The Gospel Truth

The Man with a Banana in his Ear | December 8, 2010

Where would be without the stories we tell?

I don’t know about you but I would find social interaction and even intellectual discussion far more difficult.

Years ago my wife encouraged me to write down some of my stories, since she has probably heard all of them.

Like my father before me who passed down a few of his favorite jokes–like the man with the banana in his ear, I want to use my blog to pass some entertaining, maybe even a few prophetic and moral truisms for your enjoyment.

** I still get a lot of flack about my family name.  I taught an accredited baseball History course at Maryville College in 1972-74.   I sent my final exam to radio host par excellence, Jack Carney.  He read the entire test on the air.  He even had the effrontery to call up, Hall of Fame broadcaster, Jack Buck and awaken him from his beauty sleep.

** When they asked him the five bonus questions, he only could answer two of them.  How many no-hitters did Sandy Koufax have  (4) what was Ty Cobb’s lifetime average?  (.366)  Buck understandably  got a little irritated and made the comment about my name.  The Borscht comment— you know Russian beat soup.

** I have been hearing that silliness since the first grade.  In fact, my wife and I went to the Russian Tea Room in New York, the place where they made the movie, Tootsie and I ordered some Borscht, hot I believe.  Borst’s are all switch-hitters. When I told the waitress, I was eating my name, she looked at me as you would a crazy person.

File:Borshch2.jpgSince the 1st grade!

** Actually, my name is not Russian but German.  The German dictionary reveals that Borst means bristle.  Well I have a dark and heavy beard.  Further research uncovered that it was bristle but that peculiar to a pig. I guess I come from a long line of swine herders.  The engineers at my radio station call me Willie Swine herder.

** In Dutch the name means, breast.  Hmmmmm, I have been called a boob before.

**  For years my wife has been telling me that her clan, the O’Rourkes, were of royal blood.  In 1997 we went to Brendan O’Rourke’s castle just outside the town, Sligo in Ireland and learned that indeed he was of royal stock.

In 1588 after the Spanish Armada sank off the Irish coast, some of the survivor swept up on the Sligo shores.  O’Rourke befriended them and gave them aid and comfort.  One of the officers went back to Spain and wrote a book about his adventures, telling how kind Brendan had been.  The book was read by Queen Elizabeth who sent her troops to Sligo, and took Brendan O’Rourke back to England in chains.  They took him to London, where the Queen cut of his head on Hyde Park.

** Of course, I have to tell my wife that while her family was royalty, with the exception of humorist, P.J. O’Rourke, they have done nothing much in five hundred years.  The Borsts, thanks to me, are on the way up.

** My wife also lauded over me that her family, when they died with their full senses.  Their minds were sharp but their bodies gave out, usually in their ninth decades.  My family lived as long but usually with diminished mental capacity.  But their bodies were in great shape until the end.

O'Rouke Family Crest from Ireland

** It took me six months, but I finally cam up with a proper response.  Her family never used their brains and my family simply wore their minds out.

** If I ever need a brain transplant, give me that of an O’Rourke, because it would surely be unused.

**I have been on the air for over twenty years.  I have the proverbial face for radio.  I really don’t like television.  Time is usually limited and the lights are too bright.  If you have the wrong tie, suit, or hairstyle, it distracts from what you are trying to say.

** The # 13.  When I was on the high school football team at Xavier in New York City, In the second of my three game career on the bench, Jim Harmon, our starting center, said I could help the team.  He had forgotten to bring his cup.

His cup…we are not talking coffee cup.  He’s is a fellow that would go to West Point, Vietnam as a captain, get a silver star for calling artillery on his over-run position and he forgets his cup.

Couldn’t remember his cup!

So I did the heroic thing, and I offered up my manhood protector and then went to the end of the bench and sat with my head down for the whole game, praying that the coach would not want me to make a bigger sacrifice for the unobtainable glory of the team.  Really all I had to show for my football career was a staph infection I got at football camp.

** At Holy Cross, I think the staph infection came back with a vengeance in the form of an ugly sebaceous cyst that covered half the right side of my face.  I was also eating two pizzas each weekend.

I went to the college infirmary and was examined by the doctor.  He had a cigarette hanging from his lip, a real seedy type that could have been an extra in a World War II movie.  He inserted some gauze in a small incision he made in my cheek.  He wanted it to drain onto the huge bandage he put on my face.

I was elated by his treatment and immediately ran up to the hill with a couple of guys to play touch football.  On the verrrrrry first play, the kick comes to me. The ball bounced once and hit me…SPLAT right in the huge bandage.  I was shaken; rushed back to the infirmary where the busty nurse…I will never forget her, her blouse was like four sizes too small— man did she yell at me!  The odd thing was that the cyst went completely away.

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Better than surgery!

** Over the years I have had about twenty similar cysts.  One of them was really infected and on the same side of my face that took the football hit years before.  Before my facial surgery, I asked the doctor if he could just hit me in the face with a football.  He said it was not standard medical practice.  But it works!

** Good thing I married a nurse. While I was in graduate school I dislocated my left shoulder  three times, separating the humerus from the—other bone.  There was nothing humorous about this injury.  My brother-in-law took me to the emergency room the 1st time. I was afraid they would cut off my $6 football jersey, New York Giants vintage. But the doctor slid it back in place.  I found out later that because of my stupid, you ain’t Pete Rose, slide, we had lost the game. After the 3rd time, I had it fixed.

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Not How I did it

** A few years later, I was playing tennis in the park with the same brother-in-law and he was killing me.  I chased a forehand to my right and it had such English and spin on it that it bounced right toward my forehead.  Nobody yelled fore. I maneuvered my club…I mean my racket to the point that I hit myself directly over my left or right eye.

It had to be my right because the scar over my left eye is another story.  Well, of course blood, my blood starts gushing.  He rushes me home, yells something to his sister and then rushes me to the same hospital that he had taken me to the last time.

** Well, we sit around for a long time, until some pretty young nurse comes out to get the process rolling.  She does her paper work while I sat there in pain and starts to leave.  I did not know what was going to happen next, so I yelled to her:  “Will I see you again?”  She clears her throat and says emphatically “NO!”  I said, “I don’t mean socially.  I just want to know what is going to happen next!”

As Jimmy Durante used to say I have a million of them…look for my next installment some time in the future.

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My dad's best joke!



  1. Another great post, Pop.

    Comment by Matt — December 8, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

  2. BB, you are getting better with age…..great stories.

    Comment by Jim Vondras — December 10, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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