Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Mantle’

Comedian Steve Baird

May 9, 2014

Thursday May 8th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

More sad news of a comedian passing away came today, and I have had about enough already. This has been one of if not the worst years I can ever remember for losing comedians, and today it was another funny nice guy named Steve Baird – yet one more I had worked with in my day.

It’s one thing to hear someone from one’s same city or state dies. It happens every day and that is sad enough, but rare is the case where it’s somebody one knows personally. I can look through the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel obituaries – and I occasionally do – but it’s hardly ever anybody I actually knew. Even when comedians die, it’s not always someone I had ever met one on one.

This year it has been one after another, and I’ve crossed paths with them all. First it was David Brenner, then John Pinette. Then it was ventriloquist Otto Petersen of “Otto and George”, now Steve Baird. I know everyone’s number comes up eventually, but this has been way too many.

The camaraderie between comedians runs shallow and deep at the same time. We often pair up randomly when we are hired to work the same venue anywhere from a night to a weekend to the entire week. Many times we’re thrown together to share an apartment for a week, and that’s how our bonds either form or they don’t. I have always gotten along great with most other comedians.

There are a few turds in the litter box, but that percentage is amazingly low. Most road warriors have a respect for one another because we know how hard it is to hack out a living how we do it, and more often than not a mutual respect develops in a very short time. If someone happens to be the real deal, it shows almost immediately. There’s a vibe there, and a kindred soul recognizes it.

Steve Baird and I weren’t as tight as I am with a lot of comics, but I had nothing but respect for him, and thought he was a funny act. He was from Indianapolis originally, but moved to Florida in recent years and I hadn’t talked to him other than when he’d asked me about teaching his own comedy classes. I had no problem with that as he was more than competent, so I helped him out.

I’d never begrudge someone from making extra money hustling legitimately. He wasn’t taking business from me in Florida when I’m in Chicago so I sent him my lesson plans to look over and wished him well. He thanked me profusely, and I was glad to do it. I respected him as somebody who had paid dues and I liked him as a person as well. He had a dry wit and he made me laugh.

There’s a human side to comedians that the public rarely if ever sees, and I’m not sure if they’d want to. We’re painfully human like everyone else, and our lives are not a constant laugh festival where the party never ends. Quite often our lives are loaded with more problems than anybody.

Jim Bouton wrote about that human side of athletes in his book “Ball Four”, and got himself in a flaming heap of trouble for it. Mickey Mantle was moody and drank a bit. So? He was a human being, but the public wants to see their heroes as being infallible and perfect. It may be different in the internet generation, but it used to be taboo. Comedians were in that off limits category too.

Every Major League ball player isn’t famous for a lifetime, and in fact most aren’t remembered at all outside the towns they played in. Comedy is the same. There are hundreds if not thousands of comedians I’ve crossed paths with that will never be famous to the public but I think the world of as people. They chose a hard profession, and that alone earns my respect. Steve Baird was one in that group, and I am crushed to hear this news. He was funny, friendly and he’s gone too soon.

Another funny comedian has passed away far too soon. Steve Baird and I worked together on several occasions. I'm very saddened to hear of his passing.

Another funny comedian has passed away far too soon. Steve Baird and I worked together on several occasions. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing.

Shuffling The Cards

May 18, 2010

Sunday May 16th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Life is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought. I was sure I’d have all life’s  mysteries figured out by now, but I’m still bumbling along trying to piece it all together. I should be planning for a grandiose retirement, when in fact I’m just barely squeaking by.

I don’t like it one bit, but that’s where I am. And I know I’m not alone. I have to believe hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in this country alone are not satisfied with the direction their life is headed, but they do nothing about it except maybe drink a whole lot so they can forget it. The fact remains, we’re all self made and that can be a bitter pill.

I look back on my life and many times I had the right idea, but didn’t execute it and it’s too late to try again. Baseball cards are an example. I knew they’d be worth something at some point, so I began buying as many old ones as I could when I was barely a teenager.

I sent them away to get autographed, and I had all kinds of big stars who are now dead including Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris and many others. I saved the right cards and had a fantastic collection by the time I graduated high school. I drifted from the card game as most kids do, but a few years later I got back in it and fell in love all over.

I bought some more stuff and then life’s storms started to hit and I was sick of having to move it time and time again so I ended up selling it all. Even though I made a very strong profit at the time, I’d have been able to make a total killing had I just held on to it longer.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda is part of everyone’s life, but I really did blow it. I should have not touched any of those cards for years, and then sold them right at the peak back around 1996 when prices were sky high. I have to believe I’d have been able to clear $150,000 or more, and I could have gotten out with a hefty chunk of change to show for my efforts.

Now, I’m trying to peddle my remnants way past the peak years and hope to break even on some stuff I probably overpaid for in the first place. I tried to force it rather than let the deal come to me, and now I’m paying for it in more ways than one. My timing was off on this deal, and not only did it take up time, space and money, it’ll take work to sell it all.

I drove up to Milwaukee today to take a run through the card show at Gonzaga Hall and meet with the guy who’s supposedly going to take my cards on consignment. He’s buying collections left and right because others are selling too, and doesn’t have room right now.

He’s been in the card game steady for 35 years, and everyone respects him. He’s from a small town in Michigan, but he travels every week to card shows and has a built up a very solid reputation for being an honest guy. I could have done that too, but I chose otherwise.

I’ve dabbled with cards for probably that long, and didn’t make a full commitment like this guy did. He’s not rich, but he’s got a plan and does ok. I’m scrambling to get out of it and move on with life, hoping to hit stride with something else. This life thing isn’t easy.