April 17, 2014

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Rain delays can be a wonderful thing
Written by Hank Menninger   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:27 AM

Seems like we have had our share of rain delays early this season. That got me to thinking about the rain delays of my childhood which featured none other than the great Yankee Hall of Famer, Waite Hoyt.

One of my favorite Waite Hoyt rain delay stories was his rendition of Ernie Harwell’s tribute to baseball which Hoyt presented during a rain delay at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on May 3, 1959.

Harwell, himself, was a beloved broadcaster for Baltimore and Detroit. Waite Hoyt’s rendition gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and while the written version I share below doesn’t have quite the same effect as the words rolling off Waite Hoyt’s tongue, it certainly does put one into the spirit of the baseball season, especially when it is raining, and the Reds are struggling; so here goes:

The Game For All America by Ernie Harwell
Baseball is President Eisenhower tossing out the first ball of the season; and a pudgy schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm.

It’s the big league pitcher who sings in nightclubs. And the Hollywood singer who pitches to the Giants in spring training.

A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from his dugout-that’s baseball. So is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running out one of his 714 home runs with mincing steps.

It’s America, this baseball. A reissued newsreel of boyhood dreams. Dreams lost somewhere between boy and man. It’s the Bronx cheers and the Baltimore farewell. The left field screen in Boston, the right field dump at Nashville’s Sulphur Dell, the open stands in San Francisco, the dusty, wind-swept diamond at Alberquerque. And a rock home plate and a chicken wire backstop-anywhere.

There’s a man in Mobile who remembers a triple he saw Honus Wagner hit in Pittsburg forty-six years ago.

That’s baseball. So is the scout reporting that a sixteen year-old sandlot pitcher in Cheyenne is the “new Walter Johnson.”

It’s a wizened little man shouting insults from the safety of his bleacher seat. And a big, smiling first baseman playfully tousling the hair of a youngster outside the players’ gate.

Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered-or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

In baseball, democracy shines its clearest. Here the only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color is something to distinguish one team’s uniform from another.

Baseball is Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, asking his Brooklyn hosts to explain Dodger signals.

It’s player Moe Berg speaking seven languages and working crossword puzzles in Sanskrit. It’s a scramble in the box seats for a foul-and a $125 suit ruined. A man barking into a hot microphone about a cool beer, that’s baseball. So is the sportswriter telling a .383 hitter how to stride, and a 20-victory pitcher trying to write his impressions of the World Series.

Baseball is a ballet without music. Drama without words. A carnival without kewpie dolls.

A housewife in California couldn’t tell you the color of her husband’s eyes, but she knows that Yogi Berra is hitting .337, has brown eyes, and used to love to eat bananas and mustard. That’s baseball. So is the bright sanctity of Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame. And the former big leaguer, who is playing out the string in a Class B loop.

Baseball is continuity. Pitch to pitch. Inning to inning. Game to game. Series to series. Season to season.

It’s rain, rain, rain spattering on a puddled tarpaulin as thousands sit in damp disappointment. And the click of typewriters and telegraph keys in the press box-like so many awakened crickets. Baseball is a cocky batboy. The old timer whose batting average increases every time he tells it. A lady celebrating a home run rally by mauling her husband with a rolled up scorecard.

Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby, the flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an overaged pixie named Rabbit Maranville, and Jackie Robinson testifying before a congressional hearing.

Baseball? It’s just a game-as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It’s a sport, business-and sometimes even religion.

Baseball is Tradition in flannel knickerbockers. And Chagrin in being picked off first base. It is Dignity in the blue serge of an umpire running the game by rule of thumb. It is Humor, holding its sides when an errant puppy eludes two groundskeepers and the fastest outfielder. And Pathos, dragging itself off the field after being knocked from the box.

Nicknames are baseball. Names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Daffy.

Baseball is a sweaty, steaming dressing room where hopes and feelings are as naked as the men themselves.

It’s a dugout with spike-scarred flooring. And shadows across an empty ballpark. It’s the endless list of names in box scores, abbreviated almost beyond recognition.

The holdout is baseball. He wants 55 grand or he won’t turn a muscle. But it’s also the youngster who hitchhikes from South Dakota to Florida just for a tryout.

Arguments, Casey at the Bat, old cigarette cards, photographs, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”-all of them are baseball.

Baseball is a rookie-his experience no bigger than the lump in his throat-trying to begin fulfillment of a dream. It’s a veteran too-a tired old man of thirty-five, hoping his aching muscles can drag him through another sweltering August and September.

For nine innings, baseball is the story of David and Goliath, of Samson, Cinderella, Paul Bunyan, Homer’s Iliad and the Count of Monte Cristo.

Willie Mays making a brilliant World Series catch. And then going home to Harlem to play stickball in the street with his teenage pals-that’s baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, the Sporting News, winter trades, “Down in front”, and the seventh-inning stretch. Sore arms, broken bats, a no-hitter, and the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Baseball is a highly paid Brooklyn catcher telling the nation’s business leaders: “You have to be a man to be a big leaguer, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you too.”

Yes, this is a game for America, this baseball!

A game for boys and men.

Hoyt finishes with the words: “That is a beautiful tribute ... I can only say this in testimony to that, I wish that I had written it.”

Hank Menninger is an avid Cincinnati Reds fan who has not missed an Opening Day in 36 years.

 
Mickey Rooney appeared in 336 roles with 2 more flicks being filmed
Written by Bill Baird   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:26 AM

Ninian Joseph Yule Jr. was born to Vaudeville husband and wife stars Joe Yule and Nell Carter on Sept. 23, 1920, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mickey Rooney passed away in North Hollywood, California on Sunday April 6, 2014, at age of 93.

From 1926 to 2012 Mickey appeared in 336 roles with two more still being filmed in 2014.

Mickey was married eight times with beautiful Ava Gardner (1922-1990) being the first.

Not handsome and 5 feet 2 inches tall, it was said he got his beautiful brides because they thought it would further their careers.

During his long career he had some bad roles and some good roles.

He will be best remembered for his starring roles in the Andy Hardy series in the 1930-40s.

Mickey’s passing means the golden age of cinema is fading away. ickey’s best film was Boy’s Town (1938).

I was shocked and saddened upon learning that Anthony “Tony” Leisring, 53, Hooven passed away on Saturday, April 5, 2014.

Tony was our plumber and a good friend. He was a Harley rider and a believer in Jesus Christ.

As a plumber, he was the best. As a Christian, he would pray with us during his visits.

The last time we saw him not long ago he was battling cancer and was going to the Cleveland Clinic.

As sure as there is a heaven Tony is there, but knowing him made our lives on Earth better.

My UK granddaughter Lexis attended UK’s tournament games in Dallas, Texas, with classmate friends during the April 5, weekend.

My thanks to the Bonkowski’s of Manchester, Mich., for the DVDs enjoyed by all of us and the kind words.

My thanks also to Joe Ann Kern of Harrision for the kind words and a copy of my Truckin’ with Bill Baird column in the Record from July 5, 1978, that was written when her grandfather and my good neighbor Ernest Jacques passed away.

The article featured as Creeps of the Week the drivers who broke into Mr. Jacques funeral procession, and I wrote a tribute to Mr. Jacques who was the finest most gentle man I have ever met.

We would meet getting the mail from our RFD mailboxes and talk about cars.

Later some kids stole my mailbox and threw it into the river. Mr. Jacques had a compact Ford of the era that he loved.

He was also an excellent artist with paint. I had tears in my eyes remembering this fine and gentle man.

Bill Baird is a Whitewater Township resident who writes a weekly column about old movies and Hollywood trivia.

 
Precious 6th-graders vs. evil 8-th graders
Written by Bob Hyle   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:15 AM

So, the Southwest Local School District is going to expose its precious little sixth-graders to the evil eighth-graders at Harrison Junior School next year.

The school district will be saving money, though, which may not be the bottom line on decisions such as these, but it’s least at sea level.

I’m not too worried because I don’t have a sixth-grader anymore, but I’m sure the parents of next year’s first-graders are rejoicing.

“Thank goodness we got rid of those awful sixth-graders,” some Southwest parents are saying. “Now, how do we go about getting rid of those obnoxious fifth-graders, too?”

I guess the point is when it comes to school there always is going to be one class with the oldest students in the building and one with the youngest.

It’s been that way since the dawn of American education. Our friends and neighbors in the Three Rivers School District have everyone from high school seniors to kindergarten students in the same building. Don’t those Three Rivers people know this is a crazy concept?

Here in Harrison, students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade always have been together at St. John the Baptist School. With two buildings there is some segregation, but they share the gym and the cafeteria.
Granted, there are more students in the lower levels at St. John than in the seventh or eighth grades, but no one has burned down the buildings there just yet.

Rather than worry about co-mingling with older kids, parents should be more worried about keeping up with the changes in education. The world is evolving and your kids are going to be at the forefront of the revolution.

Many of us spent hours learning to write in the cursive style and you see where that’s got us. I always wondered how people were going to survive in the world if they didn’t learn how to write at least their own name in cursive, but as my tech savant Jack Dominic will tell you, digital signatures are becoming accepted for contracts in many lines of business. In another decade, anything that needs signing likely will be done so digitally without so much as a “wet” John Hancock to be found.

This likely means the end of the romanticized hand-written note that we long to see when we open the mailbox. I received one from one of my sisters last week and her thoughts were lovely. It just took me a while to make heads or tails of her handwriting.

In communication, the first rule is to get the person you are communicating with to understand what you are saying - or writing.

That’s getting harder to do for those of us who know how to use cursive. One of these days, the cursive style will be compared to Latin - a beautiful language and necessary for lawyers and doctors, but less so for the rest of us.

Bob Hyle covers sports and writes a weekly column for The Harrison Press. He lives in Bright.

 
Beneath the surface in Ukraine
Written by Patricia Huelseman   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:14 AM

With sunshine blasting out any residual cold, temperatures peaking near 80, I spent Sunday afternoon in the back yard with family, barbecue and games. It was absolutely splendid.

I felt like a member of the American family. You know the kind. From the golden days, when picket fences lined yards and not a sign of trouble stirred within those fences. Where the world was safe and kids went where they wanted without fear or danger.

Get real
But you know, that’s not really what’s going on. Beneath the surface, even in that back yard of smiling faces and cheerful music, there was a torrent of brokenness threatening to erupt at any moment.

Every family is like that. You tell me the last time a gathering as such went smoothly without any issues whatsoever.

I guess it’s like that everywhere. I guess there’s always a much deeper, more complex story.

That’s certainly the case in Ukraine. Everyone’s heard about it. Vlad Putin and the Russians are invading. Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and re-enter Russia. Crimeans were in favor of the move by 96 percent of the vote.

But it’s like the backyard picnic. It’s not all surface-value honesty.

I have a good friend who lives in Kiev, Ukraine. His name is Lyubko and he is a journalist.

The man is so intellegent that every time I talk to him, the native Ukrainian teaches me something new about english. It’s infuriating. And embarrassing.

Earnest conversation
I had a conversation with Lyubko the other day via skype and for two hours straight, we talked about the tragic situation occurring there.

Lyubko said the issue is complex. “There are so many different things,” he said. “That well, I guess not even all Ukrainians understand everything.”

We talked about how the Ukrainian army became so weak, about how there was political unrest in Ukraine and that’s when Russia chose to strike.

We talked about what happened in Crimea and about Ukraine’s former president, Yanukovych.
Beneath the surface of every issue there was one consistent thread: deceit.

“Partly, the reason why Ukraine, for now, lost Crimea, is because we had a lot of infiltrated Russians that have been working for Ukrainian government.

“They have been working in ministry of defense, in Ukrainian security systems … everywhere,” said Lyubko.

“I understand how incredible, unbelievable it might sound,” he conceded, “but unfortunately, it is true. And the main agent of Russia that we had during the last years,” he said with a heavy laugh, “was actually Ukrainian president.”


Pulling all the stops
Lyubko says Russia has been pulling all the stops. He believes there are many Russian agents working within the major infrastructures still today.

He says there has been an onslaught of blatant lies in the Russian media and that propaganda has been a major tool for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his followers.

Lyubko, a successful journalist, feels especially the need for accurate representation of what is occurring in his country.

During the riots or revolts against the Ukrainian government in Maidan, Lyubko and a team of journalists set about to write a newsletter detailing all they witnessed.

The newsletter would be dispersed to family members, friends, colleagues … anyone who didn’t have access to proper news sources.

“I planned to fill that newsletter with the best articles, interviews and features, infographics about Maidan … and there was really, a lot of information.”

He and his team compiled 32 pages worth of information about Maidan and were ready to print when they were stopped in their tracks.

“We got the first casualties,” he said. “The first people were killed and it seemed at that point, all that information fit in the newsletter, that was not relevant anymore.”

Before it was over, more than 100 Ukrainians, fighting to protect their freedom, their liberty, their justice, would perish.

The newsletter was scrapped and the team set about the task a second time. The second newsletter focused on mobilization.

There also were articles about weapons that people could use.

“Well, if they obtain any firearms, they should use it to protect their friends or Maidan because it was clear at that point that it is not possible to fight (former Ukrainian president) Yanukovych without such … well,  you can’t talk about ethics, about morality to a crocodile. It’s pointless.”

Ready to fight
In the wake of such upheaval, Lyubko says there has been some good. Much like what we witnessed just after 9/11, Ukrainians are uniting.

There is more kindness among one another, they are extending a helping hand where they can.

Many Ukrainians and Russians alike are fleeing Crimea, and central Ukraine has openly welcomed them.

Lyubko says that, furthermore, a notion of ownership has taken hold of the nation. He says they will not give up without a fight.

“People are ready to fight and in such conditions, our enemies have no chances at all. It doesn’t matter how strong they are. … They can seize the Ukrainian capital or probably even most of Ukrainian territory but they wont be able to keep it under control.

In 1991, Ukraine gained independence without struggle and when something comes easily, it’s not quite so cherished. But Lyubko says that, now, Ukraine will not relent.

As unrest continues to build in the east between Ukraine and Russia, Lyubco shared with me an old Ukrainain phrase that he believes will be shortly witnessed: “The soil will be burned under their feet.”

Patricia Huelseman is a staff writer for The Harrison Press.

 
Here is the inside scoop on ‘Scoop’
Written by Jim Robertson   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:12 AM

Well it’s over. The deadline has passed and I am still sane. That is if I ever was in the first place.

Tax season is over except for the cleanup and doing the ones on extension, like mine for instance.

Attended a multi-year class reunion last Saturday evening. I can’t believe how old those people are.

Ran into the man who is responsible for hanging the moniker of  “Scoop” on me.  He was a coach and teacher at the high school while most of us at the reunion were attending the school.

I was reminded of this fact when he asked me Saturday night if I had a notebook with me and was I doing a story?

I remember it like it was only yesterday; about 46 years of yesterdays. One day, I was looking for the head football coach to get a comment on a sports story I was working on for the school paper.  As it happened,  I found the coach sitting outside the cafeteria because he was in charge of the lunchroom during lunch period.
Sitting with the coach were several assistant coaches, one of whom would bestow my nickname on me. The basketball coachalso was there.

As I approached, Coach Steve Safford greeted me with a “Howdy Scoop, what’s up?” I explained I was looking for Coach Ken Conatser for a comment on the previous week’s game. I got my comment and hustled off.

As it turned out, the basketball coach, Fritz Meyer, thought my nickname was Scoop, and, to my surprise, several weeks later as the basketball team was introduced (I was a student manager), he introduced me as Scoop Robertson and the rest, as they say, is history.

Speaking of trees, (how’s that for a non-sequitur?) the Harrison Tree Board will give away trees this Saturday. The activities occur at the community center at the end of George Street and commence with the Boy Scouts holding a pancake breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. There will be activities culminating with the egg hunt at 11 a.m. The Easter Bunny will be on hand for pictures with the young egg hunters. Bring your camera.

The trees will be given away starting at 10:30 a.m. and the tree board will observe a “one tree per family” policy until the supply is exhausted. This year’s selection is the northern red oak.

Come on down, eat some pancakes, visit the EB, get a tree and hunt an egg. It’s going to be a good time. As to that Easter Bunny, I think it’s a myth, not like Santa at all.

Jim Robertson is a longtime Harrison resident, a member of Harrison City Council, and a weekly columnist for The Harrison Press.

 
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