Having played many years of whatever “prime” of my softball run with a team never allowed to play much in Kenosha, I was lucky enough to play for Jerry Rasmussen a whole bunch of times. The standing offer was essentially “if you guys aren’t playing for Mike (Cenni), then I’ll hang a shingle on ya”. I personally had no clue what “hanging a shingle” was and only remember hearing it from Raz and the great Nick Scavone. I guess it was “to sponsor your softball team for the weekend”. Ya see, Raz was a pretty shrewd businessman and he knew the $150 bucks or whatever the cost was would likely come back to him with interest on that Sunday afternoon, and he was right in that assessment virtually every time.
The tournament in question does not stand out as anything special. I think it was at Water Hole and I know we won going undefeated. I did not even have a Brat Stop t-shirt…never did. We had a few beers inside Water Hole and headed to The Brat. It was getting later in the day and it was a typical crowd for an early Sunday evening in the summer. A handful of people here and there, most kinda huddled near the middle where the bar changes direction. Our group came in and whomever was in charge that day laid probably 5 or 6 hundred bucks on the bar…prize money for winning the tournament. I think that cash laid there for most of the first hour.
After several rounds, Raz picked up that pile of cash, counted out $300 bucks and said, “take that back to Mike”. And then our group of about 14 or 15 by then (including folks who were already there when we got there) started to ramp it up. I personally was in my mid 20’s and probably had $10 bucks in my pocket but that really didn’t seem to matter. At no point was any of the next 3 or 4 hours about money, or getting his cash back or anything other than celebrating at The Brat Stop. And then the stories started with Raz holding court. Stories of previous weekends with a few different versions of the team I was playing with and all of the stories ended up right back at that 20 square foot area we were hanging out in that night.
I very much enjoyed playing for The Brat Stop and for Jerry Rasmussen. Being the creature of habit that I am, I wore my Cenni’s jacket for most of the next 5 or 6 years and EVERY time I would wear that jacket into the Brat Stop, Raz would buy me a beer. I’m quite certain he would have struggled to remember my first name; I was very much a bit player in our theater of the absurd featuring characters like Jim Nehls and Jerry Kalbfell and Dave Germain. It didn’t matter, he knew I was one of his guys and I always got a beer from the man….always. The Brat Stop is a LEGENARY place as has been stated emphatically for decades. Jerry Rasmussen was a legendary owner and in my opinion, the sign could have easily read, “The Legendary Jerry Rasmussen at the Legendary Brat Stop!”