Bench Coach Jerry Narron’s Call to the Pen
Every night, we post a photo of the Brewers lineup card on social media and each night, almost without fail, the questions and comments will roll in:
The answer, for those of you who don’t know, is Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron.
Recently, I sat down with Jerry to learn a little bit more about his craft and how he got started.
“I became a big-league coach with the Orioles in 1993. That was one of my jobs then, writing out the lineup cards, and I tried to do it the best I could. I tried different pens and my sister had a calligraphy pen. I grabbed that and it looked pretty good, so I stuck with it,” Jerry told me.
Jerry’s completely self-taught. He says he uses Sheaffer pens and the first one he bought had a little pamphlet that came with it.
“I just kind of looked at it and freelanced it,” Jerry said.
In addition to beautiful penmanship, the lineup cards have their own special color scheme and shorthand as well.
Many ask what the colors mean. It’s simple. Right-handers are in black. Lefties are in red. Switch-hitters are in green. Sometimes, for special occasions, he’ll also add an original flair, like red, white and blue for Fourth of July.
Jerry also explained how he treats the available players.
“I leave out the vowels on the guys that aren’t starting that night, unless there’s someone who has a good chance to make the Hall of Fame. If they do, then I’ll put their whole name on there. Last year, for example, Derek Jeter came in and didn’t start, so I put in J-E-T-E-R under extra guys. Same with Chipper Jones. When he was here, I gave him C. Jones in there instead of just the consonants.”
If there are players from Japan or China, Jerry will ask for those names to be written out for him and he’ll copy the characters in his calligraphy
“It started with Ichiro,” Jerry said.
The lineup cards have become treasured items for players and fans alike.
“Over the years, if someone does anything at all, even an opponent, if it’s their Major League debut or what have you, I send the card over. If it’s a first Major League win—our guy or their guy, I’ll give it to the pitcher. I try to make sure that not only our guys, but the other team, that their guys get them, too.”
Just this past Friday night for example, Kyle Lohse secured a 10-4 win against the Minnesota Twins to become the 14th pitcher in MLB history to beat all 30 active franchises–a huge milestone for sure.
“It’s an accomplishment I’m proud of,” Kyle said. “I’ve been around and that proves I’ve had some longevity and done some things in this game. So I’ll go home happy about that.”
Kyle also went home with the ball from the last out of that game, as well as the lineup card.
“I’m going to get it framed,” Kyle told me. “The handwriting makes it extra-cool, like a work of art.”
If that night’s card isn’t given away as a memento, typically fans are able to purchase them through Brewers Authentics, as game-used merchandise. I’ve even purchased one in the past. Right after my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I gave him a special blue lineup card from the Father’s Day’s day game. Like Kyle said–that it had Jerry’s beautiful penmanship on it made it all the more special and frameable as a work of art.
Jerry’s lineup cards have even garnered attention from the President of the United States.
On April 6, 2006, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch on Opening Day in Cincinnati. At the time, Jerry was the manager for the Cincinnati Reds.
“President Bush had been the owner when I was with the Rangers, so he knew me and knew about my lineup cards,” Jerry explained. “He saw my lineup card, signed it and personalized it to me—without my even knowing it, so that was great.”
As you’d expect, Jerry tells me that he’s been asked to address Christmas cards and that type of thing from time to time and gladly he obliges. It’s become a hobby for him and it is obvious that he takes great pride in his work.
We know we’re lucky to have a talent like Jerry so we’re going to celebrate him. We’re giving you the chance to win tickets to a game where you’ll have the opportunity to meet Jerry, have him write out a lineup card for you, which you’ll get to take home along with one of his very own calligraphy pens.
All you have to do is follow us on Twitter (@Brewers) and retweet our designated tweet to enter.