History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tigers on short end by one vs. ACGC at Big Cat

ACGC 26, Tigers 25
A late furious rally wasn't enough for the Morris Area Chokio Alberta football team. The dramatic showdown was with Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at our Big Cat Stadium. Surely it was entertaining. But the MACA fans had to go home disappointed. We were on the short end of the 26-25 score in this September 15 affair.
The situation looked grim entering the fourth quarter. My, we were down 20-7.
We certainly had the weapons to fight back. At the top of that list was Camden Arndt. Arndt had an absolutely monster night. He had a career type of night with 306 rushing yards on 26 carries. He befuddled the Falcons. We outscored the Falcons 18-6 in the fourth quarter but it wasn't quite enough.
Arndt gave us our first half touchdown with a 40-yard run. Eli Grove kicked the point-after. Cullen Lewis of ACGC answered with a two-yard run that was followed by a failed two-point conversion try. The Falcons scored the next two touchdowns. This followed a scoreless second quarter. Jarren Kaddatz hauled in a 29-yard scoring pass from Michael Trebil. Again the Falcons came up shy on a two-point conversion. Jeremy Nelson put another TD on the board for the Falcons, on this night when they'd need every single point. Nelson found the end zone on a run from the eight. Trebil ran for two on the conversion.
The Tigers seized momentum and scored the next two touchdowns, the first coming on a 16-yard Arndt run. The second was a huge 80-yard run that had Arndt clutching the football. It proved costly that the Tigers failed on the PAT after both of those scores.
Lewis of the Falcons helped his team strike back as he scored from the one, but again there was failure on the conversion. Arndt scored the game's final touchdown, covering 49 yards of real estate, but the PAT was no-go. Ouch. We came up shy. Fans were certainly treated to lots of excitement.
Arndt was complemented in our running game by Nathan Beyer (29 yards), Connor Koebernick (18) and Matt McNeill (10). So our rushing yardage was 365. Once again our passing was minimal: one completion for 32 yards by Arndt. Oh, but we had one interception which was credited to Josh Kinzler of the Falcons. Matt McNeill had our only pass catch. We had 14 total first downs.
Arndt had impact defensively with five solo tackles and eight assists. Dylan Gillespie had three solos and seven assists. Continuing with the list we have McNeill (2-6), Parker Dierks (1-8), Gage Wevley (3-3), Koebernick (1-6) and Brady Cardwell (1-6).
ACGC totaled 22 first downs. The Falcons had a real 1-2 punch in the running game: Jeremy Nelson with 24 carries for 127 yards, and Josh Kinzler with 22 carries for 122 yards. Michael Trebil and Cullen Lewis added some rushing yards. Trebil threw the pigskin and this Falcon completed four of nine attempts for 46 yards and no interceptions. Kaddatz had three of the catches for 46 yards. Nelson had the other for no gain. The Falcons had two fumble recoveries. Lewis had three solo tackles and 12 assists.
The Tigers carry a 1-2 record into week #4. ACGC totes a 2-1 record.

Volleyball: Melrose 3, Tigers 0
Oh no! This is unusual. The normally stellar MACA volleyball team was outdone on the court on September 14. Not only that, we lost by sweep. The humbling experience should give insights into areas needing work. We were humbled in the serving department as Melrose really came on strong here. Kiana Wiechmann had two serving aces for the visiting Dutchmen.
Makiya Luetmer had 30 set assists for the victor. The standout Dutchmen in hitting were Mashaya Tschida (ten kills), Mia Meyer (8) and Mallari Funk (7). Meyer and Funk each had three ace blocks. Kelsey Fleischhacker led Melrose in digs with 29. Cassie Klaphake had eleven digs.
For the Tigers, Jenna Larsen batted one serving ace. Karly Fehr executed 27 set assists. Jenna Howden did what she could to keep the MACA attack stable on this night, as she contributed ten kills. Larsen had her moments at the net with nine kills. The list continues with Bailey Marty (4), Kenzie Hockel (3), Fehr (3) and Jen Solvie (1). Howden had two ace blocks and Solvie had one. Riley Decker dug up the ball 21 times. Marty had 12 digs. Howden had ten and Fehr had six.
Oh, the score in all three games was 25-20!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 9, 2017

MACA football achieves home opener win, 41-15

The home opener was a night for celebration among the MACA football faithful. The Tigers came on strong in the second quarter as they achieved victory over the Montevideo Thunder Hawks 41-15. We scored 20 of our points in the second quarter. Our win evens our record at 1-1 as we were dealt defeat at Holdingford previously. The halftime score was 27-7.
It was Matt McNeill scoring our first touchdown with a run from the four. Eli Grove kicked the point-after. On to that big second quarter: Camden Arndt was off to the races with a 35-yard run for six. Then it was Connor Koebernick getting the job done with a run from the two. Grove added the PAT. Monte got on the scoreboard with a Trent Dreyer nine-yard run, and Selvin Hernandez kicked the PAT. The passing game netted the next MACA score: Arndt passed 24 yards to Jaret Johnson. Grove's toe was true for the point-after.
Nathan Beyer scored the Tigers' last two touchdowns, one each in the third and fourth quarters. First he got into the end zone with a run from the seven. Then he turned on the jets for a 35-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter. Grove kicked the point-after after each of the Beyer scores.
Cam Ward scored the last Monte TD in the fourth quarter: a two-yard run followed by a two-point Jonah Sulflow run. Game over.
We had 14 total first downs in this West Central Conference game. Beyer carried the football 16 times for 82 yards. Arndt rushed for 74 yards in nine carries. The balanced attack included Colton Scheldorf with 46 yards in four carries. McNeill covered 32 yards with his eight carries of the football. Koebernick had ten yards on four carries, and Cameron Koebernick added five yards to the mix.
The passing game was pretty conservative: Connor Koebernick and Arndt each had one completion. The catches were made by Arndt and Jaret Johnson. Alex Dougherty intercepted a pass. We recovered one fumble.
For Montevideo, Trent Dreyer was at the fore with 63 rushing yards on six carries. Isaac Hoogeveen completed two passes and Tyler Blue completed one. Dreyer, Blaine Sederstrom and Jackson Snell each had one pass catch.
 
Hurricane moves in
My today's post is being put up as the historic hurricane approaches the U.S. The storm comes on the heels of the Houston crisis. Are we believing in global warming now? We hope the concern and empathy stay high for the Houston people who were so terribly afflicted by the historic rainfall.
At this moment we cannot be sure how serious Hurricane Irma will be. Often, such storms lose strength as they reach land, sometimes rapidly. Or they veer off away from land. We can hope for such developments but the forecasts certainly sound ominous.
I decided to write a song in the wake of the Houston disaster. I won't have it recorded because as a topical song it would have too short a lifespan. But I enjoyed writing it, as I enjoy writing all lyrics, poetry and music. My Houston song is presented below. It's in 3/4 time. The line in the chorus about "He knows every sparrow that falls" is inspired by the late cartoonist Del Holdgrafer of Donnelly.
 
"God is Bigger Than Texas"
by Brian Williams
 
Houston is precious
Down there in Texas
There you can find
Your peace of mind
Rockets and space
Look what they make
Taking us high
Into the sky
 
Weather is risky
For our dear city
Close to the Gulf
Storms can be tough
Harvey unloads
Goes on a roll
Making us see
Reality
 
CHORUS:
God is bigger than Texas
And He knows every sparrow that falls
Wind and rain may afflict us
But his voice resonates for all
 
 
Astros are winning
Hitting and pitching
Rockets can score
Baskets galore
Texans are bold
Watch them explode
Eyes open wide
As they collide
 
We have the big church
So you can soul-search
On the TV
You can just see
Souls getting saved
As they all pray
Must be the Lord
Striking that chord
 
(repeat chorus)
 
Though it's a pity
We love our city
When we are down
We will rebound
Yes it's a mess
But I digress
We will prevail
Forward we sail
 
We love our oil
It makes us royal
Right to the hilt
It's mother's milk
Even with floods
We feel the love
As we concede
Who takes the lead
 
(repeat chorus)
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kamala Harris of Califorina for president in 2020

We yearn for a president who doesn't binge-watch Fox News. Assuming we can even survive the remainder of the Trump presidency, we'll need a breath of fresh air. Some have trotted out the name of our own Amy Klobuchar. With all due respect to Klobuchar, I'm looking forward to Kamala Harris being our next president. She is the proverbial fresh face and part of a new generation that will inevitably have to lead.
Harris is from California which embraces the kind of progressive tendencies our whole nation needs. Am I excited about the "glass ceiling" being shattered? Not so much. I'm somewhat inclined to think that women embrace more humanistic, less conflict-centered values. Heavens, after the Trump presidency we'll need the more gentle model in spades. This is assuming our whole nation doesn't collapse before the next presidential term. We must hold our collective breath for the rest of the "Access Hollywood" presidency.
Harris is a U.S. Senator representing California. She's a native of the San Francisco Bay area. Like Klobuchar she has a background as prosecutor. She was elected twice as San Francisco's district attorney. Then she won the California attorney general race in 2010. What a responsibility: to be at the top of this populous state's enormous law enforcement system. She has gone after those notorious for-profit colleges. She has had the courage to stand in unabashed fashion with the maligned Black Lives Matter movement.
Is it so drastic to push for states to compile data on officer-involved shootings? Harris has advocated this way. She reflects Barack Obama in wanting to keep low-level offenders out of jail. She dismisses much of the old and (very) tired "war on drugs" theme. She embraces early childhood education. Sure, the likes of Fox News or Breitbart would present the likes of Harris as a flaming liberal. But she has been viewed by many as a moderate or cautious, almost to a fault at times. She has been criticized for too much restraint on prosecutorial misconduct.
But look at how she reacted to California's Proposition 8. That was the voter-passed measure in 2008 that banned same-sex marriage. Harris refused to enforce it. She argued that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution.
Harris herself is a person of color, not that I feel we all ought to be pigeon-holed this way. Hey, we're a melting pot here in America!
 
A better image than H. Clinton
Hillary Clinton failed to break the glass ceiling although she won the popular vote. I had problems with Hillary Clinton all along. I guess No. 1, perhaps operating at a subconscious level, was my disdain based on Hillary's support for her husband when it was determined that Bill was accepting oral sex from an intern in the White House. Ish. Perhaps if she had divorced Bill - would that be so radical? - my viewpoint would be more charitable. I also didn't like the way she campaigned against Bernie Sanders.
Perhaps the biggest media failing was the short shrift that the early Sanders rallies got. The groundswell said something about popular sentiment, for example how the American people will simply need radical help with health care - "single payer." Even Charles Krauthammer seems to indicate that single payer is inevitable. He says we're maybe seven years away but I think it will happen sooner.
Significantly, Kamala Harris came out for single payer just last week. She's headed in the right direction.
 
Affinity with Barack Obama
Obama is a long-time ally of Harris. I must insert here as quite the side note that I consider Harris a quite attractive-looking woman, though I realize this consideration is superfluous and, I guess, sexist. But hey, there is precedent for offering such a thought. Precedent from who? Why, from none other than Obama, who once praised Kamala as the nation's "best-looking attorney general." Oh my, he had to apologize for that statement. I'll just share a little wink with our former president.
Immediately upon Trump's election, Harris made a firm argument against the racist and xenophobic values embraced by the new president. The biggest problem is that we will have to wade along in the Trump presidency which is still so young, it's scary - incredibly scary. Trump has appointed cabinet heads who are scary with what they are doing. Maybe the Russia investigation will totally take him down. It's even possible that Vice President Pence will be drawn into the wreckage.
All we need is a sane and competent centrist to be president. David Brooks has suggested we need a "Gerald Ford solution" to the mess, but how do we get there? I hope the ship of state survives well enough that we can see Kamala Harris rise to the helm.
- Brian Williams - bwilly73@yahoo.com - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"Disco" Dan Ford & his closed stance made memories

Metropolitan Stadium was getting passe in the minds of Minnesota fandom, at the time Dan Ford came along. He was an exciting Twins player. But he is not well remembered today. He entertained us at the time the main features of the '70s were in bloom. We're talking disco among other things. Hey, "Disco" was Dan Ford's nickname.
Research does not readily indicate the basis for Dan's moniker. I have to surmise based on a story that involves manager Gene Mauch. Let's drift back to September 5 of 1978. This was the first autumn after my college graduation. The flashy Ford was not totally attentive. His gait slowed between third and home once. There is an allegation he was hot-dogging, manifested in elbows pumping. Jose Morales delivered a base hit. Ford allowed himself to be passed on the basepaths. The second baserunner must be ruled out in this situation.
The disciplinarian Gene Mauch wasn't going to take such a matter lightly. Roy Smalley was on hand to observe. Ford seemed not to be familiar with the baserunning flaw he had just committed. He seemed to be in a "boogie" to the dugout. Mauch growled at the young man, "You can keep right on going!" Legend has it the manager had clenched teeth. "What are you talking about?" Ford said. Mauch responded: "I can't stand to look at you. Get the hell out of here."
The suggestion was that the flamboyant but easily distracted Ford just mosey on to a disco. The alliterative name "Disco Dan" was born.
Obviously this vignette is not a generous way of introducing Dan Ford for the purpose of profiling him. I found him to be an interesting and appealing ballplayer, capable of swinging with fine power from a very closed batting stance. Often he earned the right to act in a flashy way.
Mauch was a man who needed to feel some humility. We can never forget that he was at the helm of Philadelphia when that team descended into the greatest choke of all time in 1964. Why did Calvin Griffith want the baggage of that reputation associated with his Twins? I had a problem with Mauch because of how he platooned so much. Platooning is fine in theory. But at a certain point you need your best hitters out there. If I remember correctly, Lyman Bostock came up to the bigs at the same time as Ford. I remember the great Bostock complaining publicly about how Mauch set him down one day against a lefthanded pitcher. You'll recall that Bostock was tragically shot and killed in a visit to his home city. This was after he left the Twins for the Angels. He was a guaranteed career .300 hitter. I swear that if Kirby Puckett had come up under Mauch, he would have been sat down against rightys after his first 0-for-4 boxscore line against a righty. It was too much.
What I remember about the kind of team Mauch assembled in the late '70s: he had players who hit for a decent average but didn't offer a whole lot else. The last couple years of the old Metropolitan Stadium was a "dead zone" in Twins history. Big league owners know what they're doing when they say certain cities need a new stadium at a particular juncture. Our franchise got resuscitated after getting comfortable in the Metrodome.
 
A productive ballplayer
Dan Ford roamed the outfield grass. He generated plenty of excitement over his ten years in the bigs. He batted .270 with 121 home runs and 566 RBIs. He moved on from the Twins to play for the California Angels and Baltimore Orioles. He was a regular in the Twins lineup for four seasons. His second season saw him use that closed stance to hit the first home run at the rebuilt Yankee Stadium. This was on April 15, 1976. As an Angel in 1979, "Disco Dan" hit for the cycle in a game against the Seattle Mariners. He was traded to the Orioles for Doug DeCinces and Jeff Schneider.
Wearing the Orioles uniform in May of 1983, Ford homered off Richard Dotson of the White Sox - it was the only hit in a 1-0 win over Chicago, the team whom the Orioles would play for the pennant. Baltimore got past Chicago and then got past Philadelphia in the World Series. Ford hit a home run off the great Philadelphia pitcher Steve Carlton in Game 3 of the fall classic. Had he shown a flamboyant air on the basepaths, I would not have blamed him.
Close your eyes and hear "Do the Hustle" in your head. You'll get the proper motif in your mind for appreciating "Disco" Dan Ford. You might have seen "Saturday Night Fever" on the big screen at that time. Ford looked flashy in the synthetic double-knit uniforms of that time. Your female high school classmates might have worn provocative green and plaid jumpers. I think of the cynical "Gong Show" which reflected the generally cynical times. A result of high interest rates? Don't think this factor doesn't get into our consciousness.
It was an age in which we found humor in references to alcohol consumption. Mothers Against Drunk Driving hadn't asserted themselves yet. And today it isn't mothers, it's lawyers. The double-knit baseball uniforms ran their course.
Ford made his mark albeit not on a Hall of Fame level. I watched him a few times at our old Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington MN. It seemed his closed stance had the effect of accentuating his power. When he was "on" he could really deliver "frozen ropes." I watched him in person do this off Nolan Ryan (of the Angels) once. The ball went like a rocket to the left field corner. He looked for every edge he could get. In 1980 he was caught using a doctored bat against Cleveland. He hit a ball off the end of the bat and the bat splintered. Bobby Grich commented "boy, all kinds of things came flying out of his bat." Ford got a three-game suspension.
 
A dubious chapter
I have delayed writing about Ford's 1981 photo session (centerfold) for Playgirl Magazine. We don't need this garbage anymore because you can find such garbage on the Internet. Ignore it. Ford rationalized by calling himself a "groundbreaker" with this experience. Other players followed. Big deal.
Ford is proud to note he hit in front of three MVPs: Rod Carew, Don Baylor and Cal Ripkin. He joked "I made them all famous."
Upon retirement, he went back to Louisiana to help run his family's ranch. He says the best part of his life has been baseball. I wish he had stayed with our Twins longer. He would have looked nice in a Twins uniform (no longer synthetic) at our new Metrodome.
Disco music eventually faded. The music form took a lot of derision. I have read that, as a platform for meaningful music, it could be as effective as any other platform. "Do the Hustle." Maybe Ford didn't hustle as well as he might throughout his career. He had a reputation of arriving in the dugout at the last minute, or last instant, before game time. Talented people can have such idiosyncrasies. Maybe they are imbued with confidence. Whatever the case, I have warm memories of "Disco" Dan Ford and that notable closed stance, delivering frozen ropes and homers.
I wish Lyman Bostock had been along for the whole ride.
 
Addendum: Larry Calton was broadcasting for the Twins at the time Dan Ford came up. What a jerk.
  
Addendum #2: Remember when Darrin Nelson was drafted by the Vikings and he didn't want to come here, partly because we "didn't have enough discos?" Remember the photo of a sullen-looking Nelson on the front page of the Minneapolis paper? We had that famous column by a Star Tribune writer in which it was suggested that Nelson ought to come here to experience a Lutheran church potluck with its "red Jello." Today Minnesota is a totally cool state. We forget that we once had reputational challenges. I wonder if we turned the corner when we elected Jesse Ventura governor, or was it the musician "Prince?" We are no longer defined by Ole and Lena and those Lutheran churches. Darrin Nelson? He seemed too small to ever be a really good NFL runningback.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Shall I write about football in the coming fall?

(image from Bucknell)
Soon I will need to make a decision on whether to write online about MACA football this fall. There is a steady flow of admonitions on the sport of football, or implied admonitions. The warnings become progressively less subtle. A top scientist is so concerned, he recently stated that parents who allow their sons to play football should be charged with child abuse.
We follow rules about how kids need to be seat-belted into the car. Then we have them put on a helmet and send them onto a football field where they engage in high-speed collisions with other boys. The helmet gives an illusion. It protects boys from fractured skulls, as if we should even be thinking about that. It does not protect them from having their brains, in effect, rattled. The evidence mounts higher all the time.
 
Following my own drummer
It is not uncommon for me to be on a different page from sports parents. I found it impossible through the years to supply enough attention for all of the teams, all of the time, to keep a majority of them fundamentally happy. In this case I'll probably come up against the sentiment of sports parents again. They will be so eager to feel that "rush" of excitement that comes with going to the local stadium and seeing their sons seek victory, earning those waves of cheers. It's sort of a sugar high that is transitory. The cheers encourage the boys to put aside the pain and the constant risk of injury, not just to their brains but all over. Why should medical resources be applied for treating these kids when they needn't play this barbaric game in the first place? Just stop playing. Apply your time more constructively.
 
Advantages here in Morris
I expect the MACA football team will do well again in 2017. I would suggest this is largely because of Morris being blessed with such a state of the art football facility. Various communities have made the commitment to an artificial turf field. Once they do this, they will try to encourage a maximum number of boys to "go out for football" because there's a monetary incentive, to show that the expense toward the facility is justified. This is morally abhorrent.
Also, the communities that do not have the means or the interest in doing this will likely see interest in football erode. Their teams will start losing more which will prompt continued erosion. Finally, many of these towns will opt not to have football. Either that or they'll send only the most athletically gifted boys to a nearby community. At least this protects the other boys who might otherwise go out for football because of peer pressure. A leading researcher of football has said that "no boys should play football just because of peer pressure." This individual is one of many saying that football should become a club sport, not sponsored by schools.
Maybe someday we'll see our Big Cat Stadium as the home for a regional club team. A better possibility would be for football to vanish off the face of the earth. Let's not get too excited about the best scenario happening. There are too many mysteriously shallow-minded parents who simply want to experience those transitory thrills of being at the stadium, cheering. It sure isn't painful for the parents or other "fans."
The boys can endure the pain because they keep hearing the cheers. If the fans stop coming, football would certainly disappear. Occasionally we see a news item about a school board member somewhere trying to speak the truth. The wave must grow.
 
Legacy of militarism?
Football may have been developed as a model for militarism in an age when we were expected to get involved in major wars periodically. We raised our sons to be warriors. Our culture isn't the same today. We keep our volunteer troops of today active in places like Afghanistan - I'm not even sure what that's all about. I assure you that if we had a draft, we'd hear more about it.
The invasion of Iraq has been described as the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history. Saddam Hussein knew how to deal with the likes of Isis. Of course he was brutal but he was a secular leader. He was a regional strongman. That's what works in that part of the world. Tragically we had to send our local Guardsmen over there. When those Guardsmen returned, there was a welcome back at the P.E. Center in Morris that was so grand and glorious. Strike up the band.
The Viet Nam soldiers got no such reception when they came back. In fact, they were told not to wear their uniforms on the way home.
Phasing out the sport of football would be a logical way of proclaiming that the human race is entering a new era. It's about time. Should I blog about MACA football this year? Very good question. I could reason that if the Morris school district continues to sponsor football, I should accept that as an appropriate imprimatur. Ultimately though I must respect my concerns. Maybe I'll do it (write about it). We'll see.
Problem is, our schools shouldn't be sponsoring gladiators. Too many parents are glib, flippant and superficial about defending the sport.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chico Ruiz steals home and puts hex on Philadelphia?

Major league baseball was unusually blessed in 1964. We saw extremely tight pennant races in both leagues. I'm sad the Chicago White Sox couldn't pull out the American League pennant. It would have been nice seeing Moose Skowron play in another World Series. Instead we got the Yankees walking their treadmill toward another A.L. flag. It would be their last of that era. Our Minnesota Twins dislodged them from their perch in '65. And then in '66, the Yankees sank like a rock.
The National League story in 1964 was epic. The Cardinals with a young Lou Brock emerged on top. Cincinnati was easily in the hunt. Let's consider Philadelphia. Those red-trimmed uniforms looked oh so grand for most of the '64 summer. Gene Mauch was at the helm. Maybe that was a sign that Philadelphia fans should have been whistling past the graveyard.
Mauch's Phils showed great command through most of the summer. What a blessed summer it must have seemed in the City of Brotherly Love. John Callison hit a walk-off home run to win the All-Star Game for the Nationals. The crafty Jim Bunning was in his prime - he pitched a perfect game in June vs. the new York Mets. Chris Short was in the groove as pitcher. Richie Allen, later to be known as Dick Allen, was spectacular as a rookie.
Early August saw Philadelphia really turn on the jets. Man oh man. For two weeks they looked like world-beaters. They went from 1 1/2 games up to 7 1/2 games, the latter bulge happening on August 20. Could Phils fans relax after that 12-4 stretch?
 
A date of fate in baseball annals
Bring on Monday, Sept. 21. The Phils sported a win total of 90 compared to 60 losses. They were 6 1/2 games up on second place with only 12 games left to play. It was an evening game in the City of Brotherly Love (an ironic name when you consider the city had an image of racism). A crowd of a little over 20,000 was present to see the Phillies take on that other team with red trim: Cincinnati. This was the Cincinnati team that had Frank Robinson. Robinson would go on to make his biggest mark with the Baltimore Orioles. In '64 he was the Reds' best hitter.
The Reds sported a record of 83-66. Dick Sisler was the manager, having taken the reins from the terminally ill Fred Hutchinson. Vada Pinson wielded a bat for those Reds. Oh, and there was Pete Rose, not yet a superstar but budding. Jim O'Toole and Jim Maloney were leading pitchers. I can't help but remember O'Toole in Jim Bouton's 1970 book "Ball Four," standing out as the classic troubled pitcher with a perpetually sore arm, in the "Diathermy" machine all the time, remember?
The September 21 game had Jon Tsitouris pitching for Cincinnati and Art Mahaffey taking the mound for Philadelphia. A bad omen for Philadelphia was being snakebit with runners in scoring position: 0-for-8.
The top of the sixth seemed to be when the baseball gods did their thing. Chico Ruiz singled to right field. Remember that name. Pinson hit a long single to right that advanced Ruiz to third, although Pinson was thrown out at second by outfielder Callison. Robinson strides up to bat. Nice scoring opportunity, right? His average was .306 and he had 27 home runs.
There were two outs so the Reds apparently needed Robinson to hit safely. Chico Ruiz had other thoughts dancing in his head. Mahaffey went into his long windup. Ruiz becomes like a bat out of hell, tearing for home a la steal. The steal of home is always an exotic play. We here in Minnesota associate it with Rod Carew.
Not only did this play succeed with Ruiz, it became legendary as it appeared to be a hex vs. the Phillies. Mahaffey uncorked a wild pitch. Ruiz scored and the Reds won 1-0. The game ended with the Phillies advancing the tying run to third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but shortstop Ruben Amaro struck out to end the game.
Writer Ray Kelly observed: "Nobody tries to steal home with a slugging great like Frank Robinson at the plate. Not in the sixth inning of a scoreless game." Mahaffey was quoted saying: "Now you must realize that with two outs and two strikes, if you throw a strike, Frank Robinson swings and knocks Chico Ruiz's head off. It was just so stupid." Stupid like a fox, I guess.
 
The Phils' advantage erodes
The Phillies still had a lead of 5 1/2 games with eleven games left. Now the stage is set for the famous choke of the '64 Phillies: a ten-game loss streak. It was so bad, it didn't matter that they won their last two games of the season (over the Reds). The Cardinals went 9-3 to close out the season. The Cardinals won the pennant on the last day as they beat the Mets 11-5.
A sabermetric analysis has shown that Ruiz's steal of home was not a bad percentage play. In the book "The Hidden Game of Baseball," authors John Thorn and Pete Palmer write that "the two-out steal of home is the unknown great percentage play." Ruiz said "it just came to my mind. In this game, you either do or you don't."
I was nine years old in 1964. Kids back then could have quite strong emotional connections with their home baseball team. Looking back, I often think how unfortunate this connection was - it was out of proportion. So you can imagine how many young Phillies fans felt as their team crashed in 1964. Samuel Alito of our U.S. Supreme Court was a big admirer of outfielder Callison. Callison seemed a lot like our Twin Bob Allison. Richie Allen was like Tony Oliva.
It was a golden age of baseball. Integration of the game had proceeded well enough - halting at times but adequate - and we did not yet have the disruption of zealous unionism and excessive drug use. I will always wonder if those '64 Phillies could have won the world championship in '64. Just as I wonder if our 1967 Minnesota Twins could have done it after getting edged out for the pennant! We close our eyes and imagine.
Ruiz entered baseball annals permanently with his unique, impulsive play, a play that impacted fate!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

It's the time of summer for spiritual slumber

The image shows the Papa John's clowns who once entertained at summer events in the Morris area. Photo by Del Sarlette.
 
We're in the laziest part of summer, aren't we? In between Prairie Pioneer Days (PPD) and the fair, that's it.
Our family asks little of Prairie Pioneer Days, just that we can enjoy an early afternoon lunch at Luther's Eatery. It seems that PPD has lost several of the special features it once had. That's sad but not real disheartening. It's a social hub and that is what is most important.
There was nothing like PPD when I was a kid. An exception was the year of the Morris Centennial. What special memories I have of that. The year was 1971 and Morris truly came alive that summer. I don't know why people couldn't get the bright idea to do something annually like that. We got on board in the early 1980s with PPD. There was a time when the FFA kids built a replica of the famous "alfalfa arch" across East 7th Street. We all need to be reminded of the historical significance of the alfalfa arch.
I wonder if the day will come when Superior Industries will take over PPD just as this company has made inroads with the county fair. I'm not clear on when exactly Superior has the fair reserved for itself. I told an acquaintance of mine who's on the fair board that "I guess this is one of those small town things where 'you just have to know.' " I don't like these small town phenomena.
The way Superior expands as if by magic, I have fears that this operation will snake around to behind our neighborhood of Northridge Drive, and devalue our property.
 
Will football keep its popularity? Should it?
So, after the fair, where does our attention turn? I remember year after year seeing the Tiger football team in pre-season practice at the old East Elementary playground, at the same time as the fair. It was a tap on the shoulder that "fall is near." People would speculate on how our football team might do.
Is such talk becoming an anachronism? There are new waves of news coverage all the time about how football is dangerous to play.
How much longer can the sport withstand all the startling revelations? You must have seen the headlines last week. "CTE" is a dangerous thing to court. No game can possibly be worth the risk of incurring this.
A sea change in society's notions can be slow and grudging to develop. I mean, who wants football to just fade away? Hasn't it been a mammoth sort of phenomenon in our popular culture? Frankly, hasn't it grown into an addiction? So, we're talking about overcoming an addiction. So as with any addiction, we have to be ready to stand up, as if at an AA gathering, and admit we have a problem. We need to admit the nature of the problem in frank terms.
Why on earth are our brains so programmed to feeling this turn-on, by the sight of men running with a football or catching a football, seeking yardage and touchdowns? It's terrible. Someday we will all admit this to ourselves.
A few years ago you'd occasionally see a news nugget from somewhere about how a school board member would suggest that football be removed. None of these could really break through. Many onlookers were reluctant to say these individuals were out in left field, but at the same time there was a "whistling past the graveyard" quality to their reaction. They could not deny the factual foundation for arguments being put forth. But my goodness, cancelling football? Who would want to be responsible for a suggestion like that?
There is still hesitance toward the notion. But I sense that momentum is slowly building toward that "sea change" that would marginalize football. It has been predicted that football will have its last bastion in the U.S. Southeast. The sport will more and more be associated with players who have a dysfunctional family background. Intelligent people will know better and act accordingly.
I suspect that Morris Area Chokio Alberta will have a football team again for 2017. Have there been any football naysayers in our community, people in important public positions willing to air their skepticism? If society is reluctant to go this route, maybe insurance companies will straighten everyone out. That and lawyers.
 
Remember the "earthen pool?"
It's the end of July and it seems we're all in slumber now, spiritually. I think it's a blessed time of year. Remember the days of the "earthen pool" at Pomme de Terre City Park? That's getting more distant in our community's history. It seemed quite successful for a time. It faded toward the end partly because of a tragedy that happened out there.
I don't think the "spray park" has been an adequate substitute. This community has bandied about for years the idea of outdoor swim recreation. Well, the Alexandria lakes aren't that far away. I have often enjoyed the Lake Latoka public swimming beach.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com