Thursday, October 28, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Monday, September 13, 2021
“I occasionally daydream about winning the lottery and using the money to shore up support for international students and contribute to other worthy causes crippled by the pandemic.” Hugh McGuigan
With VU professor Liz Wuerffel and Welcome Project assistant and filmmaker Carmen Vincent videotaping, I interviewed Hugh McGuigan at his Valparaiso home. For a quarter-century McGuigan directed Valparaiso University’s Global Education program, both for VU students seeking to study overseas and international students from all over the world, including Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Bolivia, China, Mexico, and elsewhere. A large proportion enrolled in the VU’s Engineering program and, almost without exception, excelled academically.
Hugh grew up in Minnesota and after graduating from college and a stint in the army, he continued his education while working in international programs. He came to VU from Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, after meeting future wife Sandy, who worked at the university. He built up the program to such an extent that when he semi-retired (he still helps out and occasionally teaches a course), it took two full-time administrators to replace him. McGuigan was particularly proud of international programs that involved the community, including an annual celebration of diverse cultures that involved entertainment and exotic cuisine to which local schools and civic groups were welcome. Hugh often spoke to clubs such as the Rotary and Kiwanis about global education opportunities and involved local eateries such as Don Quijote in providing food for special occasions. He was particularly passionate in arguing that we all are global citizens and that cultural exchange is invaluable for promoting international understanding and civility. Afterwards we enjoyed blueberry muffins that wife Sandy had made, and they told us about a Thanksgiving dinner where they hosted 18 international faculty and their families, including young children, giving rides to those without cars, picking up dinners at Strongbow’s Restaurant, and explaining the various traditional holiday foods, such as turkey (most guests favored the dark meat) and cranberries (one guest poured gravy on his and seemed to enjoy it – I like turkey gravy on anything). Afterwards, Liz and I commiserated that the anecdote wasn’t on tape, but we plan on interviewing Sandy at a later date.
Hugh McGuigan and I both attended Saturday Evening Club (me via zoom since Alissa and Beth were visiting for the weekend). Speaking from Florida was former IUN medical school director Pat Bankston on the need for humility, civility, and reason in our present polarized age of rampant tribalism. He began with the Charles Dickens quote from “A Tale of Two Cities,” that this was the best of times (i.e., rapid development of the anti—COVID vaccine) and the worst of times (some Republicans making vaccine and mask mandates a partisan issue). Bankston quoted a former SEC member who repeatedly claimed that we were going to hell in a hand basket. He used the phrase “exhausted majority” to describe those like himself tired of the vulgar and overheated political rhetoric. The phrase reminded me of Nixon’s use of “silent majority” a half—century ago, but when it came my time to speak I noted that despite efforts by Trump and his minions to demonize anyone who disagrees with them, more unites Americans than divides us. I concluded, “Count me among the exhausted majority.”
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Monday, August 30, 2021
“It was an almost out-of-body experience as a youngster to be able to do that, and now I’ve learned to appreciate it more as an adult.” Lloyd McClendon
Fifty years ago, my first summer in Gary, Lloyd McClendon led a team from the “Steel City” to the Little League finals in Williamsport, PA, against a squad of suspiciously mature players from Taiwan. Leading up to the championship game, the 12-year-old had hit two home runs against teams both from Kentucky and Madrid, Spain. In an interview the Taiwan manager claimed that his pitcher, Chin-mu Hsu would pitch to McClendon because it would be dishonorable to walk him intentionally. In the first inning Hsu walked the Basemore brothers, Ralph and Vincent; then on the first pitch McClendon hit his fifth straight round tripper. His next four at bats in what proved to be the longest game in Little League history at 9 innings, he was issued intentional walks. Hsu, who was taller than the five-foot four McClendon with a high leg kick that resembled Juan Marichal, went on to strike out 22 batters as his team notched the score in the sixth and won it going away, 12-3, in the ninth.
McClendon went on to play for Gary Roosevelt, whose coach, Benny Dorsey, named him team captain his freshman year. After an all-state career, he obtained a scholarship to Valparaiso University, where he was a league MVP. He ultimately enjoyed an eight-year career as a major league player, his most productive season being in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs, with whom he hit 12 home runs; in the NL championship against San Francisco, he went 2 for 3 as a pinch hitter. McClendon then had a long career as a coach and manager. In 2013, after Seattle named him their skipper for the upcoming season, Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker looked back on the 1971 exploits of “Legendary Lloyd,” interviewing teammate Carl Weatherspoon, who told him that there were more than a half-dozen Little League organizations in Gary back then, including their Anderson Field league, and that steelworkers such as his and Lloyd’s dad encouraged kids to get into baseball and let them stay outside after dinner because neighborhoods were safer then. “We all played in the streets until dark,” Weatherspoon recalled. Sunday’s NWI Times front page article by David P. Funk emphasized that Gary’s 1971 squad was the first all-black team to play in the championship. McClendon told him, “You’re 12 years old. You don’t think about economics or racial factors, what it does for a city on so many fronts. You just strap it on and go out and have fun.” Prior to the game, TV announcer Tim McKay and Yankee great Micky Mantle interviewed him. McClendon said, “That’s one of my most cherished memories of everything that happened there. I was terrified. I tried to run past them. I was like, ‘My God, that’s Mickey Mantle.’” Third baseman Roy Lawson, whose father Jesse was the head coach, recalled that few balls were hit to him because opponents couldn’t catch up to Lloyd’s fastballs. After Lloyd weakened in the ninth and left the game, his father and Coach Lawson told him how proud they were of him. McClendon remembered: “What they did for me in that moment defined who I was to become, not only as a baseball player but as a human being and a man of character.”
Second baseman Marcus Hubbard, who batted clean-up behind McClendon, saw himself as a second lead-off batter because Lloyd’s drives generally cleared the bases ahead of him. One thing that impressed Hubbard is how boisterously all-white teams they’d defeated from Maine and Kentucky and their fans cheered for them. When the team returned to Gary, the city arranged a parade in their honor, and the celebrities rode on top of a firetruck down Broadway and were greeted by Mayor Hatcher and Governor Edgar Whitcomb. Said Hubbard, “We didn’t realize until on our way back how proud the city was.”