Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Odell's Catch

I don't usually include football in my meanderings. Frankly, I don't know enough.

But, like wine, I like what I like, and I think Odell Beckham Jr.'s catch is worth a comment.

Have you seen the size of that man's hands? Notwithstanding that, the catch was remarkable. Insane and ridiculous.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

517 Miles

Joe Posnanski was probably born a story teller, but I don't doubt he would tell you he learned some of it from his friend, Buck O'Neill. In that case, "friend" isn't the right word because, you see, Joe and Buck had a bond beyond that.
The last time I saw him, he was in his hospital bed. When the doctor said he had some news, I began to walk out and Buck asked me to stay. “He needs to stay,” Buck told the doctor. “That’s my son over there.”

Joe's Blog (http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/) is just good reading, no matter the subject, but when he talks about Buck, the writing gets great. Just this week he recounted some of the stories about Buck that you can read in his book, too. Here is one of my favorites, Joe is talking about Buck's ability to see the best in people and to let go of anger:

A foul ball

We were in Houston, at a ballgame, and I saw a man steal a foul ball from a boy. It was flagrant – the man just took the ball right away from the boy, and he held it up high like it was the head of Medusa, and I said: “Would you look at this jerk?”

“What’s that?” Buck said.

“That guy down there, he just took that ball away from that kid.”

Buck considered the situation. He said: “Don’t be so hard on him. He might have a kid of his own at home.”

Yes, that was Buck O’Neil – he just saw the best in people, even people who took foul balls away from little kids. Maybe he’s got a kid at home. That was a good one; I had to give Buck credit, only then something occurred to me.

“Wait a minute,” I said to Buck. “If he’s got a kid, why didn’t he bring him to ballgame?”

I smiled triumphantly. But Buck did not hesitate.

“Maybe,” he said, “the kid is sick.”

"Nancy" tells the story of why the great pitcher, Satchell Paige always called Buck "Nancy" and another favorite, "The Sound."

The sound

“I was a kid in Florida, in Sarasota, and the New York Giants trained in Sarasota. When teams would come, we’d stand outside the ballpark, and we would get the balls they hit over the fence during batting practice. We’d sell them to the tourists. And we made a stepladder so we could climb a pine tree out there. That way we could look into the ballpark.

“The Yanks were in town. I’m out there behind the fence, and I hear this sound. I’d never heard THAT sound off the bat before. Instead of me running to get the ball, I ran up the ladder to see who was hitting it. Well, it was a barrel chested sucker, with skinny legs, with the best swing I’d ever seen. That was Babe Ruth hitting that ball. Yeah.

“I don’t hear that sound again until 1938, I’m with the Monarchs, we’re at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. We’re upstairs, changing clothes, and the Grays are taking batting practice. I’ve got nothing on but my jock. And I hear that sound. I ran down the runway, ran out on the field, and there’s a pretty black sucker with a big chest and about 34 in the waist, prettiest man I’d ever seen. That was Josh Gibson hitting that ball.

“And I don’t hear the sound again until I’m a scout with the Cubs. I’m scouting the Royals. When I opened the door to go downstairs, I heard that sound again. I rushed down on the field, and here’s another pretty black sucker hitting that ball. That was Bo Jackson. That’s three times I heard the sound. Three times. But I want to hear it a fourth. I go to the ballpark every day. I want to hear that sound again.”

We lived in Kansas City when the special committee was authorized to induct players from the Negro Leagues and when Buck was not voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Buck's LIFE had been spent in baseball, and it concentrated on the Negro Leagues and then the preservation of the memories. It was a mystery then and it remains a mystery why Buck didn't get in, but there is a post script.

As soon as he knew he didn't make it, he wondered if they would let him speak for the ones who did get in, 17 who were all dead. He did speak for them and he led the crowd in "his song," the one that he used every time he spoke and that I had the honor of singing with Buck on two occasions--it repeats the phrase, The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

While Buck didn't get into the HOF in Cooperstown on that day, he did make it. As one of four "Character and Courage" statues.

One is of Lou Gehrig, the "Iron Horse" who played every game until the disease that carries his name downed him.

One is of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the race barrier in baseball.

One is of Roberto Clemente, a great baseball player who died in a plane crash as he was trying to deliver rescue supplies after an earthquake ravaged Nicaragua.

Here is how Joe describes the fourth statue:

The fourth statue, though, stands apart. It is in an entryway, and it is of a man in a suit, looking sharp. He holds a baseball cap in his right hand, and his left hand crosses over. The man has a big smile, a welcoming smile, and it looks like he’s about to break into song, which is right, because Buck O’Neil always was about to break into a song.

The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

Yes, Buck O’Neil is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives on. I see that statue, and I see him. More, I hear him. Every day, I hear him.

Yep, only 517 miles from here. Better get going.

Monday, November 10, 2014


It seems that I have only so much storage space for words. Words are so handy, we have this wonderful language that has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world, it is so satisfying to pick out the right one for the occasion. But it is frustrating when I can't find that special word.

Maybe it has to do with the way I encountered the word? For example, I can always remember the word "porte cochere." It is an unusual word, I think, but I remember exactly where I was and how I first heard it--a fellow I worked with, Al Block, was describing to me the way a building should look and function, and he said it would have to have a "porte cochere." He knew what it should be, how it should be used, and he also knew that the word rhymed with "billionaire."

Al also used the word "bollard." Another one you don't hear all the time.

Then there are words that make me struggle. I have to go through the alphabet mentally several times, get side tracked and sometimes never come up with the word "pergola." It just doesn't sound like a structure in the garden that has a slatted covering. More like a sore on your butt?

I'll bet it is just another one of those signs of age. You have all heard me quote my dad, "I'm gettin' to the age where I spend half my time tryin' to pee and the other half tryin' to think of somebody's name."

Well, the third half of the day I spend "tryin'" to think of the right word.

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election Day

Two things stand out as disappointing in my election day experience.

First, and certainly the most important was my lack of good knowledge about the local candidates, the candidates for school board and city council. Sure, I had my vote figured out for the races that were covered by the online news sources, Yahoo! or CNN, but the stuff you get on the internet does not cover local matters. Newspapers are in decline, most of us think that news that is over a few hours old is irrelevant.

There was a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Virginia that would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces killed in action to pay no real estate taxes as long as they occupied the real estate and did not remarry. The amendment passed. Well, duh!! In a state with 840,000 veterans and a huge military presence. There are actually a couple of pretty good reasons to NOT pass that amendment: 1) the state does not collect real estate taxes, that is a local source of funds, so having the state pass the amendment is like paying for my beer with the neighbor's credit card. 2) Arguing the negative on this would be personal and professional suicide. Sort of like arguing that puppies are not cute. So, no debate. I voted for it!! Don't throw stones.

Second, the turnout. Why do American's take this privilege for granted? It does make a difference. For example, Mark Warner leads Ed Gillespie by about 12,000 votes. If every registered voter in Virginia Beach showed up and voted just like the actual Va Beach voters (about 45% turnout), that lead would be 2,000 right now. It is probably going to a recount, as the margin will likely get more narrow since the absentee ballots are often from older voters who lean Republican and the military (not in favor of the Obama cuts that Warner voted for 97% of the time).

I was not thrilled about showing up at the poll to perform my volunteer duty as an Election Official at 5:00 am and staying (can't leave and come back) until after 8:00 pm, but glad I did it.

Now, see about being better informed for the next election.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I have groused on this blog about the way we have been brainwashed into thinking that processed foods and low-fat/low red meat diets are good for you. They want you to eat margarine instead of butter, diet drinks, soybeans instead of meat and pasta instead of eggs and other natural foods.

The Framingham Study that implanted the notion of "high cholesterol, artery-clogging" foods steered us toward bad stuff for several decades before they found that the people in their study who violated their "life-saving rules" actually lived longer than the ones who obeyed them.

Science has to deal with the actual results, not the ones they want to see.

Now, we find that a high-protein breakfast with eggs, meat and other high-protein foods helps you lose weight or keep the weight off.


Drat! I really, really want science to tell me that a piece of pecan pie and a cup of coffee is the best breakfast.