Have Faith in Percy Fielding

HAVE FAITH IN PERCY FIELDING

By Maxwell Kates

Maxwell Kates

 

Six years ago this weekend, my family and I went for brunch at the United Bakers’ Dairy Restaurant located in the north end of Toronto. ‘The United’ has been owned and operated by three generations of the Ladovsky family since 1912. In accordance with Jewish dietary restrictions which separates meat from dairy, the restaurant is completely vegetarian.

United Bakers Dairy Restaurant – Today!

Parents and children often take opposite sides of controversial issues, in part as a reaction to one another. In our family, this type of psychology could be seen in our choice of baseball teams. My father is a Toronto Blue Jays fans while I have sided with their archrival Detroit Tigers. While my Tigers were struggling early in the 2012 season, the Blue Jays were faring slightly worse. After losing Victoria, Texas native Kyle Drabek for the season due to Tommy John surgery, the Blue Jays could only sit and watch as the disabled list claimed pitchers Chad Hutchinson and Brandon Morrow. Former 1st baseman Pat Tabler, now a Blue Jays analyst, remarked that in a career dating back to 1976, he had never witnessed a team lose three pitchers within a week.

The conversation at brunch turned to baseball, as it often does. I instigated my father with, “Well at least my team didn’t lose three starting pitchers within a week.” He rebutted with, “Yeah? Well at least MY team didn’t spend all their money on…Percy Fielding.”

Prince Fielder (aka Percy Fielding)

And so, from my father’s malaprop, a legend was born – the Legend of Percy Fielding. As the city of Detroit flirted with bankruptcy, the Tigers did indeed reward the erstwhile Milwaukee slugger with a nine year, $214 million contract. Batting cleanup, Percy hit a career best .313 batting average – possibly to match Detroit’s area code – while hitting 30 home runs and driving in 108. At the All-Star Game, Percy won the Home Run Derby against Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Meanwhile, the Tigers recovered in the second half of the season, winning their division before pacing the A’s and sweeping the Yankees on their way to the 2012 World Series.

Meanwhile, the nickname stuck. Through the grace of social media, Prince Fielder the baseball player became Percy Fielding the fictional character. He was known by that sobriquet not only in Detroit, but also places like Seattle and Raleigh, North Carolina. On Facebook I was even suggested to add ‘Percy Fielding’ as a friend, not the Detroit 1st baseman but as it turned out, a retired colonel in Her Majesty’s service. The nickname even developed its own slogan, “Have Faith in Percy Fielding.” It was a nod to the late composer who as it were, probably enjoyed his fair share of meals at ‘the United.’ He grew up in St. John’s Ward when the restaurant was located on nearby Spadina Avenue.

United Bakers Dairy Restaurant – Original Location

But Percy disappointed in the 2012 World Series, going 1-for-14 with an ill-timed force out at home plate as the Tigers were swept by the San Francisco Giants. After a frustrating regular season in 2013, Percy batted .182 in the American League Championship Series against Boston. In Game 6, Percy infamously rounded third base with awkward running antics, culminating with the ‘million dollar belly flop.’ The Tigers had seen enough, trading him to the Texas Rangers that winter for Ian Kinsler.

The Million Dollar Belly Flop

Percy Fielding’s brief but expensive foray with the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers may be over, but the legend lives on. We’ll always have Percy.

Have Faith in Percy Fielding

PECAN PARK EAGLE TRIVIA CONTEST #1

Sharpen your pencils, it’s time to play the first annual Pecan Park Eagle Trivia Contest. But first, some baseball nostalgia for you. Most of the questions relate in some way to columns I have written for the Pecan Park Eagle in the past year. The numbers you see to the left consist of a point scale, for a maximum score of 40 points. To play, simply send an e-mail including your name and address to me at maxwelliankates@hotmail.com with “Pecan Park Eagle Trivia” written as the subject. Then include all of your answers in the text of the message. Contest closes on July 31, 2018. Winners will be announced in early August. Good luck to all those who play.

Trivia Contest

1)            2            Which Hall of Famer was the subject of a recent biography by Marty Appel?

2)            3            In what National League stadium did Willie Mays hit his 600th home run in 1969?

3)            2            Justin Verlander pitched two no-hitters for the Detroit Tigers. Who were the opponents?

4)            2            Which Astros player hit 53 leadoff home runs in his major league career?

5)            4            Roy Halladay was the third Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher to win the Cy Young Award. Name

the other two.

6)            1            Who won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1953?

7)            5            Five members of the 1982 Houston Astros, four in uniform and one broadcaster, also

managed the team. Name them.

8)            1            According to Irish folk legend, what is the surname of the only man capable of killing a

local man-eating sea serpent?

9)            5            What five Astros players represented the team at the 1994 All-Star Game?

10)            4            How many African American pitchers have won 20 games in a season? Which of the

‘Black Aces’ won 20 games one season for the Astros?

11)            1            What village in upstate New York hosted the first SABR convention in 1971?

12)            4            Name two members of the Larry Dierker Chapter, both of Irish heritage, who played

professional baseball before the formation of the Houston Colt .45s. (Note that I didn’t

say MALE baseball players.)

13)            2            Who is the only living Hall of Famer to work as the director of a funeral home?

14)            3            What pitcher surrendered Rick Monday’s decisive home run in Game 5 of the 1981

National League Championship Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

15)            1            Who was the winner pitcher in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series?

 

TIE-BREAKING QUESTION

16)            1            What was the name of Bill McCurdy’s East End Houston sandlot baseball team?

“Just One More Thing….”

I’d like to thank Rick Bush, Wayne Roberts, and Tal Smith for following up on Bill McCurdy’s announcement last month for their help with Colt .45s photos for the expansion teams book. Bill Nowlin thanks you and I thank you. Have a great summer, everybody.

 

*******************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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