Sometimes You Just Gotta Take the Money

Brooks Robinson in the field

Brooks Robinson in the field

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been conned a few times, usually for something like who drives or who buys the beer. And I’m also basically an honest type so I don’t do a lot of that kind of thing myself. But sometimes you just got to take the money.

Way back in 1970 I was in the US Army and stationed in Germany. It was October and my interest turned to the World Series. For those of you too young to remember, that’s the Series that cemented Brooks Robinson’s reputation as the greatest gloveman of all time among third basemen. He won the Series MVP and the Baltimore Orioles rolled over the Cincinnati Reds to post Earl Weaver’s only World Series victory. And every bit as important for my purposes is that the Series was still played in the afternoon. That meant that I got to listen to it during the overnight period (I worked the graveyard shift), then could go to the enlisted  club and watch the tape-delay game in the afternoon without having to worry about who was going to win. I could just watch and enjoy the great (and not-so-great) plays.

But we had this guy, he was fairly new, who just simply didn’t understand what was going on. He never quite understood that the game had been played the previous night (our time) and that if you listened to AFN (Armed Forces Network) radio you already knew the score. It just never seemed to make sense that if you were watching a game being played in the daytime, it just couldn’t be daytime where we were.

With the Orioles up three games to none, a bunch of us sat down to watch game four.  The dolt mentioned above was one of them. He began by telling us “his” Orioles were going to sweep. I told him Cincy was going to win game four. He told me I was crazy. I told him the score was going to be 6-5 (I looked the score up on Retrosheet a few minutes ago). He laughed, informing me that Palmer was going to close out the Series.

“No, he isn’t.” (All conversations cleaned up from GI English and after 40 years, approximated.)

“Sure he is. Wanna bet?”

“Why not? Five bucks?” OK, so I’m a jerk, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. Let’s face it, when someone is being that willfully stupid you just gotta take the money.

“Deal. Two to one.”

“OK by me.”

So I handed a five to the bartender, he gave the bartender a ten, and the rest of the guys at the table snickered. Well, sure enough the Reds won 6-5 and I picked up an easy ten dollars. The other guy was  stunned. We tried to explain to him about tape-delays and listening to the game in the middle of the night, but it just didn’t sink in.

The next night, Baltimore wrapped up the Series, Brooks Robinson was named MVP, and we all met in the afternoon to watch the crowning. Of course the guy was there, ready to put up money again that this time Baltimore would win it all.

“No bet, slick, because you’re right, the Orioles are going to win (9-3 according to Retrosheet). By the way (we wouldn’t have dared to say “BTW” back then), Brooks Robinson was the MVP.”

It seems he didn’t understand the nature of the past tense meant by the word “was”.

“That makes sense, but I’m not sure it won’t go to Blair (Paul).”

“Trust me, Robinson wins.”

Here came the deathless line again, “Wanna bet?”

Well, now I’ve got this terrible dilemma. What do I do? I’ve taken the poor fool’s money once. Do I do it again? You know the answer, don’t you?

“Sure. Five bucks again?”

“Deal, but no two to one.”

“Fine by me.”

So the bartender got two fives and we waited. The O’s won, Robinson was MVP and I was fifteen total dollars richer. I don’t know that he ever figured out how the turning of the Earth and tape-delay worked. I had a few months left and he had a couple of years to go. I was gone before the Super Bowl, but, geez, I wish I coulda got a bet down with him.

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4 Responses to “Sometimes You Just Gotta Take the Money”

  1. William Miller Says:

    I’m guessing that guy never rose high in the ranks of the enlisted men, though I suppose I could be wrong.
    Strange that Weaver won just the one World Series, with all those talented teams he managed.

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I remember that world series very well. The Big Red Machine I (well, that was supposed to be a Roman numeral.) Guys that weren’t there the next time that the Reds were in the World Series, in 1972 against the A’s. The Big Red Machine 1 had Lee May (a power hitter who had the misfortune to be traded to the Astros and play in the Astrodome), Tommy Helms, Woody Woodward, and also Bernie Carbo (in right field, as I recall, I seem to recall that he platooned with Hal McCrae in right), and Tony Perez at third base (rather than first, where he would later on be moved to when the Reds brought up Dan Driessen), guys like Wayne Simpson and Jim Merritt on the mound (they both had career years). Later on came that monster deal with Houston. As I recall, it was Tommy Helms, Lee May, and I forgot who else to Houston in exchange for Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham. I know I’m forgetting a few players. It was one of the big, big, big deals of the century; you just don’t see trades involving that many people and that many STAR players anymore.

    I’m going to now look to see who the others who were involved in that deal were, and I will no doubt slap myself on the head for not recalling them.

    I was rooting for the Reds; in those early days of my baseball fandom, I actually CARED (I mean, REALLY CARED!!!!) that the National League won the all-star game and that the National League team would win the world series. Kind of silly looking back on it, but that’s the way I was.

    Nice article, V.

    Glen

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