Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Story of the BRASS Bucket

At risk of making Daniel wistful for possessing the bucket that he came within a few innings of winning earlier this month, here is the story of The Old BRASS Bucket for the uninitiated or those new to the league

It is an immigrant story really.

In the late 19th Century, my great grandfather left the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany with his family for the prospect of a better life in America. Gustave Bucher worked the land in Germany as a farm laborer and this was all he knew. But he dreamed of more. He dreamed of owning his own farm one day and a better life for his family.

So he came to America.

He and his family settled in a small town in central Illinois whose rich earth reminded him of home. My grandmother was born there within the first year and was the first generation of my family to be an American citizen.

The brass bucket that we use for a trophy is also from the 19th Century. It is a farm vessel that is very like a bucket that my grandmother used to keep in her garage as a keepsake of the time of her youth. Like most farm vessels, hers was not ornamental as it had been constantly in use serving a multitude of needs. My grandmother said they used their bucket to haul water from the well, to take the table scraps out to the hogs to eat, to gather and tote feed corn for the chickens and bring back the eggs they had laid, even to wash dishes, babies and soak their feet.

Her bucket was well-worn and was a symbol of the story of her family's immigration and of the roots they put down in midwestern American soil.

Our bucket, hand made as hers was, is more ornamental and ceremonial in nature. Like my family, the BRASS League has midwestern American roots and our bucket, a symbol of those roots, is a traveling trophy which resides in the league champion's home for the year of their reign. Our bucket is filled with baseballs. Each league champion takes one of the baseballs and paints it or decorates it as they wish and places it on the heap, displaying it in their home and commemorating their championship, before conveying it to the next champion.

The Bucket is formally called the Thomas Taormina Trophy in honor of Tom's profound contributions to the formative years of BRASS, before his untimely passing.

What a neat coincidence that The Bucket will be in the same place as the BRASS gathering in southern Wisconsin, not too many miles from where my great-grandfather settled in the late 19th Century, starting a cycle of events that would eventually lead to me and to the BRASS League.

I'm sure Tim will have it polished and gleaming for all to see in July, as he hands it over to Kevin, this year's champ, a man who will be taking The Bucket back home with him for a fourth time.

And yes, Daniel, I think one could drink victory beer from it if one wanted to. I recommend choosing a dark German ale, something like Gustave would have enjoyed. ;)