Today's thoughts

Category: Sherm Lollar (Page 2 of 5)

Old Sport Shorts: World Series Time #1107

We’re headed to the antique and collectibles show, knowing that we don’t have room for any purchases in our new apartment. In fact, we just spent weeks getting rid of many of our possessions in an effort to fit into half the space. However, just walking through the aisles will undoubtedly bring back many memories of similar treasures that may have passed through our lives. Each one has a story that is often times the clincher for a sale. For example, we still have goods from the Capone and Studebaker families, not to mention family heirlooms that have more meaning than value.

I’ve recently become interested in these shows because of my sports collection. For awhile, I had some custom built-in cabinets that needed to be filled. Recently, however, I’ve had to reluctantly pass much of this memorabilia on to my son and other friends.  I’m left with a guest room/office that my wife has graciously allowed me to decorate with my remaining autographed posters, balls, bats, Sherm Lollar uniform, and ticket stubs. I also somehow got a shelf or two to store my binders of baseball cards, pictures, lanyards, and big game memories. The windows in front of me look out at the surrounding hills and colorful leaves of fall. It’s World Series time – the Fall Classic! Who will be crowned Mr. October, or what looks like November?

One of the framed posters on the wall hold our World Series tickets from 2016 along with pins and pictures of the Cubs victory. Series hero David Ross was just named their new coach. I also have a plaque commemorating the White Sox of 2005 and their World Series sweep of the Astros. My media credentials from that accomplishment are stored in a binder. The Astros are back again this year and tied the series at two games each with the Nats. In 2005 the Astros were in the National League and the Montreal Expos played for the first time at RFK Stadium as the newly formed Washington Nationals. This is their first trip to the World Series, and they have so far failed to win a Fall Classic game at Nationals Park. They have another chance tonight before the event moves back to Houston. In fact, neither team has claimed a home game. 

The big story yesterday for me was not the World Series, but rather the I.U. football victory at Nebraska. This was a statement win for the Indiana Hoosier program that has always been firmly embedded in the second division of the BIG Ten Conference. I.U. had not won in Lincoln, Nebraska since 1959. I clearly remember watching on TV a 1978 drubbing by the Huskers of 69-17 in Bloomington, along with four other thrashings before yesterday’s 38-31 victory. Things were apparently different before I was born, as Indiana actually leads the overall Husker-Hoosier series 10-8 with 3 ties. To me, Nebraska has always been a football school and Indiana a basketball factory. Nebraska even had their legendary blackshirts on in their historic stadium to honor their great defensive squads of the past. To make victory even sweeter, the win makes I.U. bowl eligible and resulted in a three-game BIG streak for the first time in 25 years. Bring on Northwestern for a potential fourth!

To make the Fall day even better yesterday, the Oregon Ducks pulled out a 37-35 victory over Washington State Cougars for their seventh straight. I stayed up to watch the end even through it was well past my bedtime. I can’t imagine having to drive back to Portland from Eugene, even despite the adrenaline rush from a winning field goal with no time on the clock. It was a thriller, as the Cougars took a one point lead with a touchdown drive leaving less than a minute in the game. The Ducks will move into the Top 10 nationally with losses by Notre Dame and Oklahoma. 

It must be Sunday! The Bears will try to rebound against the Chargers as the Colts try to pick up their 5th victory against the Broncos. Oops, there goes another Bears field goal attempt off the uprights! I’m not sure I can watch any more. Instead, I’ll be antiquing but will be back home in time for World Series Game 5. If it weren’t for the NFL, a retiree like me wouldn’t know what day it is!




Retirement is not without Hassles: Baseball Card Day #1032

It’s the night of my 50th high school union, but I failed to make the trip back to my hometown of Elkhart, Indiana. Today is also National Baseball Card Day, so it’s appropriate that I went to our local Mall 205 baseball card show. My purchases were primarily Chicago White Sox players from 1953-1962. Fellow collectors also presented me with some gifts, including a Go-Go White Sox Pin from the Stock Yard Inn Dugout Club circa 1959, SOX & Cubs buttons, an Official 1961 Sox scorebook, and a Sports Illustrated photo of Sherm Lollar from behind the plate with Billy Pierce on the mound. It all goes in my collection binders, highlighting the years around the Go-Go White Sox World Series appearance in 1959. Despite their loss to the Dodgers, it was the beginning of my interest in Chicago sports.

I would have to wait until 2005 for the White Sox to actually win the World Series. In the meantime, I followed da Bears through their Super Bowl victory in 1986, and gravitated to the cross-town Cubs in an effort to bond more closely with my dad and son. I never really followed the Bulls, preferring the home state influence of The Pacers. When Indy became the home of the Colts, I split my Bears allegiance that soon led to a major conflict during the 2007 Super Bowl.  Obviously, there was not an Indiana based baseball team to divide my loyalties, but I do find my faithfulness wavering between the Cubs and Sox. However, the Sox have not been as successful in recent years to officially lure me in their direction. 

In the last few years, my favorite White Sox player has become Yoan Moncada who sports uniform #10 of my childhood idol, catcher Sherm Lollar. Honestly, I was not even aware of his existence until I randomly selected his autographed baseball as part of a promotion for Sox Kids at Cellular One Park three years ago. It will always be known to me as Comiskey Park prior until modern-day sponsorship began to dictate naming rights. Two years ago it was re-branded as Guaranteed Rate that obviously didn’t guarantee victory. Soon after I bought the ball, top-prospect Moncada was brought up from the Minors and established himself in the White Sox line-up. This year he’s hitting .300 with power, so any chance of Sherm’s number being retired is growing unlikely. Former White Sox player, Ron Santo wore that number in 1974 and carried it to the Cubs where it was retired in 2003. Sherm Lollar wore #10 for ten years, more than any other Sox player, but he failed to make the Hall of Fame despite his defensive abilities. (See Post #5). Hopefully, some day that honor will belong to Yoan. Right now, unfortunately, he’s on the injured list. Sadly, Sherm has been on the deceased list since 1977. His 95th birthday would have been in a couple of weeks. 

I did not get to Guaranteed Rate Stadium this year, but saw the Cubs lose at Wrigley. I’m looking forward to following Khalil Mack and the Bears defense this year, but on the basketball side have strayed from The Pacers to the Portland Trailblazers since our move west. It shows that I’m a fickle fan! I’m further than I’ve ever been from Chicago, and that’s part of the reason I’m not partying with my former high school classmates. At least I was able to celebrate National Baseball Card Day with a few more collectibles. Plus, today is the 10th!



Retirement is not without Hassles: The Couve #979

Just across the Columbia River bridge north of Portland is “The Couve,” a nickname for Vancouver, Washington – not to be confused with Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was a “hip & cool” way to distinguish it from its big city neighbor, as more and more young people began to settle there in the new millennium. Crossing the bridge became a way of life, as workers dealt with the  impossible rush hour traffic. It’s a scenic drive over the bridge, but frustrating when it frequently turns into a parking lot. I’ve crossed it only a few times since I moved to Portland 5 years ago. The first time was when I was still working to meet with a psychic in Battle Ground who wanted to advertise on the radio. I never got the business, but at least he gave me a reading. I’ve also crossed The Columbia four times on train trips to Seattle and once by luxury coach. Too often, I also fly over it to make travel connections through SEA. In the past month, however, I’ve been to “The Couve” three times by choice, including yesterday.

As I reflect on trips into Washington state, I remember visiting my high school friend Grant when he was working on his doctorate in Seattle. It must have been during the summer before I got married, and I must have flown by myself from Indiana, although I can’t remember after nearly 50 years. I only recall having Dim Sum for the first time and taking a drive close to the base of Mount Rainier. He lived in an apartment and played soccer, while I still lived with my parents and worked a summer job. It was my first experience in the Pacific Northwest, before he moved to Boston. Thanks to him I was able to see both great cities for the first time.

As I fast-forward to present day Washington state, I drove to “The Couve” yesterday for lunch. A former client and friend was in town for the Mecum Auction event, and he wanted to go to a BBQ restaurant that he had heard a lot about. I had to look it up – a place called Daddy D’s located in a Shell gas station. It was only about 40 minutes from my house and I had nothing else planned for the day. As a result, I made the drive across the bridge and bought gas down the street where it was a quarter a gallon cheaper than Shell. Since I was in Washington state, I also had to pump my own gas, a task they do for you in Oregon. It’s good to remind myself on occasion how to work a gas pump. 

When Google Maps finally got me to the address, I had to do a double-take. Outside was a tented smoker and I had to enter the convenience store to find a table, nestled between the wall coolers and shelves of snacks. My friend ordered a brisket sandwich while I was drawn to “The Sherminator,” a pile of pulled pork, hot links, and coleslaw on a sesame seed bun. It was actually named after their hungry son who needed a hardy meal following a football practice. With my interest in former White Sox catcher Sherm Lollar, how could I pass it up? It stood about 8 inches high in a shallow bowl of barbecue sauce. 

I’ve heard that 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was often referred to as “The Shermanator,” as well as the nickname of the Chuck Sherman character from the American Pie movie series. Sherm Lollar retired from the White Sox in 1962, while the Terminator films didn’t come out until 1984. Consequently, I’m probably the only one who would make that particular connection. Regardless, the sandwich was great – just like Sherm. 

I had just been in “The Couve” the weekend before to pick up some wine at the Farmer’s Market. We actually pre-ordered a case on our way back from Walla Walla, another Washington state adventure. The BBQ lunch was the second meal in the past month that I had with this particular friend in Vancouver, since its in the vicinity of his auction event. “The Couve” is not that far away, but the bridge always seemed like a dividing line rather than an invitation. It’s now becoming a familiar stretch of highway so there will likely be many more crossings in the near future. 




Retirement is not without Hassles: Beers #966

I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday because of a commitment to double Happy Hours – twice the fun. Yes, I did some serious “Day Drinking”. See Post #964. I scheduled both a “Leadership Luncheon” and an “After Work” rendezvous, with only enough time in between to run home and let the dogs out. I still do have some working friends that can’t have a breakfast beer, so in order to accommodate both my fellow retirees and former co-workers, two meet-ups were strategically arranged.  An early Cubs game at Buffalo Wild Wings started my busy day and a late dinner at WildFin with my working wife was the finishing touch.  The additional Coors Light drafts at the Home Field filled in the fleeting hours of a Friday. 

This morning started with the Dick Inukai Foundation 5k run that my wife’s company supports. Dogs were not allowed, so our schnauzers were visibly disappointed as we headed out the door without them. Tonight is the Train and Goo Goo Dolls concert at the Sunlight Amphitheater  just across the I-5 bridge in Washington state. It’s all part of another busy weekend that my wife planned to keep her occupied during these precious few days off work. She likes to keep moving, while I prefer a more sedate activity like sitting on a bar stool. I certainly couldn’t handle “Day Drinking” as a routine, but once a week is an acceptable practice. Yesterday, was an exception that led to an early bed time. Two beers say “cheers”…Three too many for me…Four makes me snore….Five never drive…..Six makes me sick. Regardless, even one leads to frequent visits to the urinal for a guy my age.

I’m more of a martini guy – eXtra dirty, eXtra dry, eXtra olives (XXX rated). Beers go right through me, but I have a lot of beer-guzzling friends that want me to join them. One even makes his own, so on occasion I try to adapt to the much less expensive alternative than preferred Tito’s Vodka. Coors Light is my with-the-guys-go-to that can be quite refreshing, although it’s like drinking glorified water. I try to rotate in a Diet Coke or two to offset some of the drowsiness that I experience from drinking hops. Beer also tends to put-on the weight, which somehow seems impossible after all those trips to the men’s room. 

Not all of my meetings involve martinis or beers. In fact, I’ve missed the last couple of baseball breakfasts, including this morning’s because of the fundraiser. I sent some money to pay for items that others have found to match my interests. Yesterday, I received a few of these personal treasures in the process of “Day Drinking.” These included a couple of signed photos from former White Sox pitcher Gerry Staley, who grew up around this area; some matchbook covers from first baseman Ted Kluszewski’s Cincinnati steakhouse called Jack & Klu’s; and a bar glass with the Sox logo. There also was a 1963 White Sox Year Book, the final year of Sherm Lollar’s playing career, and an Orestes (Minnie) Minoso baseball card printed in Spanish. These came from garage sales and swap meets that my fellow collectors discovered, ever on the outlook for items that I might want. It’s very thoughtful of them and well worth a few beers or a slab of bacon for their efforts. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Wedding Plans #858

It’s my wife’s weekend but just another day of retirement for me. We’ll start out her Saturday with the dogs and exercise with them on our “Schnauzerthon.” Tinker, our oldest schnauzer, just turned 15 and is limping badly. Her 105-year old little legs deserve a carriage ride. This is why we bought the Air Buggy that we push her in while sister Tally scampers ahead. The “Schnauzerthon” combines my morning run with a long walk for my wife. We take turns pushing the stroller and trying to contain Tally on her leash. It takes about an hour and is part of my working wife’s weekend routine. There are Marathons and Triathlons, but every great endurance athlete should try a “Schnauzerthon.”

My wife is taking her oldest daughter shopping later this afternoon for a wedding dress. She and I are also going to a birthday party luncheon for a 70-year old friend – at least he won’t be keeping us up late. Both of these life events were once hard to imagine – 70 year old friends and married children. We must be growing old. I’m only a little over my two years from my 70th “blowout.” Weddings are about as positive as it gets any more, since at this age it’s mostly funerals.

The birthday event today was at McMenamin’s Edgefield, a venue that we had always wanted to check out. It’s the historic site of a former “Poor Farm,” as well as a vineyard, golf course, spa, and popular summer concert hot spot. I read a custom poem as part of the traditional “old man” birthday roast that highlighted the drawn-out ceremonies. It made fun of the proper pronunciation of the birthday boy’s name – silent “k” and “i before e.” As a fellow Cubs fan, I buy some of my baseball cards from him, so it’s not been a long-standing relationship. I got a few scattered laughs for my efforts:

KNEIS not Niece

Seventy-year old friends,
Are rare for me.
I like to hang around
With younger folks, see?

Parties are for kids,
Not those turning gray.
But now that I’m here.
Happy Birthday anyway.

Turn up your hearing aids,
And lean on your canes.
Enjoy some cake
Forget about your pains.

You went over the hill,
Twenty years ago.
Social Security is now,
Your main source of dough

This makes you desperate,
To sell us KNEIS cards.
To protect our life savings,
Needing more than shin-guards.

Ernie couldn’t make it,
Or any top draft picks.
Sherm would be here,
But he died at fifty-six.

Bryzzo was busy,
Joe Maddux sends regrets.
Wrigley Field Management,
Warns of optimistic bets.

Nice-ler or Niece-ler?
It’s pronounced how?
As long as you’re buying,
Either version you’ll allow.

This has been an issue,
All of your KNEIS life.
Then you shared this problem,
With your daughters and wife.

For the “Mr. Cub” title,
You’re next in line.
They’ll win it again,
In year 2109.

Crib to Classroom,
Office to Booth.
Your career has focused,
On educating our youth.

You’re a kid again,
Every baseball season.
Being close to the game,
Gives all if us “reason.”

Buying and selling,
Making a trade.
Just like in teaching,
Comes down to a grade.

You get us together,
To share what we love.
We bring our leather wallet,
Instead of a glove.

Thanks for the invite,
And not keeping us up late.
Now take out your dentures,
And Step up to your Plate.

Copyright 2019

His last name is memorable because it is pronounced the same as one of my college fraternity brothers, who eventually stole and married my girl friend. He probably did both her and me a favor, so I held only a short grudge. It was great to get out of the house on a beautiful, sunny afternoon and see some of the Portland area peaks that have been recently hidden by rain clouds. From a couple wearing bath robes to those holding golf clubs, we got the full perspective of the property. My wife will spend the rest of the day with her daughter talking wedding plans. I’m glad they’re getting together because it keeps me from going to a local production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I’m free to join a friend for fried chicken and beer tonight. Cheers to both the bride and my birthday buddy!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Living In The Past #851

“Living in the Past” is (or should I say was) a 1969 song by Jethro Tull. I was in my final year of high school, 50 years ago. Although they were a British group, their lyrics perhaps reflect the war in Vietnam?

Happy and I’m smiling
Walk a mile to drink your water
You know I’d love to love you
And above you there’s no other

We’ll go walking out
While others shout of war’s disaster
Oh, we won’t give in
Let’s go living in the past

Once I used to join in
Every boy and girl was my friend
Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know
What they’re fighting

Let us close our eyes
Outside their lives go on much faster
Oh, we won’t give in
We’ll keep living in the past

Oh, we won’t give in
Let’s go living in the past

Oh no, no we won’t give in
Let’s go living in the past

With all the recent genealogy work I’ve been doing, I feel like I’m “living in the past,” trying to piece together the story of my adoption. There are all these strangers, mostly dead now, that shaped my life, and I seem consumed in finding out more about them. As a result, I spend a lot of time reading obituaries and consulting Find-A-Grave. It feels a bit morbid to live in this ancestral world.

My other pastime is collecting sports memorabilia, that on the surface seems more uplifting. However, yesterday I realized that there are many similarities. In sorting out the authenticity of certain items and determining their value, I found myself once again utilizing the same resources of obituaries and graveyard data. It’s another odd way that I “live in the past.”

It must have all started in Game 4 of the 1959 World Series when #10 John Sherman Lollar came to bat for the Chicago White Sox. I had just turned 8 years old and honestly remember watching the game at home on our black and white television, maybe one of the first baseball games I ever saw. An unbelievable crowd of 92,650 sat in the stands. The game was held in the expansive Los Angeles Coliseum with a make-shift home run wall. The Dodgers, who had moved the year before from Brooklyn, were leading the series two games to one and had a four run lead in the seventh inning.

Wow! Sherm Lollar hit a three-run blast to tie the game, and in the process won my heart forever. The White Sox went on to lose the series, but Sherm’s #10 became my lucky number. His game-worn 1955 jersey is part of my collection and I installed a mirror so you can see the #10 on the back. I also wore #10 throughout my little league and softball years, but probably never did it justice.

For his defensive efforts alone as a catcher Sherman Lollar should be in the Hall of Fame. I’ve written several letters on his behalf and contacted his son, Kevin, about a potential campaign. I continue to write about his remarkable career on this blog (See Post #5). You can imagine my surprise when I was contacted the other day by a gentleman who had some of his memorabilia for sale. Personally, I was thrilled that he had come across my name associated with this childhood hero and actually read some of my articles in this blog. He immediately struck an ego chord – the first step to making a big sale.

His list of Sherm-related items included:

  • White Sox hat with “10” written on the underside brim
  • 20 baseball cards, none of which are signed
  • Post card from Sherm Lollar’s Lanes (his retirement project)
  • 1968 Oakland A’s official scorecard from the Yankees game signed by Sherm Lollar and Joe Keough
  • Oakland A’s, Tim Mcauliffe brand lime green hat,
  • Very early (1940’s) Baltimore Orioles jacket
  • Two ticket stubs from the May 8, 1968 Oakland A’s game where Catfish Hunter threw his perfect game.  One of the stubs is signed “Jim Hunter”
  • Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum parking concessionaire stub

After yesterday’s follow-up conversation, it was revealed that he was not necessarily a baseball fan, but had purchased a storage locker full of items from Jerry Bo Lollar, Sherm’s nephew. He turns out to be the son of Sherm’s brother, Major Jerry Lollar, who was the stand-in recipient for his 1973 induction into the Chicago White Sox Hall of Fame. Included was a newspaper article and photos related to this honor. Sherm died in 1977 at age 53.

This is where yesterday’s step back into the past started. I was curious about this relationship, especially since these items should have probably been kept in the family. It’s where genealogy and baseball card collecting crossed paths, as I Googled obituaries, checked Facebook pages, and checked into graveyard data. Obviously, the seller had done the same thing, carefully researching his options on profiting from these items.

I’m not a collector willing to spend big bucks on mementos from the past. It’s why I focus on Sherm Lollar rather than Mickey Mantle and other Hall of Fame members that command big investments. I did, however, feel strongly that these items had a great story and should probably be kept together, so I made an affordable-for-me offer. Similarly, the A’s and Oriole’s stuff was not important to me, but were part of Sherm Lollar’s history as a coach. By the way, prior to this step, I did consult with about a dozen of my close collector friends to determine value. They may not have known what they were talking about?

These collectors all felt that the Orioles jacket had the most value, followed by the signed ticket stub. Like me, they reasoned that the Sherm association would not generate much auction interest. It seemed more likely to all of us that the jacket was probably from 1964-67 rather than the early 40’s. There was no manufacturer’s tag or means of identifying it as belonging to Sherm, other than it was in his nephew’s storage facility. None of us caught the “gold mine” the ticket stub might be.

The seller sent me an e-mail last night that nearly knocked me off my chair. I was at a fundraiser with my wife. There have been two previous purchases of similar “Perfect Game” ticket stubs. One sold for $4500 and the other for $1000. Neither was signed like the one currently in his possession. Unlike the others, there is a hole punch that might discourage some buyers. I was embarrassed at what I offered him, thinking that he probably was now leery of my honesty and that I might have been trying to take advantage of him. All of my friends are absolutely amazed at the price this might command, once he spends the money necessary to validate it’s authenticity. However, he might also find that it’s a fake. I can’t imagine that Jerry Bo Lollar went to that kind of trouble, although “Catfish” autographs typically include his nickname. This one just says, “Jim Hunter.”

Sherm Lollar was Jim Catfish Hunter’s pitching coach and undoubtedly advised him on strategy for that “Perfect Performance.” There are only 21 in modern era baseball history starting with Cy Young. I happen to have a ball in my collection signed by Mark Buehrle of the White Sox from his 2009 gem. It’s interesting that the great Ted Williams claimed that the White Sox would never have made it to that 1959 World Series of my childhood without Sherm Lollar, who was known to be an outstanding “diamond general” behind the plate. He guided that pitching staff to the lowest ERA in the majors. He also caught no-hitters for both Bob Feller and Bob Keegan. If there was a hit, he had a cannon for an arm.

I’m excited for the seller of this storage locker bonanza. He makes a living as a “picker,” and perhaps has found a diamond in the rough. My friends all thought that I hit the mother lode as a Sherm Lollar fan when I got that initial phone call and photos regarding this find. I feel like I’m part of it, even if everything ends up out of my price range. It was fun to share this story with my collector friends because we’re all treasure hunters in some sense. I may never find a “pot of gold” like my new “picker pen pal,” but I did learn a few more things about Sherm Lollar and his family. It’s another great story that proves that one man’s (nephew’s) junk can be another man’s treasure.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Thy Will Be Done #823

One of the gravest responsibilities of retirement and life for that matter is preparing and maintaining a Last Will and Testament. Even those four words sound rather ominous as you think about laying out all of your dying wishes. The fact of the matter is that if you don’t leave a will then you dump that responsibility on your loved ones, or worse yet people that don’t care. I’ve prepared four different wills in my lifetime, working with both attorneys and even Legal Zoom. One of my wife’s recent employment benefits includes legal services, and we certainly want to take this opportunity to update our will in particular.

Our last legal paperwork was done in Texas, so this will be the Oregon version. My wife’s daughter lives here in Portland so it’s an easy decision to make her “Executor” or “Successor Trustee.” Where we end up next is always in question, so chances are we will be making future changes that might involve moving this role to one of our two other children. Our plan this time is to prepare a “Living Trust.” I’ve filled out all the forms and will take them to the attorney tomorrow. My wife and I will then work with him to determine our best strategy based on cost and effectiveness.

I tried to explain some of this back in Post #166, so like most people I’ve been procrastinating on this Last Will update for some time now. As I discovered, a living trust (inter-vivos” or “revocable” trust) is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime and then transferred to designated beneficiaries at your death by your chosen representative, called a “successor trustee.”  It means faster distribution as the successor trustee pays your debts and distributes your assets.  Also, If you become ill or incapacitated, the living trust is written so that your trustee can automatically begin making decisions, as opposed to a will, that without a durable power of attorney, the court will be in control of all related decisions, including appointing an overseer. We definitely want control of our assets and the means by which they are distributed.

The “Living Trust” seems to be the most hassle-free course of action. I mentioned this to my son on the phone today and he immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was all about my recent trip to the Emergency Room. That is not the case – I’ve simply been putting it off, and my wife’s recent legal insurance package essentially removes any cost concerns.

Preparing any will is not a pleasant process. This is why it’s too often avoided. Thoughts of leaving behind all the material goods that you’ve collected in a lifetime can be disturbing. All that you’ve worked for given away to others that probably don’t want them and certainly won’t appreciate them in the same way you did. After all, who wants a 1955 Sherm Lollar White Sox jersey other than me? Even my son is a die-hard Cubs fan. The Egyptians believed you could take them with you, but those were real treasures. (See Post #805). I’m also not a religious man, but I can’t help but think of the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, 
The power, and the glory, 
For ever and ever. 

I highlighted the most important words, “Thy will be done.” After my meeting with my attorney tomorrow, I will have fulfilled this important passage. My Will will be done! Amen.

Old Sport Shorts: Bear Down #796

The Bears are up – not down – although it’s time to “Bear Down.” No one does it better than linebacker Khalil Mack, the “Black and Blue Man” version of a Mack Truck. He has 12.5 quarterback sacks this season, six forced fumbles, and one interception for a touchdown. #52 led the “Monsters of the Midway” defense to an 11-5 record and the NFC North Title. This effort even caused me to buy a new hooded sweatshirt, after many years of frustration. Although the transaction at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last Sunday morning may have resulted in my credit card being compromised?

I would probably have more confidence in my Bears against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow if the offense was equally effective. The Eagles were fortunate to earn a Wild Card berth after a bit to much off-season bragging. Da’ Bears, on the other hand, haven’t won it since 1985, when I was half as old as I am right now. That was a special year with a sole loss to the Miami Dolphins, who in the process were able to secure their still-standing “Perfect Season” accomplishment of 1972.

I would like to be comfortable with Bear’s quarterback #10 Mitchell Trubisky. I already have a place in my heart for his uniform number thanks to my baseball idol Sherm Lollar of the White Sox. A few weeks ago I also bought a “Sherm Freakin’ Lollar” t-shirt to muster a few yuks out of my fellow baseball card collectors. They know me as the only guy in the world that collects his cards and memorabilia despite the fact that he’s not even a Hall of Famer. My justification is that the cost of collecting is not as high as the super stars, and he was my true connection between baseball and childhood. This was simply the result of the televised 1959 World Series. The White Sox lost to the Dodgers, but Sherm won a fan for life.

Walter Payton of the Bears has a place on my office wall. “Sweetness” was part of that ’85 Bears Championship. When the team finally returned to the elusive Superbowl of 2007, my allegiance was fractured between the Bears and Colts, dating back to another childhood hero Johnny Unitas. I was a Baltimore Colts fan long before I was a Bears Fan, and when they moved to my then hometown of Indianapolis I was a big supporter. I attended training camps, sold advertising in their games, did promotions & commercials with the team, had personal relationships with coaches & players, and was frequently on the sidelines or a suite. Ironically, I had transferred to Decatur, Illinois, home of the original Bears franchise, when they clashed in Superbowl XLI. I could not pick a favorite.

I’m following the Colts game as I write this; fascinated with Andrew Luck’s return and T.Y. Hilton’s resilience. Plus, they have a Mack of their own. The remarkable Colts are also the first team in history to make the NFL Playoffs after a 1-5 start. I just hope that both the Bears and Colts don’t reach the Super Bowl again, even though I don’t want either team to lose. The Bears game tomorrow is on at the same time as the I.U. vs. Michigan basketball game. I will have to split my time watching. Or, I might get stuck going to the King Tut exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The sad thing is that the Bears are finally televised in Portland after weeks of being forced to follow only bits and pieces of their drives on the Red Zone telecasts. It was frustrating that they were having such a great season, and I could never watch them. They may have to last another week just so I can concentrate solely on watching a Bears game this year, as opposed to dividing my afternoon between I.U., King Tut, and The Bears.

I.U. basketball is also having a good season with a deceptive 11-2 record, 3-0 in the BIG. The concern is that their victories have been against the bottom three teams in the conference by narrow margins, along with a thorough thumping against Duke. Tomorrow they will face an undefeated Michigan team that is both leading the BIG Ten and nationally ranked. Indiana doesn’t seem to have the muscle (a.k.a. thugs) to handle the interior. Their next six conference games are on the road against top opponents, so we’ll be fortunate to win even two of those games. By the end of January, I could have a sour impression of this year’s version of the Hoosiers. I’m also worried that I may end up watching much more of the Bears game, if the I.U. team gets off to another bad start. Unfortunately, I could end up turning off the TV all together if either team doesn’t “Bear Down.”

Colts Win! A good Luck and Mack attack prevails!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Un-collecting #727

I’ve spent a lifetime collecting memories, souvenirs, keepsakes, and other tokens of remembrance. In many cases, even though I paid for them, they really have no value other than personal. They are all only worth what someone else is willing to pay, even those that might have appreciated in value. My wife collects Broadway posters & programs, Fiesta dinnerware, Limoges, signed cookbooks, silverware, jewelry, magnets, and china. She’s inherited Hummel figurines and antique crystal glassware from her mother. My mother left me a stamp collection and lots of photographs. She also collected sewing thimbles and miniatures, that inspired some of my interests in collecting, whereas my father was not a collector, disturbed by anything resembling clutter. Later in life, he put together a small collection of walking sticks, but kept them neatly organized in a corner of the house.

My neighbor growing-up collected baseball cards and coins, so I became interested in these items. Any hobby can get expensive especially if you’re collecting money, so I limited my enthusiasm to pennies. I have yet to finish a collection of Lincoln head cents dating back to 1909. In the last couple years, I’ve gone back to baseball cards as a retirement project, but I’ve tried to stay away from Hall of Fame players because they logically command the highest prices. I’ve also built collections of cuff-links, ties, and suspenders in keeping with my Dapper Dan business image that I tried to maintain while working. With any type of collecting, it’s all about supply and demand; if something is wanted and there are few in existence then the value increases. Thanks to all those moms that threw out childhood baseball card collections from the 1950’s and 60’s, prices on Mickey Mantle cards, for example, have gone through the roof. In the case of collecting pennies, worth is solely determined by the number of coins that were originally minted and current condition.

I’ve spent time in retirement organizing my collectibles and adding to them, even though I should probably be divesting. My son will be interested in some of my baseball memorabilia, but my extensive Sherm Lollar collection is probably not of interest to anyone. He was my favorite player growing up, a catcher for the Chicago White Sox in the 60’s and early 70’s. He will probably never be a Hall of Fame inductee, even though he was arguably the greatest defensive catcher in history. Cooperstown seems to be reserved for great pitchers and offensive powerhouses that often made good pitching look bad. He was my retirement foyer into collecting baseball cards again since most of his cards and memorabilia are affordable. It gave me a good sense of the variety of cards that were produced over the 17-year span of his playing career followed by several coaching stints. He touched the lives of many HOF members along the way from Yogi Berra to Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson.  Who was that Masked Man? (See Post #5) and how to eventually get rid of this collection?

At this stage of life, we should be un-collecting rather than collecting, divesting rather than investing. Otherwise, my heirs are going to be stuck with a bunch of stuff that they don’t want. As I’ve learned, it’s much easier to collect things than to get rid of them. I know our family won’t be interested in items like stamps, magnets, cookbooks, photos, porcelain boxes, and even silver service. They take up a lot of space and are a dime-a-dozen on e-Bay. Ideally, we’d like to find people that value these things as much as we do, but without the joy of collecting throughout the years, they are nothing but a pile of junk. It’s a shame that in as we get older, we finally develop the financial resources to buy things we are passionate about, only to realize that they are items that nobody else wants. As they say, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” well it also goes to prove that one man’s treasures are another man’s junk!

Old Sport Shorts: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly #673

It was impossible for all my teams to win yesterday, since the Cubs and White Sox were playing each other. The White Sox season was essentially over Saturday night when the Cubs claimed the Crosstown Cup in addition to gaining even greater odds for post-season play. It was good to get back to the ball park – regardless of the name. As I looked down over the parking lot from the top of Guaranteed Rate Field, I could see the outline of the original Comiskey Park home plate that my baseball hero Sherm Lollar crouched behind for many years. (See Post #5). I also got to see “The Monster” spew fireworks after a White Sox home run, although I had to leave the concession line to watch it. By the way, the lines for food were a big hassle compared to other parks I have visited – it’s too bad that Bill Veeck isn’t still around to fix that problem. He would have been outraged at the lack of efficiency. (See Post #257). It was a flood of memories, and a much needed “W” for the visiting Cubs. The Magic Number is now down to just 5. On the NFL front, my other Chicago favorite, The Mack-revitalized Bears, pulled off a come-from-behind victory over the Arizona Cardinals to somehow lead the NFC North, while the bottom-dwelling Lions upset the evil Patriots. Oh, and the Cleveland Browns finally won a football game. All “Good.”

The “Bad” of weekend sports included the Colts loss to the Eagles and the I.U. defeat by the Michigan State Spartans. In both cases, the “L”was predictable, but I was hoping for the upset. It was a “welcome to the BIG” message to the undefeated Hoosiers, and no-Luck in the Red Zone for the visiting Colts against the defending Super Bowl Champs.

On the “Ugly” side, I should include the 10-4 loss by the Cubs, as White Sox bats prevailed in the Crosstown series opener. I was glad the Sox got one victory, so it was a good ugly. Maybe next year? – as we say good-bye to legendary Chicago broadcaster Hawk Harrelson. Meanwhile, back home in Oregon, the Ducks displayed the crowning jewel of college football ugliness. They managed to blow a comfortable 24-7 half-time lead over favored Stanford. They had the game firmly in hand in the waning seconds, until those hands failed them. A costly fumble allowed the Cardinal to win against the ugly ducklings, a thing of swan-like beauty for the visiting fans in red. I admit to “seeing red” myself as the ball popped loose. OMG!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a Clint Eastwood classic. It also best describes my sports-related emotions over the past four or five days. The week ahead is critical, as the MLB Playoff stretch-drive unfolds. I’m worried! The Cubs could raise their ugly heads by squandering a narrow Division lead to the Brewers and then losing the Wildcard spot to the Cardinals. Let’s hope not, but that could be the Ultimate Ugly!

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