Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Amazing Story - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Amazing Story

This blogpost has nothing to do with the 50’s & 60’s while growing up, but it’s an amazing story that Fish Report readers will hopefully enjoy:

SS Warrimoo


The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result. The Warrimoo's position was LAT 0º 31' N and LON 179 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899.

"Know what this means?" First Mate Payton broke in, "We're only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line".

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ships position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather & clear night worked in his favor.

At midnight the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line! The consequences of this bizarre position were many:

The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & in the middle of summer.

The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.

The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.

In the bow (forward) part it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in:

Two different days,

Two different months,

Two different years,

Two different seasons

But in two different centuries - all at the same time.


Wonder if this exploit was repeated in 1999-2000? If not, we’ll have to wait 83 years for the next opportunity!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Meeting Cousin Jared Hoying in Person - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Meeting Cousin Jared Hoying in Person

After Jared Hoying was called up to the Texas Rangers from his AAA Round Rock assignment last week (click here for interview), and since the Rangers were visiting the Tigers this weekend, a bunch of fans from the Loramie area traveled to Detroit for the Saturday night game. My son and I also attended and met with many of them at the game, which the Tigers won 9-3, breaking the Rangers 10 game winning streak.

The following "Go Rangers" banner was signed by all the kids in Loramie elementary school, wishing the best for Jared.

Before the game, Jared came out to talk to all his hometown fans, giving autographs and taking pictures. Since it had rained before the game, there was no batting practice, so he spent a lot of time with everyone. However, once the tarp came off the field, he was all business as shown in the following photo of him alone in the dugout before the game trying to get focused after all the pre-game activities with family and friends.

Jared started in center field, batting 8th in the line-up. The scoreboard showed he had batting average of .333.

Meanwhile, the many Jared supporters were getting back to their seats for the big game.

Jared batted three times against future Tiger Hall-of-Fame pitcher and Kate Upton fiancé, Justin Verlander. Unfortunately we didn’t see Kate at the game. But we did see plenty of baseball action. Click here for the highlights. Note Jared, #31 in CF, looking up at three consecutive HR’s by the Tigers in the first inning. 

Recall last May when Jared was called up to the Rangers for the first time, I posted this blog about my famous cousin whom I had never met. Well, that ended Saturday night before the game. He’s a big fan of the Fish Report, because that’s what I yelled out to successfully get his attention! Last Wednesday’s Fish Report included a video of Jared hitting his first Major League home run the day before his 28th birthday and was witnessed by former President George W. Bush along with Jared’s wife, Tiffany and baby daughter, Carly. After the game, he was rewarded with a kiss from his wife and a hug with his daughter as pictured below, but only after he was thoroughly drenched with Gatorade by his teammates for the HR accomplishment.

Saturday night, every time Jared came to bat, big cheers went up surprising the Tiger faithful seated nearby, wondering why there were so many people cheering for a rival ball player; with one avid fan (my sister!) even holding up the sign pictured below saluting Jared. Overheard one conversation by a fan asking one of Jared’s supporters what part of Texas they were from. He responded “Ohio”!

Beyond baseball, Jared is a dedicated family man as reflected by the number of family members in attendance at Saturday’s game as well as in the photo above from Jared’s twitter account from a game last summer. One family member who would have loved being there is his 90 year old grandpa and my uncle Lindy, pictured below in his Ranger attire. Lindy was quite a baseball player in his day as well. He could hit, play defense and run fast just like Jared.

Jared is also an avid outdoorsman, loving to fish and hunt. Maybe the catch shown below will earn him a spot in Fish Report Wall of Fame.

Well Jared didn’t have quite as successful night Saturday as earlier in the week, going hitless, with a line drive out to center, a couple ground balls that were close to infield singles because of his speed, and this video of his last at bat with two outs in the 9th inning.

The entire family is really proud of Jared and his accomplishments, wishing him continued success. It was indeed a real pleasure to finally meet Jared and watch him play.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The day Roger Ditmer ran home... 90 miles!

Back in 1976 Houston alum Roger Ditmer, an accomplished high school track star, decided he would run home... 90 miles! Below is an article that appeared in the Sidney Daily News when the newspaper picked up on the story. Last night on Fish Report LIVE! we spoke to Russia High School track coach Dan Schafer, who is a friend of Roger and told the story from 41 years ago. To hear Coach Schafer's version, click here.

Roger made the news for actions in 1976

Roger Ditmer (left) with family friend and current Russia boys track coach Dan Schafer

Roger's 1974 Houston HS track jersey

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Johnny Carson - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson, pictured on the left with sidekicks Doc Severinson and Ed McMahon, was my favorite comedian growing up, although it was tough to stay up through the 11:00 news for the Tonight Show at 11:30, then make it to school or work the next day. Johnny took a lot of ribbing about his many divorces; ironically all his ex-wives had the same first name Joanne. He’d often get kidded about his marital issues by guests like Don Rickles, plus Johnny would perform self deprecating jokes during his nightly monologue. Speaking of jokes, I heard one recently that reminded me of the kind Johnny would tell. If he were still alive, it would go something like this:

My young daughter asks my ex-wife Joanne one day, "how much do you weigh?". Joanne replied, “It’s not proper for a lady to ask another lady her weight.” The daughter then asked her mother how old she was. And again, she was told that it’s not right to ask about another lady's age.” Then finally, the daughter quizzed her mother on why she had divorced her father. Joanne sternly replied that's another unacceptable question to ask a lady. Feeling really frustrated, the daughter goes to school the next day and asks a friend how she can find out the information about her mother. Her classmate suggests she check her mother’s drivers license in her purse sometime when she was not looking. So the little girl did exactly that, finding the information on her mother’s drivers license. She then told her mother, “Mom, you weigh 128 pounds and are 32 years old; plus I know why you divorced dad. The mother acknowledged the daughter was right about her weight and age, but asked how she knew the reason for the divorce? The little girl responded, "It shows right on your drivers license that you got an 'F' in sex!”

That’s all unlikely conjecture on my part, since Johnny never had a daughter, just three boys pictured with their dad on the right! By the way, today, drivers from Oregon would not get the joke per this article!

Johnny was raised in Nebraska, near the home town of a fraternity brother of mine. I travelled with him back to Nebraska over New Years one year while in college. This previous blog tells about that trip and the infamous blind date with his sister. Literally, every building in the small town of Gibbon had some sort of Johnny Carson memorabilia emblazoned on its walls. Everyone in town was proud of their famous celebrity. Interestingly, Johnny hired a joke writer from the same area in Nebraska by the name of Dick Cavitt, pictured below. Dick eventually went on to host his own late night show.

A little known fact about Johnny’s sidekick Ed McMahon came about after Johnny’s death in 2005, Ed fell upon hard times and was about to default on the mortgage of his Beverly Hills home. At the time, real estate mogul, and now President, Donald Trump, announced that he would purchase the home from the mortgage company and lease it back to McMahon so the home would not be foreclosed. Trump’s spokesperson stated, "For Mr. Trump, this acquisition was not business-related, but was meant to help out an American icon.” Here’s a video from that period.

Back to Johnny, he loved doing various skits playing favorite characters like Carnac, Aunt Blabby, Art Fern and Floyd R. Turbo. Carnac the Magnificent was my favorite, as he was given the answer to an unknown question by McMahon and had to guess the question. Here’s a funny Carnac skit from YouTube.

But the most famous Carson bit of all time occurred when Johnny was just being himself with guest Ed Ames, who played the American Indian Mingo on the Daniel Boone TV show back in the ’60’s. Check it out by clicking here.

Late night TV is ok today, but Johnny was the best in my view! As proof, every night Carson would be watched by 15 million viewers on NBC, more than double the combined total for his replacement Jay Leno and CBS late night host David Letterman.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Another Hole-in-One Memory - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Another Hole-in-One Memory

Last week’s blog referenced a hole-in-one by a recently deceased friend. Well, I was reminded of another hole-in-one on the very same par three by a former Green Bay Packer, now also deceased, who I had the opportunity to play golf with a number of years ago. His name was Norm Masters, #78 pictured above, and he played under legendary coach Vince Lombardi, also pictured above with Norm’s autograph in the highlighted area along with the autographs of all his 1962 NFL Championship teammates. Norm also played on Michigan State's 1955 Rose Bowl championship team under Duffy Daughtery.

My golf round with with Norm came one Sunday morning when one of their usual foursome could not play. His regular playing compatriots routinely had the first tee time reserved each Sunday so they could play quickly and then get to 11:00 mass with their families. They paired me up with Norm cause they had all heard his stories countless times. So I was their guinea pig with strict instructions to play fast and not hold up the group. Knowing that Norm was a former NFL lineman, I appreciated riding with him to hear his stories for the first time. He did not disappoint!

When we got to the infamous par three, he proceeded to tell me how he had hosted several of his former Packer teammates years earlier for golf. At that 198 yard hole, he was the last golfer in the group to tee off and he luckily holed the shot. But his teammates pulled the silent treatment on him, literally ignoring the accomplishment, climbing into their carts, heading for the green without acknowledging the feat in any way. They proceeded to go to their balls, hit their next shots, and finish the hole without ever saying one word to Norm about the hole-in-one or anything else. And as they were walking back to their carts, the former Packer teammate keeping score asked Norm what he got on the hole and he responded, "A ho-hum hole-in-one, you $&%@ ^&%&$!”.

Norm also had some funny Lombardi stories as well. Once during practice, a rainstorm interrupted an afternoon scrimmage, and Lombardi ordered all of the team into a nearby shed to be protected from the rain. Norm found a pail of ice chips and when Vince wasn’t looking, he would throw some against the wall of the tin shed. It sounded just like hail. Lombardi believed it and called off the scrimmage. They loved it.

And Norm was always the best source of rumors about the team, since during training camp and while on the road, his room was always directly across from the coach's office, probably because he was the orneriest of the bunch. Apparently Norm would tippy-toe out across the hall every time Vince would raise his voice. He'd put his ear to the door and catch all the details. He knew about possible trades, cuts, everything - until Coach figured it out and his room location was changed.
A photocopy of the following check dated in 1959 was found on-line signed by Vince Lombardi and made out to Norm. I would love to hear ole Norm tell the story behind this payment!

Another story Norm shared, "When I go to these celebrity golf tournaments and play in a foursome, someone in the gallery always asks, ‘Which one is the celebrity?’ Norm would respond, Well, I’m the guy who is seen in a lot of plastic surgery commercials. I’m the ‘before’ picture.”

Norm played in the early days of his career without face-masks, so as a lineman, his nose was broken countless times. The photos don’t lie!

After his Packer days, Norm ended up owning a number of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises across the mid-west. And he always told this KFC joke about his work:

"After watching sales falling off for three straight months at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Colonel calls up the Pope and asks for a favor. The Pope says, "What can I do?" The Colonel says, "I need you to change the daily prayer from, 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken'. If you do it, I'll donate 10 Million Dollars to the Vatican." The Pope replies, "I am sorry. That is the Lord's prayer and I can not change the words." So the Colonel hangs up. After another month of dismal sales, the Colonel panics, and calls again. "Listen your Excellency. I really need your help. I'll give you $50 million dollars if you change the words of the daily prayer from 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.'" And the Pope responds, "It is very tempting, Colonel Sanders. The church could do a lot of good with that much money. It would help us support many charities. But, again, I must decline. It is the Lord's prayer, and I can't change the words." So the Colonel gives up again. After two more months of terrible sales the Colonel gets desperate. "This is my final offer, your Excellency. If you change the words of the daily prayer from, 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken' I will donate $100 million to the Vatican." The Pope replies, "Let me get back to you." So the next day, the Pope calls together all of his bishops and he says, "I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that KFC is going to donate $100 million to the Vatican." The bishops rejoice at the news. Then one asks about the bad news. The Pope replies, "The bad news is that we lost the Wonder Bread account."

Norm said in those days you had to play through the pain otherwise you were not paid. And that’s exactly how he lived his life, never complaining about his many ailments resulting from football injuries. In fact, after he was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer, he swore his doctor to secrecy, never telling anyone even his wife and family about the cancer. His “sudden” death in 2011 was a shock to all of us. Norm’s tactics remind me of one of my Ford retiree groups that gets together monthly for lunch. We had a rule that no one can talk about medical problems because we were finding that’s all that was being discussed once the topic came up. However, that practice backfired on us a few years back when suddenly one of our regular members did not show up. Someone called his home and found out from a family member that he had died! We’ve since relented a little bit on what can be discussed.
Someday I’ll share the story of my hole-in-one, but I first have to make one! My closest attempt came on that same par three playing with my brother. The ball ended up about 5 inches directly behind the hole; close but no cigar!

Thanks for the memories Cory...

Cory Luebke had our family cheering for the Padres in 2011
I couldn't help but feel a little shocked and sad when I received an email at work Monday morning around 10:00 AM. It read:

"Cory Luebke pitched for Charlotte on Friday night, had decent numbers, and then decided to retire. I have no other details at this time."

I didn't know Cory well, but I followed his professional baseball career because he was a kid from Marion Local High School not too far from here. I cheered his success when he finally made his major league debut with the San Diego Padres in September of 2010 and felt a little "hometown pride" a few times during highlights of his pitching performances over the years.

Cory's best year was 2011 with the Padres when he started the season in the bullpen and pitched so well he was promoted to the starting rotation. He signed a nice contract in 2012 and was 3-1 before elbow injuries resulted in two Tommy John surgeries that stole most of the magic in his left arm. He made a few big league appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016 and was pitching with the Chicago White Sox Triple-A club in Charlotte before making his decision to retire. 

Cory certainly had a lot of fans just like me. Fans who may not have been close to him personally, but rooted for him. Many times I recall being at local high school sporting events and seeing San Diego Padres hats on guys I knew were Cincinnati Reds fans. Major League Baseball most definitely profited from merchandise sales as a result of Cory Luebke, that's for sure.

My favorite Cory Luebke story took place in June of 2011. I was in San Diego on vacation with my family and we decided to take in a Padres game. As luck would have it, the Padres were hosting the Washington Nationals and another local kid named Craig Stammen from next-door Versailles was on the Nats pitching roster. We already knew Craig, so we chatted with him before the game started, got an autographed ball, and impressed a few Padres fans around us who asked how we knew a major league ball player! I thought if those fans were impressed with Craig, I wonder what they would think if I could get Cory over here. The only problem was Cory didn't know who I was. I waited patiently during the Padres batting practice until Cory and a teammate came out of the bullpen door and were jogging towards their dugout. When they were halfway across the field I yelled out a huge CORY! Both guys looked at me, but continued to jog. Next, I yelled, CORY... RUSSIA OHIO! He stopped in his tracks, took a 90 degree turn and came our way. Cory talked with my family for ten minutes. He asked what was happening back home, gave my 7-year old son an autographed ball, and signed non-stop for all the other kids that swarmed him because of me.

What's that old saying, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"?  Cory Luebke most likely fulfilled a life-long dream playing Major League Baseball and I'm sure he's smiling about that right now. As I write this blog post, I'm smiling too about that summer day in 2011. Thanks for the memories Cory.

A vacation to remember for my son in 2011

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

70th Wedding Anniversary - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

70th Wedding Anniversary

Tomorrow would have been my parents 70th wedding anniversary. The above wedding photo was take in front of St. Patrick’s Church on May 3rd,1947. Mom & Dad had five children and I was the oldest, pictured at the far left on the photo below taken at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary at the Minster KofC hall in 1962. I was 14.

Our family really enjoyed sports of all kinds, especially playing ball. There was hardly a summer day would go by without having a game. Mom liked to pitch while Dad and the rest of us would be in the field. Instead of a catcher, we used the wall of the corn crib for a backstop. We took turns batting, and whether getting a hit or an out, the batter would grab a glove and go to the field taking the place of someone who would be the next batter. We would then use fantom baserunners and keep track of the runs scored for each batter as they took their turn. Technically, we were counting RBI’s rather than runs scored, but who cared. There were no strikeouts, so everybody stay in the batters box until they hit the ball, which helped all of our batting skills improve. Since I was the oldest, to keep things fair, I would bat left handed and over time got quite good at it. But it never paid off in Little League, as our coach didn’t believe in switch hitting.

Sometimes, when our cousins would visit, we’d make up teams and create makeshift diamonds in whatever nearby field had been cleared as shown in the photo below next to the wheat field with the barn in the background. Since Dad had 13 brothers and sisters, while Mom had 10, we either had visitors every summer weekend or we visited one of their families when the ball games would always commence.

During the winter months, we would turn to basketball, playing all kinds of games, like “horse” or ‘pig” in our barn that looked a lot like the photo on the right. I’d sometimes go one on two against my sisters. If we had visitors, we’d make up teams and play a game of 21, win by two.

The gym set was always another fun place to play. We would have competitive games there as well, trying to see who could swing the highest, jump the farthest out of the swing, or hang upside down the longest. Dad was forever fixing things like the torn chains, worn out bolts and anchors. We beat the heck out of that set. The photo below must have been when it was new, since the grass below each swing soon disappeared, never to return.

During our recent visit over Easter, we had a chance to pay our respects to Mom & Dad interred in the family compound of grave-sites at the rear of St. Michael's cemetery overlooking the Loramie Creek. The wind was just right so the smell of freshly spread manure was prevalent in the air; or black gold as Dad used to call it. The burial compound was formed when Dad's younger brother Frank died suddenly on the 4th of July, 1979, after which all the family members residing in Ft. Loramie bought burial plots together next to Frank in the area of the cemetery circled in red below. The family farm was situated along the same creek further north, so being buried there together in the back next to the creek was considered by the close-knit family as the perfect spot to spend eternity!

Without that eventful day 70 years ago tomorrow, our family would not exist and we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy all the wonderful times together. For that I’m eternally grateful. A memorial mass in Mom & Dad's honor and also for my uncle Bob and Aunt Carolyn will be held tonight (May 2nd) at 6:30pm in St. Michael’s church. Unfortunately we cannot attend being here in Michigan, but no doubt the family will be well represented for the service and will undoubtedly reminisce about those awesome days.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad. Thanks for all the wonderful times and special memories.

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