In his latest “Dear Grandson,” Stan Gerding becomes a Chief Petty Officer and manages his son’s first Little League team, the Astros.
Bud had his first practice with the Astros, and I watched some pretty darn good kids playing the heck out of the baseball and my Bud kept up with them. After practice was over, the manager came over to me and asked me if I would help him coach the team this year. I told him I agreed if Greg was okay with it. As we headed home, I asked my Bud if he wouldn’t mind if I was a coach on his team. He told me that would be great. We had a few more practices before the opening of the season; the kids were responding to me and they really liked Greg.
My Blood Bank classes were going well. I had a normal routine every day: I would go into class and tell the class a joke and then we would begin the lessons for the day. Then came the hazing, or initiating me, to becoming a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. My sponsor gave me a journal to carry around with me during my everyday duties, I had to get every Chief on the compound to sign my book, including the Hospital Chiefs and, of course, this book was chained to me … literally. My sponsor drilled a hole in the book and had a chain and lock attached to the book and me.
I won’t go through all the boring things that these Chiefs did to me, like chaining me to the flagpole, chaining me to a urinal and feeding me cups of coffee, chaining me to the Commanding Officer’s desk, buying a dozen chocolate donuts for a Black Master Chief (that did not go over so well with the Master Chief, he made me eat the whole dozen), chaining me to the Command Master Chief’s Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, having my whole Blood Bank class excused and replaced by 20 ridiculing and harassing Chiefs, and there were several other demeaning and humbling tasks that I had to perform. I knew this was all in fun and so I went along with this with a good spirit. Heck, I was making Chief Petty Officer, they couldn’t break me. Of course, all of my friends that really knew me knew I would not do any of this without me retaliating in some way or another. By the way, this went on for well over a month.
Murphy Canyon Little league was starting its league play this one Saturday and there were all kinds of festivities planned. Bud’s team was playing the very first game of the day and they won. Greg played in right field for three innings and got to hit one time and he lined out to the shortstop. Now, like a good father, I would love to say it was a hot shot to the shortstop, but I can’t, it was a soft liner to the shortstop. Oh, okay, it was a blooper to the shortstop. All in all, it was a great day and I got a chance to watch all the teams in the league.
Like a good father, I would love to say it was a hot shot to the shortstop, but I can’t, it was a soft liner to the shortstop. Oh, okay, it was a blooper to the shortstop.
I saw some very good ballplayers and some very good teams. There were three teams that were going to be a challenge for the Astros. Bud got to pitch in relief a few times. One day, the Astros were playing the Indians (a so-so team) and the manager wanted Greg to start the game pitching. The reason I am mentioning this particular game isn’t because Bud was starting, it is about an incident that happened during this game.
The seasoned catcher we had was a boy named Tony Richmond (a 12-year-old) and he would be catching for Bud, who was only ten years old. The first inning, the Indians got a couple of hits off Bud and he walked two batters and the Indians scored two runs. The second inning, Bud goes to the pitching mound to warm up with Tony, the pitchers are allowed five warm-up pitches and then the catcher throws down to second base to do “around the horn” and back to the pitcher, that is what is supposed to happen. But, on this occasion, it did not happen that way.
Bud thought he threw his five warm-ups and turned around. Tony must’ve thought he had one more warm-up pitch and threw the ball back to Bud who was turned around and he got hit in the back of the head. He turned around and scolded Tony for doing that. Then the first batter stepped up to the plate and Bud threw three straight fastballs and struck the kid out. He did the same to the next two batters. I had never seen him throw that fast and hard before and, when he came in, he told me he was trying to make the ball sting Tony’s hand for hitting him in the head.
He pitched the whole game and the Indians did not get one hit the rest of the game. The manager and I were discussing this performance and made a joke about Greg wanting to hurt Tony’s hand. The rest of the season Bud got more playing time and even got to play shortstop a few games. The Astros finished with 16 wins and 5 losses that year. The manager told me he was headed to sea and wouldn’t be able to coach the next year and he asked me if I would take over the managers position for the Astros. I was delighted and said yes.
Things were going pretty good for me at work and, now that I was a Chief, it seemed that the students and hospital personnel gave me a lot more respect. I was averaging about one duty every three weeks and one Saturday or Sunday about once a month, so I had it pretty good. When we had the duty, we were called to the Chief of the Day watch. We had a change of Officers in our Lab School office; Lieutenant Commander Meyers was promoted to full Commander and was sent across the street to run the Laboratory at the main hospital and we welcomed Lieutenant Walt Rey to our office as our Officer in Charge.
We all were going to miss Commander Meyers, but it was a great addition having Lieutenant Rey as our new boss. He and I got along super and we even played racquetball at noon almost every day. We had some extremely intense matches constantly and, one day while we were playing, I hit a ball off the back wall and Walt could play the wall like crazy and when he hit the ball this day, he managed to hit it very low, hard, and fast between my legs and hit my manhood and I went down with a loud scream in a very high voice. I picked myself up and took a short break in order to regain my composure (and my voice). We played almost every day and became the best of friends.
We had a big change of personnel in our office and we got a softball team together with mostly the guys in the office, but we added a few civilian guys and we joined a city softball league. I was also taking a few fun classes at Mesa College that included singing and mime, I am sort of an entertainer at heart. I did some mime in and around the city of San Diego and had a few singing engagements.
More later, Grandson.
Stan Gerding is the author of the book The Nam “Doc” A Navy Corpsman’s Story.