So, it was really cold last night and I came in early. It was New Year’s Eve and Mike was asleep by 10 PM instead of his usual 10:30. He and Judy were both awakened at midnight when the local yokels set off their fireworks. But just at dusk I had a close call. I was making my usual rounds and was a couple of streets over from home when I spotted a squirrel. I wasn’t that hungry, but out of habit I was stalking it. He was completely unaware of me and was sniffing around for seeds or something when suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, a great horned owl swooped down, grabbed the little guy in his talons, and flew off with him. I absolutely did not see or hear the owl until he was upon that squirrel. If the squirrel had not been there he could just as well have grabbed me. That would have been a shame, because I love my life and I have so much more to say. It just goes to show you that you can’t take anything for granted, especially your life and your health. Damn, that was close!
I got home just as Judy and Mike were getting home. They had gone out to eat and made a wonderful discovery. A Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant has opened not terribly far from where we live. The Mellow Mushroom is a restaurant chain that was founded in Atlanta in 1974, and has been a favorite of theirs. However, the closest place to them had closed 4 or 5 years ago. Sad! Mike has to be careful about eating too much pizza because of his reflux, but he was cautious and made it through the night last night just fine. He has been known to wake up in the middle of the night with acid in his throat and coughing and groaning for the next several hours. Mike and I came down to the computer this morning getting ready to work on this story and there was some kind of a problem which took a couple of hours and some money to resolve but we’re back in business again.
So, last week when Mike was dictating a report using his voice recognition software, he ran into a problem that happens all the time. Mike uses this cheap software program that he got for less than $100. He had an opportunity to buy the professional medical package which would’ve had the names of all the diseases, drugs, and so on for $2500 but he passed. So if he dictates a word that’s not in the software’s memory bank, it puts together something as best as it can. Mike was dictating about a patient whose primary care physician had put her on a medication for weight loss called Belviq. The voice recognition software substituted Bill Veeck.
For those of you who don’t know, Bill Veeck was a baseball entrepreneur and showman who had quite a colorful career. He definitely thought outside of the box and wasn’t afraid to be outrageous (or visionary, depending on your point of view.). Bill had grown up in Chicago where his father was president of the Chicago Cubs. Oddly enough, his father was originally a sportswriter who wrote a number of highly critical articles about the way the team had been run and the team’s owner, William Wrigley Junior, told him if he thought he could do it better he ought to try, and he hired him. The younger Veeck worked in various menial capacities for the Cubs including selling popcorn. He claimed to have had the idea for planting ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field. This may or may not be true, as would apply to many of his later claims. In 1942 along with Charlie Grimm he bought the triple A level Milwaukee Brewers which was his 1st venture into baseball ownership. Subsequently, he bought the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and was twice owner of the Chicago White Sox. While owner of the St. Louis Browns, he pulled a stunt by hiring a little person, Eddie Gaedel,, and put him in a game as a pinch hitter. Eddie was 3’7″ tall. He made a single plate appearance and drew a walk on 4 pitches. He was replaced by a pinch runner at 1st base, but not before stopping twice on the way to first base and bowing to the crowd. About 10 years earlier, James Thurber wrote a short story called “You Could Look It Up” in which a little person was put in as a pinch-hitter in a ballgame. Veeck denied getting the idea from Thurber’s story and he may not have. The next day Gaedel’s contract was voided by the American League. The American League president, Will Harridge, said that Veeck was making a mockery of the game. In response, Veeck said he was going to request a ruling by the league of whether Phil Rizzuto was a short shortstop or a tall dwarf.
Another thing worth knowing about Bill Veeck was that he was a veteran of World War II where he saw combat and was wounded. He had several operations on his leg and ultimately had an above-knee amputation. Mike remembers him tromping around Comiskey Park back in the ’50s on his wooden leg, smoking cigarettes and putting them out in an ashtray that he had cut into the prosthesis. He was also known to enjoy a drink or more every now and then.
Veeck was also a very early advocate of racial integration in baseball. While owner of the Cleveland Indians in 1947, he signed the 1st African-American ballplayer in the American League, Larry Doby. Veeck also used to tell a story of taking an overnight train in 1942 to Philadelphia to buy the Philadelphia Phillies. He was close to an agreement but decided to let the major league baseball commissioner, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, know of his intentions to integrate. Supposedly, he was going to bring on a number of players from the Negro leagues to play for the Phillies. When Veeck got to Philadelphia on the overnight train he learned that the deal was off. Some or all of this story could well be a fabrication. What is true is that as I write this, I’m no more than 3 miles away from Kennesaw Mountain here in Marietta, Georgia. I’m sure there must have been a good reason to name a little baby boy for a mountain, but right now I can’t think of what it might have been. I’m glad he wasn’t named for Grandfather Mountain. That would have been weird.
And speaking of Kennesaw, did you know that it is required by city ordinance in the city of Kennesaw to own a firearm? The city Council of Kennesaw took this action as a way of mocking the gun control ordinance passed in 1982 in Morton Grove, Illinois which banned the possession of firearms.
So, I heard that Popo Wilson just got a couple of parrots for Christmas. I will have to drop by soon to see them, and get some pictures for you. Until then, have a great day, and of course, happy new year! Mike is about to go downstairs to watch the Rose Bowl. I never thought I would say this, but Go Dogs!