This is a continuation of my last post where I listed my Top 10 Sports Moments (See Post #2257). However, there were just too many others that need to be mentioned. Because of my media connections and extensive travel opportunities, I’ve had the good fortune to attend 9 Final Fours (New Orleans 1982, Minneapolis 1992, Indianapolis 1991, 2000,2006, 2010, and Houston 2011) and 4 World Series, plus numerous auto races, games, championships, playoffs, tournaments, inaugural events, matches, stadiums and venues. To recall all of this was all a real test for my memory banks, aided greatly by diary mentions.
I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, about 100 miles east of Chicago. There was little in the way of sports on TV when I was a kid, but on occasion my dad would take me to games in The Windy City. I wanted to see Mickey Mantle play, so we went to Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. We also went to Wrigley Field and on one trip, he took me to lunch in the Prudential Building with Jim Coker, a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. I also had an uncle who coached football at the University of Notre Dame and a cousin, Denny Murphy, that was an Irish tight end. I remember meeting him at a game against Cal. In addition, he took me to a N.D. basketball game at the Athletic and Convocation Center (ACC) that looked like a giant bra. These were my first personal connections with top athletes. I went back to Notre Dame in 2017 for the stadium remodel, my boss, a N.D. grad, gave me front-row seats for the unveiling.
My dad would often take me to high school basketball games at nearby North Side Gym, one of the largest in Indiana. He knew John Longfellow, the coach for the Muncie Central Bearcats, one of the best teams in the state. I got to go into the locker room after the game, another brush with greatness. Other than the annual high school basketball tournament, this venue mainly hosted some concerts, professional wrestling with Dick the Bruiser, and Roller Derby matches when the Bay City Bombers would come to town. Before single-class basketball was eliminated, I watched a classic battle for high school supremacy from our Hoosier Dome suite that I could never had imagined when I first went to Hoosier Hysteria games with my dad. A national record 41,046 were in attendance in 1990 when future I.U. star Damon Bailey led Bedford North Lawrence to the title, upsetting top rated and undefeated Concord High School and future NBA star Shawn Kemp 63-60. Concord was only about 15 minutes south of my hometown. It would be the last of 61 consecutive IHSAA finals sell-outs.
By my 10th birthday, I had lost interest in the Yankees and took my dad’s suggestion of picking a team closer to home. As the White Sox played in the 1959 World Series, I was able to watch on black & white TV my catching idol, Sherm Lollar of the Sox play for the first time. We did go to a few games to see him in person, but I never got to meet the man. He and his teammates have become the main focus of my baseball card collection and lifelong allegiance to the Sox.
I wrestled in high school and ran some track, but sports surprisingly were not a priority. Elkhart High was a big school with over 1000 students in my graduating class. We were state champions in football, wrestling, cross-county, and track, but I remember only occasionally going to Blue Blazer games or meets. I chose Albion College in Michigan after actually considering Purdue and played some intramural flag football for East Hall and eventually my fraternity Sigma Chi. I probably also attended a homecoming football game to watch the Britons. My frat brothers were hot on hockey and talked me into a Red Wings game. I also went to Milwaukee in 1971 as a weekend getaway and ended up at my first NBA game to watch Lew Alcinder and the eventual champion Bucks’. Outside of Chicago baseball, these games were my initial foray into professional sports.
A year later, I transferred to Indiana University, rode for the Sigma Chi Little 500 team, and settled into an apartment with my high school classmate, Alan. I do not remember going to an I.U. game at the old fieldhouse, but I do recall a blowout win against Notre Dame at the new Assembly Hall. I met George McGinnis at a party and began to follow the Hoosiers. I must have come back to Indianapolis in 1971 from Bloomington to see my high school team compete for a state championship. I couldn’t get tickets for the game that was played at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University where the movie Hoosiers was filmed. I ended up watching the game on TV at the Sigma Chi house across the street. The Blue Blazers topped New Castle, and future I.U. big man, Kent Benson 75-70 in 3-overtimes. Benson led the undefeated Hoosiers to an NCAA title in 1976, an accomplishment that hasn’t since been repeated. A loaded East Chicago Washington squad won the championship game 70-60, but without ticket connections, I must have gone back to Bloomington. Ironically, I would never have to want for a ticket ever again!
I do remember getting excited about I.U. basketball when they made it to the Final Four in 1973 but lost to UCLA. I had a flat tire that morning and badly cut my hand on a piece of glass trying to fix it. I still have the scar as a reminder. The next few years, despite marriage and the birth of Adam, I became obsessed with basketball for the first time since I played in grade school and went to basketball camp.
I began to follow sports even more once I got in the radio business and began to sell sponsorships for Blue Blazers basketball and football, plus Hoosier Hysteria, Notre Dame, Purdue, and I.U. games throughout the season. Eventually, our family moved to Ft. Wayne, another hockey town, anchored by the Comets on our 50,000-watt competitor and music became my major selling point. Free concert tickets and trade were job bonuses. Plus, working with our National rep I began to travel to New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. I went to Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Tiger Stadium. I also worked a deal with the Chicago Sting and played against the Harlem Globetrotters. However, it wasn’t until I got the job at WIBC radio in Indianapolis that I truly found my calling. I now had the Indianapolis 500, Colts, Indians, and Pacers to promote.
As a newcomer to the Capital City, I was asked by station management to host our suite for the Coca-Cola Circle City Classic. It was more than a football game between two black universities, it was a halftime battle of the band’s extravaganza. Apparently, no one else wanted to do it! This was my first experience with entertaining at events and would become the key to seeing every major sporting event or concert that came to town. The station had suite and hospitality access at Market Square Arena, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hoosier Dome, and Victory Field. I also made my own partnership deals for racing through The Machinists Union, BRG Sports, Blackburn Sports Marketing, and Indianapolis Raceway Park. Many of these deals transitioned with me when I moved to WISH-TV. In addition, CBS Sports had almost every major sporting event from the Masters to the Superbowl, along with baseball and the Olympics.
Beat The Pro was a promotion we sold at the insistence of my golf-loving boss. I had to spend most weekends on the golf course measuring distances to the pin. The only benefit for me was tickets to a White Sox suite, another memorable sports experience. I also earned a similar day at the park with the Wheel of Fortune syndicators. I was never in a suite at Wrigley, but they did have a club that served hot dogs on fancy Cubs’ china plates. They have since updated their facilities.
During my time in Indy, I attended and worked with the AAA Indians at Bush Stadium where we had both press box seats and season tickets. I once celebrated on the field with Randy Johnson after a league championship. In addition, I frequently took clients to Colts training camp and on the field. World Gymnastics once did an exhibition, the U.S. Track and Field Championships and NCAA Finals provided autograph sessions with Gayle Devers and Michael Johnson, the PGA Championship came to Crooked Stick Country Club, while John Daly was the upset winner. NCAA Swimming and Diving was another big draw for the city. I also had ringside seats for a gruesome light heavyweight bout won by Marvin Johnson. Finally, I sat many times on the floor to watch the Pacers and Reggie Miller, including the NBA Playoffs.
When I moved to Lafayette, it was all Purdue, but I.U. came to town at least once a year in basketball and every other year in football. I quickly learned that when Purdue won, business was better, so I put my Hoosier allegiance on hold. Plus, my mother-in-law was a big Boiler fan, so I presented her with front row seats for a game. I also had press passes, hospitality, and a beautiful stadium suite. I got close to the Purdue Athletic Director, along with Black & Gold Magazine and expanded our local coverage with the Joe Tiller and Gene Keady Shows. My wife was at WISH, so we continued to benefit from suite access to concerts and events. We saw Cathedral, where her girls went to school, win the state high school football title at the Dome. We also went with clients to the RCA Tennis Championships, with hospitality and great seats. During that timeframe, I played on the WISH softball team, as well as the traveling Pearson Group club, that appeared in the Media World Series held in Dallas, Phoenix, and Ft. Lauderdale. Add three more World Series to my list! I would eventually go to Omaha and the College World Series but only as a spectator.
Most of my attention was still focused on racing, like the Indy 500, but I tried to diversify with other speed events like the U.S. National Drags and the Carquest Sprint Series at Raceway Park. They were each a far cry from the New Paris Speedway dirt track and the side-show demolition derby that I went to back in high school. While still part of the Indy media, I once spent an entire IndyCar season as a weekend warrior, going from track to track around the country. I was on the pit crew at Mid-Ohio and worked with sponsors at Elkhart Lake, Michigan International, the Milwaukee Mile, PIR, Monterey, and Laguna Seca. I also got tickets for the inaugural Las Vegas 400 Nascar Race. This all started when we would supplement our broadcast media packages with show car appearances, suite hospitality, driver endorsements, and sponsorship logos. However, in the month of May I was usually at the track with my all-access Gold Badge every day working these partnerships.
Years later, the track expanded to include Nascar’s Brickyard 400, Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix, an IROC Series, and the Brickyard Crossing PGA Championship. I was there for all four of these inaugural events and in the future secured tickets through my wife to the Daytona 500 and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. We’ve also used her connections to see the Mariners and Seahawks in Seattle, the MLB All-Star Game/Home Run Derby in Miami, and several Portland Trail Blazer and Timbers MLS games, including a Playoff match. Most of the Blazer games were from the suite, but one was another unforgettable front-row seat.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Bloomington, but I’ve still managed to keep up with I.U. sports. I’ve been to Ann Arbor, Champaign, West Lafayette as previously mentioned, and East Lansing for games and went to Seattle to watch the baseball team play Oregon State at T-Mobile Stadium. I drove to both the Liberty Bowl and Independence Bowl to experience Hoosier football, but never smelled the roses. My wife and I also traveled up to North Texas for an I.U. gridiron loss against the Mean Green. I’ve seen the Hoosiers win at Conseco and Lucas Oil Stadium and lose year after year in the Big Ten Tournament. They did not make the Big Dance when it was held exclusively in Indy, but I was there in the midst of the pandemic. Hoosier soccer fell short in the championship game I attended in Santa Barbara with a college friend. Twice, I’ve followed the Hoosiers to Hawaii for the Maui Classic. On the first occasion I met Bob Knight and got his autograph.
The Oregon Ducks became a favorite when we moved to Portland. I’ve been to both Autzen Stadium and Matthew Knight Arena. I’ve also seen them win in the Rose Quarter aka Moda Center for two Phil Knight events. Oregon State also played there. Plus, friends and I went to two Les Schwab Invitationals to watch several prospective college recruits impress the scouts. While living in central Illinois, we supported the Illini, so Assembly Hall was our new home for basketball and Memorial Stadium for football. I sat with retired Coach Lou Henson for a game.
On the NBA front, I’ve been to America West in Phoenix to watch the Suns, Orlando to see the Magic at Amway Center, and to San Antonio’s AT&T Center for the Spurs, long after that initial big-time-basketball exposure at Milwaukee County Stadium while I was still in college. The Pacers and Blazers were the result of station-owned season tickets. The Knicks were always the favorite team to visit, especially when Reggie and Spike Lee were at each other’s throats.
I’ve never been to the Olympics but have experienced the Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene after it was delayed a year due to Covid. I also sat and watched the Olympic Freestyle Championships in both Breckenridge, Colorado and Stowe, Vermont when I was there on ski trips. Speaking of games on ice, exposure to the game of hockey has been sadly limited to the Ft. Wayne Comets, Indianapolis Ice, the Detroit Redwings 50 years ago, and the Portland Winterhawks a few years ago at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
Another of my bucket list goals, was a Super Bowl. We had access to tickets every year but never wanted to pay the price. It likely will never happen, but I certainly can’t complain about a lack of big tickets throughout my lifetime. I thought about going to Miami when the Colts played the Bears, but honestly couldn’t decide on which team to support. My first football love was Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, who conveniently moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night. However, the ’85 Bears had pushed the needle once again to Chicago sports. I’ve been to Soldier Field and continue to follow the Bears after all these frustrating years. I’ve worked closely with the Colts players and coaches through the years and have been to several Playoff home games. Road games have been in Houston and Chicago. I saw the Bears play in Indy.
The one Chicago team that has had the most success is the Bulls. I was never a fan and actually picked a suite game the year after Michael Jordan retired. I tried to give them away, but no one was interested. The Pacers Market Square Arena suite was nothing more than a long couch in a closet positioned behind a glass panel. It was hardly fit for entertaining but came with extra tickets and a bartender. At the last minute, I ended up giving them to Adam and hours later M.J. announced his return. They were suddenly the hottest tickets in town and Adam reaped the benefit. His friends were even previously reluctant to go, but I remember his pager (prime technology at that time) buzzing like a hive of wasps on our coffee table just before game time. It was certainly one of his greatest sports moments. We probably could have made a fortune selling them, but scalping was illegal, and they were technically the station’s tickets. I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of unloading them because no one really knew I had somehow picked them at the beginning of the season.
Baseball has endured as a consistent favorite from early childhood throughout today. I’ve already shared my stories of Chicago and Detroit games growing up and the four World Series attended. I never went to a college baseball game in Bloomington but got into it when we lived in Austin and learning the phenomenal record of longtime coach Texas Longhorn coach, Augie Garrido, who won two College World Series in his tenure. It was really the first time that I sat down and watched the entire tournament, inspiring me to attend one day. While in Portland, I began to follow the Oregon State Beavers and went to a few of their games at Hillsboro Stadium, home of the Hops, and at Portland State.
I enjoy baseball but it’s often boring, too many times ideal for a nap. It’s easier to mention the Major League stadiums I haven’t been to: Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Minneapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Arlington’s Globe Life Field, Atlanta, Montreal, Arizona, and Oakland. Two stadiums, Coors Field and Progressive Park in Cleveland I’ve only just jogged around, while I saw the Texas Rangers play in their former Arlington home from a luxury suite. Our Dallas TV station carried their games, but Covid prohibited a planned visit to the new facility two years ago. I’ve also been to Minor League Stadiums in Round Rock, Texas to see The Express, Jupiter Beach for the Cardinals, Surprise AZ, Charlottesville FL, Hohocum Scottsdale, and Cool Today, our neighborhood Braves Spring Training facility. The other day I drove around the Baltimore Orioles’ Buck O’Neil complex in nearby Sarasota.
Visits to Cooperstown, the College Football Hall of Fame, and recently the NFL Hall of Fame rekindled many emotional sports memories. Recently, my wife and I went to see our local Venice High School Indians host a football playoff game, with thoughts of her two girls at the Hoosier Dome championship game we all went to before our marriage years ago. My dad gave me a love of sports at all levels, and we shared this passion throughout life. It continues with Adam and his favorite teams since childhood, the Dolphins and Cubs. What will be our next great moment?
I’ve certainly had my share of great stadium accommodations, including luxury suites for the Colts, Pacers, St. Louis Cardinals, Longhorns, Purdue, Texas Rangers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Circuit of America, Portland Trailblazers, and Chicago White Sox, plus front-row seats for the Pacers, I.U., Trailblazers, Boilermakers, and Notre Dame. I’ve been on the field, in the pits, sat in the Press Box, celebrated on the court, and frequented numerous VIP sections and hospitality rooms watching a variety of sports from the Domes to the Velodromes. With this in mind, I’m challenged to pick my Top 10 Lifetime Greatest Sports Moments.
Although we didn’t have the usual great seats, we were fortunate to even secure tickets to Game 5 of the first World Series at Wrigley Field to see the Cubs win on Halloween Eve of 2016 (#3). The night before we were there for the loss against the Indians. (#4) Both games will forever be near the top of my list, but overall, I’ve been to four World Series in three cities, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. The White Sox opening game win against the Astros at Cellular One in 2005 was the beginning of a four-game sweep. I had media passes for that game and rode with my WAND-TV camera crew. (#5).
Several other unforgettable events for me happened at Wrigley, including Sammy Sosa’s 61st and 62 homers on Sunday, September 13, 1998. (#6) My dad, son, and best friend were with me that day. The following year on Opening Day a special Tribute was held for announcer Harry Karay on April 3rd. He died February 18, 1998, and never got to watch that great season-ending showdown between Mark McGwire and Sosa. McGwire was the home-run king with 70, but both have failed to make the Hall of Fame after steroid suspicions. Adam, Gavyn, and I have a commemorative brick at the park thanks to my wife. The “3-generations” first got together for a game on September 10, 2007, and the Cubs won 12-3 over the rival Cardinals. (#7).
The top two moments on my list would have to be at the Louisiana Superdome in 1987 when I.U. Basketball won the National Championship. Keith Smart’s winning shot happened in front of my eyes on Monday, March 30, 1987, against Syracuse. (#1). Two days earlier, Steve Alford beat UNLV on the same court. (#2) It was an unbelievable road trip with Bill, Mark, and two close friends of Peter, who set the whole trip up but couldn’t go because his father passed.
The three final Top 10 sports moments were more about the transportation than the events themselves. A friend flew me to Bloomington on his private plane from Ft. Wayne for an I.U. basketball game. I don’t remember the date or game details, but this special V.I.P. treatment will always stand out in my mind. (#8). Similarly in 1998, I was whisked into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by helicopter while entertaining our television station owner, Craig McCaw. A golf cart took us to the Hullman Suite to watch the race and the same chopper brought us back downtown, avoiding the massive crowds. (#9) Last but not least was the Chauferred, PINK limousine that took two close friends and I to a big Monday Night Colts Game at the Hoosier Dome. It was Halloween night, and we wore costumes that you had to see to believe. One buddy and I were dressed as George Dickel whisky bottles with a twist-off cap as headgear. The other pal was Colts running back star Eric Dickerson, but in this case, “Dickelson.” Each of us wore pink tights. On the back of our outfits, it read, “We’re Dickeled Pink to be here.” Never, have we attracted more attention, including a newspaper article with pictures. We, of course, celebrated the victory with shots of George Dickel. (#10).
My resolutions have been updated and I’m ready for the New Year. The first big change will be the golf cart in the garage. Today, we did joint errands with our one remaining car, as I dropped my wife off for a pedicure. I picked up some medication, dropped off a license plate at the BMV, got the oil changed, and tried to get a car wash. They, of course, could find no record of my visit a few weeks ago when I was promised a month of free car washes. I thought they would route me through anyway but instead they went through the trouble of removing some barricades to allow me to exit. Chances are I won’t be going back there again.
I’m looking forward to the bowl games, even though Indiana football will once again not be participating. I feel like I made the wrong choice of schools and regret not going on for a Master’s degree so I’d have another team to support. I’ve tried to adopt the hometown schools where we lived through the years like Illinois, University of Texas, Oregon, and Oregon State but it’s just not the same as rooting for the Hoosiers – good or bad. I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, so neighboring Notre Dame would have been a likely choice, but that didn’t work out either. I also partnered with Purdue University for years when I was with WLFI-TV in Lafayette, Indiana, but the home state Boilers are still too much of an I.U. rival to always find endearing.
I’ve made a lot of bad choices picking teams through the years. I’m sure the Atlanta Braves are worried that I’ve moved nearby their Spring Training facilities. I can hear them saying, “please don’t pick us.” The Cubs, White Sox, and Bears have already suffered enough with me as a fan. The Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazers have also found me to be undesirable. “Adopt the team where you live,” they’ve urged me as we’ve moved from market to market. I’ve now owned homes in six different states with little to show for it. Fantasy sports have proven to also be disastrous for the players I select. “Please don’t pick me to be on your team. I beg of you!”
You would think that I could have made a fortune gambling against all these teams but that has proven to backfire, as well. Ever since I went the wrong way on the basketball court as a kid, sports have become my frenemy. I enjoy watching but don’t dare risk picking a side. Only the 2016 Cubs have proven me wrong after years of frustration. Come to think of it, I never really claimed them as my team but followed them regularly so I could engage in conversations with my dad, son, and nephew, who were avid fans. I even saw them win a World Series game! By the same twist of fate, the White Sox had one good year in 2005, after I had stuck with them as my team for 46 years. I saw them win two World Series games that year, another highlight of my unrewarding sports history.
I hope that 2023 is a good sports year for me, but I won’t hold my breath. I doubt that I will make it to Wrigley Field or Guaranteed Rate Stadium, formerly Comiskey Park, this year, although I have great memories of attending games with family. We saw Mickey Mantle play at Sox Park and watched Sammy Sosa launch two homers at Wrigley to top Babe Ruth’s historical mark. There are too many father/son/daughter moments to recall, but win or lose, from generation-to-generation, baseball is always our greatest bond.
I was feeling excessive stiffness and soreness on this morning’s run despite my visit to the chiropractor earlier this week. This challenge never gets easier, particularly after 5,078 consecutive days and a recent 71st birthday. I did get out the morning of Hurricane Nicole for a rainy mile or so, but fortunately we were in Alaska when damaging Ian arrived. There are no excuses, including recent eye lid surgery, in order to keep “The Streak” alive. I’m still somewhere in the low 200s on the USRSA active list, far behind those that continue their incredible routines after more than fifty-years.
We did see the movie, The Menu, on Monday and picked up our Honey Baked Ham for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal. We’re now expecting seven, including my son’s estranged wife and their three kids. The grandkids were also treated to pizza last night. I was glad to hear that my son got some initial compensation for his Ian damage from his employer and insurance company. It will help him fix some roof damage that we were able to fortunately avoid. Additional checks should be forthcoming, along with an appeal decision from FEMA. I’m sure the whole family was also disappointed when I announced that our trip to Spring Training in Phoenix has been cancelled. They were hoping to visit the Grand Canyon and Albuquerque on the drive there.
I’ll, of course, try to make it up to them, as we decided to meet our Arizona friends in Las Vegas instead. Originally, I had secured a three-bedroom condo in Phoenix for a week, preceded by a side trip to Mexico, and followed by some time at their home in Marana. All of those plans were derailed, so we settled for three-days together in Vegas. I reserved a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Marriott Vacation Club, a property that we toured on our last visit a few years ago. Sorry, kids, but you got left out this time.
My son likes to take his kids to a Cubs game in a new stadium every year. Last year, it was PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where we joined them all. Spring Training in Arizona was his goal this year, but it seemed silly to go cross-country for the Arizona Cactus League when the Florida Grapefruit version is just a mile away in our neighborhood. It’s just that the Cubs don’t play here, but they’re expected to have another disappointing season with a bunch of players we’re not familiar with any more. No more Haywood, Schwarber, Rizzo, Bryant, Contreras, or Baez, who have all been traded. This on top of the fact that my son’s marriage is unofficially over, the kids are split between two homes depending on the week, his home needs repair, and he really can’t afford to take a vacation. His stubborn self would claim that he needs a break from all this chaos but I think his money is better spent elsewhere and the kids need to be in school. Their lives are disrupted enough, just like the Cubs! Staycation!
Sherman Lollar of the Chicago White Sox was the very first recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove at the catcher position. In fact, in its inaugural presentation year of 1957, it was awarded to the best player regardless of league. In subsequent years it has been divided into American and National League position players. Lollar won the award three times while it was one of the few honors never bestowed on Yankee rival Yogi Berra.
“The 2022 winners were announced prior to Tuesday’s Game 3 of the World Series between the Astros and Phillies on “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2, with a record 14 first-time recipients earning the honor for best defensive player at each position (the old mark was 11, recorded in both 2020 and 1958, the year the award was established to include both Leagues.” For the record, only nine were presented in 1957, the fewest of all.
National League 2022:
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies First: Christian Walker, D-Backs
Second: Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
Shortstop: Dansby Swanson, Braves
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
Left field: Ian Happ, Cubs (first Cub at that position)
Center field: Trent Grisham, Padres
Right field: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Pitcher: Max Fried, Braves
Utility player: Brendan Donovan, Cardinals
American League 2022:
Catcher: Jose Trevino, Yankees
Trevino is the third player in Yankees history to win a Gold Glove Award at the catcher position, joining Thurman Munson (1973-75) and Elston Howard (1963-64). Trevino led all Major League catchers with 21 defensive runs saved, which was also tied for the third-most Defensive Runs Saved in baseball, regardless of position.
First base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Second base: Andrés Giménez, Guardians
Shortstop: Jeremy Peña, Astros
Third base: Ramón Urías, Orioles
Left field: Steven Kwan, Guardians
Center field: Myles Straw, Guardians
Right field: Kyle Tucker, Astros
Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Guardians
Utility player: D.J. LeMahieu, Yankees
In other baseball notes:
“A managerial search that included candidates such as Joe Espada, Ozzie Guillén and Ron Washington, Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol’s candidacy flew a bit under the radar.” It appears that he will be the new White Sox manager for the 2023 season, replacing Tony La Russa at the helm.
I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies has now reached base in ten consecutive Playoff games with a first-inning walk. He was the first to cross the plate last night with Bryce Harper’s 2-run homer. “Schwarbs” then went on to hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 5th, part of a 5-homer Phillies barrage that led to a 7-0 victory over the Astros in Game 3. He was already a “Taco Hero” after stealing a base in Game 1, but has yet to be a candidate for a Gold Glove.
Steal a base…Steal a taco. It’s a Taco Bell promotion and I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber, as a result, is a World Series hero. Schwarber at 6′ 229 lbs. is a slugger not a speedster by any stretch of the imagination. Going from base-to-base with a piano on his back is one description, but who needs to be fast when you can take your time rounding the bases after celebrating another over-the-fence moon shot like Game 1 of the NLCS against Yu Darvish, another former Cub, and the San Diego Padres. Coincidentally, the Topps card of this achievement just arrived in the mail this morning. Hopefully, they will produce another to commemorate the stolen base, although it didn’t really figure in the 6-5 extra innings win. The real hero of the game was J.T. Realmuto with his 10th inning homer that sealed the victory.
Through the years, Mookie Betts, Cameron Maybin, Lorenzo Cain, Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor (Indians), Angel Pagan, Jason Bartlett (Rays), Jacoby Ellsbury, Ozzie Albies, and now Kyle Schwarber have all “secured Taco Bell goodness for everyone who wants to indulge.” In the ten years that the campaign has existed, “teams whose player secures the first stolen base of the World Series are 8-2.” Only the Rays and Indians fell short.
In last night’s Series opener, Schwarber reached first base on an infield single off Astros reliever Bryan Abreu in the top of the seventh and the score tied 5-5. While still nursing a knee injury, he then stole second to move into scoring position with only one out. The successful swipe means a free Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco for anyone that downloads the app. I will, of course, claim my Taco prize!
Note: Schwarber World Series heroics date back to 2016 and the Cubs. (See Post #119)
Fellow I.U. grad, Kyle Schwarber, hit a monster home run yesterday to assist in a Game 1 Phillies NLCS victory. It sparked memories of the Cubs World Series run six years ago where he and Anthony Rizzo, now a Yankee, made history. “Riz” also hit a bomb off of Verlander last night in a losing cause in his quest for another World Series ring. “Schwarbs” has made several appearances in the All Star Game Home Run Derby, slugging 55 home runs. Rizzo and Kris Bryant both participated in 2016, the first Cubs since Sammy Sosa’s 4th attempt in 2004. The only modern day Derby that I witnessed live was Miami 2017 with Aaron Judge winning it all. I ran across an interesting article written by Arnold Bailey about the early days of the 1960 TV show. It was a great childhood memory for me, recreating the event in our back yard with a whiffle ball and bat.
From a baseball card collecting perspective, “a set of 20 baseball cards was produced picturing the collection of sluggers the show would feature. Today, those cards have gained a cult-like following and are among the hobby’s scarcest. American Motors, the show’s sponsor, produced the cards which were handed out at the carmakers’ dealerships across the country. Created in 1954, American Motors was then No. 4 behind the nation’s Big 3 (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), with Rambler its top car. Apparently, neither AMC’s cars or its cards were overwhelmingly popular. That may be one reason why the “Home Run Derby” cards are so scarce today.” I was certainly not aware of them.
“The cards are about postcard size (3 1/8”-by-5 1/4”) and are unnumbered with blank backs. The fronts feature black-and-white posed photos, most of which show players from about waist up. The pictured player’s name and team are in two lines across the bottom. A black circle that promotes the show with a ‘See Home Run Derby on TV!'”
“The 19 players include nine future Hall of Famers (Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider) plus 10 other sluggers of that era. All but three of the players are pictured holding a bat, either resting it on a shoulder or positioned at the start of a swing. The other three – Bob Allison, Jackie Jensen and Eddie Mathews – are attempting to hold a smile while posing for the camera.”
“Fifteen of the 16 teams that then comprised Major League Baseball were represented on the show and the cards. Only the Chicago White Sox aren’t included, although the Pale Hose won the American League pennant in 1959. But the team hit few home runs despite its winning season (the team’s homer leader was catcher Sherm Lollar with just 22). While the pennant-winning White Sox have no representative in the “Home Run Derby” lineup, the lowly Washington Senators (who finished in last place, 31 games behind Chicago) have three (Killebrew, Bob Allison and Jim Lemon).”
“The other dozen teams sent one player each to hit homers: Banks (Cubs), Ken Boyer (Cardinals), Bob Cerv (Kansas City), Rocky Colavito (Indians), Jackie Jensen (Red Sox), Kaline (Tigers), Wally Post (Phillies), Dick Stuart (Pirates) and Gus Triandos (Orioles).”
“The home run totals for the 19 players would eventually reach 7,375 by the end of their careers. So the home run lineup was a powerful group, including three of the Top 10 homer hitters of all time (Aaron, 755; Mays, 680; and Frank Robinson, 586).
The 20th card (now the hardest to find) in the set pictures Mark Scott, the play-by-play broadcaster of the original TV show and one of the creators. Here’s a link to the article with even more interesting details:
I’m Jonesin’ for a sports fix since I haven’t been in front of a TV for 20 days now. Plus, the game I last watched was the Packers beating my Bears, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Today, is Game Day and I.U. lost another football game that I couldn’t thankfully see, while the nemesis Boilers stayed on track for a Bowl game invitation. The baseball playoffs are going on but all I can do is monitor the play-by-play on my phone. We’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship, and live TV or streaming is not available. The MLB app can’t figure out where I am. To make matters worse, both the White Sox and Cubs did not make it to the postseason. Even my high school team games, the most likely to win each week, is limited to just a score. Yes, the Elkhart Lions did win – 35-0.
I.U. Basketball’s annual “Hoosier Hysteria” event was yesterday, and although I’ve never been, at least at home there are opportunities to see some of the action. Can’t See at Sea! Right now, the Rays and Guardians are scoreless after 14 innings in a game of potential elimination, but I’m limited to the ESPN app updates. It will be another few days when I finally can get on shore in Hawaii to sit in a bar and watch a live game. I thought that might happen a few Sundays ago in Juneau when I stepped inside the swinging doors of the Red Dog Saloon. However, for some reason, there was no live TV, just monitors showing beer commercials. Our fantasy team also lost this past week, with spotty access to scores on the internet. I need a fix!
It’s college football Saturday and at least I have scores to monitor. It’s five hours earlier than our Florida Eastern time zone, so I don’t have to stay up late, but all I can do is check my phone. Friends are headed to the ballpark, while others have checked in from Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Everyone else that I know is watching at home or on their phones. I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, with access to plenty of on-board bars showing nothing but boring monitor programming. There’s even a whisky tasting later today, but I’ll have to do it without a game in the background. It just doesn’t seem right – I’m Jonesin’!
The baseball season may well be over for the White Sox and Cubs, but there’s still some exciting developments. Albert Pujols joined the 700 club, Aaron Judge tied Babe Ruth’s single season mark, and the Dodgers are on track to set the single season win mark. Teams that haven’t already claimed their Division titles are focused on the Wild Card race and Shohei Ohtani is in the running for MVP.
The White Sox playoff chances came down to a 4-game series with the Guardians. They won the first game in Cleveland but as has been the case all year couldn’t take advantage of home field and were easily swept. Now, they are 10-games out after folding to the bottom-feeding Tigers also at their oddly unfriendly home park. The meaningless battle for Division runner-up will soon take place against the Twins. Thankfully, it won’t be at Guaranteed Rate, so maybe they can maintain their two-game margin?
Outcomes have not been all bad for this sports fan. IU football is 3-1 after their loss to Cincinnati and are still capable of bowl eligibility with 3 more victories. IU Soccer has been a bit disappointing at 3-2-2 because it’s usually the brightest Hoosier athletic program at this time of year. IU basketball is filled with what might be unreal expectations, but fun to dream about enjoying a winning season with hopes of tournament glory again. The Colts and Bears are both off to great starts with both teams winning against top foes too foes on Sunday – a rare occasion of late. Promise is in the air.
The fireworks have come and gone with the blazing heat of July yet to deal with. We start our 3,000 mile drive in less than three weeks, so the dog days of summer will be spent in many different cities. Tally has already shortened her walks and is especially reluctant to go out in the afternoon. The pavement is hot and the grass dry and stiff. I’m sure she misses the cool temperatures and soft grass of Portland, plus she’s spent a lot of time in our dark closet where she can’t hear the thunderstorms. We even bought her a Thundershirt, similar to what her sister Tinker once wore, to calm her nerves.
I got scammed yesterday over a grill that I supposedly won from Ace Hardware. I don’t know how enter-to- wins even exist anymore when they were once a staple in the advertising business. I had to hassle with the company and cancel my credit card, thinking I was dealing with a reputable supplier that I use all the time. The “helpful hardware man” was nothing more than a scam artist yesterday. I rarely fall for these things but must have had a brain fart – never again.
The White Sox lost again to the Twins last night but the Cubs beat the Brewers. Both Chicago teams are apparently not playoff worthy so I’m quickly losing interest in baseball this season. There’s also not much to look forward to in college or pro football. Therefore, Hoosier Hysteria can’t come soon enough, as the IU basketball program continues to gain respectability.
The question now is whether Carlos Santana will be able to serenade me on my 71st birthday? He passed out from heat exhaustion in his latest concert up in Michigan. The last two years, his Florida concert that we’ve held tickets to has been cancelled due to Covid and he’s missed shows for other health reasons. We’ve also lost one member of Earth, Wind, & Fire since then, so will this concert ever actually take place? Oye Como Va? Not so well.