Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take Me Out to the (T) Ball Game

Back in 1951, Bill Veeck, the owner of the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) had planned a publicity stunt as part of a double-header baseball event. They were able to keep it under wraps, until the leadoff batter for the Browns in the second game was 3'6" Eddie Gaedel. His talent wasn't being a baseball player; it was being short. The number on his uniform was 1/8. As anticipated by Veeck, four pitches later it was ball four and Eddie went to first base. Then the regular lead-off hitter game into the game as a pinch runner and Eddie's major league career was over. But that even may inspired our present day gather of players under four feet tall: T-Ball! Here'a a report of Noah's game last week.

It had been cloudy but dry all day, until about twenty minutes before it was time to go to the game. A slight drizzle began, but the game went on. Andy is the coach for the feared Northeast Little League T-Ball Mariners! Here's Andy running the Mariners in a pre-game drill.

Here's Noah, giving real meaning to the term "warm-up" for a game. You can just see his blue cast peeking out of his right sleeve. The cast run up to halfway between his shoulder and elbow. Andy worked with him on throwing left handed, but when it was time to play he wanted to have his glove on, so he holds the ball in his fingers and kinds of spins his body to throw the ball.

As a student of the game, I had to assess the opponents. I recognized that I might have to leave the game early in the chance that my grandson would be put out by a fielder using a pink glove. That would be too embarrassing to the family honor!

Here's Andy and his assistant coach giving a motivational speech to the Mariners. You can tell that Andy is a master motivator since at least one of the players is actually looking at him.

Since the ball is hit off a tee and there is no pitcher, they don't need to play on a field with a backstop. Conversely, there is no dugout. So, for the bench, the players each bring a 5-gallon bucket with a lid to sit on. It's a good system since when they are in the dugout they wear their helmet and stow their glove in the bucket. When they take the field they store their helmet in the bucket. The buckets are arranged in their batting order, which makes it easy to see where we are in the batting order as well.

The lead-off batter hit the ball and made a mad dash...for third base! With some expert base coaching she was able to turn around and run to first, but the ball beat her to the bag. Except that the first baseman pulled her foot. Andy didn't argue, probably saving his Lasorda/Pinella explosion for later in the game.

Here's Noah at the plate, batting clean-up. Since he only has one free hand, he puts the bat on his right shoulder, and then whips it around with his left hand. Swung on, and belted up the middle, and ...

He's on! Here first base coach/father reminds him of the important things to remember in running the bases in T-Ball: Remember to tag up. Break up the double play with a hard slide. When you get to second base, turn left, not right. Don't kiss the third basegirl. So many things to remember!

And after a few more batters, he scores! In T-Ball, the tee also serves as the home plate.

I notice a few of the fielders were in this ready-to-field position, like this first baseman. If a ball were ever hit that far in the air, I doubt the glove would be much use.

Now the rain is really coming down.
One of the more sophisticated plays of the day was the decoy play, where a field trys to decoy the runner into thinking the fielder isn't in the play, and then quickly catches a throw and tags the runner out. The 3rd baseman had his back completely turned to the play and ball. He carried the decoy a little too far as the throw went past him out of bounds since he never turned around!

Who needs a fancy indoor professional stadium when you have an umbrella and/or a full rain suit.

Once the first inning was over and everyone had a chance to bat, the coaches conferred and decided to call the game.

The post-game shake-hands line forms. Everybody's a winner!

Wait a minute! Only one inning!? Noah isn't going to bat any more!? Summer is not happy.

Every game the coaches award a signed game ball to the player of the day. Today's awardee: Noah Tegeder! His line for the day 1-1, 1 run scored, no errors.

Following the game and post game festivities, one of the most important events of game day takes place - the awarding of the post-game treats.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Evolution of a Clean Shaven Man

At my wife Wendy's recommendation, I tried out for a part in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I got the part of Peter Quince, the leader of a group of trade workers who banded together to put on a play for the Duke and the Dutchess of Athens for a wedding celebration. As described in the script, we were considered "...hard-handed man that work in Athens here, which never labored in their minds until now (i.e. the day of the play.)" As we began practice, I decided that an Athenian carpenter in the 16th century would probably have a beard, so I commenced to give my character one for our play. I had only attempted a beard once, back in 1990 when Wendy was gone on a three week trip to England and the Holy Land, a trip she took with her parents and brother Tim. I greeted her at the airport with a three week growth. We took a few pictures, and that was that. Until 2009, that is. I set out to grow the beard about nine weeks before the play. Then, with an idea I got from son Andy, I took it off in stages, and this blog post chronciles it.

As I began my beard adventure, it was also at this same
time I began in a fantasy football league at work. The
website allows for a photo of the team owner, so, as
owner of "Robert's Beefy Boyz," I took my football
picture. You wouldn't want to mess with the Beefy
Boyz, now would you? After all, Peyton Manning
was my quarterback.

Finally the third week of October rolled around, and
my beard got to perform right along with me as
Peter Quince, Athenian Carpenter, and the leader
of some hard-handed men.

When one has a beard, you always have to wonder,
"Am I wearing anything that I just ate?"

Where do you begin to remove a beard? I started by just giving
myself long 70's style sideburns and an untrimmed goatee. I call
this my trucker look.

Now, the sideburns and goatee are trimmed. I call this
my high-school music teacher look.

The next step in my beard de-evolution
was to shave off the beard, leaving a
fu-manchu and a small "soul patch"
just under my lower lip. I was told
it gave me that "Yosemite Sam" look
What in tarnation were they thinking?

I thought perhaps it gave me more of
an outdoors look, like a horse trail

But, others said the fu-manchu gave me that biker
look. Yeah! "Let's ride"

Next stop was to get rid of the soul patch and the
fu-manchu handlebars, moving to a moustache
you just might see on an accountant in 2009.
So, the next step is to just cut it off, right?
Well, not quite.....

With a few more strokes of the razor, (and a little enhancements
to darken the moustache and eyebrows, the look moves from
a modern-day accountant in 2009 to the silent movies of the
"twenties" - a Charlie Chaplin look. (Or, considering my girth,
some would say it;s more like Oliver Hardy of the 1930's)
anyway, this was the Charlie Chaplin looks, which was stolen

and obliterated by a famous figure of the 1940's......

you know who - Now, get me to that razor!

And now, here I am, in 2010, clean shaven
and not ready to abandon the razor any time

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Presents for Kids

One of the fun things about having grandchildren is that when Christmas rolls around the prospective present population expands greatly. Your kids reach their teen and college years, and the present population becomes more narrow - more geared towards clothes, and things that are more expensive. The toy section becomes just another department nearby the sporting goods at the store. Then a grandchild shows up and the purchasing area becomes a huge landscape ready to be explored. In the more mature years, there's a little more cash in the wallet for that toy you think looks cool, especially one that didn't exist when you were a kid.

Which leads me to my sister Jane. Her first grandchild is on the way. Her youngest daughter Hayley is in high school and isn't interested in the toy aisle at the store. But, Jane has a nephew with a son, Noah (my grandson)is who is five, and she bought him a remote control stunt car. Noah has figured out how to make the car spin...and spin...and spin. Let's just say serenity is not the first feeling that comes to mind when Noah is operating his car, as the video shows. And, as mom Julie said, during the din, "Thanks Aunt Jane."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Do You Know Larry Bauer?

You probably don't...but in a way, you probably do. I ran across this photo while cleaning some boxes at my parents's home. I had a few old college newpapers, and in one was this newpaper photo which I scanned of Larry Bauer. To call us aquaintances would probably be a stretch. He was an upper classman in my fraternity and we had hardly had any conversations, me being a freshman. I was playing tennis up at one of the courts at my alma mater, Weber State College (now, Weber State University) and I don't remember the exact circumstances. Larry was a member of the college varsity tennis team. I guess he had seen me playing and came over and asked if he could show me a few things. I said sure, and Larry showed me a four step approach to the serve. He rotated my grip, turning the racket about a quarter to a three-eights turn different than the "shake hands" grip I used for my forehand. I did what he said, and the ball popped off my racket, into the opposite service court. It was amazing, because the grip felt so unnatural, the four steps so rigid, and yet it produced results.

"Results" is a vastly underrated description. It revolutionized my serve. I had decent ground strokes, and now I had an offensive weapon. I don't think Larry spent more than 20 minutes at most with me, but I benefited from that 20 minutes EVERY time I returned to the tennis courts. Even today, when things go a little awry in my serve, I return to the basics I learned that day, kind of a recalibration. The grip on the racket still feels unnatural in my hand, but the results have a familiar spirit.

Larry didn't have to spend any time with me that day. I didn't beckon him. He just spent a little time with me that was literally life changing for me. I was a pretty successful intermediate tennis player, and I owe a bit of every successful match to what learned that day. Since I found this photo, I tried to locate Larry via the phone book and Google, with no luck. It would be nice to tell him what an impact he had on my enjoyment of tennis.

So, do you know Larry Bauer? You do if someone has given you some of their time to make your life a little better, a little simpler, or a little happier. It may not last as long as a lifetime of recreational tennis, but it is good nonetheless. Additionally, you just might be someone else's Larry Bauer. You never know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sand in the City

Wendy and I made trek to visit daughter Molly at Portland in the middle of July. They have a charity event called "Sand in the City" where tons of sand is trucked into a city square, and then corporate teams spend all day Friday making a themed sand sculpture. The fund raising is by corporate donations plus they ask for a donation at the gate. I didn't see a printed program, but the theme seemed to be children's fun, of some kind. Here, let me take you for a tour!

Here's a view of the city plaza where the sculptures were taking place. The photo quality is not as good for some pictures because of evening angle of the sunlight. (Above) The Portland electric company did this Sasquatch sculpure. They had in front of him a battery that said "How Big is Your Carbon Footprint?" Big Footprint? Sasquatch. Get it! I thought you would. Cooler stuff follows that is more in tune with kid's fun.

(Left) I don't know what this mouse is from. There were about three of them in different poses. (Right) I think this is a creature from the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are?
(Above) The angle of lighting for this one was terrible. It was a TV theme with Bart Simpson on the top of a skateboard ramp. The dotted square thing in the lower left corner is Spongebob Squarepants.

Just a happy elf lying in a little bath ring, or an inverted mushroom, or something. Anyway, he's happy.

These next few picture were fun. A tribute to giving a dog a bath. If you've every had to do it, you can appreciate the quote and the pictures.

This was cute - Two dogs scrubbing a big dog.

One of the showpiece sculptures, I thought, was this tribute to the movie "Up". I haven't seen it yet, but it looked fun anyway. And the sculpture is close to 8 feet tall. The balloons were a nice touch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sand & Snow

We took a long weekend and went to Portland, Oregon to visit Molly and Brad, our daughter and son-in-law. They have an annual thing in their courtyard square called "Sand in the City." The city trucks in tons of beach sand and corporate teams spend all day Friday building a sand sculpture(s) which are then on display for the weekend.

(Right) A Hungry, Hungry Hippo

I've always been intrigued by this kind of thing, the roots of which were probably spurred by my experience with a snow sculpture contest in college. It ended up being a non-snowy weekend, but we had a friend with a truck, so we trucked in a few pickup loads of snow for our sculpture.

So, what did we choose? Around that time of my life, the big movies were Fiddler on the Roof, The Godfather, The Sting, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, etc. Movies you've all heard of. None of us felt really skilled at creating a statue of Paul Newman or Marlon Brando. So we chose a "B" movie, modeled after the poster for the movie "Frogs." (Tag line" "If you are sqeamish, stay home! Cold green skin against soft warm flesh!") Among my fraternity buddies, maybe one of us had actually seen the movie, and if they did, it undoubtedly was the second feature of a drive-in, and alcohol was probably involved. Anyway, let's face it, a giant frog is already pretty much in the shape of a mound of snow. But we did get the mouth sculpted pretty well, and I was in charge of getting a rubber glove mounted so the hand would stick out of the mouth at the proper angle, not wanting to compromise the artistic intentions of the director. I don't remember how the competition turned out. We were proud of our five foot high reptile and his cold green skin. (We spray painted him green) I was disappointed that our frog was thawing pretty bad by the next day, and the frog had obviously spit out the hand. I never got a picture of it. It was back in the day when there were no digital anythings. In spite of our promotion and homage, Frogs did not receive any Academy Award Nominations, in spite of having Ray Milland as it's headliner.
For you younger readers wondering who Ray Milland was, he was the winner of the Best Actor Academy Award in 1946 for "The Lost Weekend." His role was described as "The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four day drinking bout." After watching himself in "Frogs" I think Mr. Milland went on a five day drinking bout...after making sure his check cleared.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SAT Analogies

On the Conan O'Brien show in the past, one of his bits was to do SAT-type analogies. I often found them funny, and took some pictures on our Ozark trip that I thought would be funny in that setting:

#1 Regarding fund-raising events, with proceeds to go towards a medical research cause, the Greater Puget Sound area is to this:

As the Ozarks are to this:

Comparison #2 - The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Italy

is to this artwork on it's walls:

As the Stateline Liquor store in the Ozarks is:
to this artwork on it's walls.

Just a little help for any of you boning up for the S.A.T. exams. Good Luck, Y'all