Foreword by Tony Livernois
I watched along with the rest of the nation as the horrors unfolded in the tiny baseball town of Santa Lechuga, California. Who could have imagined that something as innocent as a bobblehead doll could invoke such terror? Who could have imagined that this apparently harmless souvenir would become the centerpiece at this nation’s feast of dread, destruction, and doom?
Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine it at all because one man – determined to tell the rest of the world – brought the entire miserable story to life. At great personal sacrifice, Pedregoso Rios turned his pointless little rumor column about a fictional fantasy baseball league into the best single account of the greatest single story of 2001.
Today, you would be hard-pressed to find an American unfamiliar with the events that transpired in Santa Lechuga. With CNN endlessly showing those brutal video loops of Endive Stadium being obliterated, with around-the-clock coverage by other major news networks, and with the aftermath being dissected by newshounds like a frog in a high school biology class, it’s important to remember that Pedregoso was reporting this story a month before the national press. It is Pedregoso that deserves credit for capturing in vivid detail the story that left an indelible mark on all of humanity.
For the first time ever, Pedregoso has compiled all of his words describing the bobblehead horrors at Endive. From the innocuous announcement that a bobblehead was in the works to the chilling premonitions that something was amiss … from the frivolous intentions of incompetent-but-mostly-harmless baseball executives to the excruciating and torturous deaths in an unsuspecting public … from a harmless podunk baseball promotion to a bloody wrath that brought a nation to its knees … Pedregoso Rios raids his voluminous archives to present this stunning, ridiculously-important historic account of the horrors at Endive as they unfolded.
Remarkably, there are no heroes in this story. Unlike the other big story this year – known simply as “Nine-Eleven” – the Endive Stadium events catapulted not a single person into a valiant spotlight. Instead, Pedregoso’s tireless reporting exposes the small-minded ineptitude of boneheaded knuckleheads trying to eke out a pathetic living while leaving a wake of agony and grief behind them. Pedregoso uncovered the extraordinary greed of petty collectors who didn’t realize that their greed would buy nothing but their own deaths. Most amazingly, Pedregoso revealed the astonishing evil of the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce, a collectible created by a perpetually troubled artist. It’s a story that had to be told. On behalf of the world, I thank Pedregoso Rios for telling it.
September 9, 2001: Monos to Welcome 75,000th Visitor
It appears that the Pepino Monos will surpass the 75,000 mark in total attendance for the 2001 season later this week and rumor has it that they will celebrate the occasion in typical Lechugan fashion. A source in the know says that Monos publicist and event coordinator Pepe Santiago has commissioned a special Bobblehead-of-Lettuce doll to give to the first 350 fans that arrive at Endive Stadium, the newly opened ballpark at Valle del Mono con Grande El Pepino.
September 17, 2001: SLPL Postpones Games
Due to the unfortunate events of the last week, the SLPL had to postpone several games. All games have been rescheduled for early October. Pedregoso hopes you and yours are doing well.
Bobblehead Giveaway Turns Violent
Because of the postponed games, last week's planned celebrations to mark the Pepino Monos' 75,000th visitor didn't take place until Monday night. Unfortunately, sources say that the Monos are now going to fire publicist and event coordinator Pepe Santiago after his planned celebrations turned violent. While the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce giveaway drew the largest crowd of the season at 1031, only 350 fans received the souvenir. Unfortunately, Monday night was also "5-Cent-Tequila-Shooter-Night" at Endive Stadium, which led to 2nd-, 4th-, and 5th-inning riots that spilled onto the field as drunken fans fought to steal the bobbleheads from the "lucky" 350 visitors. Though there were no serious injuries, area hospitals were rumored to be filled with hundreds of fans with bloody faces, broken bones, and alcohol poisoning. The game was forfeited following the 5th inning brawl. Santiago could not be reached for comment.
Bobblehead Inspired by Gamble
Rumors are that artist Jorge Ruiz used former Indians outfielder Oscar Gamble as his inspiration for the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce. It’s easy to see why this rumor is likely true.
“Best Seat in the House” Really the Best Seat In the House
Carmen Sandoval Esperanza Martinez didn't let the riots ruin her evening. Shortly after the gates opened and hours before the riots started, Carmen was deemed the Pepino's 75,000th fan, given a beautiful bouquet of leafy greens, and asked to throw out the ceremonial first head of lettuce. "I was so excited," Carmen said, "that I couldn't even get a grip on the head. So, I had to just kinda roll it up to home plate like a bowling ball." Carmen also got to sit in the "Best Seat in the House" near the centerfield bleachers, thereby protecting her from the brawls that lead to the forfeiture. Carmen said, "It really was the 'Best Seat in the House!' I was, like, less than six feet away from [pitching coach Stan] Hugo when all those fans finally caught up to him down at the warning track and tackled him in front of the centerfield gate!" From his hospital bed, where he's in stable condition, Hugo said "I don't know why the were chasing me. I didn't even get a bobblehead!"
September 21, 2001: Bobbleheads on eBay
The "Endive Stadium Riots of 2001" have given Jorge Ruiz's Bobblehead-of-Lettuce instant national notoriety -- and instant value. A quick search of eBay indicates that there are an astonishing 336 Bobblehead-of-Lettuce dolls up for auction, each with more than 25 bids with no bid lower than $192. The remaining 14 bobbleheads of the 350 commissioned were apparently broken during the brawls.
Another Way to Increase the Value of an Artist's Work
Jorge Ruiz's death Friday night, an apparent suicide, should drive the price of the bobbleheads even higher. Police investigators would not comment about the artist's death; however, a close friend tells Pedregoso that Ruiz was distraught that former Indians outfielder Oscar Gamble was suing him for using Gamble's likeness without permission. Rumors swirl about the exact cause of death, though insiders say that Medical Examiner Blanca Diaz spent over 16 hours recovering Ruiz's remains, which were spread randomly over two acres of land behind a driverless Allis-Chalmers thresher found crashed in a ditch on the Ruiz family farm. In lieu of flowers, the Ruiz family has requested that donations be made in Ruiz's name to the Witloof-Chicory Foundation for Aspiring Artists located in Santa Lechuga.
September 28, 2001: Totally Surreal
It's an understatement to say that Thursday night's pre-game memorial service for artist Jorge Ruiz, the creator of the now infamous Bobblehead-of-Lettuce, was surreal. As Ruiz's casket was being rolled between the pitcher's mound and home plate, Crispy-the-Endive-Stadium-Mascot sucker-punched SLPL umpire Hector Canche over what Crispy later called "a bad judgment call" during the Pepino Monos' last home stand. The scuffle triggered several inexplicable-though-apparently-unrelated events throughout the stadium. Within a minute of the sucker-punch, an Endive Stadium usher was seen falling head-over-heels down Aisle 6; a concessionaire got her arm stuck up to the elbow in the cotton candy machine; the play-by-play man broadcasting the game for KPIG radio began speaking in tongues; a ticket-taker dropped dead from an apparent heart attack; the 22-kid choral group from the Witloof-Chicory Foundation for Aspiring Artists -- on hand to sing the National Anthem -- fainted in unison; a man who looked like Monos coach Stan Hugo was seen streaking up Aisle 2; an effigy of former Indian Oscar Gamble touched off a fire that brought down the left-field bleachers; the cart used to drag the infield rolled-over like an SUV as it rounded second base; the sound man played Madonna's "Like a Virgin" on the PA; and, finally, Ruiz's casket tumbled off the gurney, splattering remains past third base. Normalcy was restored only after Santa Lechuga Mayor Rube Furrow lead a rousing-though-off-key rendition of "We Shall Overcome" while coaches and players from both teams helped clean up the field. Besides the ticket-taker's death, there were no serious injuries reported.
On Wednesday, the lowest winning bid for any of the 336 bobbleheads available on eBay was $412. Bids are expected to rise after Thursday night's debacle at Endive Stadium.
Given the horrible events associated with the Bobblehead-of-Lettuce, U.S. airlines have banned the bobblehead from all domestic flights. "That thing's got some seriously bad mojo on it," said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. "It's been the cause of major riots, the death of it's creator, and whatever the hell it was that happened Thursday night at Endive. With the problems our airlines are facing, there's absolutely no reason to invite even more horror on the traveling public by letting people bring those bobbleheads on a plane."
eBay Update, Part II
The value of the bobbleheads on eBay is expected to soar even higher after Mineta's comments.
October 5, 2001: eBay Halts Bobblehead Auctions
eBay announced yesterday that it is halting all current and future auctions for the notorious Bobblehead-of-Lettuce doll after it was disclosed that the first 26 "winners" had died in violent and bizarre accidents shortly after receiving the souvenir. Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay said, "At a time when eBay is helping the victims and families of September 11's horrific terrorist attacks with it's 'Auction for America', it's unacceptable for us to be associated with an object that is the direct cause of so much death and destruction." Among the dead are: Natty Whitman, a 48-year-old North Carolina bobblehead collector, died after falling in front of the UPS truck that had just delivered the bobblehead to his home; Skeet Jones, an 84-year-old retired plumber from Texas who intended to give the bobblehead to his great-grandson, somehow choked on the bubble wrap in which the bobblehead was packaged; and, Melvin "Mel" Otterman, a 56-year-old dairy farmer from Vermont, was stampeded to death by dairy cows shortly after opening the bobblehead package in the dairy where he had just received it. Surprisingly, none of the 26 bobbleheads were damaged in any of the accidents.
Pepe Santiago, who has somehow kept his job as events coordinator for the Pepino Monos in spite of the horrors he has inflicted on visitors to Endive Stadium, may be getting one last chance to redeem himself. After hearing that eBay was halting bobblehead auctions, Santiago announced that Endive Stadium would host "Bobblehead Demolition" between games of Saturday's doubleheader. Owners and families of the remaining bobbleheads will be admitted to Endive Stadium for free. The bobbleheads will be piled on top of explosives in centerfield, then blown-up. Santa Lechuga Mayor Rube Santiago said, "It's a brilliant promotion. We can bring fans out for some great baseball during the final weekend home stand -- and we can also rid the world of this nightmarish bobblehead." Tickets for Saturday's doubleheader sold out within 30 minutes of Santiago's announcement.
October 7, 2001: It Is Over at Endive Stadium
Endive Stadium, the recently-opened home of the Pepino Monos located just outside Santa Lechuga in Valle del Mono con Grande El Pepino (Valley of the Monkey with the Large Cucumber), was completely destroyed Saturday night. Details are sketchy, but eyewitness accounts indicate that the planned Bobblehead Demolition -- which was to take place between games of Saturday's doubleheader and was intended to eliminate the evil Bobblehead-of-Lettuce from the face of the earth -- lead to Endive Stadium's destruction. According to one account, a fan in attendance recognized the person in charge of blowing up the bobbleheads as Donald Elbert, the notorious firebug that is said to have inspired Stephen King's Trashcan Man in his apocalyptic book, "The Stand". As word spread throughout the stadium during the first game that Elbert was in charge, fans left the stadium en masse. Immediately after the first game was over, players, coaches, umpires, and stadium employees were evacuated while Elbert was seen in centerfield piling bobbleheads on top of the explosives. Some witness accounts indicate that shortly before the explosion, Crispy-the-Endive-Stadium-Mascot and events coordinator Pepe Santiago were seen arguing with Elbert, likely pleading with him to not set off the explosives. Besides completely leveling the stadium, the explosion shattered windows in neighboring Santa Lechuga. Elbert, Santiago, and Crispy are the only known casualties. The Pepino Monos will play all their home playoff games at Santa Lechuga High School's Stalkers Field. There's no word on whether the Pepino Monos will rebuild Endive Stadium. It is also not known how many of the remaining 336 bobbleheads were destroyed in the explosion.
October 8, 2001: Endive Stadium Update
Though Saturday night's explosion knocked down every stadium building and left a 20-foot crater at Endive Stadium (see October 7 update), reports are that all 336 Bobblehead-of-Lettuce dolls survived Saturday night's explosion without so much as a single scratch. Streets and sanitation workers were seen scouring the former stadium early Monday morning, loading the unblemished bobbleheads into dump trucks. Rumors are that the bobbleheads were unceremoniously dumped into the Aroyo Loco River from the Bud Antle Romaine Bridge just east of Santa Lechuga.
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