Waste Paper Service



This story is not about a picture of two young ganstas deciding to, idiotically, take a photo in a coin operated photo booth.  Rather, it is about a hat and an ice cream man who created the hat.  The WPS displayed on my brother Tom’s hat represented Waste Paper Service, a youth baseball team Tom was playing for and the business we were representing.   I was merely the bat boy for two reasons: one, I was too young to legally play on the team, and two, that name (Waste Paper Service) was just far too embarrassing. We were the Bad News Bears of Spokane, Washington.

Our coach and local Ice Cream Man, Walt Mabe, a Vietnam Veteran, had a passion for baseball and a further passion for arguing with umpires.  Having  utmost respect for any veteran, Coach Mabe was no exception.  This brave man had his left leg removed after stepping on a land mine while fighting in Vietnam.  However, he maintained some idiosyncrasies which must be acknowledged.  First of which being that his ice cream truck was the only one which didn’t play the traditional jingle, “The Entertainer”…he would play “Ride (Flight) of the Valkyries” from “Apocalypse Now”.  Additionally, the baseball games we played would usually last upwards of 17 or 18 hours because he kept a rule book handy in his wooden leg which he would pull out on an inning by inning basis.  As a Catholic, it would create an image of a baseball priest providing a homily after each strike or ball.  Those poor umpires, making about 4 cents an hour with coach Mabe’s rants, are now, hopefully, and deservedly in some sort of baseball heaven.

I’m sure my brothers Tom and Greg will provide additional commentary on Walt’s quirks.  Yet, I will quickly present the most memorable one.  While taking infield practice, (for those of you who despise or know nothing about baseball, this is when the coach hits ground balls and fly balls to the players prior to the first pitch of the game), rather than using a bat, and I kid you negative, coach Mabe would use his wooden leg.  Going to the ballpark was always genuinely interesting being coached by this good man. Bless his baseball soul and his wooden leg.

Just a typical Spokane little league experience.  You play for a team sponsored by and named after toilet paper, coached by a man with a wooden leg who uses it as a bat, and the games would last 16 or 17 hours.  Yet, I still love the game of baseball.

(All is true with exception of the ice cream truck jingles.)

44 thoughts on “Waste Paper Service

  1. Great story. Reminds me of Homerun Derby with the wiffleball bat. Going yard over the “Red Monster” on the backporch is a great memory.

  2. I can’t get the vision out of my head of Coach Mabe cruising down the neighborhood lanes in his sooped up ice cream truck complete with broady knob on steering wheel while blasting “Ride of the Valkries” by Wagner, or as you deem “Filght of the Bumblebees”. An absolute gut buster. Should be in a movie scene.

    • My brother, Tom is correct. However, sarcasm is equally correct. If you recognize both songs, they would be wildly funny for an ice cream driver to utilize. My wife, Brittney prefers “Flight of the Bumblebees” because she has a morbid image of watching an I Scream Driver mowing down potential customers without paying any attention to the road, the elderly, innocent children, or any other insignificant creatures on planet earth.

  3. That story was awesome! Starting with the picture of you and brother T. (Tom’s grin reminds me of the look we both had when we watched Greg crawl into his tent naked while camping in Montana). Apparently your childhood consisted of many classic moments and never ending windstorms… Nice work Ben, your words paint memorable images that we can all relate to.

  4. Great story Ben. I would give anything to see someone warming up their team with a wooden leg or an ice cream truck playing Flight of the Valkyries with little children running away as if it were driven by Satan himself. Your little league coach is almost like Craig’s arch-nemesis, the one-armed bandit that was the only Varsity or JV coach in full uniform, waving the kids to round third.

  5. Best post yet infeild with a wooden leg and the ice cream truck I have a permanent smile since I read it thanks Ben

  6. I was wondering if the person making the hats was dyslexic and it was suppose to read WSP for the big house in Walla Walla. Does the shirt say “Property of Washington State Correctional Facilities”? This memoir easily could have rivaled the story portrayed in the Bad News Bears movie! Ice Cream salesman/Pool cleaner…..WSP slogan- Wiping away your problems/Chico’s Bail Bonds slogan -Let Freedom Ring…Walt Mabe/Morris Buttermaker. It all could have easily been set in the valley of the city we affectionately call “Spokanistan.”

  7. way to funny Ben. I look forward to reading all your blogs you have written. you definetly have a gift of writing and i am sure you will be on the best sellers list soon and Gail thinks you are magic!!!!!!!!!!

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