posted on November 12, 2008 18:07
Fridley, MN - J. Law (AP)
No press conference. No cameras. No fanfare.
The expected retirement of Brewers' founder Joe Lawrence was made official earlier this week with a simple handshake and returning of Hopkins' keys to Recreation Services.
"Just like any other fall, I suppose… (I) just won't be picking them up again next spring", muses Lawrence from the back deck of his north suburban Minneapolis home. It's a dreary autumn evening, and Joe, along with his wife Ryann, have been busy with procrastinated chores most of the afternoon; tearing down the garden, raking leaves, and readying firewood for the winter ahead.
"Five years huh? Man, that's hard to believe…and I've probably been talking about this move each of those off-seasons," he casually jokes, between splitting and stacking some kindling. "Helluva time though. Easily the most fun I've ever had in a Rec League…which is really a testament to all the guys in the HRL." Anyone who's spent a pre or post game with Joe knows the move he's referring to is the Lawrence's return to their native Michigan. Something they've always felt was eventual, if not imminent.
"Yeah, it's mostly for the girls. We've always wanted our daughters to be able to grow up closer to our families… but if I'm being completely honest, it's for us too. My folks aren't getting any younger, and for everything I love about The Cities, seeing my old man more than three times a year seems more important to me these days." A somewhat sobering (and wussy) admission, from a guy who's more likely to be remembered for his Alki accolades than any part of his sentimental side. But here at home, Joe bares little resemblance to the antagonizing message boarder, chattering outfielder, taunting base-runner, or obnoxious Lindee's lush we've grown so accustomed to over the past half decade. When prodded about that persona, he chuckles again, "What can I say? All part of the fun, I guess. Ya know…when you're not good enough to really contend, ya might as well sit back, have a few brews, and heckle the guys who are."
An average wiffler, on a perennial .500 club, one wonders if there are any regrets or plans for a future run at wiffle glory. But Lawrence insists there aren't. "No, HRL:Rock City probably isn't in the cards…but I'm sure return trips to The Fatty and some backyard derby will always remind me of how great the past few seasons have been." And as for any final parting words? When asked, Joe pauses for a moment, wipes his brow, and raises his glass, "Maybe a toast?" he suggests.
"To the HRL: May your balls always be holey, and your bats never be black. May your coolers be filled fully, and the wind be at your back!"