Update: The new Oakland A’s shortstop, known to teammates as Kit, has just led off the game with a towering, 460-foot home run to left-center field.
Story first posted at 1:30 p.m. EST
OAKLAND – In a highly publicized move last week, the first-place A’s picked up left-handed starter Brad Mills from the Brewers for the sum of $1. The result: a 4-3 Oakland win. On the heels of that economic success, A’s GM Billy Beane journeyed to an Oakland-area Dollar General this week and purchased right-hander Gertrude Polankovich, a 72-year-old Alameda housewife who enjoys unfiltered cigarettes and short walks in the park.
The result: Not only did Polankovich start each of Oakland’s two games in its short series against the Mets, the grandmother of eight won each in shutout fashion, including Tuesday’s one-hitter and Wednesday’s three-hit effort.
Said Polankovich after Wednesday’s 2-0 win: “Having pitched nine high-leverage innings the previous day, I did find myself tiring in the seventh. Keep in mind that I suffer rheumatoid arthritis and sciatica, and also that I smoke unfiltered. But after giving up a pair of bloopers and an infield chopper, I bore down and made the pitches I needed to make. It felt really good to blow that 96 mph two-seamer past ol’ what’s-his-name with the bases loaded, even though I had to miss back-to-back episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Did Jessica catch the killers? I’m guessing she caught the killers.
“But more importantly,” she added, “this was a good team win, especially considering that I had never even heard of the A’s, or even baseball, until Mr. Beane strolled into the Dollar General and found me over on Aisle 5.”
Asked if she had been shopping or, conversely, actually for sale at Dollar General, Polankovich reached for a cigarette and put on a satin jacket she had found at Hollywood Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.
“I’m cold,” she said, striking a match.
For his part, Beane enjoys a distinct recollection of the day he discovered Polankovich: “I had just picked up a catcher from the vending machine on the sidewalk, and was about to look for a middle-innings reliever at a garage sale in San Leandro, when I happened into Dollar General and saw Ms. Polankovich. To be perfectly honest, I had intended just to pick up a spatula and maybe a hot-pan holder. But when I saw Ms. Polankovich – sorry, Gertrude – between the masking tape and the chip clips, I knew I’d stumbled into something rare and fantastic. She just had the look of an Oakland A, you know? I think the beard really suits her.”
Lineup note: Starting at shortstop for the A’s today is a Hello Kitty lunchbox that GM Billy Beane discovered at an Oakland-area Goodwill.
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.