Based on the feedback that I received from my last blog, Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night, people enjoy reading about my carefree, fun-loving younger days. So with that in mind, I have decided to once again return to those crazy days of yesteryear and write a Monday quickie. If you have been reading From The Booth for any time, you are well aware that I was deeply involved in softball back in the day. Many of my blogs have been softball oriented. Blogs like, What’s In A Nickname? for instance. Taking a look back, I realized that I had overlooked an entire family of nicknames – the Gascoignes.
Before going on, I must remind you that these names were given to the various members of the Gascoigne clan nearly thirty years ago. It was a softball thing, a sports thing, a 400 Club thing. Okay, it was a childish thing, but you have to understand there was a lot of testosterone and beer involved. One more thing, see how long it takes you to see a pattern developing.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started. The very first Gascoigne to acquire a nickname from my 400 Club team was Tim. At the time, Tim played outfield for Stanich Realty. Although Tim was a decent ball player, he possessed a rather pugnacious disposition that often rubbed the opposition the wrong way.
During a tournament game, it was this abrasive personality that caused Jeff DiCello to hang the nickname “Cupcake” on him. You see, Tim had a tendency of running in a unique fashion that caused his butt to stick out. It’s hard to explain, but after watching him beat out a single against us, the demonstrative DiCello muttered, “Look at him, he looks like a little “Cupcake” when he runs.”
This cracked the rest of the team up and the name stuck on Tim. When it started to become apparent that Stanich was going to beat us, we began to amuse ourselves by thinking up more clever nicknames. Next up was Tim’s brother Jeff.
Jeff was a fine hitter who I had known since Junior High School, but he needed a nickname. After all, he was “Cupcake’s” brother. Our astute squad, noticing Jeff’s bushy Afro-style hairdo, quickly dubbed him “Sponge Cake”. There was no stopping us now, we were on a roll.
Tom Gascoigne was the older brother of Tim and Jeff. He was a marginal player at best who served as manager of their team. Tom was a portly fellow, so it came as no surprise when he was tagged with the moniker “Pound Cake”. Have you noticed a theme yet?
Scouring the Stanich dugout, we became disappointed, seeing no more Gascoigne boys. Then one of my players slapped me on the arm and pointed. “Look, their little brother Mark is the bat boy!”
It should be noted that Mark would grow up to become the best athlete among the Gascoignes, excelling in both softball and basketball. But on that day it didn’t matter. On that day Mark would become “Shortcake”.
We eventually did lose the game, but that didn’t stop us from going inside Finney’s West to enjoy a few adult beverages and bask in air-conditioned comfort. Once inside we were still chuckling about assigning the “Cake” names to Tim, Jeff, Tom and Mark.
While sitting at the bar, an elderly farmer, who was a regular customer, came up to me and said, “Hey Paulie, did you guys win?” I smiled and answered, “No George, they got us today, but thanks for asking.”
As the venerable senior ambled away, one of my players asked me who that was. I explained, “George was a local that spent most of his non-farming time drinking here. George is a good guy.” It was at that point I laughed out loud.
The reason for the giggling was because I had just recalled George’s last name. You guessed it, George the farmer’s last name was Gascoigne. Although he wasn’t related to Tim, Jeff, Tom and Mark, but he was a Gascoigne and damn it he deserved a nickname. The gentleman farmer was officially christened “Rum Cake”.
There you have it, the “Cakes”. Tim, Jeff, Tom, Mark and George had become “Cupcake”, “Sponge Cake”, “Pound Cake”, “Shortcake” and “Rum Cake”, respectively. Interestingly enough, a few years later, Tim “Cupcake” Gascoigne would become a member of the 400 Club, with Jeff DiCello being his most ardent recruiter.
That’s it. Next up will be my Survivor recap on Thursday. Now it’s time for dinner. I wonder what’s for desert? Until next time…from the booth.