CM: How did you come to be associated with the Milkmen?
JW: One of the things that made me sort of famous or heightened the notoriety at the time was just my naivete. The press would ask me what I did last night, and I would just tell them, “I went to see this band.” Nowadays, the players just give these pat answers. I was just totally honest because I was stupid. I was trying to be myself. I wasn’t trying to be something macho. People didn’t get to know me. I was just labeled as this strange weirdo. Nobody really looked at the Milkmen to see that there was some wit and intelligence behind what they were doing. They sang songs about Charles Nelson Reilly. I think a lot of people were into alternative music back then. I just had a big mouth. I remember seeing R.E.M. in ‘82 or ‘83 and the guys on the team would say, “You’re weird,” because they were listening to K.C. and the Sunshine Band. It wasn’t that I was listening to the Dead Milkmen so much at the time, it was the fact that people loved their name. People would say, “You’re the guy who likes the Dead something something.” It just got to the point where I was associated with them.
CM: Was it the press or was it baseball fans that made the connection between you and the band?
JW: It was the press first, and then the fans. People would see me walking down the street and they’d start yelling, “Dead Milkmen!” at me. What do you say to someone who yells “Dead Milkmen!” at you across a street? I was just having fun and being myself, but, it really hurt me career-wise.
CM: Do you mean that whole thing actually had an affect on your career?
JW: Well, it sure didn’t help to prolong my career. Especially when the Bud Seligs of the world are running the show. Being labeled as a weirdo by management is not very good. It was a double-edged sword. I had a Milkmen album sleeve hanging in my locker that Rodney had signed “Satan lives” or something like that. You wouldn’t believe the lectures I got for that from my peers.
The great “Chinmusic” on the connection between the Dead Milkmen and late-80’s Tigers infielder Jim Walewander.