3. To make Irish coffee, what alcohol ingredient would you use?
1. Mark Twain; 2. Savannah; 3. $20; 4. Billy Bob Thornton; 5. Miami; 6. W; 7. ten.
With this continuing pandemic going on all around the world, I had to find ways to pass the time while in my house. I watched plenty of TV and movies, and read and re-read lots of books. But I received a book to review that I really enjoyed reading, and naturally it was on baseball: "The Wax Pack: On the Open Road In Search of Baseball's Afterlife" (University of Nebraska Publishing) by Brad Balukjian. The book is based on a concept I can relate to, as Balukjian took a pack of baseball cards from 1986 from Topps, and decided to check out the post-baseball lives of the 15 men he unwrapped. I grew up collecting baseball cards, and I thought it sounded like such a great idea.
But a lot of people in the publishing world weren't so taken with it, as Balukjian was rejected 38 times before he finally found a publisher. Balukjian actually opened the pack of cards thirty years after it first came out, chewed on the gum enclosed inside (which wasn't a pleasant experience) and decided to see what became of the players who were in his pack. The players range from a Hall of Famer (Carlton Fisk), highly decorated pitchers (Dwight Gooden and Rick Sutcliffe), infielders who made their mark (Garry Templeton, Randy Ready, Rance Mulliniks), and guys who never really made it in the game (Jaime Coconower).
Balkujian starts in California where he lives (he's a writer and a biology teacher at Merritt College in Oakland) and criss-crosses the country to find all the players. (One he could not visit was Al Cowens, who died in 2002.) He did this in 2015 and drove over 11,000 miles to speak with all his subjects. He would cross 30 states in 48 days. Previously he did nearly a year of research in contacting the 14 former big leaguers, following up with emails and phone calls. He met with all but two (Vince Coleman and Carlton Fisk with the only ones who declined to participate).
In his interviews with the players, he made it clear that he was more interested in them as people than as ex-ballplayers. Many of them opened up to him about their personal lives, like the divorces they went through and the relationships that broke apart in their lives. Balukjian also retraces his own past, reconnecting with an old girl friend, and is very upfront about his lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Brad Balukjian has written a very different type of baseball book, one that I found fascinating, especially about how most of these former heroes view their lives after baseball. It was a very enjoyable read, following him on the road, and one very much worth your time to read, whether we are in a pandemic or not.
We had another fine night of Trivia on Thursday night, our eighteenth so far, and my parents each made an appearance, having just returned from Florida earlier this week. It was another close race to the finish, but Francine Hamilton won her third Facebook Live Trivia Night, with 49 points, just edging out Larry Fleisher, who had 48 points, and Gillian DiPietro's team of "I Wish This Microphone Was a Red October", who had 47 points. Congratulations to Francine, and I'll see you all again next Thursday night!
1. What author wrote the best-selling novel "The Hunt For Red October?"
2. What actor/director won an Oscar for Best Director for the 1981 film "Reds?"
3. Which MLB team has won the most World Series in their history: the Red Sox or Reds?
4. Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding was a main character in what 1994 Oscar nominated film?
5. What two red card suits in a standard deck of cards are colored red?
6. What pop singer's 2012 album "Red" featured the hit song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?"
7. What Asian country's flag has a red circle centered on a green background?
1. What 19th century classical composer wrote "The Blue Danube?"
2. "True Blue" was a 1986 album by what pop singer?
3. What was the name of Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox?
4. John Popper was a member of what rock band?
5. "Blue Devils" is the nickname for what teams from what major university?
6. "Big Blue" is a nickname for what major American company?
7. Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits starred in what 1980s TV crime drama?
The Q Train: Beer Brands Trivia (Name the Country)
1. St. Pauli Girl
1. In "E.T.", what candy does Elliott leave a trail of for his alien friend? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the stretch of water between Russia and Alaska called? ( 1 pt)
3. Bruce Jenner won what athletic event at the 1976 Summer Olympics? ( 1 pt)
4. The oldest existing McDonald's restaurant is located in what US state? ( 2 pt)
5. What continent has most landlocked countries? ( 2 pt)
6. Between animal attacks, drowning and falling from heights, which is the number 1 cause of deaths at national parks? ( 2 pt)
7. What European country produces about 75% of the world's olive oil each year? ( 3 pt)
1. Who was the first actor to be nominated for an Oscar in which he portrayed 3 different characters in one film? ( 4 points)
2. What is the only country in Central America with English as its official language? ( 4 points)
3. What South American country had 5 different presidents over a span of 10 days in 2001? ( 5 points)
4. What 19th century US president officially dedicated the Statue of Liberty? ( 4 points)
5. What is the biggest holiday in the US every year in terms of greeting card sales? ( 3 points)
1. Tom Clancy; 2. Warren Beatty; 3. Red Sox (9-5); 4. The Shawshank Redemption; 5. Diamonds and Hearts; 6. Taylor Swift; 7. Bangladesh.
1. Johann Strauss; 2. Madonna; 3. Babe; 4. Blues Traveler; 5. Duke; 6. IBM; 7. NYPD Blue.
The Q Train: Beer Brands Trivia
1. Germany; 2. Canada; 3. Netherlands; 4. USA; 5. Denmark; 6. Japan; 7. Ireland; 8. France; 9. Belgium; 10. Australia.
1. Reese's Pieces; 2. Bering Strait; 3. Decathlon; 4. California; 5. Africa; 6. Drowning; 7. Spain.
1. Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove); 2. Belize; 3. Argentina; 4. Grover Cleveland; 5. Christmas.