pure example of a pretentious baseball blowhard. I do however remember that Mo Vaughn was taking his rips in the batting cage and, as if he were equipped with bionic hearing and a bionic bullshit-detector, pulled a screaming line drive into the stands that struck the bearded philosopher right in the head. Still talking and gesticulating, albeit with some added slowness of speech and limb and albeit confined to a stretcher, the bearded man was escorted from the grounds before seeing a single pitch.

Mike Flanagan, UMASS!
When I was a little kid, eight or nine, a group of beer-lathered louts stood on the walkway at the back of the stands a few rows behind us in Fenway Park and shouted “Mike Flanagan, UMASS!” over and over again, all game long. Mike Flanagan was the opposing pitcher for the visiting Baltimore Orioles and he had attended the University of Massachusetts. The missing piece in the preceding explanatory sentence, of course, is information illuminating why several grown men would take time out of their limited stay on the mortal plane to attend a sporting contest and yell “Mike Flanagan, UMASS!” over and over, but it’s exactly that missing piece that prompted my brother and I, and even my mom, to repeat their chant for days and weeks and even years after we’d first heard it emanate from the mysterious Flanaganites. Sometimes I still say it out loud for no apparent reason. It’s quite possible it has become embedded in my synapses, and when I finally do perish my last words may well be something about a dimly remembered Baltimore southpaw and the institution at which he metriculated.

Budddeeeeeee!!!!
Bud Harrelson only played in 53 games for the Phillies in 1979, but I happened to attend one of them. I remember this because a nearby fan at the game in Veterans Stadium screamed his name all game long, even during pregame warmups and even after the game started with Harrelson in his customary position on the bench. This went on inning after inning. Miraculously, as if Bud Harrelson’s biggest, loudest, lone remaining fan had willed it, Bud Harrelson actually came into the game, for some now obscure reason replacing Phillies star Mike Schmidt at third base. I don’t actually remember that (the info comes courtesy of Retrosheet.com, a site lauded most eloquently for its memory-aiding capabilities in a great essay by Darren Viola), but I do have a hazy recollection of the screams of his fan increasing both when Bud Harrelson entered the game and when, later, Bud Harrelson reached base and then with his wiry, hustling antics began drawing the attention of the opposing pitcher. If I were asked the specifics of what happened without virtue of access via Retrosheet to the box score of the game, I would have guessed that the scrappy former Gold Glove shortstop had used his cagy veteran smarts to swipe second, reach third on a throwing error by the catcher, and scamper home on a sacrifice fly by Greg Luzinski. It’s a little disillusioning to see the actual facts:

“PHILLIES 7TH: Harrelson walked; Harrelson was caught stealing second (pitcher to first)”

I like my version better. But maybe it’s even better to know that Bud Harrelson’s biggest fan did not let something as ignominious as being picked off of first by Stan Bahnsen get in the way of his relentless adulation. He kept on yelling forever for Buddy Harrelson.