Ed Kranepool, inspirer of youth
Hilarious blog post by a guy who sees Ed Kranepool first the guy is a kid and the soon-to-be-retired New York Met is speaking to his Little League banquet (after the guy, and Kranepool, have had shitty seasons), and then sees him again when the guy grows up to be a youth coach. After this, I’m going to book Kranepool for every youth sports ceremony I’ll ever be involved in.
The rest of us got nothing to wash down our lukewarm helping of baked ziti but a couple of pints of envy and self-loathing.
If that wasn’t motivation enough to make you either give up or hit the batting cages, amid all the evening’s glorious ode to excellence and victory was the night’s speaker: Ed Kranepool.
Ed had just finished his 18th and final year with the New York Mets. This dated from the team’s comically inept 1962 inaugural (featuring a still record worst 120 losses out of 160 games) to its 1969 World Series-winning “Miracle Mets” then right back down to the pitifully ugly cellar dwellers of 1979. His nickname “Steady Eddie” came about not so much for his prowess as a pinch hitter but because he continued to show up despite the regular beatings.
That night, Ed discussed how crappy the Mets were and how awful it was playing on a consistently bad team. A strange talk to give a group of baseball-crazed, gung-ho kids but damned if I ever wanted to be Ed Kranepool after that — miserable and mediocre.
I enjoyed several good-to-great seasons of baseball after that. Then I discovered girls, rock music and under-age drinking and my priorities changed, which is neither here nor there. But I still felt I owed Ed Kranepool his due.
A few months ago, more than 30 years after that fateful night, I again came face-to-face with Steady Eddie. He was at the Mets’ new ballpark, propped up against a waist-high table, pretty much alone. I walked up, introduced myself and asked for an autograph. As he signed, I told him about that Little League banquet.
“Did I hand you a trophy?” he asked.
“No. But you did make a speech. Mostly about how awful the Mets were that season.”
“Well,” he said, “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Enjoy the game.”
Now that’s wisdom worth passing on to beleaguered youth sports coaches and players alike.
“Hello, folks! Thanks for coming out! Remember, you can’t make chicken salad out of J.J. Putz!“