Ediion No. 16
June 26, 2012
This offering of The Curbside Chronicles is dedicated to Father’s Day. However, before we start, it is customary to set forth the standings as of this date:
Albeit Ernie has dubbed me Magpie, I choose not to comment at all on the current standings . . . . . for obvious reasons.
I would venture to guess that Father’s Day is special to most if not all of us. Many of our fathers have passed on, but all of us are fathers ourselves and even grandfathers for some. Fatherhood has serious obligations and responsibilities. It also has privileges, too, such as the privilege of bragging about your kids. We have all taken advantage of this privilege from time to time, and we all enjoy hearing about the exploits, successes and travails of each other’s children. There are no braggarts in the HSL, only proud fathers. Keep it going. Share the memories as they are being made.
Speaking of proud fathers, I am reminded of the following story Nolan Ryan tells in his book “Miracle Man”:
My parents came to as many of my ball games as they could when I was in high school. They were there the day in the spring of my senior year when we were playing Deer Park for the district championship to see who would go to the state playoffs. By then I was pretty well known for my fastball, but I was wild. It worked to my advantage that day. I hit the first kid up squarely in the helmet and split it. I hit the next guy in the arm and broke it. The third kid went and begged his coach not to make him hit. That coach assaulted him verbally in front of everybody and shamed him into standing in there.
I had them after that. If I didn’t walk them, I struck them out because they were up there at the edge of the batter’s box on their toes, ready to bail out. They were so far from the plate that the inside corner was outside to them. I had no strategy and no finesse. I just kept winging them in there, trying to get as close to the plate as possible. They’d forgotten about trying to win the district. They just wanted to go home without any more injuries.
If you were Nolan’s father, you undoubtedly would be proud of your son; however, my guess is that you may not have bragged about breaking someone’s arm . . . except to some close friends in your fantasy baseball league. Truly a memory fit for a memoir.
Father’s Day is a day in which we honor our fathers. We all know that our kids love us, so we insist that they not buy us presents for Father’s Day to prove it (especially with our credit card). However, we must be realistic, too. Our children do not regard us with anywhere near the reverence that we may like. The cartoon below is very realistic for my house.
Invariably, sometime around Father’s Day, I will watch one or more of my three favorite father/son movies:
-- Field of Dreams
-- Legends of the Fall
-- Big Fish
And also invariably, I always shed some tears thinking about my father when I watch one of these movies. In telling you about my ritual, it brings to mind a story that Tony La Russa tells in a Sports Illustrated article about the great Stan Musial:
Musial never struck out 50 times in a season. That was real. “I could have rolled the ball up there to Musial,” another Dodgers great, Don Newcombe, says, “and he would have pulled out a golf club and hit it out.”
The Brooklyn Dodgers pitchers tend to have special memories of Musial because he always seemed to hit his best in New York City. The numbers at the baseball database Retrosheet are not quite complete, but they show that Musial hit .359 with power for his career at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (and a similar .343 with power at the Polo Grounds against the Giants). It was supposedly Brooklyn fans—based on their griping “Here comes the man again,” when Musial would come to the plate—who created the nickname Stan the Man. They held a Stan Musial Day in New York at a Mets game once. Chicago Cubs fans once voted him their favorite player, ahead of all the hometown stars, including their own lovable Ernie Banks. That was real.
“All you have to do to understand what Stan Musial means is watch him around other Hall of Famers,” La Russa says. “You can fool fans sometimes. You can fool the media sometimes. But you really can’t fool other players. And when you see Musial in a group of Hall of Famers, they hold him in such high esteem. . . . It’s like he’s on another level.”
La Russa then tells his own Musial story. He did not really get to know Musial until he became manager of the Cardinals in 1996. By then La Russa had won a World Series, two pennants and more than 1,000 games as a manager. But whenever he would find himself sitting in the office with Musial, he would call his father, Anthony, in Florida.
“Guess who I am in the office with, Pop,” he would say.
And then Stan Musial would take the phone, and he would shout, “Whaddya say! Whaddya say! Whaddya say!” Then he would say, “Mr. La Russa, your son is doing a wonderful job here, just wonderful.”
And later in the day, almost without fail, Anthony would call his son and say, “Was that really Stan Musial?”
Anthony died in 2002. “I always had to tell him, ‘Yeah, it was really Stan the Man,’” La Russa says, and, yes, there are tears in the eyes of the son.
As fathers, we wish only the best for our kids. In that regard, it is my wish and hope that all my children develop some lasting friendships at a young age, that they make the effort and sacrifice to nurture those friendships and that they enjoy often the warmth, humor and satisfaction that comes from those friendships . . . . 28 years of friendship is a good start.
While we all have our biological fathers, there are also other types of fathers, such as America’s Founding Fathers.
Below are the photos of some of the founding fathers of the HSL, as they appeared in the beginning (1980, UNL College of Law):
Please pause in reverence to our founding fathers. A good looking group of fellas, don’t you think?
Twenty years ago this month, we were in Detroit, Toronto and Cleveland. Many, many, many good memories. To help you remember, below are the covers and score sheets of the three games we witnessed, and Dave’s excellent summary of those games.
Without a doubt, that was one of the most ambitious Trips of our 28 years, and undoubtedly one of the best. I recall abundant stories from each city and in between.
More than thirty six years ago, some of us were together in Lincoln, Nebraska for the KISS/Bob Seger concert at Pershing Municipal Auditorium on March 6, 1976.
This concert was No. 1 on Big Guy’s list of best concerts. The Message Board exchange between Big Guy and Bob below is interesting for a couple of reasons:
The first interesting point is that Bob never went to the concert, but has heard about it and tells us that people still talk about it. As Bob says, it must have been “a good one” if people still speak of it 36 years later.
The second interesting point is Big Guy’s memory. My memory of the concert is the same as Big Guy with respect to the loudness and the KISS stage show. I don’t recall Seger as having much of a stage show (which is typical, since the promoter does not want the opening act to upstage the headliner). Also, I agree with Big Guy that Bob Seger was phenomenal. However, the fact that Big Guy remembers that the ticket was $6.00 is amazing. I can’t remember what it cost to eat at the $15.00 all you can eat buffet last week, much less something that happened 36 years ago.
I do remember one thing for sure. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played the song “Travelin’ Man.” The lyrics of the song seem to be about Mouse when he was traveling the back roads of Nebraska auditing hospitals. However, the refrain to the song is very apropos to being a son, a father and a member of the 28-year-old HSL:
“Those are the memories
that make me a wealthy soul.”
Well, I gotta close this out because the street cleaner is coming.
From time to time during the year as I peruse the comics, one cartoon will remind me of an HSL manager or an HSL story: