There he stood, waiting for his flight. It was Monday morning after the 1991 NBA All-Star Game recently played in Charlotte, North Carolina. My brother Cliff and I had been the guests of Miller Brewing Company. We first toured the Roger Penske Racing facility, where they built their Indy cars and NASCAR’s. Rusty Wallace’s major sponsor was Miller Brewing. Then we attended the NBA Jam which included the Three-Point Shoot Out contest, the Slam Dunk contest and the Legends Game. On Sunday, the West beat the East and Charles Barkley was chosen MVP of the NBA All-Star Game.
Nineteen Sixty-Three was a very memorable year in the world
of sports. Wilt Chamberlain dropped 67 points
on the Lakers and then 70 the following week on Syracuse.
“Sonny” Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in the 1 round
to win the heavyweight title, and Jack Nicklaus won “The Masters.” A young Pete Rose debuted for the Cincinnati
Reds, and both Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays signed the first $100,000 a year
contracts in Major League baseball history.
The great Jim Brown won the Bert Bell Award by setting the NFL single-season
rushing record with 1,863 yards; the Dallas Texans became the Kansas City
Chiefs; and Jim Thorpe, “Red” Grange, George Halas were elected to the Pro
Football Hall of Fame.
Look into those eyes.
Notice that smile. Now you know why
so many stop by to see him. They come
by, young and old, to say “hello,” pay their respects, to place their hand on
his shoulder or shake his hand. Most of
them want to take a picture with him.
Because of his WWII military service, he has been written about as much
as any Corpus Christi
resident. There are not many Pearl Harbor survivors left, and his life story is indeed
But this is a tribute to a baseball fan.
I have always wanted to write this story but be as it may,
it always became a bit to emotional for me. You see, sometimes we can be too close to
something. So close that it feels
wonderful and hurts all at the same time.
Oh, I tried and then all the memories rose up, my mind reeling, I would
move on to something else, always intending to return. It’s been 33 years. Now that another season of NCAA basketball
has started, I will try again to express my feelings. I will never forget the following article that
was written in the Albuquerque Journal on the morning of April 3, 1983.
While in high school, Jeff Francoeur played football and
baseball. He was a terrific wide
receiver and defensive back on the football team. Jeff led Parkview High School, located in
Lilburn, Georgia, to the State 5A High School Football Championships in 2000
and 2001. He also led his high school to
the State 5A Baseball Championships in 2001 and 2002. He was recruited for both sports near and far,
by many colleges. Head football Coach,
Tommy Bowden, from Clemson University was after Francoeur to play for the
Tigers, and he offered Jeff a scholarship to play wide receiver.
There is no doubt that Pete Rose had a compulsion for
hitting. In the summer of 1990, Pete
Rose confessed to tax evasion and was sentenced to five months in jail and a
fine. In January of 1991, after serving
his time in prison, he was picked up by his son, Pete Rose, Jr. Pete asked his son if he knew where the
closet batting cage was located. “Yes,”
said Jr. “there happens to be one close by. When they got there, Pete asked the attendant
which machine was the fastest.
How do you begin to write about an
icon; one of the few people, other than the Pope, who have been known worldwide
for over a half century? The world knew
his name. He was perhaps the most
recognized man on the planet Earth. What
more could be written? What secrets lie
unknown? His entire life has been
documented for history on radio, film, television, and in more books than the
entire collection of the Encyclopedia Britannica. From the jungles of the Philippines to the
deserts of Africa and all across this great land, the name Ali resonates with
young and old, men and women, of every color and nationality, sitting around
tables and telling stories.
June gives all baseball cranks a chance to relive the legend
of Mighty Casey. Of all the fictional
characters to come out of baseball, none has ever held a place in the minds and
hearts of fans, as has Casey. The
legendary poem, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, celebrates its
128 anniversary this month.
This poem has appeared in nearly all baseball magazines or periodicals
and every true fan has heard of the team known as the Mudville Nine. No matter how many times you have read this
poem or heard it read, you can’t help but sift through the verse to find out
about Cooney and Burrows or Flynn and Blakely.
Umpire Joe West is called “Cowboy Joe” because he’s the only
umpire to record two country music albums in Nashville. As a singer and songwriter, Joe West is
currently the most tenured umpire in all of Major League Baseball. West played quarterback and pitched in
college. I was his suitemate for a time,
while we were in college together. West,
who wears #22, started his umpiring career in 1976. He has worked five World Series, two All-Star
Games, and many league and division series.
Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster, Vin Scully, tells a
wonderful story of how current Atlanta Braves’ pitcher, David Norris, Jr.,
became known as “Bud.” Norris was about
three years old when he and his family entered a restaurant for a bite to
eat. Several of the adults ordered a
beer with their meal. When the waitress
ask young David what he would like to drink he said, “Bud.” His answer broke the family members up. From that moment on, he became known as