Dear Austin [Vice President, Sales & Marketing; Fayetteville Woodpeckers]:
I just discovered that the new manager of the ‘Peckers, Nate Shaver, has earned a PhD. I must admit that caused a little bit of a stirring in my loins, even if that degree is from New Mexico State University. We all cannot be Ivy Leaguers, can we? You did one of those mini-Ivy thingies, right? Close enough in my book.
I see he earned that PhD through “research focused on improving baseball hitting skills through the application of learning theory while utilizing video feedback and evaluating individual differences.” Man, that sound like a stone’s throw away from eugenics. What the hell are the Astros up to these days? That sounds like some real Nazi shit — the old fashioned Nazi stuff, not the stuff goober stuff in America today. Trevor Bauer might have been onto something other than acid.
I am looking at the press release picture of Mr. Shaver’s signing, and I must say, the Baseball Cube lists him at 5’11”, which means your immediate supervisors are short as fuck. Your President of Operations must be about 5’5”, even with that slick pompadour hair style. However, if he is a ‘Pecker, he must be carrying a big stick, right?
I hope you realize you have been presented another wonderful merchandising opportunity with Shaver’s hiring. Dr. ‘Pecker is in the house! Well, dugout or locker room, but you get he gist. No one buys t-shirts of minor league players, but they go apeshit over a colorful manager. When the great Denny Hocking was the manger of the 66ers in 2016, one of the promos was Hocking running for President. Shirts sold like hotcakes; I bought three myself (two for gifts). Imagine Nate’s likeness on a shirt with Dr. ‘Pecker below it. We can even use his college number (25) on the back. Poof! The ‘Peckers have their first iconic figure, especially since Mr. Shaver has that look of a minor league professional.
His eyes have that look of a guy who has been around forever, but also had been somewhere along the way. One day when you have been in the minors long enough you will know what that means. This is also about the time you are realizing that I know so much, much more about this profession than you. Do not be intimidated; I am here to guide you through this part of the journey. Right now you just need to know you are running with the dreamers. Your big bosses might be trying to run some soulless victory machine, but that apple cart was upended by the Boston Red Sox last year, wasn’t it?
Denny Hocking has that look too, and he was taken from us too soon. Oh, he isn’t dead yet; just managing for Modesto. His trips to San Manuel Stadium will be epic reunions. His first series back includes Education Day, so about a thousand students from Cesar E. Chavez Middle School will be there to show Denny while he is gone, he is not forgotten. I am sure the commemorative T-shirts will be splendid. I hope GM Joe springs for a band, maybe Cracker who is from the region, but like to pretend they are not because they got their ass kicked in the Inland Empire punk scene in the 1990s. Denny Hocking was playing in the Cal League for Visalia the year Cracker’s first LP was released. Coincidence? More like Plate O’ Shrimp. Hickman, Lowery, Hocking, and Bads85 all riding together again.
You might be thinking, “Why haven’t we hired this Bads85 guy yet? Let’s make him an offer.” Well, Austin, I cannot work for the ‘Peckers at this time, unless it is remote and part time. I would also have to see a rough draft of your promotion schedule to see just what I am getting myself into. For now, remember this profession can end anything you have begun, and there are no saviors in A ball, not even Denny Hocking. My good buddy Josh Ritter once told me that only the living go to the graveyard grieving, but I do not believe he ever rode a bus around the Carolina League, so his ideas about catharsis and death are incomplete. Dreamers go to the afterworld keening like banshees because they have heard the bell toll, and know it tolls for thee.
Your friend in baseball,
PS: Did you know the Wood Ducks have a mascot named Dewd? It is hunting season, and the bell is tolling for Dewd!