I never saw Jim Kern pitch.
Not live at least. If I saw him on TV, I have no memory of it.
But yet I remember Jim Kern vividly. I didn’t remember the fact that he was a 3 time All Star and finished 4th in the 1979 AL Cy Young Award balloting.
Nope. I remembered that every year it seemed like he just looked happy on his baseball card.
I mean just look at his 1979 Topps Card.
The guy is loving life!
He’s playing for a 90 loss Indians team going nowhere in a hurry, but he’s laughing away.
He’s an All Star with mess up hair and the bad ass “Tomahawk C” hat and a full set of teeth,
This guy is ready to take the mound and have a great time.
In 1979 he switched teams to Texas and won the Rolaids Relief Award. That would put a smile on anyone’s face.
I distinctly remember being 7 years old and laughing when I saw this card.
Later in Texas he grew some ridiculous facial hair but that obviously didn’t put a damper on his mood.
I have no idea if he was a cool guy or not.
But I remember thinking even as a kid that he looked like he was having fun and savoring being a ball player.
Jim Kern was a state of mind. A way to look at life.
It was about positivity and being happy with where you are.
Now contrast that with Warren Brusstar.
Man this guy always looked mad.
Maybe he was ticked off that his hat didn’t quite cover his curly hair, giving him a “White Oscar Gamble” quality.
Maybe it was playing in the rough Veterans Stadium in some intense playoff caliber actions.
Maybe he was grinding his teeth in pain from all the shoulder injuries he piled up as a sinker ball pitcher
Or perhaps, unlike Kern, Brusstar had a thankless job. He wasn’t a starter and he wasn’t a closer. He piled up neither wins (he got 28 over 9 big league seasons) nor saves (14 total in his career) in an era when those two stats seemed to be the only yard stick people had to measure a pitcher’s value.
Either way, as a kid, I thought he looked really mean.
And he kept looking mean as the years went on.
Being a part of a World Champion and pitching in the 1980 World Series didn’t put a smile on his face..
Even a hair cut and moving to The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field couldn’t cheer him up.
Come on man! You are a big league pitcher with a World Series ring! Cheer up!
So that’s my advice to you my dear readers.
Embrace the Jim Kern within.
Wear that smile. He may not have a won a World Series, but he seemed to have more fun along the way.