The Indelibility of Seat-Carved Words


Tick-Tock Goes the Clock of Life

Last Friday morning was one of those days for the serendipity of quirky chain-linking events that sometimes leads, at least, to good material for an unusual column, but one that also bears some kind of more far-reaching effect that we simply are unable to fathom in the present moment.

I had gone to the Astrodome that morning to spend time with Jimmy Wynn as he helped a fellow named Steve Archer host a “seat stand sale” to the hundreds who came to the property that day to pick up souvenir seats from the Astrodome they had purchased earlier.

It was a big crowd of Astro fans who all brought with them their memories and affections for both the Astrodome and Jimmy Wynn, the only one there on Friday, June 12, 2015 who actually had played in that first Astrodome baseball game of a little more than fifty years ago on April 9, 1965.

Jimmy Wynn and the Astrodome. Both remain among us as living iconic symbols of Houston’s earlier commitment to all of the great unfolding promises of tomorrow. Many also chose to purchase autographed copies of “Toy Cannon”, the book that Jimmy Wynn and I wrote on his life back in 2010. And almost all of the fans who approached Jimmy thanked him for some special memory they still bore with them as a joy from his playing days in these latter years of us all.

Here comes the serendipity chain:

At the end of a long hot morning, Jimmy and Marie Wynn, and yours truly, prepared to leave. Before we left, however, among other things, Steve Archer, one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, gave Jimmy Wynn a couple of seat panels that had come from the demolition of the original Yankee Stadium. It was pretty obvious from their more modern look and plastic materiality that these panels had come from the 1976 renovations and were not from the 1923 original seat installations.


Jimmy Wynn gave one of the seat covers to me as we were leaving – and one to take as his gift to Bob Dorrill. It’s simply the kind of guy that Jimmy Wynn is. I took Bob’s Yankee Stadium seat panel to him that night when we met in Sugar Land for our Houston Babies game against the Katy Combine at Constellation Field.

Bingo again!

Astrodome Seats 03

Astrodome Seats 01

Astrodome Seats 02

The seat panel I kept contained some deeply etched graffiti. The inscribed words in the above featured close up photo of them should be pretty clear, but they read as follows: “Mike J Kuen …. 9\11\83 …. New Haven CT”.


Remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous words from the Gettysburg Address? “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Abe wasn’t thinking about Yankee Stadium at the time. Had he been aware of certain things to come, Abe would have known that thoughts carved into biodegradability-resistant material, no matter how mundane and banal, could remain unforgettable to all who saw them for a period of time approaching eternity.

Germination of The Plan.

With the enlisted help of friend and fellow researcher Darrell Pittman, we set out to try and find out if the same “Mike J Kuen” were still around today to be reminded of his past actions. We figured the risk rewards of this research were worth the effort. It figured to have been the act of a teenager or some other immature person who had long since outgrown the need and outlived the statute of limitations on prosecution for misdemeanor vandalism.

If it turned out to be someone who had graduated from carving plastic to carving people, we figured on pulling a quick “feet, don’t fail me now” retreat in abandonment of all further research.

We didn’t get far, so far.

Darrell found some contact numbers for a guy we located in Connecticut that we think, but do not know for sure, who may be our guy, but my attempts yesterday, and again today by phone fell way short of contact. Like many people today, this guy uses his voice mail to screen calls. Last night I got no response to my requests for a call back. Same today. It probably sounded like a prank or a lead in pitch to some kind of scam from a stranger in Texas with a larger plan – when all it really was, and is, was an attempt to let our true “Mike J Kuen” know that, however, slight it may have been, that his carved words into the history of Yankee  Stadium had not been forgotten.

Today I invited our subject to either call or correspond by e-mail, if, in fact, he was the one we have been seeking – and I plainly told him that I, in return, would send him digital copies of the stadium panel photos shown here. I also promised the man that I would not attempt to reach him again, if I did not hear further from him directly in response to today’s invitation.

It’s probably just as well that the search ends this way. Some people have a need for either forgetting or not wanting to recall the miscreant acts of their earlier adolescent lives – and, who knows, – maybe this just isn’t our guy and he doesn’t want the nuisance of dealing with something that lands on his voice mail completely foreign and unexpected.

I still can’t help but feel from this experience and that I would have made a lousy Sam Spade.

The serendipitous remains of this experience.

Barring further developments that we do not yet see, the Yankee Stadium seat panel etchings are just a reminder that many of us, as kids, did a few things in rebellion once upon a time in the course of growing up. We simply didn’t carve them into plastic, as one “Mike J Kuen” once did, for some stranger to pull out of the trunk of memories thirty-two years later from a buried past and ask questions about.

“Think Before You Ink” all you great young graffiti artists out there! You may be writing on something that you will live to regret memorializing some thirty years from now.

Analog Report, June 18, 2015.

We just heard from Bob Dorrill, the other eventual “stadium seat” recipient in this two-panel Yankee Stadium story. Bob spoke with Steve Archer today, to thank him, I’m sure. According to Bob Dorrill, Steve Archer confirmed that the panels we each received, indeed, are seat bottoms, not seat backs. Archer said the legs of some 2,000 seats were stolen some time ago, making the restoration of each complete former seat impossible.

Just another possible reason to support why the real “Mike J. Kuen”, whomever he may actually be, will not want to talk publicly about his inscription for the ages. He had carved his name into a part of Yankee Stadium that normally supports the human posterior – and he probably had to work between his own legs for several innings to get it there into the seat in the legible form it now remains.


2 Responses to “The Indelibility of Seat-Carved Words”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    In your message you should have pointed out the criminal vandalism charge that could have been laid on him has long passed the statute of limitations. Of course, if he is Mayor of some town in CT. he might not want the public to know at one time he was a master at defacing public property!

  2. bob copus Says:

    great story 🙂

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