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Don Mossi: Not pretty

Daily Dirt for Aug. 28, 2021


The more things change, the more they stay the same

Welcome to the last weekend of August. Falling leaves and crisp temperatures can’t be that far away, can they? While you’re pondering that, let’s have some fun with the three thoughts from Vol. 50 of the Daily Dirt.

A. I found myself doing some thinking the other day while waiting to pick some of our grandkids during the first week of school. I was wondering what today’s kids might remember about the first week of classes in 2021. Would they remember a pandemic was going on, that there was a major economic, cultural and social disaster unfolding in Afghanistan, that the price of gas was continuing to inch toward $4 a gallon and that our relationship with China was deteriorating by the hour?

Well, I thought back to some of my own first days of school in 1960 and 1971. I entered the first grade in the fall of 1960 and started my senior year in September 1971. Here were some of the world highlights at those times:

1960

Tensions were mounting between Nikita Kruschev, the fiery leader of the Soviet Union, and the United States. Kruschev admitted during one speech that his country was manufacturing rockets to be used against America. (Sounds much the same as our relationship today with Russia and/or China.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the oldest president of the United States, just a few days short of his 70th birthday. (And these days? Joe Biden, who when sworn in was 78, which made him the oldest president to hold the nation’s highest political office.)

1971
A pay television service available through cable TV called Home Box Office (HBO) was scheduled to debut. (Apparently, that kind of thing had a future. Sarcasm intended.)– The Toronto Telegram newspaper ceased publication, which was a major story — the death of one of North America’s most important media outlets. (Unfortunately, that kind of news is now commonplace. The printed media, once a bastion of the free world, is now on its deathbed.) I also wondered what those same grandkids I was taxiing around might be thinking in another 20 years or so when they were waiting to pick up there own kids.

B. Is there a better name right now in all of Major League Baseball than the Cardinals’ Lars Nootbaar?

C. Devoted Daily Dirt reader Jack Soliday — a.k.a. Jumpin’ Jack Flash Soliday — and I both have a fondness for 1960s music, particularly summer-themed tunes from that decade. “Since there are very few good songs after 1969, I reflect on my cherished youth,” Jack said. Soliday was nice enough to send me a list of his favorites from our favorite decade, plus a few from outside the ’60s that carried the same summer theme:

1. “A Summer Song,” Chad and Jeremy. 

2. “All Summer Long,” the Beach boys. 

3. “Summer Rain,” Johnny Rivers. 

4. “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams. (Not a 60s song, but the title gets it on the list with an asterisk.)

5. “A Summer Place,” Percy Faith Orchestra.

6. “Summer in the City,” Lovin’ Spoonful.

7. “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” Sly and the Family Stone.

8. “Summertime Blues,” Eddie Cochran. (Actually, Jack, I prefer the Blue Cheer version.)

9. “Boys of Summer,” Don Henley. (The only song with an Eagles flavor worth playing.)

10. “Summer Nights,” John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. (Again, not a ’60s song, but we’ll invoke the asterisk rule since it sounds like a summer song from that decade.) For the record — no pun intended — Soliday has a sizable collections of .45s from that era, and once fronted a band entitled Yukon Jack and the Sled Dogs.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: SERIOUSLY? NO SUMMER WIND BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD (Francis Albert Sinatra, 1966)? C’MON, MAN! JRG


Daily Dirt for Aug. 29, 2021
Mossi upped ugly to a legendary level

Being a lifelong baseball fan and baseball card collector, I have always had a soft place in my heart for the late Don Mossi. I think Vol. 51 of the Daily Dirt will explain why. The first of today’s three thoughts is dedicated to Mr. Mossi.

1. If you’re a baby boomer, there’s a good chance you grew up collecting baseball cards. And it was difficult not to wince on those occasions when you opened a pack and staring back at you was a player who was … ummm … well, there’s no other way to put it but … UGLY. I mean mirror-breaking, eye-watering homely. There were two players in particular who year in, year out during the 1960s had the ugliest mugs ever to appear on a piece of cardboard: pitcher Don Mossi and catcher Andy Etchebarren. Growing up, my best friend and I would continually debate who was the ugliest, and I’d have to say there was never a clear-cut winner. I always leaned toward Mossi, but by buddy felt it was Etchebarren.But since I’m writing this, I award myself the ultimate tiebreaker and give the nod to Mossi.

And I’m not alone. Here are a few other writers’ thoughts on this subject:

“Mossi somehow ups the ugly scale to all-time levels,” according to the beabetterbettor.com website.

“Mossi was like a Frankenstein experiment gone terribly wrong … Where do you even start with him? The unusually long face? The crooked and pointed nose? His booming ears?”

Mossi was 90 years old when he died in 2019. He posted a respectable 101-80 MLB record, but his numbers never come up in a conversation about him. “Even if his ears weren’t as big as dinner plates, he’d still be one of the ugliest ballplayers of all time,” according to yardbarker.com.

“His ears generate(d) their own weather,” reported ginandtacos.com. “At first glance, I thought this was Jar-Jar Binks.”

The best and most memorable “tribute” to Mr. Mossi, however, may have been provided by legendary baseball analyst Bill James. “His nose was crooked, his eyes were in the wrong place … he looked like Gary Gaetti escaping from Devil’s Island,” wrote James. “Don Mossi was the complete five-tool ugly player. He could run ugly, hit ugly, throw ugly, field ugly and ugly for power.” He was ugly to all fields. He could ugly behind the runner as well as anybody, and you talk about pressure … man, you never saw a player who was uglier in the clutch.”

But let’s not forget about Etchebarren. He, too, is memorable.” Thankfully for us, Etchebarren played catcher, which kept his face hidden most of his career,” according to beabetterbettor.com. “Still, Etchebarren gets a first-ballot ugly vote to Cooperstown. The former two-time All-Star put absolutely zero effort into upkeeping his eyebrows. The bushy monsters formed a mean unibrow — way before Anthony Davis made it cool to have one. Even if Etchebarren cleaned those brows up, he’d still end up on this list. Maybe not at two, but definitely top-10 because (his) mug is unfixable.”

An honorable mention goes to former pitcher Zane Smith, who was always a dead ringer for one of the characters on the old “Bob Newhart Show.” Remember Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl? If you’re familiar with them, I’m sure you know which one Zane Smith resembled.

“Smith had a respectable big league career (winning more than 100 games). That’s very impressive for any pitcher, but it’s particularly impressive for one born without a chin,” according to complex.com

2. Ever wonder how many french fries fast-food giant McDonald’s sells during the course of an average day? Globally, the Golden Arches serve more than 9 million pounds of fries each day. The company buys 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes every year. In case you missed it, that was b-i-l-l-i-o-n.

3. With the new fall TV season right around the corner, here are the longest running prime-time series on the major networks:
A. “The Simpsons” (Fox). Upcoming season: No. 33. (It’s hard to remember life without Homer and Bart.)

B. “Law and Order: SVU” (NBC). Upcoming season: No. 23. (It’s hard to believe that Mariska Hargitay is now 57 years old.)

C. “Family Guy” (Fox). Upcoming season: No. 20. (Long live Stewie!

)D. “NCIS” (CBS). Upcoming season: No. 19. (Bring back Ziva!)

E. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC). Upcoming season: No. 18. (I have never seen five minutes of this show, and probably never will.)

Steve Eighinger writes for Muddy River News. Don Mossi makes him look like George Clooney.

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