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Category: Oregon State Beavers (Page 1 of 3)

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Old Sport Shorts: Favorites #1463

Baseball and cold pizza, two of my current favorites, came together for lunch yesterday, before the yard work started. The White Sox were up against the higher-seeded A’s and playing on their home turf. I’ve never been a fan of the once Kansas City now Oakland A’s, but since childhood the White Sox have always been my favorite. Catcher Sherm Lollar has perpetuated this relationship since 1959. Granted, I’ve strayed to the Cubs at times when they were winning, following suit with my son and dad. I’ve been fortunate to see both Chicago favorites first-hand in World Series victories. 

Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of perfect baseball and the Sox bats were hot in a 4-1 victory. The lucky socks proved their worth. Today, I’ll wear a Cubs sock on one foot and the Sox sock on the other, hoping for the Chicago sweep. There will be no fans to interfere with any Marlin foul balls, reminiscent of Steve Bartman in 2003, so there should be no excuses for anything less than a Cubbies “W” at Wrigley.   

I do have a busy today with a second moving estimate, Cubs & Sox baseball, dinner to cook. and the first game of the NBA Finals, in addition to the eight televised MLB playoff games. LeBron has oddly become a basketball favorite of mine, even though he’s never played for the teams I support, with the exception of the Olympics. Part of this is the lack of respect he gets, especially from Michael Jordan fans. In my opinion, they are equal greats from separate eras. Comparisons are unfair, especially considering that there wasn’t nearly as much free agency in the Jordan era and contact rules were vastly different. 

While championship match-ups were being determined in baseball and basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second Stanley Cup title. I’ve officially adopted them since we now own property in Florida, along with the Rays, Buccaneers, and Rowdies. Having now owned homes in six states, I’ve amassed quite a collection of teams, improving my chances to win something…anything. Chicago is still my favorites sports town, with the exception of the Bulls. Michigan teams don’t count. The Portland Trailblazes have now replaced the Pacers as my favorite NBA team. When it comes to college football, I lean to the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks, even though my pigskin favorite will always be the hapless Indiana Hoosiers. Soccer favs are the MLS Portland Timbers and Indiana University, while my vote for college baseball goes to the Oregon State Beavers. College basketball is hands down Indiana, as well. I do enjoy sports of all kinds and genders, but do not have as strong of allegiances. I also know the teams and players I hate in any given league – but this is all about favorites. 

I still have fond memories of watching a White Sox playoff game back in 1983 from a motel room in Indianapolis. I was down there from Ft. Wayne on an overnight business trip and played hooky for the afternoon game. It was players like LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, as I check the memory banks of Wikipedia. Tony LaRussa was the coach of this team that won their division and made it to the American League Championship, losing to the Orioles after winning the first game of a series of five. The Orioles went on to win the World Series. It was the first time the Sox were in the postseason since the 1959 World Series, featuring for me a home run by Sherm Lollar. They wore the patriotic uniforms with SOX in block letters on a blue stripe, trimmed in red, across the chest. They’ve brought them out on several occasions this year – one of my least favorite looks!

2008 was the last White Sox postseason win, falling 3 games to 1 against the Rays in the opening series. They did win the division that year. The team featured Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle, along with Manager Ozzie Guillen. The Sox were eliminated on the day I started work in Austin, Texas, one of my least favorite jobs. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Marriott #1186

For those unlike me that work, it’s the first day of the week. It’s often difficult for me after three full years of retirement to distinguish one day from another, but it definitely felt like a Monday. Traffic was heavy and bunched together, so I had to dodge a lot of vehicles and bikes on day 4,033 of my consecutive running streak. A train made it impossible to cross a busy intersection and many stop lights were not in sync for me. As a result, a ran 3.25 miles rather than the 3.1 standard that I’ve set for myself. With snow in the forecast, it portends to be a difficult week on the streets.

The Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning, and my wife and I are relatively current on this year’s productions. This past week we streamed both The Two Popes and Marriage Story. Today, we plan to see 1917 and get back in the habit of justifying our Regal annual pass investment. We haven’t been to a movie since Richard Jewell just over a month ago. Kathy Bates was nominated for her role as his mother. We have yet to see Parasite, Little Women, Bombshell, Harriet, or Pain and Glory. With unlimited access, there’s really no excuse for not sitting through them all in the next few weeks. 

Tonight is the College Football Championship with L.S.U. battling Clemson. It seems like it’s taken forever to get here, much like the drawn-out drama of each year’s Superbowl. There’s now a chance for a redo of the very first one in 1966, then called the “AFL–NFL World Championship Game,” between the Chiefs and the Packers. Admittedly, basketball is still my favorite sport, despite the lack of success by my favorite teams. The season goes by as quickly as the action on the court, unlike baseball that seems to never end. It’s still a great sport for a nap and filled with great history. I will watch football tonight out of curiosity, since most of the Vegas money seems to be on L.S.U., while title experience favors Clemson. Once again, the BIG and PAC12 conferences failed to make the finals and “The South” continues to dominate. Good thing it didn’t happen in the Civil War! I still think it’s odd that Oregon, one of the states that was least affected by that battle, uses “The Civil War” to hype the in-state rivalry in sports and academics between the Ducks and Oregon State Beavers dating back to 1894. 

We’re trying to organize a Holiday family trip to Kauai to round out our travel year. It was more “affordable” to go mid-December rather than Thanksgiving or Christmas, so it now depends on the work schedules of my step-daughters and their new husbands. We can take advantage of the Marriott Vacation Club for a record fifth time this calendar year, having also already booked condos in Orlando, Vegas, San Francisco, and Bali. With my wife’s recent retirement, this is her year to celebrate and spend some of the IRA savings she has accumulated through the years. We’ll also use Marriott Bonvoy points as part of our summer trip through Glacier National Park via stops in Walla-Walla and Spokane Washington. It will then extend into Canada and three nights at the historic Prince of Wales hotel that is not yet a Marriott property. It probably will be someday! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: New Year Review #1178

As I look back over the past 21 New Year’s Eve celebrations with my wife, 2 have been spent in the hospital, 3 with family & friends, 12 in fancy restaurants, and 4 at home with the dogs. Allow me to reflect on just this past year of memories that have been both good and bad, in no particular order of importance. Only two, including tonight, have ended with a relaxing night in a hotel room. 

The Year in Review:

My son turned 45

Two of my wife’s daughters wed great young men, so I’m now twice a step-father-in-law, joining my expanded family of a daughter-in-law of now over ten years

The two very different ceremonies were at The Presidio in San Francisco and Powell’s Rare Book Room in Portland. 

Both newlywed couples took gift honeymoons from us in Hawaii, while my son and his wife enjoyed our time-share condo in Orlando

We sold our stand-alone Portland condo in twelve days and at a profit. 

My oldest grandchild turned 12 and he took up golf

My middle grandchild turned 10 and we help her with dance lessons

My youngest grandchild celebrated her first birthday and I started her college fund

My wife joined me in retirement just a few months ago, while I just enjoyed my third full year

We traveled together to Thailand, Florida, Phoenix, Tucson, San Francisco, Walla-Walla, New York, Indiana, Maui, Vancouver, Chicago, Steamboat, Seattle, and McMinnville.

We saw Elton John, Pink, Goo-Goo Dolls, and Train in concert

I grew my Ancestry family tree to include over 18,000 relatives

We helped free a Jeep stuck up to its front axle in deep Panama City Beach sand 

I donated blood on several occasions 

I finished with over 15,000 Buffalo Wild Wings points to use for future “Leadership Meetings”

We moved to a downtown apartment and started using public transportation

We lost cat Frankie and schnauzer Tinker to old age

We attended our 7th Outstanding In The Field in Vancouver, BC – our first international dining event

My wife’s mother sadly died at age 97

We saw Beetlejuice, Moulin Rouge, and Tootsie on Broadway

I missed my 50th high school reunion

I lost two college fraternity brothers

We saw the 60th annual Twilight Zone movie presentation on the big screen

I.U. soccer lost to I.U. Santa Barbara and failed to reach the National Championship like last year

We watched I.U. baseball win and lose in Seattle and Oregon State beat I.U. the same weekend. The Beavers were not able to return to the College World Series

I.U. football earned a spot in the Gator Bowl

I.U. basketball failed to make the tournament again

The Chicago Bears failed to make the playoffs

The Cubs did not win the Division or make the playoffs. The White Sox didn’t come close

The Portland Trailblazers enjoyed playoff success but fell short to the eventual champion Warriors.

I saw Oregon basketball beat Memphis at the Moda Center

Oregon earned a spot in the Rose Bowl

I’ve added to my Sherm Lollar baseball collection while drastically downsizing my Cubs memorabilia to accommodate our much smaller living space

I gave-up my once-framed I.U. jersey to its rightful owner Kent Benson #54

We had Portland visits from my wife’s Indy girlfriends, my wife’s youngest daughter, and our Decatur friends

We reconnected with many old friends around the country

We paid off all our credit cards and the balance on our Decatur, Illinois mortgage

We eliminated most of our wine club memberships

We invested in more Marriott Vacation Club points

We planned and paid for many trips next year including Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Spring Training, Alcatraz, the Great Pyramid, and Glacier National Park

We bought the Regal Unlimited movie pass for next year and can easily walk to the theater

My wife’s oldest daughter and husband bought their first house. They also adopted Falco to play with now lonely Tally, our 10-year old schnauzer

My wife’s youngest daughter took a new job with Stanford Hospital and moved with her husband to San Francisco

We’ll end the year and day #7,861 together with dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa and start the New Year with theme park visits with my grand children

We looked at retirement properties along the Gulf Coast of Florida

We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary at Joel Palmer House in Oregon wine country

We met my cousin in Phuket, Thailand

I finished Game of Thrones

We went to the King Tut exhibit at OMSI in preparation for next year’s trip to Egypt

I completed the 11th consecutive year of my daily running streak

I had just one minor cold this past year

I just now finished my 1,178th blog post

 

Happy New Year to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Virgos Unite #1043

We had our second showing of the house last night, but it interfered with “Date Night” plans. As a result, we got some Hawaiian Time pulled pork to-go and moved our dinner at Yonder to tonight. Tomorrow’s “Leadership Meeting” will instead be held today. It’s all part of a topsy-turvy week that ends on a plane to Steamboat, Colorado. The great outdoors will indeed be a refreshing change of pace from pet duties and watching silly shows like The Sopranos, Yellowstone, and Rome. Retirement is pleasantly boring and simple between trips to the airport. 

Birthday celebrations have been the highlight of the week. Yesterday’s was special at a local assisted living facility, another reminder of my inevitable mortality. Our 98-year old friend, Vince Pesky, blew out the candles on his cake. He was once the bat boy for the Portland Beavers, with a brother who was a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, immortalized through the “Pesky Pole” in Fenway Park’s right field.  He’s now officially the oldest person I personally know, although our acquaintance has only been in the last few years. A fellow baseball memorabilia collector introduced us, and since all three of us observe a birthday this same week, a drink or two was in order. This coupled with a best friend back in Indianapolis who’s shared a steak dinner with me for many years now in honor of the proximity of our two birth dates. I also have a cousin who shares my big day and a former co-worker to toast later in the week. Virgos Unite!

Virgos are born between August 23rd and September 22nd, under the sixth astrological sign of the Zodiac. According to Wikipedia, “the constellation Virgo has multiple different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin/maiden with heavy association with wheat. In Greek and Roman mythology they relate the constellation to Demeter, mother of Persephone, or Proserpina, the Roman goddess of the harvest. Another association is with the myth of Parthenos (meaning virgin in Greek), which explains how the actual constellation Virgo came to be.”

V for virtuous
I for intelligent
R for responsible
G for generous
O for optimistic

 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Go Home #961

While I’ve been enjoying being at home, most of my baseball favorites have been sent home with their tails between their legs. The Oregon State Beavers didn’t have far to go after being eliminated from the NCAA baseball tourney on their home field. The Indiana Hoosiers at least won one elimination game before being knocked out by Louisville. Meanwhile, the Cardinals swept the division leading Cubs, taking advantage of their Busch Stadium home. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Cubbies to fall behind the Brewers in the standings. Unlike the Beavers and Hoosiers that were sent home packing, the Cubs season is far from over. At least, they get to go home and face the Angels tomorrow. 

Home Field Advantage is a proven positive this year. The Cubs swept the Cards in the friendly confines of Wrigley earlier this year, while the Cards returned the favor at Busch. They will play again next week at Wrigley to break the overall series tie and determine the Pre-All-Star-Break Champion. The Cubs are 18-10 at home and the Cards are 19-12. Both have losing records on the road. This weekend’s sweep is the first against the Cubs since early April when the Braves brought out the broom at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. Chicago will host the next 7 games and will hopefully reverse their recent skid. 

On the positive side, the cross-town White Sox have been far more successful of late, winning 6 or their last 7, including a sweep of the Royals and 2 of 3 against the Indians at their home, Guaranteed Rate Field. I will always know it as Comiskey Park, even though it was U.S Cellular Park when they last won the World Series in 2005. If it weren’t for the success of the White Sox at home this weekend, baseball would have been a total bummer. It only goes to prove that “there’s no place like home (regardless of what they name it.)”

Old Sport Shorts: Baseball Gods #959

The “Baseball Gods” weren’t very good to me yesterday as my teams were mostly losers. The only exception was the White Sox who one their record 5th straight of the season. To most franchises, this would not be much of an accomplishment but the “Baseball Gods” have not be very favorable to the Sox the last few years. Young players like Yoan Moncada, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, and Eloy Jimenez lead the team that currently sits 10.5 games behind the league leading Twins in the American League Central. Last night they moved past the Indians into second in the standings with a 7-1 head-to-head victory over the Tribe. One more victory and the team will be at .500, a positive step up from last year’s 62-100 season (.383). They were a bright ray of sunshine on yesterday’s dismal scoreboard. Unfortunately, the “Baseball Gods” were unfriendly to Sox fans today.

The Cubs, on the other hand, seem to be resorting back to start-of-the-season bad form when they lost their first three series. They were on a roll until the last place Reds stopped their hot streak with not one but two series losses in May. Then the Cubs traveled to Houston and lost two out of three before last night’s extra inning Cardinals victory at the unfriendly confines of Busch Stadium. To add more salt to the wound, it was the first time the Cards had walked-off all year, to the delight of their obnoxious fans. As a result, the Cubbies are in danger of falling short in their third straight series. If you win each series, you’ll win it all, so any set-back against the rival Cardinals is demoralizing. I was surprised, however, that problem-child Yu Darvish somehow only allowed three hits through 6 innings of work after walking his first two batters. He came away with his sixth straight no-decision and still has an ERA of over 5. This one-run loss was the first example example of how the “Baseball Gods” were not on my side today. 

Before the Cubs loss, I monitored the Indiana Hoosier baseball NCAA tournament opener against Illinois State. After winning the BIG Ten regular season, they fell flat on their faces in tourney action. This misfortune continued into last night’s one-run loss to the Redbirds. Indiana struggled early but came back to tie it in the seventh, only to give up the game winner in the 9th. The “Baseball Gods” were not wearing Cream & Crimson. I.U. did manage to rebound against UIC this afternoon 9-5 to stave off elimination. Will the “Baseball Gods” be there for them tomorrow and Sunday?

Yesterday’s baseball misery continued into the evening in Corvallis where the defending National Champion Oregon State Beavers started their quest for back-to-back titles. Today they are in danger of being the third Championship team in history to be eliminated the year after with two straight losses. It could even happen at home. Last night, they rallied to finally take the lead in the 7th against Cincinnati. However, they too then sadly lost by one in the 9th. The “Baseball Gods” were definitely with them in Omaha during the final game of the College World Series last June when a miss-played foul pop-up gave them the opportunity to capitalize on a second chance at-bat against Arkansas. (See Post #583). Will the “Baseball Gods” answer their comeback prayers today? 

Old Sport Shorts: That’s How The Ball Bounces #950

I happened to be watching the HBO series Deadwood, when I turned over to the BIG 10 baseball tournament from Omaha’s T.D. Ameritrade Stadium. It reminded me of last year’s trip to the College World Series where I watched the Oregon State Beavers outlast the Arkansas Razorbacks for the NCAA National Championship. The winner of the BIG 10 double-elimination tournament is an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament and provides a gateway to eventually go to Omaha this year. I.U. won the outright regular season BIG 10 title and finished 24th in the nation, so elimination in this tournament does not necessarily mean their overall chances are over, but will definitely affect their seeding and perhaps home field advantage. 

Perhaps my recent viewing of Deadwood was a premonition of the lack of hitting the team would experience. It’s been “dead wood” in Omaha so far, or should I say aluminum, considering the “Silence of the Bats.” The ball is not bouncing out of the park, as has been the case all year. Team I.U. leads the NCAA Division 1 schools with 90 home runs this year. They lost game one against 8th seed Iowa 4-2 and are in danger of elimination as I watch this afternoon in the loser’s bracket against #4 seed Minnesota. So far, they are “0 for Omaha” in home runs, with only 7 hits yesterday and 3 today, coupled with 5 overall errors. There are still two at-bats for the Hoosiers yet to go, but the Golden Gophers are threatening in the top of the 8th. Let’s see if the ball bounces differently from this point on?

As I switched away from the BIG 10 action (or lack of) in Omaha yesterday, I was hoping for better results from the Cubs and the White Sox last evening. In baseball, after a loss, you don’t have to wait long for another opportunity. I have multiple favorites on both the college and Major League levels, so turning to another channel can often change my luck. The Cubs assured themselves of at least a series tie with the Phillies after an Albert Almora Jr. grand slam. Because of the way the ball bounces in baseball, I do not expect a “W” in every game, but winning or tying each respective series is the key to success over the long season.

The Cubs have been hot in May (14-6) after a slow start this year. The Phillies are also on top of their division, so it’s a formidable match-up at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have already scored three in the bottom of the 7th to get within striking distance. On another channel, Indiana did not score in the 8th, but staved off another big inning by the Gophers, holding runners off second and third with nobody out. Unfortunately, the top of the 9th was another multi-run disaster, as Minnesota’s 9 overall runs are the most that this I.U. team has given up to any BIG 10 opponent this year.  Flipping back to the Cubs, they are still down 8-6 to Philadelphia after the 7th inning. 

As I wait out the completion of these two games, I also need to salute my White Sox who beat THE hottest team in baseball, the Houston Astros last night, after riding a 9-1 record in the last 10 games. The Sox, 5-5 in that same stretch, have struggled this year, battling to stay in the middle of the American League Central. The Astros had won the first game at Minute Maid Park, and it would take a minor miracle and some lucky bounces to somehow stop their momentum. In fact, it took both a Triple Play, a Grand Slam, and two Eloy Jiminez homers to eventually stun them 9-4. The series finale is tonight.

The ball continues to be bouncing unfavorably today as Indiana fails to score in the 9th and is eliminated from the BIG 10 tournament. Now, back to Deadwood. The Phillies scored again in the 8th and have a three-run lead that the Cubs will have one last chance to overcome. As a result, I may need to rely on the slim chances of the White Sox to brighten my mood, or maybe tonight’s Oregon State game against USC? Let’s see how the ball bounces?

 

 

 

Old Sports Shorts: Snow Ball #871

Spring is the time for baseball games and basketball tournaments. However, the weather can often play a factor. For example, it was just too cold for baseball yesterday in Seattle, and the pitchers dominated both college games we watched at what is now T-Mobile Park. It will always be known to the locals as Safeco Field, home of the Mariners. They were changing over the huge stadium signs while we were there, getting ready for MLB Opening Day ceremonies just a few weeks away. Some of the hitters were apparently using bats made of an aluminum and wood hybrid. This may have reduced some of the sting from a metal bat on a cold day. There was one towering two-run homer hit by Oregon State star catcher, Adley Rutschman that accounted for the 2-1 victory over Minnesota. The Gophers made 5 errors, perhaps attributed to the frigid conditions, as well.

The temperatures dropped to just above the freezing point for the nightcap between Indiana and Washington. It was cold and dark inside with the roof closed and a few scattered snow flurries outside. It was as close to “Snow Ball” as you could get. The highlight of this game was an I.U. no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings by starting pitcher Pauly Milto. It illustrates the simple strategy of outscoring and outlasting your opponent in a “cliffhanger.” (See Post and Poem #870).

Our baseball getaway continued with an afternoon match-up between #2 Oregon State and un-ranked Indiana. As classmates at I.U. back in the early 70’s, this was “the game” that lured my four friends and I to Seattle. One of them had joined me in Omaha to watch “The Beavers” triumph in last year’s College World Series, so we all were looking for a Hoosier upset. The T-Mobile roof was open, letting some sunshine warm the outfield grass. It was still too cold to watch the entire game, but I.U led early on a 2-run homer and an outstanding defensive play. However, Oregon State eventually responded and easily prevailed 8-3 long after we had left the stands for the warmth of the hotel bar.

As I write this on the train back to Portland, we’re all at least leaving on a positive basketball note, as the Hoosiers had just cruised by Rutgers to win their fourth straight BIG Ten game. We all watched from different locations, sharing a few comments by text. None of us had planned on going to the third I.U. baseball game of the round-robin Seattle Baseball Showcase against the San Diego Toreros that just ended in a disappointing 5-3 loss.  It was at least in the upper 40’s today but Hoosier bats were still in the deep freeze and finished their Seattle road-trip at a disappointing 1-2. Oregon State ended up 2-1-1, tying Coastal Carolina at 4 runs in the 9th inning of a game that was eventually stopped after 11. I couldn’t have imagined sitting there on those cold wooden seats for that meaningless marathon. Nonetheless, The Beavers fought back to retain their Top 5 National ranking. Coastal Carolina had lost to San Diego before topping Washington, the weekend host who joined our Hoosiers with an overall record of 1-2.

When we made our plans to go to Seattle, I.U. baseball was supposed to be a distraction from the miserable basketball season. However, the basketball team has turned themselves around and will play Ohio State in the first game of the BIG Ten Tournament. A win would make it five straight and perhaps earn them a spot in the NCAA Tournament, that seemed an impossibility only a few weeks ago. That tournament bid would be an absolute lock if they then could beat Michigan State for the third time and perhaps take their first BIG Ten Tournament Championship. I must be dreaming…hit me with a snow ball.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Prime #769

Infinity/Comcast  finally added Amazon Prime to its lineup, giving me the freedom to watch their movies on my big screen TVs. Before, I could only view shows like Bosch and Tin Star on my computer, but with my new set-up I now have access to Goliath and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the bedrooms, living room, and office. I’ve always used it for shopping and buying collectibles, so this makes my subscription even more practical.

A few days ago, I was in Santa Barbara enjoying a half-day of California sunshine. Pleasant weather has not been the case in Portland these past few days. It also turned out to be a bad soccer weekend with two disappointing losses from my teams, but I.U. basketball and the Bears gave me fresh hope despite the clouds. I got back in time for my wife’s Holiday Party and have now settled-in for a couple weeks at home. The next airplane will take me to Chicago for Christmas Eve, Eve. 

Today was filled with errands, including a scheduled doctor appointment and shuttle service back-and-forth to the Dog spa. Yesterday, I was feeling poorly, spending most of my time on my butt watching Amazon Prime.  This morning was even worse as a stomach ache transitioned into a gross touch of flu. After paying homage to the porcelain god, both sitting and standing, I struggled through day 3,615 of “The Streak” with one of my slowest times of the year. There was little energy left for the rest of the day, and my blood pressure registered at one of the lowest levels I can ever remember – that’s a good thing!

I also tried to tackle a do-it-yourself project and found myself with even less patience than ever. My wife allows me to do electrical work, having proved my worth on several occasions. I do not have her permission to work on too many things around the house, especially if there’s paint involved. In this case, she ordered three sconces for our hallway that were sitting in their shipping boxes awaiting my attention. I stared at them a long time before I felt good enough to take any action. They now elegantly cover three not so attractive electrical boxes that were left by the former owner four years ago. Tonight, the lights are shining, so I accomplished something constructive despite my puniness. 

My friends are busy organizing a college baseball trip to Seattle in early March, but my wife is caught-up in budget meetings and may not be able to go with me. At that time, we’re just returning from some business meetings in February and just a couple of weeks away from a trip to Thailand. It’s unfortunate timing, but involves both Indiana University and Oregon State, two of my college baseball favorites. If you’ll remember, last year I watched the Beavers play in the College World Series. They are the defending champions! If I book now, I can do better than a Motel 6. (See Post #766). In the meantime, it’s Prime Time!

Old Sport Shorts: Pesky #592

The Come-back Cubs have won two straight come-from-behind, late-inning games from the Reds, while the White Sox lost four straight to the Astros. The Cubs were actually down 7-2 during my baseball card luncheon, but had rallied by the time I got home, after I had prematurely bashed them to my co-collectors. I don’t mind my typical lack of optimism, or being completely wrong, considering the victory – whatever it takes to get the “W!” I took home with me a like-new, vintage 1960’s catcher’s mitt endorsed by Sherm Lollar, as well as some other cool items for my collection. Plus, I added over 200 baseball cards to my collection and a foot-high autographed, cut-out of “Charlie Hustle,” gamblin’ Pete Rose. “Mini-Pete” will have to meet Yadi. (See Post #174) and pose for some photos. I last saw Yadi at last year’s All Star Game in Miami. I’m proud to say that he will be replaced this year as the starting National League catcher by Willson Contreras of the Cubs. Yadi Molina will surely be a Cooperstown inductee, while Sherm Lollar and Pete Rose are both still in the parking lot waiting for the nod. Today’s Cub victory was a result of an extra-inning walk-off WALK!

The Sherm Lollar autographed mitt is on display in my office, next to the 1950’s version of the same glove (See Post # 505). There were some Cubs and White Sox players mixed-in with the batch of 1960 Topps cards that I bought for $1 each, but no players of Hall-of-Fame stature that typically command much higher prices. I also got a copy of the book, The Grand Old Minor League, by Dick Dobbins, who identifies the book “an oral history of the Old Pacific Coast League.” I had my new buddy, 96-year old Vince Paveskovich sign one of the pages, after being introduced to him for the first time by my friend Matt yesterday. He’s as close to a Hall-of-Famer that I’ve ever met. His brother Johnny is known as “Mr. Red Sox,” and the right field foul pole at Fenway Park in Boston is named “Pesky Pole” in his honor. It’s the shortest home run in the Majors, just 302 feet from home plate, although Johnny himself, a contact hitter, only had 17 career home runs (6 at Fenway).  He’s a member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, who’s uniform #6 is retired in the exclusive company of Bobby Doerr #1, Joe Cronin #4, Carl Yastrzemski #8, Ted Williams #9, Jim Rice #14, Carlton Fisk #27, and Pedro Martinez #45.

The entire baseball family is from the Portland, Oregon area, but Vince “Pesky” Paveskovich has out-lived siblings Johnny, Tony, Ann, and Millie. Only older sister Catherine, who lives at Maryville Nursing Home and recently celebrated 100-years still apparently survives. Vince now lives at the Regency Park Assisted Living Facility, and greeted Matt and I with open arms. He claims that “we made his day,” but really he made ours. Matt had actually given me the book and “Mini-Pete,” both prizes he had won at the baseball luncheon. He already had a copy of the book, as a serious collector of Pacific League memorabilia, and felt no real connection to the Big Red Machine, so kindly let me keep both. He’s known and visited Vince for years, and I’m glad he took me to finally meet him. I think we’ll go back to honor his upcoming 97th birthday with beer and pizza, especially since it falls the same week as both of ours. 

The picture at the top of this post shows Vince and I holding a plaque with a photo of him and Jackie Robinson as displayed in his place of honor at Regency Park. Although his hearing is impaired, his enthusiasm certainly is not. He talked about how the brothers earned their “Pesky” nick-name because of their trouble-making nature that is obviously still part of his spirit. I’m sure he’s quite the character with the care-givers, and that they enjoy his celebrity friendliness. He played four years of baseball and championship hockey at nearby Lincoln High School. He then pitched four years at the University of Portland and two years in the New York Yankees farm system, before returning to his alma mater as head baseball coach. Vince was impressed with the Oregon State Beavers “NATIONAL CHAMPS” t-shirt that I was wearing, having earned it by attending the College World Series last week. It brought back memories of his playing days in Omaha. He was also thrilled that his native Croatia had just beaten Russia in soccer’s World Cup.

Vince chuckled as he told us the story about a black childhood friend, Billy Bell, who went on to be a member of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Bell was shot down over Croatia and only his familiarity with the language that he learned from Vince’s mom (words like apple and bread) ultimately saved him. Rather than executing this black stranger who somehow spoke Croatian, they put him underground and spared his life.  His stories like this were charming, but his local influence as a coach, teacher, and administrator for 44-years makes him one of the most beloved sports icons of Portland. It all started when the two brothers were in grade school. Vince was bat boy for the Portland Beavers, while brother Johnny was clubhouse boy. This is why I was thrilled when he signed his autograph next to the Portland Beavers jersey in my book, but I was most impressed that he remembered the name Sherm Lollar and recognized him as a great catcher.

Thanks, Matt for a great day! It will give us all something to talk about at the next Leadership Meeting. 

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