The Telemarketer

The Telemarketer Audio

The Telemarketer

Since it looks like unemployment is going to run out, I went to Craigslist and looked at some of the wonderful job opportunities:

“ARMED GUARDS NEEDED, must have Valid Guard Card and a Firearm Permit.” Not interested.

“TRAVEL AMERICA AS YOUR OWN BOSS”…Get behind the wheel of a 53 FT DRY WALL FLAT BED TRUCK… DRIVERS WANTED, WILL TRAIN” “Are you man enough to get into trucking” No I’m not.

“GET A JOB TO MAKE MONEY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE….. Local (Mid-Wilshire)If you are good on the phone: JOIN THE WORLD FUND. We specialize in grassroots campaigns, social change, activism, citizen outreach, environment and nonprofit….” OK… now we’re talking. All the liberal shit I like and it’s local. Telemarketing, what could go wrong and how exciting and worthy. Everyone wants to Save the Sea Turtles or the African Elephant. People really want to get those calls during dinner or at bedtime….. How easy!!!!! Right!!!!

I am here to tell you that telemarketing is one of the three hardest jobs in the world right behind being an oarsman on a Roman Slave Ship and a Sign Spinner on Wilshire Blvd, trying to get you to buy a condominium. Here is a typical day in Telemarketing world. At the WORLD FUND I would work the night shift which was 5 until 9 PM. I was a real glutton for punishment. The shift would start with the shift leader giving you a pep talk about the work you were doing and how worthwhile it was.  We heard about dogs being rescued from puppy mills and dog fighting rings and saving the California Parks. You were totally ready to charge into the world of fund raising after such great motivational material. Let’s hit the phones. One other thing, I was the Knight of the Night Shift, I had won Knight of the Knight Shift from my outstanding fund-raising from last week so for the whole shift I got to wear one of those Viking hats. I just hope the last guy didn’t have lice.

Here’s a little of my spiel. “Hi, is this Mr. Roy Rodger? Wonderful.  My name is Jack Nichol house. Hello Mr. Rodger. I’m calling from the WORLD FUND for our “Save the Sudan Appeal”. Yes, I understand, and I will be brief. Did you know that people are walking over 50 miles just for water in the Sudan? Water is life. To provide this vital source of life The Save Sudan Fund has been digging our own wells to help the local community. These wells aren’t fancy. They don’t cost much by U.S. Standards around $1500)—but they are priceless.”

“Hello, Hello, Mr. Rodger are you still there?” OK, he’s gone. Now Mr. Rodger was very nice. He actually listened to my pitch. Most people are not as nice as Mr. Rodger. Most people are more to the point. I will start the call the same way but here are a series of answers to my call. Hello is this Mr. Allan Avery? Hi, let me introduce myself my name is I am Michael Jor-dan and I am calling from an organization you support the “Save the Sudan Fund”…. (There would be a brief silence and then here are a selection of responses. I have heard every one of these…”Go Away!” “You have called 6 times today!”. “If you ever call me again I will call the FBI!” “Take me off the list.” “I asked the last 6 guys who called to take me off the list!”. “Why am I still on the list?” I always wanted to answer that question with “because there is no list”. Now as you see this is not as easy a job as you think. In fact I use the fake names because it was less depressing to be turned down as Michael Jor-dan than as Jim. However, Mr. Avery was nice also. Here is a small example of a few other responses. “Hello. Is Mr. Gold in? I am calling from a non-profit he supports. …..“No” Then phone slams in my ear. “Never call back loser”, Slam, “Go to hell asshole”, Slam. “Go f— yourself”. Slam. “Double go f— yourself, with whipped cream on top”. Slam. This is only a few of the many positive answers toward fundraising. I was once told by a woman in New York while I was raising money for “Black Lives Matter” and I quote. “I just gave to ‘your kind’ yesterday.” Thank you. We really appreciate your generosity. Then she asks,  “Are you white or black?” I respond that I am white. She yells “No you are not and never call again.” Slam.  I started to take it all personally. If people slammed the phone down on me I would slam it back on them. My very Mr. Positive shift leader got angry at me and told me that I was being watched. One night I received 50 no’s, not interested or stick your head in your ass. And that was only in my first hour of work. Instead of marking “never call” I used the symbol “for very interested call first in the morning and push the credit card”. I really began to lose my mind. My positive shift leader mentioned at warm up about the eye-in-the sky that could monitor your phone calls from a satellite. Just like a drone, killing the Taliban.  I am honest as the day is long. I have always believed honesty is the best policy. Two weeks after being told by my positive shift leader that I was being watched. I was fired. One night on 107 of my 120 calls I had notated “call in a month – on vacation in Brazil and push credit card” instead of no interest, never call again. I didn’t realize it is a complete statistical impossibility that over 90% of the people I called that night were on vacation, let alone in Brazil. I did it because I grew to hate Telemarketing and the Positive Shift Guy, the miserable people we called, I even hated the fucking Sudan. I have some very simple advice, “Never get into telemarketing, unless of course it is an easy sell, like TONER”

How I lost my cards!

How I lost my cards!

    

My father had a saying,”Never bet what you can’t afford to lose.”

     As a little boy I was in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I knew all the players names and their positions: Gil Hodges at First, Jackie Robinson at Second, Pee Wee Reese at Shortstop, Jim Gilliam or Billy Cox at Third, Carl Furillo in Right, Sandy Amoros in Left, and the Duke of Flatbush-Duke Snider in Center with Roy Campanella behind the plate, Carl Erskine, Don Newcombe or Johnny Podres on the Mound. They were my team and I thought they were the greatest. They had won the Pennant and the World Series in 1955 beating the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 with a great victory in Game 7. 2-0 pitched by Johnny Podres and featuring a great catch in left field by Sandy Amoros in the 7th inning off Yogi Berra. This was their first World Championship. I hope that brings you up to date. As you can see I loved the Dodgers.

     My uncle John loved the Yankees. He was my father’s brother and as much as I loved the Dodgers, he loved the Yankees. This created a great many arguments about who had the best team. For hours we would talk about Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. We could compare stats endlessly about Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto. I loved Baseball. I also had one of the greatest baseball card collections in my neighborhood.

     A baseball card nowadays is a collectable, money-making enterprise. In those days baseball cards were collected by fans, who collected cards for the pure fun of it and the love of the players, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t serious business. Boys could be seen scaling cards against walls with the closest to the wall winning the other guys cards. Many a fight could happen over who had the closest card. My collection had 400 of my great heroes with all the Dodgers including Duke and Pee Wee, Hank Aaron, even the hated Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. I had then all.

     The World Series of 1956 again matched the hated Yankees against my Dodger’s and I was sure we couldn’t lose.

   “Well Uncle Jerry looks like we are going to be World Champs again.” I said.

“Don’t be so sure pip squeak. The Yankees are better this year and I feel that we are going to do it.”

“Oh yeah…I’ll bet ya.”

“Really, well what do you want to bet?” asked Jerry.

“How about your autographed Mickey Mantle Baseball?” This being the prize of my uncle’s collection. I had admired it in its beautiful glass case that would look good in my room.

     “You really know how to hurt a guy. That ball is the prize of my collection,” Jerry said. “Alright fair, enough. What do you want to put up?”

     “You pick Uncle Jerry.”

     “Boy that ball has a lot of value to me! I will have to go

rough on you I guess.”

     “Go ahead take your best shot,” I replied with a smile.

     “How about your baseball card collection,” said Jerry

     My heart dropped. I would have rather bet my brother than that collection. “Alright, but you better be prepared to pay up”, I said with terror in my voice. “We are going to take you 4 straight.”   As things had it we looked pretty good. We won the first two games at Ebbest Field and had a 2 nothing lead. “Hey, Uncle Jerry you better wrap up that ball. We are halfway there.”               

    “Halfway is not whole way pal.” he said.

     He was right…The hated Yanks won the next 3 at Yankee Stadium and Don Larson threw a no-hitter in the World Series just for good measure in game 4.

     “How much do you think I can get for those cards at the local pawn shop, Jimmy boy?” ‘Nothing Let’s talk about something else.”

     Well the Dodgers tied it up 3-3 on a great Game 6 at Ebbets Field. Game 7. We had Don Newcombe on the mound. He was our ace. But the Yankees usually hit him well. Our first update came at school during math. Sister Augustine, the School Principal, came over the speaker with the news. “Bad News from Ebbets Field. Yogi Berra just hit a Grand Slam Homer and the Dodgers are down 4-0.” Sadly it went only downhill from there final score Yankee’s 9 Dodgers 0.

     My life was over. My card collection was gone. After dinner I went upstairs and slowly said goodbye to every single card, individually- I put them in a shoe box and brought them over to Uncle Jerry’s home. I left them on the back step with the following note:

     “Dear Uncle Jerry, please take care of my 400 players. It has taken me my whole life to collect them and I have lost them all in one day. But it has taught me a good lesson. Don’t bet what you can’t lose.

Jimmy

     Fall turned into winter and I never talked to Uncle Jerry about my 400 players. I just assumed he had either given them away or stuck my shoe box down in the basement. My thoughts turned to the New York Giants Football and Knicks basketball.

     Soon it was time for the big Thanksgiving football game where the local Catholic High School always beat the shit out of the local Public High School, and of course the biggest day of the whole year-Christmas.

     We always had a family celebration. Everyone would open presents and then sit down for a family dinner. Dad got a tape recorder and he thought it would be great fun to tape dinner conversation. All we heard him say all night was “Ok, everyone speak up.”

     Uncle Jerry arrived around 4:00 p.m. with a load of gifts. He handed out the gifts to everyone and then sat down and asked to have a Manhattan. When I opened my gift it looked really good in a very expensive box from FAO Swartz and it had a nice weight too. It was the baseball cards!

   Uncle Jerry said, “Look, I had no room at my house for these. “Could you look after them for me?” “You bet” was all I could get out. Then I took a deep breath and said, “I love you.”

My Covid Nightmare

My Covid Nightmare Audio

Well we all seem to be in a big mess. I must sit in front of the TV for the entire day and watch The News people predict the end of the world.

I can say with complete candor that we here at the Gleason home practice total social distancing. I have not seen my wife and daughter in 9 weeks, I hope they are well. I wear my mask and gloves all day specially to change the channel on the TV with the remote.

My day consists of waking up, eating breakfast, watching tv, eating lunch, watching tv, dinner, more tv and then bedtime.  I have been eating so much that I joined Weight Watchers.

I also read lots of books on politics. However they get to be depressing. I need to stop.

 I watched the final episode of “Homeland.” One of my favorite shows.  Spoiler alert…. I can wait. Ok, So Carrie, after not killing Saul flies to Beirut in record time and finds out the name of the American spy who then kills herself. A nuclear war is averted, and the American President is made to look like an idiot.

Finally, Carrie now decides she will become a spy again and she takes up with her new boyfriend a sexy Russian spy who just happens to be the same guy who held her captive in Russia without her bi-polar meds in the end of Season 7. There I just saved you many hours of TV watching.

With no new Sports I been forced to watch a few old favorites. I have watched the Kirk Gibson Home run 6 times. The New York Giants defeating the New England Patriots when a guy caught a ball with his helmet instead of his hands.

I also have been looking on-line for a possible career change. Could be a long time for the theatres to open. I found this on line at craigslist.

“Local Cannabis Church is Hiring Ministers and Budtenders!!!” 

“H3 Ministries is a non-profit, open faith ministry, cannabis church & wellness center. We embrace cannabis as sacrament, meaning we use it as the defining element of our personal path of spiritual growth, healing, consciousness, and our pursuit of a personal relationship with the creator. We also provide cannabis as sacrament to the members of the congregation. We are currently looking to hire ministers (budtenders) to pass out sacrament.”

Being a Catholic I could definitely pass out the sacrament!


“Minister or Budtender Requirements”
– Experience in the cannabis industry
– Clean/professional appearance
– Strong verbal & interpersonal skill

– Must use cannabis

I feel I must meet these people!

I have been having this horrible nightmare.  It opens with me and Brad Pitt playing beach volleyball. Brad is killing me and he says, “Let’s go to Walmart. I need some golf balls”. I say, “I need some stuff myself”.  The Walmart is gigantic and everyone is wearing masks and gloves. I have a shopping list and the first thing on the list is tires. So I go to the auto section and fill my cart with 4 tires. Then ice cream, so I buy all the ice cream in the store and then head for the cashier. Brad puts his golf balls in my cart and goes back to the car.

Of course, the Express line for 10 items is closed and with the 4 tires and the 30 boxes of ice cream I can’t use the Express anyway, so I get in a regular line. Just 3 people are in front of me so I wait. The lady at the check out is an expert on coupons. She has a coupon file, and every item is taken care of by coupons. She also is debating with the cash register guy about the value of each coupon. I decide to move to a shorter line.   Only one person at the register, just a couple of items, I will be out of here in no time. Except, that person is Donald Trump and he is paying in cash and they don’t have enough money. Don and Melania are going through everything-her purse, his pants pockets and Don is screaming at the store clerk that everything is too expensive. Then the salesclerk starts to pull things back of course with the Melania’s approval. Don says “No not that, I gotta have my beer. Take the tomatoes out.

 Of course, the line I was on first, with the coupon lady, has now turned into the fastest line in California. Not only is the guy who was behind me out of the store but so is the lady who was behind him. Finally, Don and Melania come up with a negotiation that works, and everything is paid for. However, all there stuff is in plastic bags. So, they want everything double bagged. They have enough money for double bags and beer but no money for tomatoes. I finally get to the check out and I wake up. Oh well, time for breakfast.

“Pink Flamingos” or a day in the life of a Telemarketer.

Pink Flamingos Audio

I worked in telephone sales at one time. It’s a great job. You get people who hang up on you from all over the country. Here is a typical day in phone sales.

Scene 1

A man in a Phone Bank

                                                             Dave                                                                                             Hello, is this Mrs. Levy? Wonderful. Hello Mrs. Levy, I am Dave Driscoll from Florida Lawn Art. How are you today? Great. How is the weather in Florida today, Mrs. Levy? Hello are you there? (Dials another number)

 Hello is this Mrs. Wheel?  I am sorry so Mrs. Weil.  Hello, Hello….

(dials again) Hello is this Mrs. Kenzie? Hello Mrs. Kenzie, this is Dave Driscoll from Florida Lawn Art. How are you, today? You’re taking a driving lesson? Oh, dear and you picked up the phone? I see, and now you just hit the car in front of you…You have to call me back. Can I leave my phone number??? Hello, Hello, I’ll try later. Hello is Mrs. Miller in? …. Hello Mrs. Miller. Dave Driscoll from Florida Lawn Art. How you today? You’re sick? I am sorry to hear that. I will be quick. I see that in 2018 you purchased our 10 pack of Woodland Gnomes. I see so…They are guarding your pool as we speak. That’s great. How are they holding up? The sun has faded Gnomeo? Oh, I am sorry to hear that! But Juliet is doing great. Those Capulets always were hardy. I am going to send you free of charge our DODO BIRD ON A STICK to replace Gnomeo…Oh absolutely, they are a laugh riot. I have six in my yard and I am still laughing. Mrs. Miller, I have good news for you. We are having a sale on our 50 pink flamingos pack and as a previous customer I can take 10% off the sale price. I know it does sound like a lot of flamingos. I said exactly the same thing until I got my set. I put them on the lawn next to the Dodo Birds and I thought I was in the Everglades. And since you are in the Everglades, it’s even better. The fake flamingos will keep the real ones off the lawn. Do you have any small pets, Mrs. Miller? Oh, I am so sorry. Yes, I am sure Muffy is in a better place. The alligators hate the flamingo’s so…. where did you bury Muffy? Oh, you never recovered the body…enough said. You bet we have a few other items. We have a full chess set for the front yard. The pieces are 6ft high and we throw in the board for free. Only $79.95. Oh, of course you’re afraid the neighbors would think you have gone a little fancy on them with a chess set. How about Christmas? That is our specialty. How about the whole Christmas scene? It includes The Holy Family for only $425, a Kneeling Shepard $175, the Wise Men $625, a Sitting Camel $175, and a Standing Shepard $195. I would recommend the whole package.  You will feel like you are right there in Bethlehem. Yes, Yes, I agree the Wise Men are very important. I know they’re expensive, but they’re a big seller. What is the difference between the Kneeling Shepard and the Standing Shepard? Great Question. Let me look. Well from what I can see the Kneeling Shepard looks like a Muslim and the Stand One looks normal. OK we will take out the Kneeling Shepard. Let’s add that up. That comes to $1420.00 One thing, I see you live in Florida. Should I include our living Menorah so our – (cough)Jewish friends in the neighborhood won’t feel left out? Enough said Mrs. Miller… The Christmas scene is on its way…. And for you Mrs. Miller I have a gift. How about the 50 pink Flamingos as my gift to you? Please, Mrs. Miller. Knowing you will have Jesus on your lawn this Christmas in a sea of Pink Flamingos is thanks enough. Will you be using Visa, Master Card or American Express? I know you hate to give this information over the phone to a perfect stranger. But think of the good you are doing for the environment. And we here at Florida Lawn Art donate a penny of every credit card purchase to world hunger. I know, but we all need to start someplace.

The Substitute Teachers Handbook

The Substitute Teachers Handbook

     Before Covid 19 hit I worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a Substitute School Teacher. LAUSD has been closed since March. However, I thought you might enjoy hearing about a typical day in the life of a Substitute School Teacher.

     The first line in the Substitute Teachers Handbook says…” Congratulations! You have decided to become a substitute teacher. A skilled substitute is a particularly important educational component in our schools. Skilled substitute teachers can have a significant, positive impact on the quality of education while the permanent teacher is away.” If you believe that I have got a bridge I want to sell you.

      Let me tell you about a typical day in the life of a Skilled Substitute Teacher in the Los Angeles City Schools System. My day starts by receiving the phone call at 6:00 a.m. asking me to report for a teaching job. Yes!!! I have a job. Where am I going…Oh my God, not there!!!

     I arrive at school with enthusiasm, and a smile on my face. The office gives me a key to the classroom and my working schedule. I immediately look to see how many periods I have free so I can make phone calls, read the paper, and just goof off. I look for the lesson plan which had better be there or I am in big trouble… I pray the lesson plan is a movie. This is the best way to spend the day. The only downside is you will have to “watch” the movie 5 times, but you hope whatever the movie is it will keep them quiet.

     When I substitute teach I always wear a tie, and of course it is a tie with a cartoon character on it like “South Park” or “The Simpson’s” so the kids will think that I am on their team, even though I am not.

     The Substitute Teachers Handbook  encourages you have a Sub-Pack, here are some of the things you need in your, sub-pack… rubber bands, colored pencils, regular pencils and a small pencil sharpener, clipboard, post it notes, rulers, lined paper, paper clips, glue sticks, calculator, band aids, sewing kit, a whistle, granola bars, and new this year, prior to Covid 19   Disposable Gloves & Plastic Bags??? Here is what The Handbook says about disposable gloves and plastic bags, “Whenever you encounter blood or bodily fluids you should wear disposable gloves to help safeguard against many of today’s medical concerns. Do not touch a student who is bleeding even if you use gloves. Upon removal of gloves, hands should be washed with warm water and soap. Finally, all surfaces contaminated with blood should be cleaned and disinfected by the custodian. HOLY SHIT… This job is dangerous!


     When the students arrive you are supposed greet them at the door and say… “Hello I’m Mr. Gleason take your seats and let’s get right to work” The Substitute Teachers Handbook says “This is the best way to prevent a full scale riot from breaking out when the students see that they have a substitute teacher”. The only problem with getting the students right to work is getting into the Los Angeles Unified School computer to take the roll. I guess LAUSD is afraid that Edward Snowden will break into their computers, so they have 3 log-ins and 4 passwords JUST TO TAKE ATTENDANCE and once you get in there, you find that parents like to name there children after movie characters. Since Frozen is popular you may have a boy named Olaf and girls can be Iduna or Yelena very few names like Jerry or Kate. Some parents of course name their children Jesus or Hey Zeus. I asked one kid in Do your parents call you Jesus or Hey Zeus…He said they call me Chewy…

     The Substitute Teachers Manual encourages you to do something to help get the students on task… Here is what they suggest. You say, “Please take out your reading books and read silently at your desk for the next 20 minutes.” The students say…” Reading is boring,” “Twenty Minutes is too long.” I like to say “You know when I was your age, I thought reading was boring too. Sometimes I used to sit at my desk, hold the book open, and pretend to read. WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT”

     ” The Substitute Teachers Handbook says two words can handle most of your problems. “I Understand.” The student says. “I think this assignment is stupid.” You say “I understand, I agree it is stupid… however it needs to be completed. The student says, “I hate you.” You say… “I understand, I hate you, too.” The student says, “I want to use my phone during class.” You say, “I understand, but if you do, I will take it away and break it into a hundred pieces.”

     In the Substitute Teacher Manual, they never do address the student’s obsession with the phone. In fact, I have had discussions with them about the phone… They say I do not understand them it is generational. I say …using good technique… “I Understand, however I think you can wait 20 minutes to see if you have a call or send a text or whatever. Remember that phone is not going to get you into college or get you a job” …after I say that they all looked at me with blank expressions and I understand they didn’t understand.

     In the Substitute Manual they make a big point of not getting caught in traps. Here are a few examples. The Criticism Trap– Do not say “You are the stupidest, bunch of ignoramuses I have ever seen.” Do say “Thank you for putting your name on the top of the paper. ”The Sarcasm Trap-Don’t say “I hope you are  prepared to spend the rest of your lives working at “In and Out Burger” The Manual says Avoid Sarcasm make school a positive experience” Do say  “What a great class, You are all going to Harvard”.

When you substitute you will go to all kinds of schools. Here are a few signs that should make you nervous.

One– They have metal detectors outside every classroom even the 1st grade.

Two-– There are 4 policemen in full riot gear on every floor.

Three— The students watch a tape of a hockey game and add up the goals in Honors Math.

Four — The main varsity sport on campus is “The Hunger Games.”

Finally, at the end of the day you fill out a Substitute Teacher Report for the teacher you are subbing for. Here is my report….

Substitute Teacher- Me…

Regarding lesson Plan- There was none….

Notes Regarding Behavior- Why even ask…

Terrific helpers- The Campus Police…

Students who were absent-I only wish they all were…

    But the worst thing that happens when you substitute teach is that when you are finished for the day and go to hand in your material. The head of the substitute teachers in the office says “We have an opening would you like to come back tomorrow” and you say…”Yes, I would love to come back, what time would you like me”.

Golf a great way to spend money

Golf to me is a renewal, a rebirth, 18 holes to correct the mistakes of the last time. Golf gives you a clean scorecard every time. Oh, if life was only that easy.

     I started to play golf with my father when I was young. I only had one problem with Golf I convinced myself I could become a much better player by a simple upgrade in equipment. I wanted a single digit handicap. In other words I wanted to break 80 every round I played. So I bought some new clubs. My new set of clubs were Taylor Made Speed blades, they were the top of the line. In fact, I broke 80 for the first time with my new set of Taylor Made Speed blades and the $800.00 I spent. I felt it was well worth it. However, I figured if I can break 80 with this set just imagine what I could do with a newer set.

     That is why I bought 4 new sets of clubs, to shoot lower scores. I also bought many individual clubs to give me that extra help to shoot lower scores. Wedges, Drivers, Chippers, and training aids. I must have bought 25 different Hat’s. Putting became the key to my breaking 80 and my quest for a single digit handicap. Putting became so important, I began to suck at putting. I got the yips… the yips mean you cannot put the ball in the hole. I tried everything to cure the yips. I tried every grip on the putter known to man. The right hand low grip, the left hand low grip, the claw grip, the hold my wrist grip and many others but I still had the yips. I watched endless video and practiced like crazy, I still could not cure the yips. I was pissed I decided there was only one answer to the yips. I noticed Tiger Woods did not have the yips, I would buy the same putter Tiger Woods uses. A Scottie Cameron Bulls Eye Putter for the very reasonable price of $350.00. WHAT!!! for a Putter. “Yes”, said the salesman “It’s the gold standard of putters and Tiger Woods uses it.” “Of course, he does, I will take it.” So, I started to practice with the Scottie Cameron Bulls Eye Putter and I made every putt. The Bulls Eye was worth it, I was on my way to greatness.

     Until I got out on the course! Where I could not make one putt, the hole could have been as big a manhole cover, the ball was not going in, the yips returned. I went back to the store and told the salesman my sad story he said “All sales are final but I can give you a store credit.” I said “I would love a store credit, if I could find something in the store, I don’t already have” I figured the best way to cure the yips was to buy some books and videos on the putting. Here are some of the titles I am proud to own. “The Art of Putting”, “ZEN Putting”, “The Putter’s Mind”, “10 minutes a day for One Month to Putting Greatness”, “Putt like a Pro in 30 minutes” you save a lot of time with this one, “Putt like Tiger Woods”, “Putt like Anika Sorensen”, and finally a book called “Just Put the Damn Ball in the Hole”. And that was just the books on Putting. I also have lots of putting training aids. The Putting Ramp, The Putting Arch, Putting String, and a Putting Metronome. I bought stuff on The Swing, the Finish, Four books on The Short Game. “Ray Floyd’s 60 Yards In” I have the book and the video. “The Dave Pelz The Short Game Bible” “Stan Utley’s “Hit It Close” and Tom Watson’s “My Short Game and How to Learn It”. I have books on iron play, sand play, how to play in good weather, bad weather, snow, flood or earthquake. As you can see I had a lot of books.

     Did any of this shit help NO!!! I still had the yips and couldn’t break 80 in fact I was struggling to break 90. The only way to break 80 again was to use my best club… my pencil!!!! I think I finally realized I was in big trouble when I went into Rodger Dunn Golf this huge Golf Store, on Victory Blvd, for my daily fix and, said to the salesman. “I guess you moved the golf hats, they were over there yesterday.” I quit playing golf… I have not played golf in 5 years. I am sad because I loved to play golf. But golf has gone the way of many childhood dreams like playing second base for the Dodgers, becoming the first American Pope or doing Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company. But where one door closes another opens and I have been giving a great deal of thought to writing the next Great American Novel.

My Dad and Baseball

     How do you know when you have disappointed your parents? I have to say I was good. I went to Mass on Sunday and on the Holy Days of Obligation. I sang in the choir I even learned Latin so I could become an altar boy. I never drank, smoked or dated loose women. So you see I was very good.

     Now you are asking. How did you ever disappoint your parents? You were wonderful. You are right I was wonderful, but my father had a dream for me. He wanted me to become a Major League baseball player and I disappointed him.

Let me explain, I love baseball. I still love baseball. I have my baseball glove from when I played in High School 45 years ago in the back of my car and when my kids say to me “Dad, I misplaced my coat, or my hat or my phone. I say to them “See this Glove I have had it 45 years you need to take care of your stuff”.  I played ball, in the park, the streets, my backyard, where I broke 12 windows, school, everyplace. I played punch-ball, stickball and whiffle-ball. If it involved a ball and running bases I did it. In fact sometimes I didn’t even have to run bases, it was just sewer cover to sewer cover. You just pitch it and I will hit or catch it. However, the best part was I was good. I played the infield and I could field, throw and make all the plays. I was also a good hitter, not a power hitter, but I was very fast and I knew how to get on base.

     All of these things made Dad very happy. He had been a great athlete and won medals in track in New York City. He was the 100 meter High School dash champion and had Olympic aspirations until he played in a College Football Game and broke his leg. He refused to let me play football. But baseball was different; he practiced with me all the time. He would come home from work and throw grounders to me or throw soft toss batting practice. We talked baseball all the time it was wonderful to share this with him. My uncle worked for the Brooklyn Dodgers so of course they became my team. My dream was one day to play second base for the Dodgers. My first game was Pee Wee Reese Night at Ebbest’s Field. I went to the 1955 World Series. I went to Dodgertown Baseball Camp in Vero Beach Florida, for two summers, it was baseball death camp but I loved it. After I finished the camp every year my father got my report, “Great Potential, ready for the next step.” I’m not sure how they could see that in a 10 year old boy. But my father loved it and he was convinced. “See Jim, you have Great Potential now use it”.

     My Little League career in Flushing, Long Island was something to behold. My Little League teams “Guido’s Scrap Metal”, and “Broderick’s Diner” won two championships and I was voted MVP of the league. By the time I hit High School I felt ready. I practiced all winter of my freshman year. I have never worked harder.

     The competition was better, but so I. My fielding was flawless. I could turn a double play, thank you “Dodgertown Baseball Camp”. However in High School for the first time in my life I had to face the CURVE BALL. Let me explain, a real curve ball comes at you at about 80 miles an hour and it looks like it is going to hit you in the head. However at the last moment the real curve ball breaks down into the strike zone. You are saying, “Do I stand here and try to hit it, get hit in the head or hit the dirt!!” The real curve ball separates the player with Great Potential from the player who can actually play for real. My uncle the one who worked for the Dodgers told me when they sent a scout out to watch a young player from the Negro Leagues. The report came back can do everything but “Can’t hit the curve ball”. So the Dodgers passed on a player named Willie Mays, that scout was fired.  So now you can see how important the curve ball can be.

     The good news is I made my freshman team. I was the starting second baseman for Holy Cross High School, Freshman Baseball Team and my father could not have been happier. He always sat down the third base line and he told me how proud of me he was. It was a great year I was flawless in the field, hit pretty well, even a few curve balls, and stole bases at a record pace.

     At the end of the season we talked about tryouts for varsity. There were things Dad thought I needed to work on. I needed to work on-my speed so I joined the track team. For fielding we practiced every day, and every play. For hitting I went to the batting cages at Kiddy City in Great Neck on the weekend. They had pitching machines that threw the ball up to 70 miles per hour. I could hit the fastball but the curve is different, the machine doesn’t throw a curve. So unless you knew someone who throws one, GOOD LUCK. I hoped maybe nobody could throw a real curve on the varsity but I was wrong. The first day of tryouts for the varsity tryouts I realized I couldn’t hit the curve ball, when it came at my head. Instead of saying to myself I Am Going To Hit You Curve Ball I said to myself “Shit That Curve Ball Is Going To Hit Me In the Head” and I hit the dirt as the ball curved into the strike zone, and the umpire screamed “Strike Three—you’re Out”. This began to affect my fielding. I couldn’t make the most routine plays. I dropped fly balls, groundballs went thru my legs. I began to really suck at baseball. Even though Dad was happy I was not. I finally realized after all the years of practice and playing baseball I had reached my ceiling. I would not be playing second base for the Dodger’s; in fact I would not be playing any base for anyone. I was just not good enough.  Walking home from practice I decided I was finished. I was terrified, to give this news to my father. But when I told him I have to say he took it pretty well. He said, “Son I had a feeling you were going to tell me this, you just don’t look happy out there and besides you can’t hit the CURSE BALL”, we both laughed at that. Then he said something I will never forget. “When you reach a time in your life and you find that what you’re doing isn’t making you happy, follow your instinct. You are too young to do something for the rest of your life that you hate”. I of course decided to follow my instincts and became an actor, which I am sure he loved.

As my father grew older we still shared our love of sports. We went to ballgames all the time. The last time I spent any real time with him, I was living in New York doing a show and he came up to visit. He was very sick at the time but we still found an afternoon to take the 7 Train out to Shea Stadium and watch the Mets. I asked him “Dad weren’t you disappointed that I gave up baseball I mean all that time and energy you put in?” He put his arm around me and said “You are my son I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way”. Dad died shortly after, but he showed me his love was unquestioning and I hope to pass that on to my children. They never really disappoint you.

My Dad and Baseball