Monday, August 15, 2011

Three Jeffs and One Random Dude

Back from a great Cape May va-cay!

And it was great.  Weather, accommodations, chow, people we met: all superb!  Creatures of habit, we always hit the same restaurants: Ocean View Family Restaurant, Lobster House and Marabella's up in Stone Harbor, former summer home of such luminaries as Ed McMahon and Princess Grace.  Of course, one visit to Uncle Bill's Pancake House is mandatory, and the Cape May police are known to operate roadblocks to check all drivers, making sure that everyone has syrup-sticky hands while heading back to the room for a starch-fueled nap.

Speaking of grace, we saw a dude at the sunset flag-lowering ceremony at the end of Beach Drive, and he looked just like our former across-the-street neighbor, Jeff.  Trust me, he looks just like Jeff, so much so that I sent the evidence to Jeff via email. 

Baseball academician that he is, Jeff also knew what I was talking about when I said that this guy looked like him like Jeffrey Leonard looked like Sonny Liston.
Jeffrey Leonard, born in Philadelphia, played for many big-league baseball teams from 1977 - 1990, none of them located in Philadelphia.  But he had two really cool nicknames: "Hac-Man," a tribute to his penchant for swinging his bat at most any pitch that didn't bounce twice on the way to the plate, and "Penitentiary Face," a salute to his penchant for not smiling, ever.  Jeff Leonard was also known for doing this "one flap down" thing: running around the bases after hitting a homer with one arm hanging motionless at his side. 

Pure hotdoggery of the sort rarely seen anymore.  But while we're in the wide world of Jeffs, let's give a nod to another former outfielder with more travel stickers on his suitcase than Willy Loman: Jeff Stone. Jeff was the guy who turned down an offer of a shrimp cocktail ("I don't drink") and found himself playing winter ball in South America, asking a teammate if the moon that hung over their ballpark in Caracas was the same moon that illuminated his boyhood home in Kennett, MO.  And, as that offseason came to a close, he packed his gear, but decided it would be best to leave the television behind because, "It only gets shows in Spanish."

I love baseball because its participants are interesting men like those above.  And let's face it: if you were going to meet your brain surgeon and his name was Dr. Octavio Victor Rojas Rivas, you'd be suitably impressed.

But that's no name for a ballplayer and future manager!  Octavio Victor Rojas Rivas was never a brain surgeon, but he was a heckuva ballplayer under the nickname "Cookie."

Which is a great nickname for a second baseman, but not really for a brain surgeon.  Can't have it both ways!

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