Saturday, October 17, 2015

Meanings to An End

“They say athletes die twice, and it’s true retirement and death can be hard to tell apart.  Both elicit tears and testimonials.” Steve Rushin
In “Meanings to An End” Sports Illustrated columnist Steve Rushin wrote about baseball teams sporting initials or jersey numbers of deceased players – Yankees donning number 8 for Yogi Berra, Cardinals wearing OT parches for Oscar Taveras, and the Cubbies with 14 on their sleeves for “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks.  The Astros wore MH for announcer Milo Hamilton, who In 1980 became part of a stellar Cubs broadcast team that included Jack Brickhouse, Vince Lloyd, and Lou “Good Kid” Boudreau.  When Brickhouse retired the following year, the Cubs replaced him with Harry Caray.  He and Hamilton never got along, and the Cubs fired Milo after the 1984 season. 

Regarding players who lived “deep into extra innings,” Rushin claimed the oldest ex-major leaguer, Mike Sandlock whose his name bore a pleasing resemblance to sandlot, is about to turn 100.  In the on-deck circle, as Rushin put it, is 99 year-old Eddie Carnett.  Rushin loves odd names such as recently deceased former NBA players Harry “The Horse” Gallatin (sounds like gallopin’) and Neal Walk, whose name describes the stages of a baby’s development after crawl, i.e., kneel and walk.  Learning of 32 year-old Yankee catcher Thurman Munson’s death in a plane crash in 1979 gave 12 year-old Rushin a temporary fear of flying and, in his words, “the first hint of my own mortality.”
Thurman Munson
At my reunion was a display honoring deceased classmates, including Bill McAfee and Vickie Vroom who died young.  I thought of lovable Molly Schade and basketball player John Magyar, whose older brother Mike a foot shorter but who still played junior varsity ball.  Next to varsity star James “Big Meek” Meekins, Mike looked like “Mini Me” in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”  Spotting Bruce Allen’s widow at Sunday breakfast, I told her that I frequently wear the A and T Auto cap that her husband gave me.  His sudden death last year is still a shock.

Twice withn 24 hours I heard the word over-served, meaning having had too much to drink.  WXRT’s Terri Hemmert was referring to bar patrons celebrating the Cubs’ series victory over the Cardinals.  At Bucknell I was in that state a few times After a summer fraternity party in Ocean City I had such a hangover I’m still wary of drinking Budweiser.  These days my tolerance for beer is higher.

At bowling, an opponent threw up his hands in exasperation each time he thought he was robbed of a strike, a source of merriment for the Engineers during an otherwise forgettable afternoon.  Back from a 15-day bus trip to French Canadian provinces, Bob Robinson asked how the new IUN building was coming along (slowly) and told me that at church septuagenarian Bob Votaw claimed that this will be his final semester teaching Geology.  Bob’s an easy mark, however, whenever IUN’s department needs him.  Years ago, Toni tuned in his 7 a.m. TV course on rocks, which was so interesting it piqued my interest as well.

Ice hockey season has begun, and the Blackhawks are off to a slow start, getting shut out by the Flyers.  Robert Blaszkiewicz reported: “Our moment with the [Stanley] Cup was fleeting. But we’ve got a great photo with Sue in the background, thanks to the Field Museum.”
 Robert, Max, and Carrie Blaszkiewicz

Michael Bayer, who is supporting Bernie Sanders for President, shared a photo from John Crock.  Conservatives are ridiculing the Vermont Senator’s being an avowed democratic socialist and Hillary Clinton for moving to the left to accommodate the Democratic Part’s progressive base.
At Abuelo’s in Merrillville Ray and Trish Arredondo thanked me for hooking them up with with Kim Jacobs regarding an Indiana Bicentennial documentary and thanked me for giving Kim a copy of “Maria’s Journey.”  Ray wondered if I thought about writing about myself.  Of course, I do that in my blog but told him I’d leave that to others.  Meanwhile I’m planning a special Steel Shavings entitled: “On Their Shoulders: Families of the Calumet Region.”  It will combine my research on the parents of important Regionites with student contributions from Steve McShane’s Indiana History class.

Formerly President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northwest Indiana, Trish is disgusted with rightwing Republican efforts to politicize making fetal tissue available to medical researchers.  She worked closely with Catholic Services when women sought to put babies up for adoption.  One desperate teenager with two kids came to her agency after her husband got caught stealing in an effort to feed the family.  The woman told Trish that she didn’t want another child going without proper food or clothes and preferred placing her with someone who could care for her properly.
 Jimbo and Midge Roberts in Florida, 1984
With a close relative in an assisted living facility, Trish and Ray, like me, were extremely pleased with the hospice care provided, including, as was the case with Midge, friendly companions by their side throughout the day. Sympathy cards keep arriving as folks learn about my mother’s death, the latest from Sue Leary and Mike Olszanski, “hoping that time will help soften your sadness, leaving only beautiful memories that will last forever in your heart.”  Nice

Lee Botts and Pat Wisniewski invited me to a “fine cut” screening of their documentary “Shifting Sands” next week at the National Lakeshore Visitors Center.  I’m hoping IUN grad Amanda Board still works there.  The state of Indiana has designated the film as a 2016 Bicentennial Event and the National Park Service has designated it as a Centennial Event.  Impressive.

Phil arrived from Michigan for Angie’s forty-fifth birthday celebration Saturday.  The night before, he and I took on Dave and Toni in bridge, and eight of us enjoyed spaghetti and hot dogs, depending on one’s preference.  When Phil noticed Becca wearing a shirt like mine, he took a photo.
On WXRT’s show about the year 1981 I heard “Musta Notta Gotta Lotta (Sleep)” and was convinced it was Jerry Lee Lewis.  In fact, when I heard the name, Joe Ely, I thought the host said Jerry Lee.  Ely, a 68 year-old country rocker from Lubbock, Texas, released the introspective album “Panhandler Rambler” earlier this year.

My 48 year-old niece Lisa suffered a heart attack after a blood clot reached her heart.  Miraculously, four days later she, Fritz, and Oliver, in town for daughter Grace’s band competition at Chesterton High school, met us at Applebee’s for Angie’s birthday and Tamiya’s going away party.  The East Chicago Central grad is starting army basic training in November.  Angie’s 65 year-old dad John told Tamiya he went through basic training at age 17.  Fritz, a career naval officer, added that the secret of surviving is being a team player because a unit is only as strong as its weakest link. 

Dave and I turned off the Michigan-Michigan State game when the Spartans failed to convert a fourth down play with less than two minutes remaining.  Ten minutes later, we learned about a miracle play where with ten seconds left Wolverine punter Blake O’Neill bobbled the snap and then lost fumbled the ball right into the hands of MSU’s Jalen Watts-Jackson, who rambled 38 yards for a TD as time expired.  Unbelievable.  Watts-Jackson fractured his hip on the play and Australian-born O’Neill has received death threats.  Michigan State grad Alissa was watching the game in a room full of Michigan fans who sat in stunned silence while she celebrated.

On Saturday Night Live Tracy Morgan hosted 16 months after an auto accident left him near death.  In his monologue he joked: “People were wondering: Can he speak?  Does he have 100 percent mental capacity?  But the truth is, I never did.”  Larry David did a spot-on imitation of Bernie Sanders, using his George Steinbrenner voice that he first employ on Seinfeld.   Bernie approved and joked that “We’ll use Larry David at our next event.”  Michael Bayer, a Sanders supporter, shared a photo from John Crock.  Conservatives are ridiculing the Vermont Senator’s being an avowed democratic socialist and Hillary Clinton for moving to the left to accommodate the Democratic Party’s progressive base.

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