This Swobodes Well…..

Toward the end of yesterday’s “Diamonds Are A Churl’s Best Friend” post, I confessed to not being able to dream up any song-puns using the names Ron Swoboda or Sandy Koufax, and expressed a wish that readers would help out in this regard.

Well, it didn’t take long…..A first-time commenter sent this brilliant one using Swoboda:

“You Swoboda My Head” – “You Go To My Head” A gem, a pearl, it made me swoon.

It also made me think of another one almost as good: “(I’d Like To Get You On A) Swoboda China” Think Elmer Fudd singing it….

No good news on the Sandy Koufax front though – he retired with a sore arm and has left me with a sore head.

However, I think I’ve met the Bill Wambsganss (“woms-gants”) challenge:

“I Wambs Ganss” As in “I wambs ganss, don’t ask me. I wambs ganss, why should I? I wambs ganss, merci beaucoup…” Well, you get the picture…

I also thought of one that amused me because it’s bilingual and uses the name of a favourite old player – Earl Averill, who was a great centerfielder with the Cleveland Indians before World War Two. His life and career are so interesting I wrote a whole piece about him called “Show Me the Money” which is posted elsewhere on this site.

‘Averill in Paris” (His name works pretty good for “April” in English, but even better in French – Avril.)


Returning to Ron Swoboda, some may be wondering: What’s the big deal about him already, who the heck was he? These are fair questions because Swoboda was not a famous star or anything, in fact he wasn’t even that good a player, but that’s kind of the point. He was a grunt, an extra, a lunch-bucket player, not particularly handsome, athletic or graceful, but the epitome of the little guy who comes through on a big stage when the stakes are high and the chips are down. He was maybe the most miraculous of the Miracle Mets, who stunned almost everybody by beating the (seemingly) far superior Baltimore Orioles handily in the 1969 World Series. Aside from lights-out pitching, some bits of odd baseball luck and surprising clutch-hitting, the big reason the Mets won was a series of stunning circus catches by their outfielders on really hard-hit balls with men on base. Centerfielder Tommy Agee, known for his defense, made two such unbelievable catches that had veteran sportswriters arguing about which one was better. Then, in Game Four, Swoboda settled the matter – his was the best catch of the Series, all the more amazing because he was not really known for his speed, defensive agility, or much of anything else. It was a catch made on sheer guts, will and desperation, a working-class heroic catch. Brooks Robinson launched a hard drive off Tom Seaver on a fast arc into right field, nowhere near an outfielder – all you could see was ball and grass. Then from out of nowhere, flying through the air as if launched from a cannon came Swoboda, diving and snagging the ball in the very tip of his glove, the momentum of it making him roll over like a tumbler. Incredible. The great baseball writer Roger Angell wrote that he was watching the game on TV and it looked as if a mini-Swoboda magically ran through the right side of the TV set to make the catch.

Anyway, that’s why he’s a big deal and somehow, that such an unlikely hero should have a funky, underdog, sweat-hog name like Ron Swoboda is both funny and fitting. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so for those who haven’t seen the catch and want to, it comes at about the 1:30 mark of this clip:

In closing, one more, a fitting one: “The Carty’s Over” (Rico Carty, “The Beeg Mon” – remember him?)

© 2015, Steve Wallace. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “This Swobodes Well…..

  1. I’m reaching but: “Swoboda knows the troubles I’ve Seen” and really reaching…:”In the Kou Kou Kou Fax the Evening”…. Sorry About that Steve…Jack

  2. I was 16 and living in the Bronx at the time of the Amazin’ Ones. There was electricity all over NY, even the Bronx, as the Yanks were going through an awful (post -Mantle) period. The Mets were basically the only act in town,for baseball. I followed EVERY Mets game either on TV or my 3×5″ Motorola radio. I still have the Daily News following their capture of the divisional title, pennant, and WS. Swoboda was one of those guys who was either a hero or a goat, depending on what day it was. I recall him striking out 3 times in a game with guys in scoring position, and other times being a hero after belting a homer. Fans went from loving him one day to pitying him the next (albeit still loving him.) Remember, before there was Swoboda, there was Marvelous Marv (Throneberry), who was like Swoboda, but with a heaping helping of boneheaded plays added.

  3. Another memory of 1969. The Mets had a home series with the division-leading Cubs
    in May or June – I forget which. They were just starting to get hot, and this series was hyped. Game 1— Koosman was pitching. Halfway the game, an event occured …A black cat walks on the field, near the Cubs dugout. It walks right up to the dugout…and stays there. (see at 1:48, at 0:58 sec)The ump holds up the game. The camera focuses on the Cubs dugout, where Leo Durocher, the psycho -ass manager is having the sh*tfit of his life. The crowd is howling. The broadcasters can’t believe what they’re seeing. ..Finally the cat moves of its own accord, leaves the field, and the Mets go on to win the game…and either take 2 or 3 out of 3. The Cubs went down from there.

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