The Worst Baseball Player Ever

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Sometimes there is crying in baseball.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is considering the special election of a man generally considered to have been the worst professional player ever.

In 1935, young Clint Patzer passed up a chance to be governor of Maine and signed a contract with the Arkham Entities. After just three days with the team, he was traded to the Dunwich Shamblers for shortstop Davey Bungstopper, who was dead at the time.

Patzer, who never played a regular position on the field, bounced around the minor leagues for 15 years. His family paid teams to let him play. Sometimes they had to pay a lot. He became known for his habit of weeping uncontrollably every time he made an out, which was almost always. His career batting average of .073 remains a seldom-approached standard of futility. He once attracted national media attention when he went to bat in his underpants.

Longtime Dodgers scout Doc Farfel said, “He was definitely the worst I’ve ever seen. You name it, he couldn’t do it. Hitting, fielding, running–none of it was ever happening for Mr. Patzer. His teammates and managers only tolerated him because they were paid off, too. Even with that, persons unknown tried to poison him on at least three separate occasions.”

After his baseball career, Patzer landed a job as the guy who stuck his head through the hole in the canvas so that people could throw things at him, on the old Seaside boardwalk on the Jersey shore. It was then that he acquired his nickname, “Lumpy.”

In 1959 he joined an expedition to Nepal to capture the Abominable Snowman, and never returned.

“There’s got to be a place in the Hall of Fame for sheer incompetence,” says Hall janitor Randolph Khrushchev. Apparently the Baseball Writers Assn. of America agrees with him.

(Sorry, folks, but I needed a laugh today.)

Laugh Break

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I can’t stand any more nooze! How about a funny story instead?

This is a true story from an impeccable source. I think.

“I was fishin’ down the river one day, and wouldn’t you know it, I ran out of worms. I wanted to keep on fishin’, but how could I do it without bait?

“Just then a copperhead came slitherin’ along with a nice big worm in its mouth. Well, I wanted that worm! So I took my flask of whiskey and poured a little sip into the copperhead’s mouth. He dropped the worm and slithered away real fast, and I had the bait I needed.

“I no sooner put the worm on the hook when I heard a rustlin’ in the bushes. It was the copperhead, come back. And he had another worm…” And a newfound taste for whiskey, I guess.

The Father of Tall Tales

I have been reading Herodotus–called by Cicero “the Father of History,” and by other ancient commentators “the Father of Lies.” I don’t know which side to come down on, but one thing’s for sure: Herodotus was definitely the Father of Tall Tales. Davy Crockett was a mere exaggerator, compared to him.

Herodotus’ Histories, written sometime around 450 B.C., is one of the most entertaining books in the world. Boy, could that old man spin yarns! The book is supposed to be about the wars between the Greeks and the Persians, but Herodotus crams it full of stories about anything and everything you could imagine.

Here we find the giant ants of India, as big as foxes, and the flying serpents of Arabia, not to mention griffins that guard huge stores of gold, the first circumnavigation of Africa by a Phoenician sailor–a story which Herodotus himself was unable to believe because it only makes sense if you consider the world to be a globe with an Equator–and a treasury of historical curiosities, from the character and riches of Croesus to the homicidal madness of Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great. Open the book at random, and on any page you’ll find either an eye-popping marvel or a desperate adventure.

Warning: once you start reading Herodotus, you’ll find it very hard to stop. And I defy you to read it only once. I come back to it again and again, every few years.

If we had a cottage by the bay, and a stretch of rainy winter nights too cold for fishing, my wife and I agree that nothing would suit us better than to have old Herodotus visit for a time and treat us to several dozen hours of his tales.

No fantasy writer who ever lived was able to top Herodotus for flights of the imagination.