Q&A with Steve “Palpatine” Payne

He has perhaps the coolest nickname of anyone in the HRL. He is the only player in the league who upon being sighted by several others, can induce the same to erupt into the cadence of one of John Williams' best known compositions. The Imperial Death March. Duh duh duh duh duhduh duh duhduh. Or something like that. He is 57 year old Steve Payne. Since his arrival in the league back in year 3, he has struck fear into his opposition thanks to one of the nastiest wiffle arsenals ever seen in this league. His Palpatine (as in Emperor Palpatine) nickname seems so appropriate - but then again so does his actual last name. palpyPayne - as in batting pain. Riser and slider are devastating. He is also part of one of the few multi generational tandems in this league. The difference is that it seems in this case the elder Payne learned the grips from his son Brian but then harnessed his own force to make them his own. Hailing from Nebraska, he possesses a reserved calm and humble attitude that is refreshing in these days of prima donna wifflers who call themselves "The Man" or The Legend" or "40".

Senor Payne is a computer programmer for Unisys Corp who has lived in Roseville MN since 1980. Perhaps some of his unique wiffle powers can be attribted to his background in psychology. He graduated with an undergrad degree in psychology from Hastings College and also studied in a Phd program in experimental psychology at the University of Nebraska. He is married with two kids - both of whom you likely have either seen or struck out against at the wiffle rink.  Baseball was the thing more than wiffle ball when he was growing up in the heartland.  It wasn't until the summer of 05 when Brian and Zack got him onboard to practice for the upcoming W4W tourney.  It appears that the practice paid off as they went on to become perennial champs.  

With a career record of 25-3 and a 1.37 ERA and 0.73 WHIP and All Star Game accolades, it is sufficient to say that he is dominant. He can also swing the bat and gives his team quality ABs all the time.  The biggest concern on the minds of wiffleballers everywhere is how good he might become when he can retire from his job and devote his full attention and powers to wiffle ball training. What if he develops a knuckle-curve? The possibilities are endless. Without further ado, here is Palpatine's Side of Cheese.  

Q: Toughest batter you have faced and toughest pitcher you have faced?
A: Batters (2007 Doc, Edgar 2008 Martini).  Pitcher (“The Man” 2006 and 2008)  

Q: Do you really control the force?
A: No, but I’m lucky a lot.  

Q: If you had to play on a different HRL team who would you pick?
A: My favorite teams are the Indians, Expos, Royals, and Red Sox.  Not sure I’d fit very well with those teams. I could see myself playing with the Pirates, Cardinals or the Royals assuming the Royals lost some players.  The Padres series was fun too. I think I would enjoy playing with the Padres as soon as they move to Eagan.

Q: Favorite baseball player and why?
A: Mickey Mantle because he was the best player on the best team when I was 7 and my folks bought me an official Mickey Mantle 28” bat in Chicago. We saw the Yankees play the White Sox at Comiskey. My brother and I were both wearing our Yankees t-shirts proudly. As an adult it’s got to be Puck. I loved his attitude and how hard he played just because he loved it so much. Besides I was at game 6 on my 41st birthday with Marilyn when he made “the catch” and hit “the home run”.  I was at game 7 with Brian (he was 9) when the Twins clinched the series. Walking to the car after the game Brian was high fiving people we passed. I couldn’t believe how high he was jumping to reach guys upraised hands.  Marilyn and I also celebrated our 12th anniversary at one of the early games of the ’91 WS.

Q: Most embarrassing HRL moment?
A: I don’t remember the specifics (a blessing of age) but I’ve had some pretty embarrassing pickoffs perpetrated upon me. I’m sure Brian has a good story.

Q: Most proud HRL moment?
A: 2008 WS game 7 watching Brian pitch an amazing game and then get the walkoff HR – too clutch.  2008 All Star Game. 2007 WS game 6 pitching the win and hitting 2 HRs.

Q: How fast do you think you could throw a wiffle ball?
A: I was clocked at 70 on one pitch but I think the radar guns are generous.

Q: Favorite 3 movies of all time?
A: Star Wars, Shawshank Redemption, The Lord of the Rings movies, especially Return of the King.

Q: Stuck on a desert island and can pick 3 foods to have unlimited access to - what are they?
A: Alaskan King Crab, strawberries, Black & Green’s Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Q: Favorite 3 bands or musicians?
A: Beatles, Elton John, Charlie Musselwhite, and a host of mid 60’s to early 70’s bands.

Q: Miracle Whip or Mayo?
A: Mayo

Q: Who is your favorite Dave?
A: Davy Crockett – big hero of mine when I was little. Wore out a record player playing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” over and over again.  I think my Dad still has that record.

Q: 3 things that should go away?
A: George Bush, Reality Shows, radar guns

Q: How many states have you been to?
A: At least 44

Q: How many countries?
A: 7 (US, Canada, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Italy)

Q: Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?
A: Christina Aguilera

Q: Fave actor?
A: Denzel Washington

Q: Fave actress?
A: Julia Roberts

Q: Fave 3 TV shows of all time?
A: MASH, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and House

Q: Favorite kind of cheese?
A: Jarlsberg

Q: Did you ever spank Spoon when he was younger?
A: No.

Q: How many years do you see yourself dominating this league?
A: I’d like to keep playing until it’s not fun anymore (can that happen?). I need to add a pitch and then I’m good for a few years as long as I don’t start breaking down. Batting is getting tougher – might have to try glasses or contacts – it worked for Edgar. I don’t feel like the Reds dominated in the WS or in our division. We won with some very strong performances but the Red Sox had one hand on the Cup and the Royals had us down in the first playoff series. Spoon had a dominant Series hitting and pitching but so did Tuggy and “The Man” certainly pitched Zack and I to a stand off. Dr. Jesus, Lil’ Randall, and Martini all had their hands in Red Sox wins.

Q: Biggest hero?
A: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Q: Magazine subscriptions?
A: AARP (none that I pay for), I bought a Fantasy Football Magazine.

Q: Fave 3 beverages?
A: Sprecher Root Beer float, java chip (Caribou or Starbucks), Typhoo Tea

Q: Do you wear cologne?
A: No.

Finish this sentence: When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was:   pee.

Q: Any pets?
A: I had a Scotch Terrier / Poodle mix growing up. He loved to grab a towel you were waving around for him and he wouldn’t let go. I had to swing him in circles as fast I could to get him off. He’d fly 10 or 15 feet and be back on the towel before my head would clear enough to know what happened. Rachel has a white cat - Colleges don’t let cats live in the dorm so I’m a pet sitter.

Q: Favorite animal?
A: Dogs

Word associations:
Nasty: pitch______;
meek: inherit_______;
moist:  Dennys Reyes ____;
Thursday: wiffles_______;
honorable: mention_________;
Cota: fast_____

Q: Best restaurant in Twin Cities?
A: Taste of India, Chiang Mai Thai, the Walleye sandwich at the Wild Onion

Q: Do you sing in the shower?
A: Sometimes

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