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).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There are two Carringtons again in MACA cross country

Conference meet
Hooray! Maddie Carrington is back in action for MACA cross country! Let's say hooray also for Meredith Carrington's high-caliber running. Having the two Carringtons in the MACA lineup is a most encouraging thing to see. Meredith and Maddie excelled in the conference race which was held Monday, Oct. 16, at Olivia.
Meredith took first place with her time of 21:09.20. Maddie took second with her 21:43.60 clocking. The sisters pushed their team to a first place team finish among the six teams. The other MACA runners were: Malory Anderson (12th place, 22:00.80), Kaylie Raths (14th, 23:16.90), Madelyn Siegel (15th, 23:18.10), Caryn Marty (20th, 23:54.40) and Isabel Fynboh (24:58.90). The runner-up team behind MACA was Sauk Centre.
Our MACA boys team topped the standings too. Benson-KMS took runner-up. Jonathan Tostenson of Benson-KMS was the boys champion, time of 17:16.37. Our Tate Nelson arrived at the finish chute No. 3 with his time of 17:57.90. Noah Stewart was No. 5 to the finish line with his time of 18:10.40. The rest of the MACA lineup: Solomon Johnson (10th place, 18:20.71), Ben Hernandez (11th, 18:26.78), Thomas Tiernan (22nd, 19:14.27)., Tyler Reimers (27th, 19:36.21) and Bradley Rohloff (31st, 19:57.55).

Volleyball: Tigers 3, Sauk Centre 2
Karly Fehr worked proficiently as setter, getting the ball to the hitters in a way the hitters could really finish off. She distributed the ball in deft fashion, and this was an ingredient in a 3-2 MACA win over the Streeters of Sauk Centre.
The October 12 home action had these scores: 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25 and 15-12.
Karly Fehr is making inroads in the record books. Against Sauk Centre in this marathon match, she performed 62 set assists. Kenzie Hockel and Jenna Howden each had one serving ace. Howden was a force in hitting as she so often is, on this night getting 30 kills. No. 2 on the list was Bailey Marty with 14 kills. Jenna Larsen pounded down ten kills and Lexi Pew had nine. Hockel came through with four kills and Fehr had two.
Three Tigers each had one ace block: Fehr, Howden and Pew. Riley Decker maneuvered to accumulate 39 digs. Marty performed 27 digs. The list continues with Fehr (19), Larsen (9), Hockel (6) and Howden (6).

Football: Sauk Centre 39, Tigers 8
We're coming down the stretch of the fall sports schedule. As I write this post on Tuesday, the weather is summer-like. Sure doesn't feel like typical conditions for the MEA week game. Do people still call it that? The MEA week game?
The October 13 assignment for our MACA football Tigers was to play at Sauk Centre. There weren't a lot of smiles on the way home. We were humbled by the Streeters: a 39-8 final. Our only touchdown came in the second quarter. Camden Arndt got into the end zone from the two. Connor Koebernick ran for two on the conversion. However, futility would characterize the MACA offense on this night, a night when the host Streeters scored in each of the four quarters.
Hunter Fletcher scored the first Sauk Centre touchdown: a big play run of 58 yards. The score became 8-0 when Dylan Haskamp ran for two. The score was 8-0 at the end of one quarter. Sauk Centre scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Casey Schirmers ran the ball into the end zone from the one. Haskamp again carried for two on the conversion. MACA got on the board with the Arndt run but the Streeters answered with a big play pass. Casey Schirmers passed to Royal Weber on a play covering 54 yards. The Schirmers-to-Weber combo worked again on the conversion.
Sauk Centre created some distance on the scoreboard with two second half scores. Fletcher turned on the jets for a scoring run from 16 yards out. Haskamp ran successfully on the conversion. Haskamp then went to work on a one-yard run to polish off Sauk Centre's offensive fireworks on the night. This time the Streeters kicked and Fletcher's toe was true. The Sauk fans could savor this 39-8 triumph.
The stat report shows Arndt of the Tigers creeping over 100 rushing yards to finish at 101, achieved on 23 carries. Connor Koebernick rolled up 44 yards on 13 carries. Also on the ballcarrying list: Nathan Beyer (eight carries, 24 yards), Joel Ruiz (3-18), Parker Dierks (1-2) and Austin Berlinger (2-0). True to form, the Tigers passed very little. It was really negligible. Not only did we have just one completion, we also threw two interceptions! Groan. I'll omit the names. Parker Dierks had the only reception. On defense, Dierks had an interception.
Hunter Fletcher of the Streeters rolled up 136 rushing yards on 15 carries. He was part of a 1-2 punch that also included Dylan Haskamp (22 carries for 124 yards). The Sauk passing game had only slightly more impact than MACA's. Sauk had two pass completions for 61 yards. The pass catchers were Royal Weber and Cade Neubert. Schirmers and Weber made the Sauk Centre interceptions.
The Streeters upped their won-lost mark to 5-2 while Morris Area Chokio Alberta slipped to 3-4.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A $ commitment to help UMM's aspirations

We were pleased to get a thank you card from Stacey Aronson and Bradley Miller the other day. Mom and I are pleased to have made a financial infusion to UMM Humanities. We made a financial infusion to the music department, quite logical since my late father Ralph founded the music department. I wrote up some background material on our whole family's background with UMM. I submitted this to the appropriate department within UMM which requested it. I have learned that this has been edited down quite a bit. As a journalist I fully understand this. Nevertheless I wish to share the entire text, which I am doing with this post today. I have my own communications platforms. I guess I don't even care if UMM publishes anything I submitted. I am my own journalist. The image you see with this post is of mom Martha H. Williams in her well-known "gait" across the UMM campus, in her role as post office supervisor. Many years have passed since our direct involvement with UMM. Employees there are less and less aware. Knowledge of the past enriches our present. Maybe we can even hear Dad's "UMM Hymn" again someday. But that decision lies in someone else's hands. If you read what I present below, you'll note that I affirm UMM's historic core mission. In the past I have shared a little skepticism of that - the pure liberal arts commitment - but in the spirit of wanting to show faith in UMM's leadership, in rooting for their goals, I do in fact affirm the mission. Good luck on that. - B.W.

Why give to UMM music? Our family wants to be sure to have a connection to UMM's present as well as its past. We are inspired to give to UMM based on our conviction that UMM's mission will remain as viable as ever. Our family's background is inextricably tied to the University of Minnesota. The late Ralph Williams was a founding faculty member of UMM. He had a background with the U before we came here. He was a graduate of the U and taught at the U's St. Paul School of Agriculture in the 1950s. Ag schools were heading toward obsolescence. Morris had this nice if challenging transition from the WCSA to the pioneering UMM: a small public liberal arts college. The grand experiment would seem to have turned out quite nicely! Students have been happy here even when the campus had fewer amenities. 
We give to music at present because this was my father's life. He invested a big part of this life here in Morris. He directed the band in its debut performance on November 5 of 1960, at the old armory where the public library is now. That concert represented the kind of campus/community bond that has always been held up as an ideal. The concert was for an audience of about 1000 composed of Stevens County 4-Hers and their parents. There were 50 band members. "A band of this size was not anticipated the first year," the Morris paper reported. 
My Mom Martha Williams was UMM post office supervisor and worked at the bookstore before that. She was known for her "gait" across campus as she handled chores for the post office. She was very thoughtful toward her student workers. She played violin in the original UMM orchestra which was directed by my father. That group along with the men's chorus put out a vinyl record album.
What about me? I came to campus often on behalf of the Morris newspaper. I  wrote many sports articles in the days when UMM sports information had more limited resources than today. We're talking pre-Internet! I enjoyed writing about UMM soccer in its debut year.
I played trumpet in the West Central All-Stars in the early days of Jim Carlson's fabulous Jazz Festival. Jim had been a member of my father's men's chorus. I was recruited to fill out the concert band's french horn section for a short time in the late 1960s when I was merely junior high age. It was interesting because I soaked in the feeling of campus turbulence in the Viet Nam war era. I showed up for rehearsal one day when rehearsal was canceled due to a Viet Nam "moratorium" - remember those? - at Edson Auditorium. Rather than just leave I grabbed a chair and listened. I was in the band for graduation that year, very memorable. We are blessed not having a war tearing apart our society today.
How do we want to see out gift applied? We defer to the department chairman in this regard. We may pick up a British accent yet! We hope the gift furthers the spirit of networking that friends of the campus feel. It's all about community. In music this is easy to appreciate because of the regular music concerts. Music enriches, entertains and serves a public relations purpose for the institution. All that was borne out when my father took the UMM men's chorus to the Seattle and New York World's Fairs. The chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the Seattle event. 
The Williams family is delighted to make a contribution ($10,000) that will help ensure that UMM music keeps its exciting and enriching quality. We have fond memories of UMM Founders Day events where we'd get to hear students sing my father's "UMM Hymn" which he wrote for UMM's inception. We are giving in the spirit of "giving back."

- Brian R. Williams

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tigers sweep to win No. 14 at ACGC court

Tigers 3, ACGC 0
The MACA volleyball Tigers surged to a 14-3 season record with a sweep win on October 5. This road contest brought scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-19. The host team was the Falcons of ACGC.
Karly Fehr facilitated the most effective MACA offense with her 33 assists. Riley Decker contributed two assists. Kenzie Hockel and Jenna Howden each batted two serving aces while Fehr had one. Howden slammed hard in the hitting department, on this night accumulating 15 kills. Jenna Larsen impressed with her eleven kills. Bailry Marty had five kills, Fehr four, Lexi Pew three and Hockel two.
Pew came at the Falcons with two ace blocks. Fehr, Howden and Larsen each had one ace block. Riley Decker was proficient in her specialty of digs, accumulating 21. Marty had eleven digs while Fehr had eight and Larsen six.
For ACGC, Rachel Wilner had 21 set assists. Addison Bernstein had the team-best seven kills. Wilner and Brenna Anderson each had an ace block. Bernstein led the Falcons in digs with 12. Falcons with serving aces were Anderson (3), Lindsay Minnick (2), Madison Denton (1) and Pailey Wilner (1). ACGC's won-lost numbers are the reverse of MACA's.
I have to plead some ignorance here, perhaps. The Willmar newspaper reported that setter Fehr of the Tigers got her 3,000th career "save" in the match. I have written countless volleyball articles through the years but I am unfamiliar with the term "save." I associate that term with hockey goalies. Sorry, it's hard to be a master of all the details in all these sports, but "save" eludes my understanding in volleyball. At least I am showing some humility regarding this. I hope my critics will understand.
Coach Kristi Fehr was quoted saying of her team "It wasn't our best match, but to their credit they played hard."
 
Football: Homecoming win
I have been unable to find a Homecoming game review of our Friday win. It wasn't in Saturday's Willmar paper. Then I hoped there would be a belated summary in the Monday paper. This happened the week previous with the game versus Minnewaska. It was in Monday. So I stopped at Casey's early this morning (Monday) to buy the Willmar paper, with darkness still prevailing outside. Got home, opened the paper with the hope of learning of the game's highlights which I assumed would be substantial. Nada.
I checked the Morris paper website on Saturday and found only 2-3 token sentences about the game. I seem to recall the score was 21-20 over Osakis.
I was disappointed during the radio broadcast to hear an announcer speak for several minutes about the upcoming referendum for high school improvements. There was really no place for this on the broadcast. It's a politically charged topic. The announcer complimented his boss, the superintendent, for being just "informational" on the referendum topic and not crossing the line into advocacy. Does anyone think that school officials have really been neutral on this? Did you get that flyer in the mail? That flyer screamed "vote yes" without saying so in a direct, explicit manner, although some might say it was explicit. I assume the law prohibits that.
I don't want to see the expected upcoming library referendum endangered. I don't want people to tire of referendums to the extent they turn down a really bona fide one, which would be our library proposal. As for the school, it always has such an insatiable appetite for money, I tire of it. I think we have allowed our school campus to expand too far. We can be gleeful about this until we realize that all that infrastructure demands maintenance. These buildings need to be built in a more sound and durable fashion in the first place.
A friend said to me "I wouldn't allow these problems in my home."
I would love to have an extensive blog post put up today reviewing the MACA Homecoming football win. I would love to have put up this post on Saturday. Nada. I rely on the Willmar paper for rough information. I feel bad about this shortcoming.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Gruber & Lakers surge late to 35-7 win over MACA

Minnewaska Area assumed control late with a 35-7 win over the Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers on September 29. The Lakers notched win No. 4 at their home field. The Tigers slipped to 2-3.
Matthew Gruber was a key contributor for the host as he covered 117 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Gruber scored two rushing touchdowns and one with the aerial attack. 'Waska outdid the Tigers with the ground game, amassing 347 yards to the Tigers' 162. The 'Waska defense held the Tigers scoreless in the first half.
The lone orange and black score came in the third quarter: a one-yard run by Nathan Beyer. Eli Grove kicked the point-after. The rest of the game saw MACA languish in terms of seeking points while 'Waska scored in three of the four quarters. The Lakers poured it on with 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Gruber scored the first 'Waska TD of the night: he was off to the races with a 37-yard run. The PAT kick try failed. The first quarter ended with the score 6-0. The second quarter was scoreless. Each team scored a touchdown in the third quarter. Beyer had that one-yard run for MACA for six. Garrett Jensen scored on a five-yard run for Minnewaska. Jensen also ran for two on the conversion.
The Lakers really got some separation on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Here we go: Gruber passed ten yards to Jaeger Jergenson for a score. Drew Nelson kicked the point-after. Gruber built the onslaught with a six-yard TD run, after which Nelson kicked the point-after. The game's final score came on a big play 51-yard run that had Laker Tyson Meyer clutching the football. Again Nelson kicked the point-after.
Turning to stats, Camden Arndt of the Tigers cooled down some from his recent norms, rushing for a still-decent 77 yards on 16 carries. Beyer churned forward for 65 yards on 14 carries. Other Tigers with rushing yards were Kyle Staebler (four yards), Joel Ruiz (3), Connor Koebernick (12) and Jack Riley (1). Once again the Tigers' passing game was minimal: Koebernick had one completion in five attempts for eight yards, and he had one interception. Parker Dierks had the reception. On defense, Gage Wevley had a fumble recovery.
Minnewaska's Gruber rumbled for 117 yards on 18 carries. Ryan Christianson was another force on the ground for the winner: 95 yards on 13 carries. Tyson Meyer charged forward for 53 yards on just two carries of the football. Garrett Jensen had 47 rushing yards on eleven carries. Jack Blevins' numbers were 21 yards on five carries. Jackson Johnsrud added four yards to the mix. Gruber handled the passing game and completed six passes in 14 attempts for 39 yards and no INTs. The pass-catchers were: Johnsrud (two catches, nine yards), Blevins (1-11), Christianson (one for negative yardage) and Jaeger Jergenson (2-29). Gruber was quite opportunistic on defense as he intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles. John Helander recovered one fumble.
Should MACA try to cultivate more of a passing game? Inquiring minds want to know.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"A Bridge Too Far" (1977) a morass of bad news

I had a friend in college who was amused by a review of "A Bridge Too Far." A line stood out for him: " 'A Bridge Too Far' is an hour too long." It was a major motion picture in the 1970s with one of those all-star casts.
War movies can take themselves too seriously. A more recent example is "Gods and Generals" based on the U.S. Civil War. It is very self-consciously an epic. We're supposed to appreciate the weighty subject matter. What could be more weighty than war? No one questions the importance of this stuff. But a movie that elaborately lays out the details of the engagements and skirmishes, as if it all entertains in a movie theater, is depressing.
We know that wars are fought by human beings whose actions result in lives lost and fortunes changed. War is by definition a breakdown in our processes for trying to live in an orderly world. How much more constructive the energies of these people would be, were they chaneled constructively. It has been said that people who have been involved in war don't think about the winning or losing - they just realize all the destruction.
 
Reflecting the decade when it was made
"A Bridge Too Far" came out in 1977. It was based on a 1974 book. The movie's director was Richard Attenborough. A history-based movie can tell us just as much about the time period in which the movie was made. "A Bridge Too Far" is one of those WWII movies. All the familiar trappings: bombs, tanks, grenades. The movie is distinguished for showing failure by the Allies.
It's understandable that a 1977 movie would be made in such a way: We had reached consensus about our failure in Viet Nam. We were in a funk over that. A movie about the shortcomings of war was understandable. We sure got it in "A Bridge Too Far" and we truly get dragged through it. The length of the movie makes it grate on us. The movie tells the story of "Operation Market Garden." It would be a household name had we succeeded. The operation was intended to allow the Allies to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands, such as at Arnhem, with the objective of outflanking German defenses in order to end the war by Christmas of 1944.
The setting is September of 1944. We were supposedly buoyed by our success on D-Day, though I have never accepted that it was a complete success. We were ravaged too much by casualties and we got bogged down quite badly as we sought to advance. Oliver Stone suggests that the Red Army coming from the East was the main source of doom for the Nazis. Germans especially feared being overrun by the Russians who I guess were quite nasty dudes, not like the affable "Hogan" in "Hogan's Heroes."
Field Marshall Montgomery was a primary designer. The plan was to parachute large numbers of troops into occupied Holland. The troops could capture a series of important bridges. Eventually the troops would press on into Germany and destroy the Nazis' munitions plants. Montgomery was supremely confident but things went errant. So we see the unfolding tragedy.
"A Bridge Too Far" has been compared to "The Longest Day" which focused on D-Day. "The Longest Day" came out previously and was rather oddly in black and white. Both movies used subtitles for the bad guys. So many movies gave us a German accent as if that were authentic!
 
Remember the purpose of movies
"The Longest Day" seems more palatable as a movie, than "Bridge Too Far." I remember a key word in a review of the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals." That word is "turgid." Let's copy and paste that word for "A Bridge Too Far." The moviemakers feel as though the subject material is so epic and important, we need an extremely drawn-out movie to depict it. A movie is not a documentary. It's not a sermon. The movie "Gettysburg" is vastly better than "Gods and Generals" because it seizes the best elements of drama. It depicts a handful of engagements as representing the whole tapestry of a particular chapter of the war. It's not giving a history lesson, rather it uses drama to make us appreciate the Gettysburg campaign. We see a handful of key characters as they behaved over just three days of the war.
A World War II movie can be made in the same way. Guys like me who grew up with the "Combat" TV series (with Vic Morrow) hardly need to see more grenades exploding and tanks getting blown up. We get all that already.
The cynical and defeatist '70s, the Murphy's Law decade, was an apt time for "Bridge Too Far" to come out. It was the decade when Jimmy Carter's attempt to free the hostages failed when our helicopters had mechanical breakdowns. It was the decade of the pet rock and of the Comet Kohoutek which experts said would be so bright, it would make nighttime seem like day. We got disco and the Gong Show, plus Euell Gibbons whose claim to fame was writing about edible plants in the wild.
Attenborough with "Bridge" oversees a WWII movie that seems wrapped in an anti-war subtext. The movie has been praised as being ahead of its time for cinematography. Seeing it today, I see nothing to distinguish it in this regard. Roger Ebert thought the special effects with the planes were laughable. I'll have to watch more carefully next time. I'll also have to watch more carefully in order to spot John Ratzenberger as a lieutenant. So many combat scenes scream "futility" as we see "men die like flies," to borrow a line from Ebert's review of  "Gods and Generals."
Sean Connery played a private in "The Longest Day" and he's back in "Bridge" as a general. There is a cynicism in "Bridge" that we do not sense in "the Longest Day," the latter ending as Robert Mitchum smells and admires a cigar. Eddie Albert is machine-gunned to death at the end and he simply falls into a hole - so typical of traditional war movies where we don't see the blood (or internal organs protruding) or hear the screams.
"A Bridge Too Far" has scenes that show the poor U.S. grunts in a no-win situation, for example getting shot as they were descending in parachutes, or crossing a river in small boats against strong German resistance. Why do we need to see this? Aren't we already quite aware of the scope of tragedy?
 
A need to distill
"Bridge Too Far" has too many characters in too many locations. The plot developments bleed into each other, so to speak. A model more like "Gettysburg" was needed: seizing on two or three pivotal episodes and developing interesting characters around them. We deduce the big picture: all that battlefield hubris.
"Operation Market Garden" was such a complicated scenario that if one element got screwed up, the whole venture would be endangered. Robert Redford leads that charge across a fortified river in broad daylight. Some critics were hard on Ryan O'Neal. I felt he did as well as anyone, and maybe the problem was that he looked too young for his role. Or maybe the problem was that critics were jealous of O'Neal because he played a heartthrob in "Love Story." Seriously, I subscribe to that theory.
About 3/4 of the way through "Bridge" I got genuinely weary and felt it was all becoming quite redundant. Why do we need to be hit over the head with the message that war is horribly tragic and painful? What possessed mankind in the mid-20th Century to engage in such conflict and to cheapen human life by making it so expendable? "Men died like flies."
And we seek entertainment from this morass of bad news on the movie screen. We are so human an animal.
 
Addendum: I found one of those lists of "notable lines." I couldn't find the one that I thought was best or at least the most poignant. Sean Connery observes some people who got loose from a "lunatic asylum" due to the fighting. These poor souls are giggling and seem clueless, and Connery says "what do they know that we don't?" Not quite sure what he meant but it seemed clever on the surface, but maybe it's politically incorrect by today's standards. It's politically incorrect to make light of the problems of such people.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tigers defeat Benson as again Arndt runs with force

Tigers 35, Benson 16
Camden Arndt wasted no time asserting himself again. Arndt broke loose on a 70-yard run on the game's very first play Friday. The orange and black looked robust indeed. Arndt showed the same form that produced monster stats in the ACGC game. The opponent on Friday, Sept. 22, was Benson on the road. I always enjoyed watching games at the Benson stadium.
We won on Friday by a 35-16 score. We were up 29-7 at halftime. "Monster" again describes Arndt's numbers. He carried the football 14 times for 239 yards.
Eli Grove kicked the point-after following Arndt's game-opening score. Benson actually took a temporary lead on a TD and two-point conversion: Aaron Zosel scored the TD on a run from the four, and Hunter Gonnerman passed to Sam Lundebrek for two. Benson's lead faded steadily as MACA scored the next four touchdowns.
Arndt sprinted toward the end zone and scored from 48 yards away. Connor Koebernick carried successfully on the conversion. The Tigers' seldom-used passing game asserted itself on a five-yard scoring toss that had Koebernick passing and Nathan Grunklee catching. Grove kicked the point-after. Koebernick delivered another touchdown throw: a ten-yard hookup with Mace Yellow. The PAT try was no-go. Nathan Beyer scored on a three-yard touchdown run, and Grove kicked the PAT. Zosel of Benson scored the night's final TD on a one-yard run. Zosel also carried successfully on the conversion.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta evened its record at 2-2 with Friday's success. Benson dropped to 0-4.
Yes we generally have a conservative passing game. Koebernick didn't throw a lot but he completed all five of his pass attempts. His yardage was 70 and two of his passes were TDs. He had no interceptions. Arndt was followed on the MACA rushing list by Nathan Beyer who had nine carries for 55 yards. Koebernick charged forward for 16 yards on three carries, and Joel Ruiz had 30 yards on two.  The team numbers were 354 yards on 34 carries.
Alex Daugherty caught two passes for 30 yards. These three Tigers each had one catch: Mace Yellow (ten yards), Nathan Grunklee (five yards) and Jarret Johnson (25 yards). Daugherty picked off a pass. Joseph Kleinwolterink had a quarterback sack.
Aaron Zosel of Benson had 77 rushing yards on 23 carries. He was complemented in the running game by Mason Abner (36 yards on ten carries), Will Enderson (22 yards on five carries) and Hunter Gonnerman (six yards, two carries). Gonnerman completed his only passing attempt for seven yards. The main thrower was Enderson who had 7-for-15 stats, 67 yards and one interception. The Benson pass-catchers were Zosel (three catches, 39 yards), Matt Tolifson (three catches, 16 yards) and Sam Lundebrek (2-19). Lunderbrek alertly pounced on two fumbles. Benson standouts on the defensive side of the ball were Abner (two solo tackles, six assists), Matt Connolly (4-4), Zosel (1-5), Jacob Wolter (2-4), Devin Vergin (2-3) and Alden Syltie (1-4).

Volleyball: Tigers 3, Minnewaska Area 0
The MACA girls again took care of business in the minimum three games. The opponent was Minnewaska and the date was September 21. The Tigers took this road match by scores of 25-14, 25-11 and 25-23.
Jenna Howden achieved three serving aces. Bailey Marty had two serving aces and Riley Decker one. Karly Fehr was busy in her specialty of setting, on this night picking up 31 set assists. Howden led in hitting with 12 kills. Also on the kill list were Jenna Larsen (8), Marty (7), Fehr (5), Kenzie Hockel (4) and Lexi Pew (2). Howden showed her prowess at the net with two ace blocks. Hockel, Fehr, Larsen and Pew each had one ace block. Decker had impact in digging like always, on this night picking up 18 digs. She was followed by Fehr (8), Larsen (7), Hockel (6) and Marty (5).
For Minnewaska, Kelsey Johnson and Emma Thorfinnson each had two serving aces. Johnson had 13 set assists and Sara Geiser had eight. Ellie Danielson was the top Laker in kills with eleven. Thorfinnson and Alexis Piekarski each had four kills. Geiser had two kills, and Sierra Lindemann and Madisen Hall each had one. Danielson had two ace blocks while Lindemann and Thorfinnson each had one. Bailey Stewart dug up the ball 16 times for the Lakers. Danielson came through with eight digs.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

The power of a typewriter and unencumbered thought

Only once in my life did I stay in a movie theater to see the same movie back to back. It was "All the President's Men."
Hollywood is great for designating heroes and villains. A common fault of Hollywood is to caricature these people, lest their (stupid) audience has a hard time delineating. Remember "Mr. Potter" of "It's a Wonderful Life?" A prime example. Also, that British army officer in "The Patriot." By the tine that officer got killed, my only thought was "why did we have to wait so long?"
"It's a Wonderful Life" would not be considered such a classic today - maybe not a classic at all - if it hadn't been in the public domain at a time when rapidly proliferating TV channels were looking for material to run.
"All the President's Men" with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman mesmerized me. Yeah, I ended up as a newspaper writer myself. I was amazed at the power a person could wield with a typewriter, a newspaper job and the freedom to think unencumbered about what was right and what was wrong.
 
Echoes from a previous time
Memories of Watergate come rushing back because of what we are seeing with the Trump administration today. Trump's supporters say the public really doesn't care about the Russia stuff. They say it's a narrow obsession of certain elements within the media. But deep into Watergate, polls showed the public didn't much care about that either. These polls make sense because in the day to day lives of ordinary people, such matters appear to have little impact. However, the powers that be in Washington D.C. need to be held to rules. Along with that, we absolutely need the free press in spite of how Trump rants about that: "fake news!"
Nixon and his people tried to quarantine the Washington Post as if Watergate was limited to the narrow interests of that paper. The Washington Post could have gotten cowed. Why didn't that happen? We think of the Washington Post as a paper with a national constituency, but its soul is invested in Washington D.C. or that "Beltway" as it's called. As such it feels called upon to keep the reputation of its immediate community sound and intact. It's in the interests of the Beltway for established rules to survive and be applied. So the Washington Post with "Woodward and Bernstein" was persistent.
Bad guys and good guys? In reality so much falls into a shade of gray. The key to Watergate and its accelerating revelations was the disgruntled FBI person, Mark Felt, who was doing nothing more than back-biting and revenge-seeking, the kind of motivations we are all familiar with. Felt funneled that information to those salivating reporters. The rest is history.
Nixon governed from the middle and did some arguably good things, like creating the EPA. I would fault him primarily for staying stuck in Viet Nam. It's an unforgivable sin. It was LBJ's war that was oh so stubborn to stomp out. The war headlines were endless as I grew up. We had a friend of the family from Brainerd who was killed by friendly fire in Viet Nam. I cannot rule out "fragging."
My first summer out of high school was the peak of Watergate revelations, creating that rolling snowball that culminated with Nixon's resignation in August of 1974.
 
A waltz inspired by Watergate
Should a new Watergate movie be made? I would say no because it's too painful to have to reflect on the sheer stupidity that was the mother's milk of the scandal. The late Walt Sarlette of Morris wrote a waltz for our Tempo Kings dance group - we called it "The Watergate Waltz." Del Sarlette and I had some fun beyond that. Del wrote "I Didn't Want To Do It" in parenthesis under the title - this was a takeoff on the old Harry James tune "You Made Me Love You." "I Didn't Want To Do It" was inserted under that title. I suggested that "fast 4" be noted as the rhythm which was ridiculous because it was a waltz. Del wrote "fast 4" with the additional words: "(possible parole after 2").
Del put down some credits, including "Arranged by G. Gordon Liddy." We had "Music by H.R. Haldeman" and "Lyrics by John Dean (deleted)." It was a fun-sounding waltz and had the sax players grab their clarinets for a part. It was fun thinking of all the wearisome machinations of Watergate while hearing this lively waltz. Kudos to the late Mr. Sarlette who ought to be viewed as an iconic figure from this community's history.
The focus now is on Russia. It was because of the Soviet Union and the Cold War that us schoolkids were pushed so bad when we were in school. We had to "beat the Russians." We suspected the Russian people really weren't that different from us. This was a message we took away from the movie "The Russians Are Coming." Remember that classic with Alan Arkin as a Russian? Del says this is one of the movies that could never be re-made. (I say the same thing about "The Dirty Dozen." Lee Marvin's role could never be reprised.)
So, I sat through two shows of "All the President's Men" at the twin cinema theaters next to Crossroads Shopping Center, St. Cloud, during the disco '70s. My own approach as a writer was probably shaped by all that. It's not a philosophy that works well in today's news media. Today's writers tend to defer to authority at the local level. It's knee-jerk and sometimes rather fallible. But at the macro level we still need the crusaders. How on earth are the Trump family issues going to turn out? Heaven only knows. The key as always will be the maintenance of the free press.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fast-moving Trump/Russia story goes hurtling along

My current post on "I Love Morris" pushes us back to 1973. We go there because of the parallels between the Trump/Russia thing and Watergate. I suggest we shouldn't be too hasty making parallels.
I just clicked on "publish" for the "I Love Morris" post even though I wrote it yesterday. Alas, the Trump/Russia story is moving so fast, anything is at risk of becoming dated. I don't like to be too hasty posting. A day's wait means I might catch some little issue that needs to be straightened out.
Perhaps I should gulp some coffee and get my timeline a little more confined. I'm writing this post as I watch "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, a show where certainly they gulp coffee. It's the must-see for updating one's knowledge of the incredible Trump/Russia imbroglio.
Already I hear that the comparison with the summer of 1973 should maybe be put aside. Because, now it seems we're into the summer of 1974. At that point there is no rallying for the president (Nixon) anymore. We had all become quite battle fatigued. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon because of the sheer fatigue that was dragging down the nation. At least this is how Ford argued. He may have lost his bid to retain the presidency as a result. Yes, we were fatigued by Watergate but in order to gain resolution we should have ascertained more facts. Instead we ended up in kind of a netherworld.
Where are we headed now? I argue in "I Love Morris" that there's no way we can predict. We might assume that the outcome will be essentially similar to 1974. I'm checking CNBC and I see the futures are pointing upward again. The financial markets seem a world apart. Can this pattern hold indefinitely? Should we dismiss all the D.C. scandal-mongering as an amusement or distraction, only?
Not when the Republican Party is flirting with an actual overhauling of health care. Someone like Ted Cruz is amusing to watch as a character who pushes this firm political ideology. He gets attention with his extremism. This bright shiny object of a human being casts a shadow with his rhetoric. Conservatives present their principles in a way that makes us sympathetic to a degree. These principles work in an ideal world where everyone can carry their own weight. No messy complications arise in people's lives. No one suddenly needs to go to a nursing home. No one suddenly gets a serious chronic health condition.
I had a wise friend in college who said: "Republicans are great for arguing on principle, but Republicans don't care about people." Republicans have gotten a tremendous amount of traction over the recent past, becoming what I have called "the default political party" in America. In the current political climate, for whatever reason, you don't really need to explain yourself if you're a Republican. Democrats seem rather stigmatized. Democrats are forced on the defensive and have to explain themselves more. I am waiting for this to change.
Give Republicans just a little more power and they might actually craft and push through a draconian health care bill. And then there will be real world consequences of all our sympathy to the GOP cause. Cruz will have actually helped craft legislation affecting your very own life. So he's no longer a mere curiosity.
President Trump called a pep rally to promote the draconian health care bill out of the House of Representatives. This after Trump said in the campaign that all of America would get a health care package ("overturning Obamacare") that would be better for all. He uses hyperbole that is totally child-like. And yet we haven't risen up against this yet. We are fighting the donor class of the Republican Party.
The White House is becoming a festering boil on this country. It is embroiled in an indefinite struggle merely for survival, as if any of us really ought to care about those deceiving people. It's almost like a drug-induced fantasy. We don't know if Trump will start talking to portraits on the wall the way Nixon did. His presidency may be beyond salvage.
It would be interesting if he suddenly declared himself a Democrat and called in Chuck Schumer for some meetings.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tony Cloninger's incredible feat in 1966 summer

I was eleven years old in 1966. My family lost a friend to friendly fire in Viet Nam. He was from Brainerd, my mom's hometown. The mid-1960s was a time of escalation of the Viet Nam conflict. Major league baseball was like a pleasant elixir helping us put aside, to a degree, the anxiety of the war, a war that it seemed we could do nothing about. "Let Daddy do his work," as "Dr. Evil" would say to his son. We Americans had to "let Daddy do his work" in terms of letting the Viet Nam war grow, against all logic.
If it happened before, it could happen again.
In 1966 our Minnesota Twins were a year removed from their pinnacle year of the 1960s. We won the pennant in '65 and then lost the World Series in seven games to the Dodgers. It's strange how we seem to remember nothing abut the '66 season. We still had an arguably super team. But we were not No. 1 in the league this time. We were No. 2 among the ten teams. America is a land that prioritizes being No. 1. I'm sure there were many pleasant afternoons and evenings at our Metropolitan Stadium, when our powerful Twins dispatched the opposition. But 1966 gets lost in obscurity in our collective memory, because in '65 we were No. 1, not in '66.
In 1966 the Braves were in their first year in Atlanta. Strange how Milwaukee could not do what was needed to keep the Braves. The Braves had been a highly exciting team with many interesting individuals in Milwaukee. Milwaukee would later show it could support big league ball with the Brewers. But something went haywire and caused those Hank Aaron-led Braves to migrate south. They had spent 13 seasons in the brew town.
Aaron, Joe Torre, Ed Mathews and Rico Carty took their act to Georgia. In '91 our Twins would dispatch the Braves in the fall showcase.
 
A pitcher who could hit
Tony Cloninger was a 25-year-old pitcher in 1966. I remember from playing the APBA simulation game that Cloninger was a superb-hitting pitcher, rather like having a DH in the order instead of the typical anemic-hitting pitcher. I remember that Cloninger was the Braves' staff ace in 1964, still in Milwaukee, when the Braves were involved in a suspenseful pennant race with several other teams. Warren Spahn was still with the Braves. Unfortunately he fell off from his prime. He had such a sturdy arm for so many years. Had he coaxed one more stellar season from that left arm, the Braves would have certainly won the '64 pennant. Instead they got edged out, as St. Louis with a young Lou Brock won the pennant and then went on to beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Cloninger's APBA card for 1964 suggested he was something other than a pitcher. But a pitcher he was, with hitting numbers that showed he could be quite the asset in that department.
Let's drift back in time to that 1966 summer when the Braves were established in their new home of downtown Atlanta. Let's park on the date of July 3, 1966, in the midst of the holiday slowdown for the Fourth. The setting was San Francisco, Candlestick Park with its mystifying winds. It was Sunday afternoon at the heart of the Independence Day spirit.
The Alou brothers batted leadoff for the two teams: Felipe for the Braves and Jesus for the Giants. Jim Bouton wrote that teammates didn't pronounce Jesus in the proper way, HAY-soos, but rather like the Biblical man, in the typical irreverent spirit of big league players of that era. They weren't paid or treated as well as they should have been. Therefore they could develop bitter or cynical edges.
The Braves weren't excelling as of July 3 as they were in eighth place among the ten N.L. teams. They were 15 games behind the league-leading Giants. The July 3 game developed in an explosive way just like the fireworks. Cloninger had a seven-run lead before he even went out to the mound in the bottom of the first. He had quite the role in getting that early spurt. How that rally developed: Felipe Alou popped out, Mack Jones singled, Aaron forced Jones to second, then here come the fireworks: Carty singled to right. Torre homered to deep center. Frank Bolling and Woody Woodward singled, chasing Giants pitcher Joe Gibbon. (Going through all these names revives memories of my baseball card collection!)
Denis Menke - yes, just one "n" in Denis - drew a walk from Bob Priddy. Priddy was probably relieved to get to the pitcher, Cloninger. Cloninger worked Priddy to a full count. Then, fireworks: Cloninger hit the ball to almost the same spot as Torre's homer: a grand slam. The ball cleared the 410-foot sign. Ah, six hits, seven runs. A Carty homer made the score 8-0 in the second.
 
Here we go again!
The fourth inning saw Carty trot down to first with a walk. Torre got on by error and Bolling singled to score Carty. There were two outs with two baserunners on when Menke came up to bat. Menke walked as he had done previously. The sacks were loaded again with Cloninger set to bring his bat to the plate. The count was 0-and-1 when Cloninger socked his second bases-loaded homer of the game, a liner over the opposite field fence in right. The score after 3 1/2 innings was 13-0.
Aaron hit his league-leading 25th home run in the fifth. The eighth inning saw Cloninger hit a run-scoring single. The final score was 17-3, quite a way to mark America's birthday. Cloninger's RBI total of nine on the day was quite the new standard for pitchers. The Braves sent 52 batters to face Giants pitching. Five Braves each had at least three hits.
 
Sharp on the mound too
Cloninger pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits while allowing three earned runs. He fanned five batters and walked two. He won for the sixth time in his last seven starts, raising his record to 9-7. He quipped after that July 3 game: "Funny thing, nobody is asking me about my pitching."
Fans left Candlestick Park wide-eyed to be sure.
Major league baseball fascinated me through the '60s as I passed through junior high, a rather arduous time of life typically. Baseball was an escape for me, a taste of the exciting "macro" world away from my mundane "micro" world of where I lived. How much more joy we would have felt, with no Viet Nam war as a horrible, devilish specter. We miss you, Richard Ungerecht.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, July 3, 2017

Let's keep Rico Carty in pantheon of baseball's greats

Rico Carty's name has not had the staying power of many of his superstar baseball peers. Fans at the time of his prime were most impressed. He did not present the most graceful public persona. But he was a monster hitter. I wince when I see that his career batting average was .299. Oh no! But stats can be superficial.
I remember when Carty was playing for Toronto, not at his best at the time, our great broadcaster Halsey Hall said "I don't care what this guy's average is, he's a good hitter."
Carty was so good in 1964, he hit for a higher average than our phenomenal rookie here in Minnesota, Tony Oliva. Only Roberto Clemente had a higher average in 1964. Carty was a rookie in '64 but, believe it or not, did not get Rookie of the Year. Instead it was Philadelphia's Richie Allen who got that honor.
Carty developed a devoted following in Milwaukee. Those were the days of the Braves, not the Brewers. The Braves shifted to Atlanta where Carty's popularity was such, we saw "Carty's Corner" in the left field stands. Carty might have climbed to Hank Aaron stature were it not for some bumps in the road. He had illness, injuries, issues with his defensive play and rough edges in his personality. He came to the American League in 1973 (my year of high school graduation).
In theory the new designated hitter rule seemed most suited for Carty. In theory the rule was supposed to help some fine hitters extend their career because of being relieved of defensive rigors. It doesn't really work like that. A player who finds it difficult to play in the field will probably have problems hitting too. The whole body is involved in hitting. Carty did not take to the DH role initially.
 
A man of the people with votes
I remember Carty really bursting into public consciousness in 1970. Fan balloting for the All Star game was new. Carty was on fire with his batting prowess. But his name wasn't on the All Star ballot. The list of 48 candidates in each league was compiled during spring training. No Rico Carty on the ballot. A more corporate personality might have helped him.
More than two million fans voted. A write-in campaign helped the big guy get 67,000 more votes than Pete Rose! So Carty, thanks to the determined and well-publicized write-in effort, joined Aaron and Willie Mays in the starting National League outfield. He walked and grounded out in the 1970 All Star showcase. He overcame injuries to lead the N.L. in batting average with a sizzling .366 mark.
Even in this, his best season, Carty had problems with a volatile nature. He got in a fight with pitcher Ron Reed. He had the highest career average among active players. Nevertheless he was the subject of trade rumors. Playing in the Dominican League after that 1970 season, Carty collided with teammate Matty Alou and fractured his knee. His leg was in a brace for 1971 spring training. He hobbled out of the dugout on Opening Day to a standing ovation. He got a blood clot in his injured leg.
Complications continued when he and a brother in law got in a fight with two off-duty Atlanta cops. A racial slue precipitated, legend has it.
My, those physical challenges continued into 1972: elbow tendinitis and a pulled hamstring. He managed to bat .277. October saw him get traded to the American League's Texas Rangers. Braves fans were deflated. Carty and the new Atlanta manager, former Braves superstar Ed Matthews, were not on the same wavelength. Meanwhile the Texas manager, none other than Whitey Herzog, said he was "looking for ballplayers, not Boy Scouts."
Alas, Carty was dealt another piece of injury misfortune as Pedro Borbon delivered a pitch that fractured Carty's jaw. Herzog saw Carty as a fine DH candidate. But Carty didn't share that enthusiasm. His stats sank as the DH but then he got re-assigned to left field, even though his errors would often outnumber his assists. He broke a bone in his foot sliding into second base. He was batting .232 when he was sent to the Cubs. The Cub experience was fleeting and then it was on to Oakland. The A's won the World Series but Carty was not eligible for the post-season roster. He was released on December 12.
Doubt circulated as to whether Carty could continue as a productive ballplayer. Carty himself was resolved to keep going. He was up for winter ball again. His skills were revived and this got the attention of the Cleveland Indians. Despite a hamstring issue, he batted .363 in 33 games as the Tribe's DH and first baseman.
Carty pulled on the Cleveland uniform again in 1975 at age 35. His talents were most intact with a .308 batting average. Things got better in 1976, at least for a time, as he flirted with a .400 average. Despite more injuries, Carty played in a career-high 152 games and batted .310. He produced a team-best 83 RBIs. He had finally come around to the DH role. He was voted Man of the Year by the Cleveland baseball writers.
He was picked by Toronto in the 1976 expansion draft, but he was promptly traded back to Cleveland where in 1977 he was the highest-paid team member. A clash developed with manager Frank Robinson. Carty was not carrying himself very gracefully. But it was Robinson who appeared to come out on the short end as he got fired. I seem to recall Gaylord Perry not getting along well with Robinson either.
Carty got righted with his hitting and produced a .280 average with a team-best 80 RBIs. But he was sent to Toronto for 1978. He produced 19 RBIs in April for Toronto. He had a super August homestand. But he would be on the move again, pulling on an Oakland A's uniform as he was traded for Willie Horton. He had an early 15-game hitting streak for Oakland. He hit eight home runs in his first 19 games. His 31 home runs for the season was his career-best! Amazing resiliency by this veteran.
He was granted free agency. He became a Toronto Blue Jay again, inking a bulky five-year contract (probably incentive-laden). He claimed an odd injury: stabbing himself with a toothpick. His hitting suffered. August 6 of 1979 saw Carty hit his 200th career home run. He could not resist the ravages of time and age anymore. His extended contract lasted but one year and he was released on March 29, 1980.
 
Born to be a hitter
He may have been big and slow but he seemed as natural a hitter as Tony Oliva. His regular comebacks from various kinds of adversity were inspiring. He could engage in cheerful banter with fans. It's ironic that he also had a reputation as somewhat of an agitator. He merely claimed that he "stood up for his rights" and this he did with a wide variety of individuals. You might say he was "equal opportunity" in that respect.
I think it's unfortunate that the big guy isn't remembered better, not in the same league as the squeaky-clean Hank Aaron. He was volatile as many talented people are. Let's keep his memory alive!
 
Addendum: It dawns on me that Carty gets mention in "Ball Four," the groundbreaking baseball book by Jim Bouton, groundbreaking because of the rules it broke. Of Carty, the knuckleballing Bouton said he didn't trust banks. "He also doesn't trust clubhouse valuable boxes." So when Carty was on TV and you saw a big bulge in his back pocket, it's his wallet! Bouton's book went below the surface in evaluating ballplayers and their idiosyncrasies, the idea being to make them totally human. I guess we all should have understood that in the first place.
Maybe there was something to be said about Carty's paranoia about the financial world!
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com