baseball


Person of Interest

Over the last month, my wife Trisha and I have traveled extensively making a point of reconnecting with family and old friends. One of those old friends I’ve known since I was about 10 years old. His name is Danny Telford.

In every school class, there always seems to be one person who everyone likes and respects. In my class, it was Danny. Fact is, it’s still Danny. He’s the guy that heads up all the reunions and other class activities. If someone needs something, they call on Danny. If a classmate happens to be in town and needs a place to stay, they can always stay at Danny’s. Fortunately, he married a wonderful woman named Susan who is equally well liked and respected.

Danny is an example of someone who has reached retirement age, but decided to keep working. As young boys growing up in the Los Angeles area, we were all Dodger fans. Several years ago, Danny landed a job working at Dodger Stadium. He puts in long hours, works every game and event, and is completely dedicated. I don’t think there is anyone who works at the stadium who doesn’t know Danny. He is truly one of the good guys and I’m proud to have him as a friend. (By the way, if you get the baseball package on cable or satellite, you can see Danny on TV durinig every Dodger game. One of his many duties is setting up the microphones for the singers who perform the National Anthem and later God Bless America.)

 

Simplify

I know I’ve written about this topic before, but this week has made it more real for me. My wife and I have been spending time every day at our storage space. Yes, our storage space. I even hate saying the term. Hundreds of dollars a year to store a few dollars worth of goods we will probably never look at or use.

We started out by clearing my late parents storage space. I have to give them credit because they had done a wonderful job of downsizing and organizing. We just needed to go through and decide what to do with the remaining goods. We gave away most of it. We’re not big on garage sales and would rather see it go to people who have a need rather than trying to bargain someone for a few dollars.

Even though my folks did a good job, it’s still a pain in the rear going through stuff. When we were finished with their space, we decided to make it as simple as possible for our kids. That’s why we’ve been working so hard at our storage space. We are almost finished and it feels great. All I can say is, at this point in our lives it’s time to simplify, get rid of the stuff you don’t need, and get organized. You will have peace of mind and your family will be forever grateful.

I should add, our kids still don’t believe that hookah in our storage was a gift from a friend in Turkey. It really was.

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WOW! What a crazy wonderful week.

In the past I’ve written a lot about the power of a positive attitude and the many benefits it can have on our lives. Especially as seniors. It really worked for us this week.

 

As I mentioned in my last blog, my father passed away one year ago. An anniversary of this type can be very depressing and downright difficult while marking the passing of a loved one. We decided we would remember Dad, but in his honor, would also try to have fun. First, we invited some of my wife’s family, her aunt Pat and Uncle Noel, to visit for the week. We had a great time showing them our part of the country and even had a great night out with them and good friends.

 

Then, as the week progressed, several family members who were planning to gather at our home over the weekend began to report very strange and amusing happenings. Typical day-to-day problems or issues  were being miraculously and quickly resolved. In my case, I was trimming a large palm tree high over head. At one point my cutting blade got loose and when I checked it, the nut was missing from the main bolt holding it together. It was a very hot day and I searched high and low for that nut. Finally, I gave up and looked in my garage for a nut that might fit. Finding one, I tried to screw it on the bolt but it became obvious it wouldn’t fit. After several minutes sweating in the hot sun trying to make it work, I looked up to the heavens. As I did, the nut slipped from my hand, bounced on the pavement, rolled all around my driveway, and came to rest – – – right next to the original nut. I looked up and said, “Thanks Dad.” With several of these occurences, our family began to laugh and suggest Dad was orchestrating a celebratory week of remembrance.

 

I know what you are probably saying right now, but hold on. As I walked into the house mid-week, my phone was ringing. It was a man claiming to be a news producer for CBS in Los Angeles. He was putting a segment together about the Los Angeles Dodgers and had come across the story of my father throwing out the ceremonial first pitch almost two years ago. He asked if he could interview me about my father and his being a Dodger fan given the problems the Dodger ownership have been having. I agreed, and after speaking with him, he suggested my wife Trisha and I come to Los Angeles and attend the Sunday Dodger game. He said he would conduct an interview and have his camerman with him. We thought, what a great way to remember Dad and agreed to do it. We also called 5-year-old grandson Jack who lives outside L. A. and invited him to go with us. 

 

Understand, at the time we agreed, Trisha’s aunt and uncle needed to be at the San Francisco airport, an hour and a half drive from our home for a late morning flight. We also needed to meet family at the cemetery in the early afternoon that was another hour and a half from our home. Did I mention I needed to take my mother for lab work at the hospital and be there by 7:30 in the morning before the day even began.

 

It gets better. We then hosted a family dinner for thirteen people at our home and twelve of them spent the night. One of our sons, part of the “planning committee” had forgotten to mention that little detail. Oh well, we all had a great time and enjoyed every minute. It did mean breakfast for twelve in the morning and everyone pitched in. I was in charge of pancakes. After cleanup and swimming, it was now time for lunch. My wife smiled through it all, and it was great fun.

 

We then had to think about getting to L. A., so we called friends who live about half way and invited ourselves for the night. They not only welcomed us but prepared an incredible dinner and dessert. A super night with friends. Back on the road at 7:00 a. m., picked up Jack at Sunday school, and headed for Dodger stadium. Once there we met the producer, a very nice young man, and gave him an on-camera interview. The game was great, and we got to visit our son Michael who works for Fox Sports Net who was working the game.

 

By the time we got Jack home and fought the construction zones on Hwy 5, we got back just before midnight. What a week. But we remembered Dad in a style of family, friends, and fun he would have loved.

 

I should mention, we were shocked to learn it was not a local CBS story. The young man turned out to be a producer for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Dad’s story may be on as early as tonight, June 27. Crazy.

 

Keep it positive.

 

 

If you haven’t heard, there’s trouble brewing. Last week, a Giant fan was knocked down and seriously injured outside Dodger Stadium. He’s currently in an induced coma and believed to have suffered brain damage. No one could or should excuse the thugs that did this horrible thing.

In listening to some of the commentary this week, I’m struck by the nonsensical arguments. Your fans are mean, our fans are saints. Teams are teams and fans are fans. There isn’t any real difference between them. I’m in a unique position to observe this low point in sports history. As a Dodger fan living the last twenty years in the bay area, the plain truth is there are plenty of thugs to go around. Both cities have them, and unfortunately, some of these cretins go to baseball games. There is nothing inherently good or bad about either team or their fans.

Right now, Giants fans are howling because one of their own was struck down. I agree. Catch the s.o.b.’s who did this and hang them. The fact is, upon our arrival in the bay area, my wife and I were excited to take my parents to a Giants-Dodger game at Candlestick Park. Being Dodger fans, and used to the friendly atmosphere of Dodger stadium at that time, we weren’t ready for the abuse we received that night. After returning to the car, my parents thanked us for the game, but advised we should not invite them again. They’d had enough.

Then there is my nephew Robert. Several years ago, he took his girlfriend to a Giants-Dodger game and wore his Dodger hat. As they were walking across the parking lot, he was blindsided and struck in the head. Nearly unconscious and on the ground, he looked up and saw his girlfriend chase down the thug and jump on his back while punching him in the head. Robert decided to marry that girl.

I also have to admit to a brief encounter with a Giant fan several years ago. During the game, he insisted on turning around each time a Giant got a hit and would put his hands in my face while taunting me. I was there to watch a game and not get into a fight, so I simply let him enjoy his fun. By the end of the game, with a few beers under his belt for courage, he decided to give me a shove as we excited. I’m not proud of it, but I did cross-check him into the exit wall. I said I wasn’t proud of it.

Is my point that Giants fans are bad? Not at all. In fact, most of the ones I’ve encountered since they built the new beautiful stadium look like the frat boys from college. Mostly corporate types with sweaters tied around their necks and wearing penny loafers. Not particularly intimidating. The point is most everyone who goes to a sporting event is there to have a good time and enjoy the game. Unfortunately, there is a growing subculture of thugs, who on a daily basis, can be seen everywhere in our world. They also attend sporting events. At the first sign of trouble, these jerks should be unceremoniously thrown out. For a myriad of reasons, violence has always been around sports. While living in Italy many years ago, I remember a game in which a soccer official made a call that went against the home team. Several men jumped the fence and stabbed the official to death. I couldn’t believe it happened.

Our society has this odd notion that we must tolerate everyone. I disagree. I’m all for freedom of expression, but in public we need to raise our standards and expectations. I know I’m an old guy who probably doesn’t get the modern culture. For instance, I don’t understand why a person needs to tatoo every square inch of their bodies, pierce body parts, and swear with every other word. And those are just the girls. I would just like a return to the days when you had friendly rivalries among sports fans. Believe it or not, back in the day, there were many times I witnessed a Dodger fan buy a rival fan a beer and shake hands during the game. It had become a bit of a Dodger Stadium tradition. Times have changed. But good people are still good, and the bad ones have become worse. Our teams are our teams, and mindless thugs have no place stealing our good times. The color of their hat means nothing.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

What’s in a Name?

Many of us retired folks now have grandchildren. One of the fascinating rituals you observe as a grandparent is watching your kids go through the process of choosing names for their children. For whatever reason, naming a child now appears to be one of life’s heaviest burdens. It is an agonizing process that often takes months and is sometimes not resolved until the very last moment.

Don’t get me wrong. Naming a child is a very important responsibility and I’m glad the young parents of today take it seriously. Of course, certain recent celebrities must have had one too many when they named their children. They have presented us with Apple, Ocean, Kal-El, Audio Science, Moon Unit, Pilot Inspektor, and my personal favorite, Moxie Crimefighter. Why the topic of “What’s in a name?” Let me explain.

With all  the devastating news from around the world this week, it’s been difficult to keep a positive attitude. While I typically look to the future for inspiration and motivation, this week I found myself in a reflective mood. For whatever reason I was remembering the twenty-plus years I spent coaching young kids in baseball. Most of them would now be in their 30’s and 40’s, and it made me smile to think of all the joy and wonderful memories from those years.

One of those boys in particular came to mind. It was long ago and well before any of my own sons were old enough to play ball. A friend called me one day and said he had just been contacted by an official in a  baseball league in which all the fathers (coaches) had selected their teams. A number of boys were not selected, and not surprisingly, they were mostly boys from single mother families. He asked me if I would help him coach a team so these boys could play. I said I would be happy to help and we coached those boys for the next two years.

One of these young boys, whose name I have forgotten (you will soon understand why), could not stop talking and asked a continuing stream of questions. It was obvious he simply wanted attention. He was quite small for his age and his mother had purchased a very inexpensive but much too large fielder’s glove. When he bent down to field a ball, I taught him to keep the glove on the ground to make the play. He actually did quite well and I always complimented him to build his confidence. As time went on, I told the team he was like a vacuum cleaner and nothing could get by him. Then it happened. One day I began to call him “Scoop.” Kids being kids, the rest of the team picked up on it and he was “Scoop” from then on.

My friend and I had a team policy that made sure all the boys got to pitch at least once during the season. One day late in the season, at a practice before Saturday’s game, one of the mothers asked to speak to me. She explained that her  son was scheduled to pitch on Saturday and he was very worried. I assured her he would do fine. She said, “No, that’s not the problem. You see, everyone, all the boys on the team, the kids at school, family and teachers now call him “Scoop,” and he’s afraid if he pitches, they won’t call him that any more.”  She went on to tell me how much more confidence he had and how he had stopped trying to gain attention all the time. Scoop’s mom was almost in tears. So was I.

What’s in a name? I’m not sure. Gaining an identity you’re proud of and having people who care is clearly more  important. I hope Scoop went on to great things. I do know on a grey and dreary day, when the whole world seemed to be coming apart, his memory gave me a wonderful smile. Keep that glove on the ground Scoop.  

Worthy Cause

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I don’t use it to promote web sites or causes unless I know they are quite worthy of support. For the last couple of years, our son David has put together a team of runners who raise money for organ donations. I’ve seen recent stories highlighting the large and growing number of people in this country who are in desperate need of an organ transplant. It’s heartbreaking for them, and miraculous for those who receive help in time. One of the stories I recently watched was about the NFL player Chris Henry. Chris was killed in an accident and his mother had the courage to authorize donation of his organs. They went to four persons in need of transplants, and ironically, our son David’s wife Michelle is a nurse at the hospital where those procedures took place. Please take a look at David’s web site, and if you can help, I know you will be helping someone in need. Many of you have given your support to David’s team in past years and he is very grateful. Thank you for supporting such a worthy cause.

                                                             Click Here:  Team Dean Minus Dean Plus 12

After a sports filled weekend with every kind of football bowl game possible (my favorite has always been the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl), I want to make a suggestion intended for all television sports directors. Enough with the up close and personal shots first employed by ABC Sports and ballyhooed by Howard Cosell.

The picture quality is so good now days, we don’t need to be looking up the nose of every baseball pitcher, football coach, or even the occasional fan in the stands. I have actually squirmed in my chair while watching a camerman zoom in on a baseball pitcher looking for the sign. It starts with a full body shot, then rapidly closes in on his face for a view which should be reserved for only those with whom he shares an intimate relationship. Ugh! As a matter of fact, the way a baseball game is covered now days, if you had never seen a game in person you wouldn’t know what was going on. First we get the pitcher’s eyes (and sweat), then the batter’s face (and spit), then if the ball is hit, a close up of the player making the play. Is there a field? Was that grass I saw?

When watching a football game, which is not quite as bad, I still long for the days when we could see all the players at once. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the reciever’s run their patterns as the quarterback decides who to throw to? Just because technology allows us to see every skin flaw doesn’t mean we have to do it. Please Mr. Sports Director, back off just a little. Let us see the field of play. Let us watch plays unfold more naturally. Thank you.

As for the cheerleaders, you”re doing a hell of a job!