Friday, June 26, 2009


Farrah Fawcett, 62, died Thursday morning at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica. Fawcett played Jill Munroe in the original cast of the 1970s TV show Charlie's Angels. Though her death is tragic and heart-rending, it does bring back many happy memories of Fawcett. The show made her a star and she briefly became America's hottest pin-up; a famous poster of her wearing a red swimsuit plus her lush mane of blonde hair sold a reported 12 million copies.

Although not a huge fan of the show, I will admit to having owned a copy of that poster. Being an eighteen-year-old male at the time, it somehow seemed appropriate. The thing is that I am not really sure whether or not I had a crush on Miss Fawcett. However there were other women that I definitely did have a crush on.

Thinking back, there were quite a few ladies that I was infatuated with as I grew up, some to the point of obsession. Here is a list of the members of the fairer sex that I had a short-lived passion for.

The first one that comes to mind is Karen Valentine. She is best known for her role as schoolteacher "Alice Johnson" in the TV series Room 222. The only teacher I had that was even close to her was Miss Miller at Lance Junior High.

Julie Newmar was another early crush. Her most famous role is Catwoman in the Batman television series. It just might have been the costume…

Eve Plumb is best known for her portrayal of Jan Brady in the television sitcom The Brady Bunch from 1969–74. Jan, Jan, Jan!

Dawn Wells is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on the sitcom Gilligan's Island from 1964 until 1967. Ginger was too obvious for me.

There was a strict obsession with Dorothy Hamill the figure skater. She is the 1976 Olympic champion. I gladly paid the library fine when I didn’t return the Sports Illustrated magazine featuring Hamill on the cover.

Connie Needham is best known for her role as Elizabeth Bradford on the television series Eight is Enough, which she played from 1977 to 1981.

I have had a long time crush on Elaine Joyce. She made guest appearances in such series as The Andy Griffith Show, The Red Skelton Show, Love, American Style, Kojak, Green Acres, and Hawaii Five-O, and was a regular panelist on Match Game. Thank goodness for the Game Show Network.

Another one of my crushes that shows up on GSN is Markie Post. She is best known for her 1985–1992 role as public defender Christine Sullivan on the NBC sitcom Night Court.

Valerie Landsburg is best known for her role as Doris Schwartz in the 1982 series Fame. There was some inexplicable quality about her that made me watch Fame religiously.

Crystal Bernard is best known as strong-willed airport lunch-counter operator Helen Chappel Hackett on the sitcom Wings from1990-1997. She also played K.C. Cunningham on Happy Days and Amy Tompkins on It’s a Living.

Another sitcom female that I had a crush on was Heather Langenkamp who played Marie Lubbock on the television series Just the Ten of Us from 1988 to 1990.

Lea Thompson is best known for her lead character in the 1990s NBC series Caroline in the City. We had better not discuss her role in All the Right Moves…

Another “athlete” that I had a soft spot for was Lace (Marisa Pare) who was an original American Gladiator and competed from 1989-1992. Once I saw those lacey red tights she had me.

Holly Hallstrom was one of the models ("Barker's Beauties") on the daytime game show The Price Is Right, from 1977–1995. I still despise Bob Barker for causing her dismissal.

Although Loni Anderson was the pin-up girl, I preferred Jan Smithers who portrayed Bailey Quarters on the television series WKRP in Cincinnati. I guess it’s like Ginger and Mary Ann. Go figure.

And finally there is Punky Bruiser (Marta Mendoza) who starred in A&E’s 2006 Rollergirls and has had roles in the films Death Proof and Grindhouse. I have never seen either of the movies, but I do own an autographed photo of Punky.

Rest in peace Farrah and thank you for bringing back some old and a few not-so-old fond memories. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

From Father To Son

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in America. It is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners for fathers, and family-oriented activities.

Over the years there have been many famous fathers in sports, men who are famous for fathering children that are renowned for one reason or another in their own right.

However, as is usually the case, there are those that are more interesting for being less than stellar fathers. These are the sports fathers that are somewhat infamous. Three of these notorious dads immediately come to mind.

Former pro basketball player Jason Caffey was arrested in 2007 for failure to pay child support in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He went to bankruptcy court seeking protection from creditors, who include eight women with whom he has had ten children.

Another NBA star is Shawn Kemp, who was ordered to pay an Ohio woman $20,000 a month in child support. The number of children that Kemp has reportedly fathered out of wedlock ranges from seven to thirteen.

And let’s not overlook baseball great Steve Garvey, nicknamed “The Father of Our Country” for all of his sexual affairs. After his playing days were over he starred in his own real life soap opera, "from here to paternity."

Don’t get me wrong. Not all sports papas are rotten, no-good womanizers. Many are famous are for offspring that went on to excel in sports.

In Major League Baseball there is the Boone family, grandfather Ray, his son Bob and grandkids Bret and Aaron. The most famous father-son pair is Bobby Bonds and his son Barry. Other father-son combos include Cecil and Prince Fielder, Yogi and Dale Berra, Felipe and Moises Alou, the Griffeys - Ken and Ken Jr. and finally, Cal Ripken and son Cal Jr.

Auto racing gives us many father-son duos; the Pettys, the Andrettis, the Allisons, the Jarretts and the Earnhardts just to name a few.

In hockey we have the Hulls, Bobby and his son Brett. And who can forget “Mr. Hockey”, Gordie Howe and his boys, Marty and Mark.

The NBA does have a father of note besides Caffey and Kemp. Hall of Famer Rick Barry who fathered John and Brent, both of which went on to have pro roundball careers.

Former NFL star Archie Manning is the proud daddy of two Super Bowl Champion quarterbacks, Peyton of the Indianapolis Colts and Eli of the New York football Giants.

Two fathers with sons that excelled in sports other than the ones they did are boxer Ken Norton and former Dallas Cowboy Calvin Hill. Norton’s son, Ken Jr., had a very successful NFL career with the Cowboy and the 49ers. Hill’s son, Grant won consecutive NCAA basketball championships at Duke before going on to a career in the NBA.

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the father-daughter couple of Muhammad and Laila Ali. He is the greatest boxer ever and she has made a name for herself in the same field and to an extent the world of entertainment.

Having announced more softball games than anybody else in the world, I feel it necessary to mention famous sportscaster pops and their kids. Harry Caray and son Skip were prominent baseball broadcasters and grandson/son Chip carries on the family legacy in the booth. Others that come to mind are Jack and Joe Buck, Marty and Thom Brennaman with Marv and Kenny Albert rounding things out.

All of these sport fathers are famous or infamous for what they and their children have accomplished. Despite the fact that this list is well researched and fairly all encompassing, it does not include my all-time favorite sport father.

My favorite sport father played both baseball and football while growing up. Unfortunately, an injury during a 1939 soccer game that required surgery to his elbow ended his promising athletic career.

This setback didn’t prevent this great father from serving in World War II and helping his wife raise four children. This distinguished man turns 84 years old next week and his sports activity is now limited to cheering for the Brewers, Packers and Badgers.

Who is my favorite sport father of all time? Emil Vagnoni. Happy Father’s Day Dad.

Joyful the sound, the word goes around
From father to son to son...

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are You Tuned In?

Have you ever noticed that people are always talking about what they watch on TV? At the water cooler we typically hear questions like “Did you see American Idol last night?” Can you believe what happened on CSI?” “Wasn’t Biggest Loser fantastic?” Americans are infatuated with television. According to Nielsen research, the average American has television usage habits that include watching television for more than 4 hours every day. What about radio?

How much do we listen to the radio? When I Googled “How much radio do Americans listen to?” I got responses like, “Did you mean: How much cardio do Americans listen to” and “Similar questions with percent Americans listen Rush Limbaugh radio”, but nothing to answer my question.

Well, I for one listen to the radio quite a bit. Turning it on is one of the first things that I do in the morning and setting the “sleep” feature on it is the last thing I do when I go to bed. Oh, I definitely turn it off periodically, but I do listen to plenty throughout the day.

Just how much and to what?

There are six presets for both the AM and the FM on my Bose Music System. The AM six are:

1. 540 ESPN - Sports
2. 670 WSCR - Sports
3. 720 WGN – News/ Talk
4. 1000 WMVP - Sports
5. 1050 WLIP – News/Talk
6. 1250 WSSP – Sports

Although I primarily listen to AM, I have set the FM presets as follows:

1. 93.1 WXRT - Adult-oriented Rock
2. 94.5 WLWK – Adult Hits
3. 96.5 WKLH – Classic Hits
4. 96.9 WWDV – Classic Hits
5. 97.3 WQBW – ‘80s Rock
6. 99.1 WMYX – Adult Contemporary

On a normal day I will wake up around 6:00 am and listen to Bill Lawrence’s “Wake-Up Call on WLIP as I go through my customary early morning routine. The show is a good source for what’s happening around Kenosha and Lawrence’s bubbly personality is contagious.

After 8:00 am, I might bounce around the dial a bit, but usually just turn the radio off. That could very well change tomorrow as Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel return to the “Score” at 9:00 am. It will be interesting to hear how this new show evolves. Spiegel has been a long time favorite and I am anxious for his return to the airwaves.

At 11:00 am it’s time for “The D-List” on 540 ESPN, featuring Drew Olson and Dan Needles. This program provides me with my Wisconsin sports fix. I usually listen until around 12:45 pm when “The Prince of Darkness” - Tom Haudricourt’s segment is finished.

The Bose is usually quiet until 6:00 pm when I tune into “The Game” with Bill Johnson and Steve Haywood, another fine show on 540 ESPN. You would have to search long and far to find two radio hosts that are more amusing than this duo. I laugh out loud every time they discuss the Brett Favre saga, especially when Johnson brings up the “Bugtussle Mafia”.

After 7:00 pm the radio rests once again until I turn in for the evening. As I drift off, what I listen to varies depending on the night of the week. On the weekend it will definitely be Nick Digilio on WGN. This is easily the funniest and most entertaining overnight show. To me, Digilio is better than any lullaby.

Besides Digilio’s shows, there are only two other shows that I make a point to listen to. On Saturday at 9:00 am the dial is tuned to 540 for their Fantasy Sports Weekly show. The trio of Frank Cossentino, Scott Wisniewski and Matt Salmon deliver plenty of sports knowledge while dispensing just enough wackiness to keep me listening.

The other weekend show that I am faithful to is the quirky TRadio show that airs on WLIP Saturdays from noon to 2:00 pm. Billed as Kenosha's radio rummage sale, it is much more than that. Host Jim Selovich, a comedian and actor, has been known to transform the show into a bawdy variety show. You never know what to expect.

Based on the above schedule, I listen to between 6 and 8 hours a day during the week. On weekends, it probably “drops off” to 4 hours each day. What can I say? Radio leaves you free to do so many other things as you listen. It’s the best of many worlds.

Better wrap it up, the Brewers game is over now and I have to tune into the Lowe’s Extra Innings show on 540 ESPN. Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

How Do You Define Underdog?

When you hear the word underdog, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps a social or ethnic group which experiences discrimination or persecution? Maybe you envision an athletic team that is pitted against an opponent that is perceived to be superior. Or does the cartoon canine superhero that fights “all who rob or plunder” pop into your head. How do you define underdog?

Here are some definitions of underdog that I found in two different dictionaries:

New Oxford American

• A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.
• A person who has little status in society.


• A loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest.
• A victim of injustice or persecution.

Based on the second definition from both of these sources, you can certainly see why some would think that certain social or ethnic groups fall into the classification of underdogs. No matter if there is a basis for their perception or not, I understand why people feel certain groups are indeed classic underdogs.

Athletic teams can easily be declared underdogs. The most recent Super Bowl featured an underdog, as did the 2008 World Series. Both the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays made their initial appearance in their respective sports’ championship showcase. Before the season, the odds on Tampa Bay winning the World Series was 150 to 1 and Pittsburgh was favored by a touchdown over the Cardinals in the Super Bowl. More classic underdogs.

You can’t blame anyone for thinking of the humble and loveable Shoeshine Boy turning into his alter ego Underdog. Yes, the caped canine was always there when Sweet Polly Purebred sang, “Oh where, oh where has my Underdog gone?” At that point, scoundrels like Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff were in a world of hurt! He was an underdog that was a classic.

Although a big fan of this animated character, my interpretation of underdog doesn’t include him. For me, an underdog is a conglomeration of all the dictionary definitions with a twist and is somebody that I pull for to succeed.

Let me give you a few examples of people that fall into the classification of my “non-classic” underdog,

Being a man of considerable girth, I have always rooted for the more portly athletes. I have always enjoyed seeing the “big guys” excel. I think of them as underdogs. That’s why Prince Fielder is presently my favorite baseball player. The slugging first baseman is currently listed at 5’11” and 268 pounds. He reportedly lost twenty pounds during the off-season to get to that poundage. Many baseball pundits have said this underdog’s weight will keep him from flourishing and that he is too fat to play at the major league level.

2009 marks the beginning of Fielder’s fourth full season in the big leagues. Out of the 543 games during that period he has played in all but a dozen but of them. He is the youngest player in baseball history to hit 50 home runs in a season. He has started in an All-Star game and going into today’s action was tied for the National League lead in RBI.

Another underdog who is a big guy is Rupert Boneham. This gentle giant was a contestant on Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: All-Stars. He was also the only player to win a $1 million prize without winning the show. Boneham used his winnings to buy a home, set up a college fund for his daughter, pay off his and his mother's debts, and start Rupert's Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping troubled teens, especially those mired in the juvenile court system.

Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer who came to international public attention after she appeared as a contestant on Britain's Got Talent, is another example. You see, not all of my favorite underdogs are large men. Some are dowdy women. I guess what they have in common is that they are “square pegs” in a world of “round holes”.

Hopefully I haven’t given you the impression that I support all underdogs. There are certain underdogs that I could never bring myself to cheer for. The picture below is a fine example that encompasses two such “non-classic” underdogs. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What The Hell…

Now that the disgusting taste of “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” is nearly out my mouth, I feel the need to write about something upbeat and fun. Something that doesn’t make me want to regurgitate and stick needles into my eyeballs, like that show did. With very little “quality” television to choose from, I have decided to go with my ace in the hole – Softball!

I can’t help it help it, having spent so much of my life associated with softball; I have a multitude of memories from which to draw from for columns. The trio that I posted prior to the series I did on that show should have made this abundantly evident to you.

Hopefully you found Happy 25th Anniversary Play Ball, A Tip of the Cap and What's in a Nickname? somewhat entertaining, because I am again writing about softball today.

Ironically, the inspiration for this piece came from a comment made Tuesday about my recent softball articles. Kenosha softball vet Larry Hess left many kind words on his son Steve’s facebook page. Included in Larry’s message was the following, “Paul your writings about softball "From the Booth" are really neat. Brings back many old memories.”

Larry’s message brought back one of my all-time favorite softball recollections. It involved an all-star game, a no-show, some shrinking violets and a gutsy volunteer.

This particular all-star game took place on a muggy July night in the mid ‘80s at Finney’s West. I was managing the Thursday League all-stars in the 8:00 pm showcase against our counterparts from the Tuesday League.

Around 7:45 pm I began nervously scouring the crowded parking lot, looking for my pitcher, Danny Llanas. Please keep in mind that I was always anxious waiting for my 400 Club players to show up for a regular league game. That was my normal disposition before a game. But this was the all-star game! Where was my pitcher?!?

Then I remembered. Llanas had a 14” City League game at 6:00 pm prior to the game at Finney’s West. Evidently, that 14” game went into “extra innings” and he was a no-show for the all-star game.

Now it was even closer to game time and the announcer was calling me to bring my lineup up to the booth. What was I going to do? I had no pitcher! I had the finest infielders and outfielders from Kenosha on my squad, but not one of them was a pitcher. I had to do something.

I gathered my crew together. I looked around and saw some of the best young athletes in Kenosha ever assembled in one group. I looked into their eyes, explained the situation and basically begged for one of them to step forward and take the mound and represent our league in the all-star game.

The response to my plea was silence.

I asked again, imploring one of these star jocks to toe the rubber, to do it for the team. I was greeted with a whole lot of downward glances and the shuffling of feet. I did hear a few mutters of, “Not me. Are you crazy?” and “Don’t look at me. No way.” Thanks guys. I was crestfallen.

Then when things couldn’t look any grimmer, I heard a voice from behind me utter, “What the hell…I’ll do it. It can’t be that hard.” I spun around as fast as a man my size could to see who was volunteering to bail the team and I out. Who did I see?

Super Sports infielder Larry Hess, that’s who.

Allow me to provide a quick thumbnail of Larry for those of you who don’t know him. At that point of his career, he could best be described as a “grizzled veteran”, typically sporting a three-day-old beard. He had 20 years more experience than most of these other all-stars and was no longer in top physical condition.

But the man loved to play softball and his level of play had earned him a spot on the Thursday League all-star team. None of those finely tuned young studs would “man-up” and he was the only one with enough guts to take the mound against the Tuesday League all-stars. Larry pitched a fine game and, although I do not remember the score, we won the game.

Thanks Larry for the nice compliments earlier. And thanks for saying, “What the hell…” twenty-five years ago. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Need A Real Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

After throwing away two hours last night and another sixty minutes tonight, I have decided to pull the plug on NBC’s “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” Over the course of the next few weeks, I will undoubtedly tune in from time to time, but tonight is the last time I will waste any significant time writing about this horrible excuse for a reality show.

I am through having this show offend my senses. The only thing that made me even think about continuing to write about this ignominious failure was when Stephen Baldwin was “baptizing” the insipid Spencer Pratt in the river.

Unfortunately Baldwin didn’t do us all a favor and drown the slimy creep. Perhaps Baldwin can be granted a “mulligan” for “Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice”, but this cannot be forgiven.

You’re Not Celebrities…Get Out of Here!

Seriously, the Pratt Brats had to be kidding when they declared themselves “Super Celebrities”. In the “Celebrity Spectrum” they barely rank ahead of Frangela, who I had never heard of prior to this show and Sanjaya who I vaguely remember from American Idol.

The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Patti Blagojevich. Enough said. Sure Janice Dickinson was a super model - Forty years ago! Now she is more famous for appearing on shows like this.

Stephen Baldwin’s main claim to fame is being one of the acting Baldwin brothers and turning to God. After his performance on this show he had better ask for forgiveness.

John Salley, former NBA star, is still somewhat relevant in that he is currently one of the hosts of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Fox Sports Network. Torrie Wilson’s “stardom” is a little dimmer since she no longer wrestles and hasn’t posed naked in quite a while.

For my money, the biggest celebrity on the show is Lou Diamond Phillips. Besides the considerable amount of films and TV shows that he has appeared in, he is also the subject of Punky Bruiser’s favorite joke.

Who is Punky Bruiser?

She was my favorite performer on A&E’s Rollergirls. Rollergirls was a thirteen episode 2006 A&E Network reality show examining the personalities, antics and motivations of the women involved with the Austin, Texas Lonestar Rollergirls roller derby league. She skated (and still does) with The Holy Rollers.

Now that, my friend, was quality reality television. So much so, I even purchased the entire series on DVD and the complex Punky Bruiser was the best! A hardnosed competitor, she would have kicked Heidi and Spencer’s collective ass twenty minutes into the first program. She is one tough cookie.

During Rollergirls we learned that outside of the rink, it was a different story for Punky. While roller derby had definitely boosted her confidence, she still felt a bit lost. She worked as waitress and had a part-time gig at a clothing store, but didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life.

One particular episode revealed that Punky had a secret desire to be a standup comic. That’s when I first heard her favorite joke. I chuckle just thinking about it. I would be remiss if I didn’t share it with you. Here it is:

Q: What did one Lou Diamond say to the other Lou Diamond?
A: It’s Lou Diamond!!!

Punky Bruiser. There’s a real celebrity. Where’s that Rollergirls DVD? Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Springer Meets Fear Factor

Tonight was the premier of “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here!” They call this reality TV. Don’t believe it for a minute. What it amounts to is a cross between “The Jerry Springer Show” and “Fear Factor”. Only not as good. To put it into proper prospective you would have to take the absolute worst elements of Springer and Fear Factor combine them and you would have this monstrosity.

No, this wasn’t reality TV at all. If this wasn’t scripted then Spencer Pratt and his whiney wife Heidi are better actors then I ever would have imagined. Twenty minutes into the show all the other celebrities wanted to kill them. By the end of hour two (yes, it was on for a gut-wrenching two hours) the Pratts were praying with Patti Blagojevich and singing Kumbaya.

It was evident early that this show was gong to be a train wreck. I quickly emailed fellow reality TV aficionado Jamie Cairo to get her take on it. Her comments included, “Thus far it seems stupid but I’ve got nothing better to watch and I love those sisters (Frangela).” and “I’m disturbed most by the fact that they are allowed to disrupt the flora and fauna of the jungle with aerosol hair spray…”

That’s how bad this poor excuse for reality television was. Just to make sure it wasn’t my sophisticated taste in this particular genre of television, I logged onto facebook. I was greeted with the following:

“This is lame. I can't believe I am watching this.”
– Andrea

“This show is really bad. Not sure I can watch much more of this.”
– Julie

“This has got to be staged.”
– Bill

“Seriously! Who ARE these people?????”
– Catherine

Then the media bigwigs arrived on the facebook scene. No less than Tim Cuprisin, the long-time TV and radio critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Steve Dahl, long-time radio personality began offering their educated opinions.

Cuprisin and Dahl provided these pearls:

Cuprisin - "Reality" TV doesn't get more pathetic than Patti Blagojevich's appearance on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity" tonight.”

Dahl – “Sanjaya just swallowed an iguana tail whole. Not the first time he's done that I bet.”

Cuprisin - “I'm betting the second hour of "I'm A Celeb" has lower numbers than the first…”

Dahl – “Patti Blagojevich is explaining Rod's charges to Spencer is hilarious. The celebs believe he's innocent and pray for him!”

Cuprisin - “Now Heidi is praying for the Blagonians…That'll fix everything.”

Dahl - “They are going to waterboard the celebrities. They call it the Trauma Tank. Ha ha ha!”

I think Brent Gohde said it best when made the following comment to Cuprisin, “Tim, whatever they're paying you to watch this stuff, it's not enough.”

I will give it another shot tomorrow night. Until then…from the booth.