Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Vin Scully - 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

Vin Scully

Today is retired LA Dodger announcer Vin Scully’s 91st birthday. He is an amazing personality not only in baseball but all sports. For years, he was the TV announcer for the World Series games and always provided an informative and entertaining telecast. He broadcasted for 67 seasons, a record for any announcer in any sport.

The living baseball legend called Don Larson’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, four Sandy Koufax no hitters including a perfect game against the Cubs in 1965, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, the hobbled Kirk Gibson’s epic World Series Game 1 walkoff homer in 1988 ("In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened") and many more classic baseball moments.

He wasn’t as flamboyant as Harry Carry or Bob Uecker, but his amazing stories were the greatest. To quote MLB.com, "You could build Vin Scully's legacy with his calls of some of baseball's most iconic moments -- the walk-offs, the perfect games, the World Series wins. But what made him so special, what made him America's voice, has always been his ability to fill in the gaps with bits and pieces that breathe new life into the game, day after day, for more than six decades. The man could turn a grocery list into poetry.” A couple examples follow:

Normandy Invasion Heroics:
On the 71st anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, Scully made sure his audience wouldn't go uninformed, sprinkling anecdotes from that fateful day throughout the game. Ever the showman, in the 8th inning, Scully told the tale of Lt. Col. John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, otherwise known as "Mad Jack.”

Jack, as you may have guessed, more than lived up to his name: "He actually jumped from his landing craft with a sword in hand," Scully explained. "He also threw a grenade for good measure as he ran towards the battle, and he managed to capture over 40 German officers at sword point during one raid.”

He closed the game by telling of a young author, slated to land on Utah Beach on the frontlines of the invasion. But ocean currents that morning pushed his vessel further down the coast, and he and his fellow soldiers ended up reaching land at a point less-heavily defended by the Germans, helping him survive the day. The author's name? J.D. Salinger, and he happened to have the draft of the first six chapters of "Catcher in the Rye" in his backpack the entire time.

MADBUM Madison Bumgarner:
“During spring training in Arizona, Bumgarner and his wife were roping cattle, which is what they do—one-one pitch. Sinker low ball. Two and one—and they were startled by a large snake. And Madison thought it was a rattlesnake, so he grabbed an ax and hacked the snake to pieces. But there’s something more to this story—low ball pitch. Low. Ball three. Three and one—His wife Ali examined what was left of the snake, she found two baby jackrabbits. And after she extracted them—three one pitch to Turner. Way inside. Ball four—she noticed that one of the rabbits was alive. Well his wife brought the rabbit back to their apartment, the next days they kept it warm, bottle nursed it, and the rabbit was soon healthy enough that they released it into the wild.”

Jackie Robinson #42
“It was in the early ’50s, I was traveling with the ball club and we were in Cincinnati. Now, Jackie Robinson had received a lot of threatening letters, but when we got to Cincinnati, they really took a particular letter very, very seriously... And the Dodgers were having their usual pregame meeting, although on that particular day that meeting was very tense. And it was very serious as you can imagine, talking about what might happen, what disaster might occur to Jackie Robinson... In the middle of these tense discussions, [Gene] Hermanski said ‘I’ve got it!’ and everything stopped and everybody looked at Gene and he said, ‘let’s all wear number 42...’ And it came to pass, years later, where indeed, like Gene Hermanski said, everybody should wear 42.”

Willie Mays Greatest Catch:
“I was also privileged to see Willie make the greatest catch of his career, and he agrees with me that it was. No, not the catch in the World Series against Vic Wertz and Cleveland, I'm talking a Dodger-Giants game at Ebbets Field. Dodgers trailing by a run, bases loaded and two out. We had a young third baseman out of Oklahoma by the name of Bobby Morgan and Morgan hit a line drive out to left center. As soon as the ball left the bat you knew it was an extra base hit. Everybody knew that, except Willie. And Willie, running as hard as he can, left his feet, parallel like an arrow throughout the air, and caught the ball. In those days, certainly at Ebbets Field, we had a gravel warning track. So Willie, going head first, hit that gravel and then bounced head first into the wall. And he was not wearing a helmet. They didn't wear helmets in those days. He hit the wall and rolled over onto his back. The left fielder was a fella named Henry Thompson for the Giants. Henry came over, bent down, there was Willie, unconscious, holding the ball on his chest, and Henry reached down, held it up for the umpires. ‘Out,’ for Bobby Morgan. And that, was the greatest single catch I've ever seen.”

Friday the 13th:
"It's pretty hard to figure out, and in doing a little research about why and how Friday the 13th became such a superstition. You have to go back to an 1869 biography of a musician, where they referred to it as a bad day... in numerology, the No. 12 is considered completeness. You know 12 months of the year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Mohammed in Shia Islam, the 12 signs of the Zodiac, for that matter as well... The number 13 is considered irregular. You might not know it, I never did, in Spanish speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck. Tuesday the 13th. I never knew that.”

Yogi Berra:
"The legacy of Yogi Berra, I believe, as long as people talk about the game, whenever they mention the name Yogi Berra, they will smile. Because he was that kind of a human being. Don Mattingly played with him, knew him so very, very well -- Don usually wears a windbreaker, but he is not wearing the windbreaker tonight. He is proud to wear the No. 8. That was Yogi's number when Don played with him in New York. ... One of the sweetest men, and one of the great players. Overshadowed by some of the great names in Yankee history … but for instance, you know he only hit three home runs less than Joe DiMaggio?”

Vin Scully has won every award one could possibly imagine and is universally considered the finest announcer to ever call a baseball game. I couldn’t agree more.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Michigan & Ohio State - 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

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Michigan & Ohio State

Big game Saturday! OSU-Michigan with another Bid Ten East championship on the line. This game always brings back memories of the Woody & Bo days that I documented in last year’s blog before the Big Game.

Enjoy this video tribute to the rivalry including highlights from the 2006 Game when both teams were undefeated & ranked 1 & 2:

Here are some bits & pieces found on-line about the storied rivalry:


Blind date gone wrong between a Michigan and Ohio State fan: 

In Sunday night's Simpson’s show, Moe, the socially creepy bartender, portrayed a Russian priest marrying a Russian woman in a wedding ceremony. But Moe couldn't go through with it. Which is a good thing, especially since both the priest and the woman weren't Russian. Moe is actually from Brooklyn. And the woman?https://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/university-michigan/wolverines/2018/11/12/simpsons-michigan-ohio-state-rivalry/1975918002/

Seems like there's at least one Wolverines fan on the Simpson’s writing staff.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Old Toaster - 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 (Receive a weekly email whenever there is a new blog post. Just enter your email address in the designated spot below the blog and follow instructions to set up the weekly alert.)

Old Toaster

While at a local restaurant recently, noted for its eclectic decor (see photo above), we noticed a photograph on the wall of the restaurant showing a diagram of an old toaster just like Mom had when we were growing up.

The diagram was taken from the patent for the device and the patent’s originator was Lud Koci, none other than the father of the very same Lud Koci that I had written about in a recent blog. Lud, Sr. was an engineer at Sunbeam Corporation after WWII where he developed many other patents for household appliances, like shown on this add from the period. According to Lud, Jr. his mother would complain about a chore around the home and his father would invent a new appliance to make it easier.

Thus evolved Sunbeam’s product strategy after the war tailored to women like Rosie the Riveter who worked in the factories while all the men were fighting overseas. They had become accustomed to using labor-saving tools, so it was only natural that after the war, new household appliances were created to similarly ease the efforts of homemakers. My mother literally had all the various appliances shown in the ad, but I don’t recall much labor being saved around our house as she always seemed to have a chore up her sleeve for me, which I disliked then and still do to this day!

Mom would reminisce about her wartime work at the Minster Box Factory located in a quonset hut directly behind the K of C Hall. Before the war, the factory made cigar boxes, but quickly converted to making customized corrugated boxes for wartime supplies by employing many young women from the area. The building still stands today as shown in this photo and now houses the Front Porch Candle Company.

The other women she worked with at the wartime factory became her lifelong friends. They all married after the war and had families, but at least once a year for the rest of their lives, they would get together to laugh and share memories of those storied times. Photo below of l-r, Delores, Norma, Betty, Louise, Arckie & Sally at Mom & Dad’s wedding May 3, 1947.

Back to my college friend, Lud, he and his wife Trudy became very active in the Catholic Church, founding Mary’s Children, a non-profit hospice care organization for children with brain injuries. Lud & Trudy have adopted several kids from the organization as shown in this family photo.

Their charitable efforts earned them recognition by Pope Paul II and the Catholic Order of Malta in the 1990’s.

God bless people like Lud and Trudy..

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Election Day - 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 (Receive a weekly email whenever there is a new blog post. Just enter your email address in the designated spot below the blog and follow instructions to set up the weekly alert.)

Election Day

Today is Election Day, and every vote counts. I recall while building our current home, we had registered to vote in our new city and were told the polling place was in a local school, but were never sure which one. Late on election day that November, after work, my wife and I headed to the closest school only to discover it was the wrong location. We rushed to the right precinct only to find the polls had closed. One of the local measures on the ballot was approved by 1 vote, and both my wife and I had planned to vote no. So literally every vote counts - now go out and vote today!

Voting is a right and privilege that I learned first hand from my parents. Each election day, Mom & Dad would alternate trips to vote at the McLean Township Hall & Fire Station located on Elm Street in Ft. Loramie.

My parents would alternate so one could watch the kids while the other voted. As I got older, Dad would take me along and since the polling place was right next to Brucken’s Cafe, we’d go in for a bite to eat after voting so Dad could commiserate about the politicians running for election with the other voters in the cafe.

At the time, Dad and most other farmers in the area were Democrats, while the town-folk tended to be more Republican. Dad grew up during the Depression, so appreciated President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies that included public works projects to employ people who lost their jobs.

Nearby Lake Loramie was a major beneficiary of several WPA projects, which resulted in it being named an official State Park by 1949. Without those WPA projects, it’s likely the dam and spillway would have fallen into disrepair, meaning the lake would have disappeared and regressed back to its pre-canal original form as just another nondescript section of Loramie Creek.

Dad always made it a point to get to know the local politicians, as they were the elected officials who most influenced property taxes, which had serious financial implications for a landowning farmer like Dad. Most critical were the local elected officials for McLean Township where the farm was located, Ft. Loramie School Board and Shelby County Commissioner.

Invariably, Mom & Dad would invite the local elected official and their spouse to our house for an evening playing cards. Dad had a view that cultivating a personal relationship was important so he could stay on top of local issues while encouraging them to keep property taxes for farmers low. And for the most part, they all became life-long friends with my parents. In looking at the current office holders of those positions, namely Bill Rethman (Township Trustee), Tony Meyer (School Board) & Tony Bornhorst (County Commissioner), I found it interesting that all three are sons or grandsons of former office holders that Mom & Dad has befriended years ago. So I’m confident local government back home is in good hands.

In a past blog, I had written about the contentious 1960 Presidential election between Democrat John Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon. Our entire family supported Kennedy, primarily because he was Catholic and a Democrat. But by the end of the ’60’s at the time of the Viet Nam war, Mom & Dad (and most of the rest of the family) had changed allegiances to the Republican party, especially when Ronald Reagan became President.

Well, the apple didn't fall far from the tree, as I also tend to dabble in politics, especially at the local level. It started after retiring from Ford when the Mayor asked me to join the Planning Commission in our home city of Orchard Lake, MI. The Planning Commission develops the long range Master Plan for the City and creates ordinances that support the Plan. My experience at Ford doing strategic and product planning helped immensely in this role.

Within a year, the Mayor also appointed me Fire Commissioner representing Orchard Lake on a Board of three adjacent cities who had a joint Fire/EMS department.

Then the next year, the Mayor asked me to run for an elected, non-partisan City Council position, which I won thanks in large part to my wife and I walking every street in the city of 2400 people knocking on doors. Debby would take one side of the street and I’d take the other. By election day, while shaking hands outside the polls, countless voters would comment they remembered my wife when she knocked on their door. That’s the primary reason I won! Being elected to and serving in public office was one of the most rewarding periods in my life, even though the pay was zero. I used to tell a persistent neighbor frustrated with the City’s direction that “you get what you pay for”!

While serving on City Council for six years, two as Mayor, we were able to drop the millage rate every year to keep property taxes in check while concurrently transforming the joint Fire & EMS department from volunteer first responders to a department staffed with 100% advance life support-trained firefighter/EMTs. Dad would have been pleased!

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