Tag Archives: baseball

A story of fishing, baseball but mostly life

5 Jan

Here’s an excerpt from Mike Reuther’s book, Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic.

To really understand this story, I guess you have to start at the end. For it was on a particular Labor Day Weekend, after we’d won our amateur adult baseball team tournament, that I first shared my story about Sir Jon. Up until then, I had never talked about Sir Jon, a kind of mythical figure from my days spent on trout streams, not even with my friend Hal, who’d been with me on one or two occasions when Sir Jon had showed up while we were fishing. Most people had never even heard of Sir Jon, and he remained an elusive kind of creature. It was as if he didn’t exist. It was Sir Jon, you might say, who made me finally realize what’s important, even if there were many other people who would play a big part in shaping me and my philosophy about life.

So there I was, Nick Grimes, still at the ball field long after most of my teammates had gone. I guess I was basking in my glory at the advanced baseball age of forty-five, the winning pitcher in the championship game. Somehow, my assortment of deceptive slow curves and changeups mixed in with an occasional fastball had baffled the opposing hitters. The only other person left was my young teammate, a kid named Leggett, who’d had a big day at the plate, going four for four with a couple of home runs. He’d been a high school star but had decided against going to college and playing ball. Some people said he was crazy for not pursuing baseball more seriously. He certainly had the tools for turning professional, and he was tall and lanky with a perfect kind of baseball body that the scouts loved. But I could tell he didn’t have the passion for the game. “I like hitting home runs,” he told me one day. “But the rest of the game … It pretty much bores me.”

What Leggett really enjoyed was trout fishing, and he never missed a chance to query me about my own experiences fishing and guiding anglers around central Pennsylvania. I was sitting in the small grandstands behind home plate when Leggett plopped down beside me on one of the weathered, wood planks.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play next year,” he said.

“Oh. Getting too old?” I looked at him and smiled.

“Ah … It’s just not that fun,” he said.

“Even on days like today … when you blasted a couple of home runs and led your team to victory?”

“It’s cool but …”

“But what?”

“It’s the same old shit. Tomorrow, I’ll go to work at the mall and put in my eight hours. Then back to work the next day and on and on it goes.”

“Yeah. I know how that is.”

“I’ve been out of high school two years now,” he said. “My girlfriend wants to move things along. Know what I mean?”

“You mean, get married?”

Leggett shrugged. “Sure. Have a kid, start a family. The whole deal. I won’t have time for this.”


“There’s gotta be more to life. Ya know?” He looked at me and then down at the ground.

“Like fishing?”

Leggett grinned. “Now that I can relate to.”

“Sure. Fishing is great.”

“Nothing like it,” he said.

“So. Go fishing.”

“I do man. Every chance I get. But it doesn’t change anything.”

“No, I suppose it doesn’t.”

“Like I said, I’m still stuck in that job and probably headed to the same old life everyone else has.”

“I guess it comes down to finding your passion.”

Leggett looked at me and then out at the field. The sun was low now and the trees along the first base line, some of which were just beginning to show their fall colors, were throwing long shadows across the green grass of the infield.

“You probably think I’m nuts for not taking one of those baseball scholarships a couple of years ago.” Leggett’s eyes narrowed in on me from beneath his baseball cap.

“What can I say? It was your decision.”

“Maybe I should have gone to school,” he said.

“Yeah … maybe.”

Leggett threw up his hands. “Aw hell … sometimes I drive myself crazy. Sometimes I think I am crazy.”

“Like I said, follow your passion.”

“Yeah … well. What the hell is my passion? Just tell me Grimes. What is it?”

“That’s for you to find out.”

We both sat there for a few moments staring out at the field.

“Sir Jon,” I said.

“What?” Leggett asked.

“Sir Jon. He’s this crazy mountain man who lives by himself not too far from here. You could become another Sir Jon.”

“And why would I become another Sir Jon?”

“He’s doing what he wants. He’s probably the most incredible fly fisherman I’ve ever seen.”

“Sir Jon?” Leggett looked at me with both suspicion and interest as if I’d just told him the lottery ticket he’d bought that morning had turned up a winner.

“A legend. But more importantly, a student of life.”

I didn’t know if I had gotten through to Leggett, a talented ballplayer who didn’t really like the game of baseball all that much, a kid who had spurned college scholarship offers to play. Leggett was like so many other kids on the verge of manhood, a bit lost but not hopeless, wondering what the hell he was going to be doing with his life for the next fifty years.

My reference to Sir Jon seemed to resonate with him, however. A hermit who’d given up a career to go live in the mountains and spend a lot of his time trout fishing seemed to appeal to Leggett.

“Sounds like the dude is doing what he wants to do,” Leggett said. “That’s cool.”

“It is cool.” I said.

“Yeah,” Leggett said.

He turned to me then. “Thanks man.”

“For what?”

“For giving me something to think about.”
He picked up his baseball bag and stuck out his hand.

“It’s been real,” he said.

“See you next season?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I doubt it. I think I’m done with baseball.” He took one last look out at the field. It was close to dusk by now, and the strange night calls of birds could be heard.

“Maybe I’ll look up that Sir Jon dude,” he said.

“Good luck,” I said.

“Yeah man.” He gave me a thumbs-up and headed across the field for his car parked out behind the right field fence. I watched his figure grow smaller and smaller in the fading light as he made his way across the outfield grass. And then, the engine of his car started up, and he was gone.

Sir Jon is a big part of this story I’m telling as is Leggett, even if you won’t read a whole lot about them. Keep their names in mind as you read on. Of course, the story is also about me, Nick Grimes.



FREE book, May 21-22. Take me out to the ball game to investigate a murder

21 May



Only the drug pushers and scoundrels appear to thrive in Centre Town, Pa., home to the Class A baseball team Mets and childhood home of Cozzy Crager, the world-weary protagonist of “Return to Dead City.”
Crager and Centre Town are a perfect fit. Batting booze and his worst nightmares of years spent on the Albuquerque police force, he’s back in this decaying, crime-ridden town for the first time since he was a young man. Crager is barely settled into his gig as a detective when he gets an anonymous call of a murder.
Lance Miller, the Mets’ slugging star with the shadowy past, has been found dead in a downtown hotel. Lance’s time with the team had been brief, his relationship with teammates, lovers and others somewhat vague and mysterious.
And so, Crager begins the task of following leads and ferreting out information, a job that takes him from the back alleys of the city to the halls of academia. Crager works alone and without as much as a stipend. Soon, he wonders why. For he will have his hands full.
In “Return to Dead City,” Crager has come home without feeling exactly at home. For as Crager is to learn,Centre Town is a town where nothing has changed, but everything has changed.

Baseball book is a great reference to serious readers of the national pastime

11 Jun



Ron Kaplan’s “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die” is an intriguing title, even if it may not mean much to people other than those devoted to the national pastime. A reference book of this kind was sorely needed for us serious baseball readers, and Kaplan has given us one with this nifty little volume. It’s divided into different chapters depending on the type of book. Kaplan summarizes all kind of books – classic novels such as Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural” and biographies of legendary heroes including Sandy Koufax and Babe Ruth. Kapan isn’t terribly critical, if at all, in most of these summaries. But that’s okay. I give the author credit for putting out a volume that includes so many baseball books, which, believe it or not, really only scratches the surface. I’m happy he included some of my favorites – “A False Spring” and “Shoeless Joe. 


A couple of baseball books to start the season

31 Mar



Can’t get enough baseball? When you get done watching your favorite team on Opening Day will you still be hungry for more baseball?.

There’s always plenty of books on the national pastime. Some of my favorites include “A False Spring” and “Dynasty.”

“A False Spring” is Pat Jordan’s mostly autobiographical book of his minor league days as a struggling pitcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jordan was a flame-throwing right-hander who got a nice bonus from the Milwaukee Braves, but unfortunately was unable to fulfill his promise.

Jordan’s story isn’t a particularly happy one, but it’s interesting how he tries to make sense of how it all went wrong. And Jordan paints just marvelous descriptions of some of the backwater bush league towns where he spent lonely summers of his late adolescence learning about himself and struggling with his baseball life.  .

“Dynasty” was Peter Golenbock’s first baseball book, and it was a gem. It covers the great era of the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1964 when the Bronx Bombers were truly a dynasty. Golenbock traces each of the seasons and later catches up with the ballplayers, and not just the stars such as Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, but the mostly forgotten players as well.

Anyway, those are just two books I would recommend among dozens of others you can read. Hey. It’s great to have spring here finally and another baseball season. Now let’s play ball.