Thursday, June 24, 2010

Have You Heard?

A while back several regular readers of this blog were encouraging me to write a book. Well, as most of you know by now, I did just that, I wrote a book. At least I thought most of you knew. For those of you weren’t aware, the book is called “Some Kenosha Softball” and was made available June 14th. It was a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun putting it together.

The most enjoyable section of the book to write was “Some Tales”. That’s where you will find stories about road trips, battles with umpires and a grizzled veteran that single-handedly prevented an All-Star game from becoming a disaster. All of the stories are amusing, some even a bit raunchy and they might even spark some memories.

That’s what this book is about. Memories.

If you haven’t purchased a copy yet and would like to, there are several ways to do so. If you live in Kenosha, the easiest way would be to go to Sister Act Painting and Creative Treasures located at 3816 Roosevelt Road right next to Clay’s Tap. Sister Act is an eclectic store with something for everyone, including my book!

The hours at Sister Act are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday thru Friday and 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday. The owner, Sharon Ekern-Buege, has “persuaded” me to do a book signing on July 24th. I will keep you posted on the details.

If you live outside of Kenosha there are a couple of ways to get your hands on my book. One is email me at and I will get back to you with the details. The other way is to use the link to Blurb located on the right side of the page. Either way will work, but I will ship it Priority Mail for $2.00 less and you will get it much quicker. Plus I will personally sign it!

It doesn’t matter whether you played softball or were a fan of softball. If you like this blog, I guarantee you will enjoy my book. Okay, that’s the end of the commercial. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

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 sports casting 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 would have turned 85 years old next week. While he was still with us, his sports activity was 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, I miss you so much.

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

I first wrote this blog last year for Father’s Day 2009. When I decided to post it again this year, I realized that there would have to be a few minor alterations made. The reason they were necessary sadden me greatly. I love you Dad.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time To Ramble On

Man do I miss Survivor. Now that there is no Survivor I have to think about something to write about on Thursday nights. Thursday nights used to be special. Mom would go play bingo at the Roma Lodge in Racine. Most of the time Dad and I would order a pizza for dinner. By the time we finished eating it was time to watch the award-winning reality show Survivor. As soon as the tribe had spoken I was ready to “blog” about what I had just seen, but not before the ubiquitous phone call to Auntie Janet. The night would end when I posted the blog while Mom told Dad and me how close she came to winning the big jackpot.

Thursdays are a lot different now. Mom still plays bingo at the Roma Lodge but since Dad isn’t around anymore, I rarely order a pizza. Since the 20th season Survivor came to an end in May, there is no phone call to Auntie Janet and I need something to write about before Mom gets back to tell me how close she came to winning. Talk about a change in the routine!

Not having a real topic to write about, I have decided to ramble on a bit. Pretty clever how I incorporated the picture of Jimmy Page, eh? Get it. Ramble on. Oh well, I thought it was clever. I had better start rambling.

I have often wondered why people who call sports talk radio shows feel compelled to give a quick resume and bio before making their point. It usually goes something like, “I am a big Bears fan” or “I have been a Cubs fan all of my life”.

I am not picking on Chicago callers, it’s just that they are the ones doing it and it drives me nuts. The Milwaukee callers are very rarely guilty of this annoying practice. Maybe it’s because the Milwaukee stations don’t take as many callers as the Chicago stations so I don’t notice it. But I could be wrong.

Has anyone heard “Queen” in its current configuration? I wonder how they sound. The reason I ask is because the song Liar is playing on my iTunes right now and I can’t for the life of me imagine anybody but Freddie Mercury as front man for Queen. I know, The Who continued on without Moon and later without Entwistle as well, but Queen without Freddie? Come on.

Although I am not a big fan of soccer, I have watched some World Cup action. My favorite player is Kaká from Brazil. Mostly because it's fun to say. Go ahead and try it. Kaká. See? It is fun, isn't it? Kaká. Now if I could only get this buzzing out of my head. Maybe I should just get my own vuvuzela and join in.

Earlier today I recommended to FSG Jamie that she should take the time to watch the movie Bang The Drum Slowly. That is if she ever has time to fit it into her hectic schedule. I have seen it at least ten times and have cried each time. R.I.P. Bruce Pearson. “From here on in, I rag nobody.”

Watch the movie once and you will get what I mean.

That’s another thing. Getting it. Why, oh why don’t more people get it? Friends are a wonderful treasure. The more friends you have the better. However, you are truly fortunate if you have people in your life that “get it”. It’s all about being able to realize what’s really important in life. If you have people in your life that get it, then by all means keep them close to you. I am blessed to have several people in my life that get it and I thank God for this.

Okay, enough rambling for now. Maybe in the future I will expand on one of these topics but right now I had better get this blog posted. Mom will be home soon and I want to hear how close she came to winning the big jackpot. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get Off My Lawn!

Apparently I have become the grumpy old man who yells at the kids to get off of his lawn. At least when it comes to the world of sports. I have enjoyed sports all of my life and yes, when I was younger I was a bit of a zealot when it came to rooting for my favorite teams. But I am 53 years old now and whether the Brewers or Packers win isn’t priority one anymore. Sure I pull for my teams to triumph when they play their Illinois counterparts, but life goes on if they don’t. I just make it a point to avoid Chicago sports talk radio afterwards. Evidently I have to start avoiding facebook as well.

Let me explain. It started out innocently enough last night. The Blackhawks had just won the Stanley Cup Championship and the celebration had begun. At the Wachovia Arena in Philadelphia. In the bars around Wrigleyville in Chicago. And all throughout facebook.

I can fully understand the joy that the fans of the Blackhawks were feeling. Hell, it had been 49 years since they were last able to raise the cup. The team was outstanding the entire season and continued its excellence into the playoffs. I can understand how proud their fans were at this moment.

What I fail to understand is all the “We” talk. “We” won it! “We” played so hard, "we" really deserved this. “We” won it, the Cup is ours!

No, the Blackhawks won it. Wrong, the Blackhawks played hard and really deserved it. Once again, the Blackhawks were the ones that won the Cup and it belongs to them for the next year. You are their fans. You didn’t score one goal, make one save or lose one tooth.

After reading status after status proclaiming what “We” had just accomplished, I decided to have a little fun and wrote the following status – “Can't get over all the "We" talk.”

To which my friend Jamie replied, “Didn't you want the Hawks to win P? Cause WE are excited about it…”

My comeback was, “I guess I am becoming an "old guy" J." Things don't mean what they used to. Everybody and their brother was on the ice becoming part of it. Lost are the days when the guys that actually earned the greatest trophy in pro sports would skate around the ice hoisting it high.

I guess that I don't begrudge those people for doing it, but to me it somehow lessens the accomplishments of the players that worked so hard. The others were reporters, politicians or some other type of pseudo-celebrity.

I shudder to think what will happen if a certain baseball team from the Northside should ever win the World Series. Oh wait, that will never happen…”

Jamie, good naturedly answered with, “It could happen...well. Probably not. Damn curse!

I had a laugh and that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

Early this afternoon another friend of mine, Randy posted this status, "Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, White Sox win handily, and last but not least, the Cubs took a trip to their summer home (Wrigley North) and spanked the "Squatters" LOL. Especially galling to the "Squatter " faithful was seeing the hated BIG Z get the win. "Squatter" fans have always hated him, but after Z went to his summer home and tossed a no-no, the hatred has been amplified. I LOVE IT."

Before I tell you how I responded, you should know that Randy is an ardent fan of both the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs. Even with these personality flaws, I still consider him a friend. So with that in mind, I wrote, “And people wonder why so many Chicago fans are easy to despise. I do give you credit for not using the "We" word…”

Randy shot back with, “If Chicago fans are despised, Brewer fans are pitied.”

Not to be outdone, I countered with, “The defensive exhibition the Cubs displayed today is what needs to be pitied. A walk-off error on a bunt. Sweet…”

He retorted, “Kind of hard to brag about that when the Cubs have still won 6 out of 9 this year, with 6 games @ Wrigley north.”

This war of words ended by me saying, “Hey, I am not bragging about anything. There isn't really anything to brag about. Sure I enjoy seeing the teams I like do well, but I have no vested interest in them. I was just making a few salient points after you went on your Chicago screed.”

My exchange with Jamie was fun and good spirited. Initially the back and forth with Randy started out tongue in cheek. At least it did for me. But as it progressed I realized how this stuff just isn’t that important to me anymore.

Admittedly I still watch way too much sports and listen to copious amounts of sports talk radio, but I don’t let it have an affect on the way I feel emotionally. Of course I yell “Shit” when Prince Fielder strikes out with runners in scoring position, but moments later I am over it. There are far more important things to worry about.

Nowadays sports is merely a form of entertainment. A release from real life problems. I guess I really am becoming that grumpy old man. Oh well, until next time…get off my lawn!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I’m Such A Sap

Sometimes I wonder what makes me tick. I have been in a great spirits since Wednesday when I received the shipment confirmation of my book. My mood was even better when the book was delivered on Thursday. Since then I have put the book for sale online, ordered more for direct sales and done some “marketing”. Today my little brother stopped by for lunch and we yucked it up for a while. Things are going great! Heck I am even winning my fantasy baseball league 9-1. It doesn’t get any better! Then why are there tears streaming down my cheeks?

I will tell you why. I’m a sap, that’s why. The Brewers are playing in St. Louis against the Cardinals on ESPN tonight. It’s a pretty good game and the Brewers were enjoying a tissue paper thin lead a couple of innings ago until Albert Pujols smoked a home run to centerfield to cut the lead to one. That’s not why my eyes are red and I am sniffling.

Pujols’ homer was a laser beam that just got over the fence. Of course the fans all stood up to try to catch what would be a precious souvenir baseball. As fate would have it, a young, round-faced boy caught the hard hit ball – right in the chest.

The poor little fellow held on to the ball, clutching it to his chest while grimacing in pain. Moments later he burst into tears as his mom and dad attempted to console him. Even though he had a wonderful keepsake, I felt so bad seeing him hurting. It didn’t help that he resembled the son of a friend of mine. I am such a sap.

Every now and then ESPN would show him and as the game progressed it appeared that he was doing better and was proudly showing the ball to the people seated nearby. The last time they showed him he also had a bat. Play-by-play man John Miller announced that apparently Cardinal officials saw what had happened and presented the little fellow with an authentic Albert Pujols bat.

I know, I know. He’s okay now and will get over the sore chest. Plus he not only has a game ball, but also the bat of the greatest hitter playing today. Somehow that just didn’t matter when I saw the hurt in his chubby face. It was heart wrenching seeing him in pain. I just can’t stand seeing sad children.

Oh well, the baseball game is tied and going into extra innings. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. If the Brewers lose I am sure it won’t bring me to tears. Not like when that little boy got smashed in the chest with that baseball. I am such a sap.

Until next time…from the booth.