A Gained Reputation………………….#183 (80’s)

Robert – not a starter but a finisher

The little league baseball season having arrived,  Robert endorsing it with his first year of participation,  the baseball contingent being made up of fourth and fifth grade students, many of the  fourth graders novice at their first experience of fast pitch hardball. Keith Rathgeber being the coach,  the youths all wearing K signature baseball caps and green embossed tee shirts displaying the team’s name, Kiowa.   Young Robert Willson wasn’t a starter, taking more aphorism in the wearing of the uniform than excreting an athletic presentation on the field of play.   The Kiowa team having eleven players,  finding Robert and Shawn Alexander starting the game on the bench, the two somewhat non   enthusiastic spectators aware that eventually they would end up in the game, Keith accomplishing the unsaid rule all members of the team would participate in the game.

Little League Manager Keith Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber and the teams foremost pitcher Mark Tucker.

Gary allocating his Saturday mornings with his son, recalling his past as a teen in what preceded Little League baseball in Oakland California in the early 1950’s, the Police League, sponsored by the Police and the Oakland City Recreation  Department.  Gary could identify with Robert,  as a youth he addressed the same situation, a non starter except when there was a no-show, but found a way to be activated in almost every game.  Gary’s dad instructing him on the fingering used by pitchers to acquire that different pitches, but more important was the ability to get the ball in the strike zone. Robert  acquiring confidence developing his pitching arm,  the two spending time at the ball field, his sister Sandi a reluctant participant in returning the baseballs during a batting practice session with Robert.  Gary having his son concentrating on just throwing strikes,  a five finger release,  just get the ball over the plate.   Gary approaching Keith about Roberts acquired ability of consistency in getting the ball over the plate,  which was the quandary of the team,  the base on balls from the opposing team accounting for their score unless the incomparable Matt Tucker was pitching.  Robert soon gained a reputation, the bases loaded from the previous pitchers inability to throw strikes ,  finding he would be called upon to enter the contest and preserve the game,  not walking another batter.   The final championship game at Medicine Lodge, finding the bases loaded in the last inning,  Matt Tucker,  the workhorse starter of the team after a grueling game  finally exhausted his pitching arm,  a chant from the Kiowa residence in attendance,  “Robert,  Robert,  Robert”, all expecting Keith to call  upon his reserve pitcher, but instead of Robert, the coach addressed his son Brad, who was playing shortstop and who had never acquainted the pitcher’s mound,  but was stout in his athletic ability.  A censure echoed from the Kiowa fans  in disappointment,  the coach’s son taking to the mound and without hesitation, promptly walked in Medicine Lodge’s  winning run, the game, a Kiowa loss. What could have been a shining moment turned out to be a cloudy day, what could have and should have, wasn’t.

Darrell Surface – A man for all seasons

The Kiowa Service Company was no longer under the reign of Steve Miller,  Steve having relinquished ownership, the John Deere dealership proclaiming a new name to Kiowa,  Darrel Surface.   Gary having difficulty picturing the Service Company without a Steve Miller and was totally surprised when he received a phone call from the new owner.  Gary noting that Steve McCreary whom Miller had instilled to replace Gary as parts manager had given notice that he and his wife Tudi who operated Conejo’s restaurant were moving back to Wellington.  The parts manager giving notice just weeks prior to the beginning of harvest.  Darrel having been informed of Gary’s experience, inquiring if  would be able to give some assistance thru the rigorous upcoming custom cutting season.  Gary having never been introduced to Darrel agreeing to work evening and weekends,  his  curiosity aroused about the new proprietor.  Gary’ brief harvest employment was meaningful, having invested over five years of his life behind the parts counter and the experience of working for Surface was a pleasure.   Darrel was a on-hands person, unlike Steve Miller,  the new owner was vested with experience in all aspects involving the company, working the parts counter,  mounting a ten-wheeler for a combine delivery, assisting in  the shop setup contingency,  a hegemony in leadership, a man for all seasons.

Gary’s brief advent at Kiowa Service once again brought him in contact Howard the service manager,  Howard having  a 1976 Ford Van for sale at a very reasonable price.  Gary accepting his offer with the conditional sale of his present 69 Chevy Van,  knowing a set-up shop employee was interested.  With the acceptance of  the transactions,  the Ford turned out to be totally misrepresented, but the paperwork having been completed,  the van,  although being very appearance presentable and driveable was mechanically worn out.  Gary blamed himself for taking Howard assurance at face value and not recognizing the symptoms of the an oil burning six cylinder engine with a lack of compression.  Biting the bullet he realize it would have to suffice until other arrangements could be made.  Like all commercial vans this one too lacked a rear seat and for a second time, like in his Chevy van,  Gary began the process of installing an additional rear seat, the Ford having a windowed sliding door, electing something different,  mounting the seat against the driver side panel facing the door, enabling a door-window street side view.   Once again the addition of paneling and carpet was installed knowing his ownership would be short-lived, concluding sometime performance had to be subjective to appearance especially when trading at a dealership.

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