Road Forks and Observations

Road Forks and Observations

This is the fun time of the year, methinks. Major League Baseball is winding down into its playoff madness when the Boys of Summer become the Boys of October.

High school football warms up those chilly stands under Friday Night Lights. Nothing quite matches this slice of Americana.

Then college football’s television spectacle on Saturdays takes over the mania button on the remote. Ah, yes, these magical Saturdays of gridiron wonder.

Thank the lords of sports that we can discard for a time recent diversions. Well, sort of, weather permitting.

And then, by Jove, we arrive at what the Pundit describes as “Pull up a chair, kick off the shoes, light a pipe, and open your favorite adult beverage.

It’s football time in America with a dash of baseball wrapping around the keystone event of the sports seasons, The World Series!”

And just so you know, the Pundit was once a hard-working pipe-smoking sports writer in the press box high above the fields of play. Puffing away and typing furiously on a portable typewriter (a what?).

Yes, there were many jokes about my pipe whilst my colleagues smoked cigarettes continuously. “That pipe stinks. What are you smoking in that thing?”

I heard that enough times to give me a nervous twitch and delusions.

But dare I say, some of sports greatest minds were puffers of the grand aged leaf.

Think of Billy Martin on and off with the New York Yankees as a player and manager. Captain Black if you please.

And another baseball superstar, Sparky Anderson, smoked his pipe even in the dugout. He skippered the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers, winning championships with both teams.

This time of the year always puts me in a mood of contemplation. Sports, yes sir, and of our championship pipe makers worldwide, as well as those special tobacco blends that seem to arrive around now.

It takes a champion-like spirit to harness oneself to the tools of griding pipes into art and blending tobaccos to grace those works of art.

Long ago, the Pundit visited the old Cornell&Diehl blending area when the company was located in Morganton, N.C. Small quarters then, which later had to be enlarged. And enlarged again.

Then as history rolled on, C&D joined Laudisi Enterprises company (aka in 2014 in Longs, S.C., and quickly outgrew that blending and production area. And, yes, the kit and caboodle had to move into larger digs to satisfy supply and demand for those lovely tobaccos in creative tin art.

Laudisi Enterprises, by the way, has a network of shops in it’s A-Z distribution tobacco and cigar shops across the nation. Just so you know. Ahem.

Jeremy Reeves, C&D’s head blender and tobacco maestro, says the sky’s the limit, maybe even the stratosphere and beyond. The company, he says, “will continue growing as long as pipe smokers want our products. We keep trying to find our limits.”

With C&D’s Small Batch production with uniquely sourced tobaccos, there isn’t likely to be a retraction of growth. Just sayin.’

Take, for example, Jeremy’s and C&D’s latest Small Batch, Steamworks Small Batch, released on Aug. 22, and sold out within hours, if not minutes. Little wonder.

The website defines it as a “unique Virginia/Oriental/Perique flake (that) utilizes two proprietary stoving processes and some of the rarest tobacco varietals in the world.

“A study in flue-cured leaf, Steamworks presents six top-tier, Old Belt Virginia grades — ranging from dark Mahogany to brighter Lemon/Orange — in unstoved, partially steamed, and blackened formats, resulting in a deep, natural sweetness and mature flavor right out of the tin.

“Elevating that flue-cured foundation is a selection of exceptionally rare 2005 Black Sea Sokhoum, 2005 Izmir, and 2006 Katerini Oriental grades, as well as a modest portion of pure 31 Farms Perique — grown, harvested, and fermented at the Roussel family farm in St. James Parish.”

Makes your mouth water, right? You had to be quick on the draw to nail this latest C&D Small Batch. It disappeared in a flash.

Of course, your erstwhile Pundit was quick on the draw, doncha know! The Pundit works on the dictum given to him long ago by his first city editor, the beloved Arthur Cobb in Pensacola, Fla., at the old Pensacola News-Journal.

“First in, last out.” That’s been a powerful journalistic engine driving the Pundit.

So, snagged four tins, two to puff, and two to cellar.

And now a Pipe Smoker of the Past:

Billy Martin: Born on May 16, 1928, in Berkeley, Calif., and died on Dec. 25, 1989, in Johnson City, N.Y.

Martin managed the New York Yankees five separate times between 1975 and 1988. In that span, he and the Yankees won the 1977 World Series title.

And now from the Baseball Almanac, a Martin quote: “All I know is (as a Yankees Manager), I pass people on the street these days, and they don’t know whether to say hello or to say good-bye.”

Martin’s choice of tobacco, as most know, was Captain Black. He even made television commercials and magazine advertising for the blend.

So, it is somehow fitting that we end this yarn with a couple of quotes from the great baseball Zen master, Yogi Berra. His baseball records are still in play for today’s sluggers.

Yogi played as a youngster for the famed New York Yankees (please, hold the boos), managed them for a while, and even did a stint managing crosstown rival, New York Mets.

My two favorite Yogisms: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

And one of his most inciteful philosophical thoughts for all times: You can observe a lot by watching.

Steamworks, the latest Small Batch blend from Cornell & Diehl, is a delight in the pipe. (Photo: Fred Brown)
Steamworks, the latest Small Batch blend from Cornell & Diehl, is a delight in the pipe. (Photo: Fred Brown)

Comments are closed