Freudian Slips: A Mountain Called Ozark

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

May 09, 2009

A Mountain Called Ozark

Danny Ozark with Joe Tornatore
Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark’s passing this week at the age of eighty-five was a life that spanned extra innings. His stellar managerial career came within a big inning in a decisive playoff series of ultimately managing a champion. Almost tragically, the Phillies team he built, spoon-fed, and managed from basement dwellers to perennial contenders won the 1980 World Series only a year after his firing. This is how the ball bounces in the fatality of life.

I met Danny Ozark on a gorgeous day for baseball in 1997. By age seventy-three, however, the rawhide of baseball had been woven through his life yet somehow his forty-something inch waist still proudly stuffed into the pinstriped Philadelphia Phillies uniform like a throwback to yesteryear. As I approached the dapper uniformed don in a hideaway restaurant, Danny was hungrily eating his way through a stack of flapjacks perched in his counter seat.
I introduced myself then said, “Danny, I just came from the park. There are no children, no spectators for the charity softball event.”
As he fathomed this scenario, maple syrup seemed to suspend drip from his fork. Showing his genial leadership qualities, Danny Ozark expressed to me in parental tones that the game must be played. Unfulfilled charitable contributions aside, two dozen former major league baseball players did not travel across the country to not pick up their gloves or grab a bat.
During the ballgame, it was an awestruck sight watching the old man bearing red and white pinstripes register putouts from infielders Al Oliver and Bert Campaneris on a lumpy field of weeds and clay. I knew firsthand that Ozark would be taking to the grave his lifelong love for baseball. Like any fallible human being, it would not be without regrets.
With Ozark’s death, I only have my own personal memories of him to hold onto. I can almost hear him smack his floppy first baseman’s mitt on this day, field the sea of criticism he endured for not making a late inning substitute for fielding liability Greg Luzinski after Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, or uttering classic malapropisms during post-game interviews.
If I ever visit his gravesite, I might be tempted to draw chalk lines atop the dirt that buries Danny Ozark because this was a thoroughbred baseball man. Rest(in Peace) assured, Danny Ozark is asking dearly departed Harry Kalas now if half this afterlife is ninety percent transcendental. Life like baseball contains errors, the least of which are syntax.
Danny Ozark 1923-2009

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Blogger Karl said...

RIP, Danny!

7:57 AM  

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