Celebrating Memorial Day with pitcher Turk Wendell

From 2005: Wendell avoids bad luck by avoiding the foul lines. By Esq1092 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
From 2005: Wendell avoids bad luck by avoiding the foul lines. By Esq1092 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

A grateful Turk Wendell remembers.

Likewise, I’ll never forget the colorful pitcher.

From 2011…

Mike Hedlund & Turk Wendell: Memorable Men For Memorial Day

Here’s three patriotic highlights from past editions of the blog.

First, consider Mike Hedlund’s service.
Next, (from 2011) remember how Turk Wendell feels about our country, and how he thanked the troops.
Thank you, readers. Thank you, America!

Turk Wendell Wins With U.S. Soldiers

(Photo courtesy Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky)

Turk Wendell, a former major league baseball pitcher, autographs a squishy ball to give out during his visit to Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Oct. 9., 2007. He’s made three visits to war zones, and awaits the call to do more on behalf of American troops!

“I am very sorry for your loss.”

Turk Wendell wasn’t talking baseball. I told him about a hero of mine. My cousin Dustin Yancey, just 22, died in Iraq Nov. 4, 2005. His truck led an Army convoy that couldn’t escape a roadside bomb.

I remember his modest Iowa funeral. I expected to see the streets lined for him. I puzzled over the lack of elected officials who were silent on that day. Not even a city councilman made himself known.

No one understood. I was so happy that Turk Wendell did. I told him about Dustin, because the former pitcher has made three trips overseas to show other soldiers they’re appreciated. Why?

Wendell replied…

“I was very fortunate to go overseas and witness the war firsthand and see what it is really like, not from the B.S. on the news channels. The troops were so impress that myself and the few other ex-big leaguers would put our lives on the line to boost their morale and take their minds off the war, if only for a moment.

I was so touched, I went back to U.S. and went down to enlist myself. But being cold blind, they would only permit me to obtain certain duties, and I wanted to shoot!

So I figured I would just continue to go over whenever they asked me to.

Three trips later, I feel I did nothing in life by playing baseball. The Armed Forces are the real heroes of the U.S.A. Though baseball is America’s game, our Armed Forces should have their own baseball cards!!

Take care and God bless,
Turk Wendell”

Thank you, Turk. Thank you, Dustin.

Coming Wednesday: The message of Charlie Lea

Shades of ‘Bull Durham’ — Eavesdropping On An Actual New York Mets Mound Conference Between Turk Wendell and Mike Piazza

An unheralded storyteller!
Wendell could be our

I just got an early Christmas present from former pitcher Turk Wendell.
I asked him about the best advice he ever received from a catcher on the mound.

He gave me something better. Before he penned his first sentence completed, I knew he had shared a baseball classic, something worthy of a Seinfeld episode, or a Bull Durham sequel. Wendell wrote:

“Best advice on the mound —

Mike Piazza would always say the same 1 of 2 things when I came into a game. It usually was a crucial point in the game, men on base, close score, and a power hitter up to bat.

I would always ask him, ‘Okay, Mike, how we going after this guy?”

His response…

A) ‘Let me think about it on the walk back’ or

B) ‘Just go after him with your good shit!’

I always wanted to say, ‘No, I’ll just half-ass this one and see what happens!’ But never did!

Coming Tuesday: Turk Wendell’s serious side.

Pitcher Turk Wendell Salutes Our Military

Pitcher. PATRIOT!

Coming soon…

I have an amazing response from pitcher Turk Wendell. While he offered some great baseball insights, his comments on patriotism give us a perfect way to celebrate this Veterans Day.

Although I had squirreled away the whole letter for publication next week, I’m grateful that my wife Diana convinced me that I should share a bit of Turk’s inspiration for this holiday.

From Turk Wendell:

“The Armed Forces are the real heroes of the U.S.A. Although baseball is America’s game, our Armed forces should be on their own baseball cards!!”

I second that emotion.

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