"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A category of friendships we all have

Donna Breidenbach, on the mend at "Mt. Carmel" in St. Charles MO.
There is a certain category of friendships we appreciate at Christmas. These are people with whom we are no longer close on a regular basis. A perfect example would be an old dormitory roommate. We have gone our separate ways.
The relationship is preserved in the annual Christmas card - perhaps through no other means.
I read an essay in the op-ed section of a newspaper about this once. Specifically, the essay touched on how sad such a relationship can be, when inevitably time catches up with us. One of the two correspondents develops health issues. Because the relationship is no longer really close, there may be no immediate communication about this. You get the message when a Christmas card goes unanswered. The family of your infirm friend may not know anything about you. Eventually you try to find out. Maybe the person actually died.
It seems sad to reflect on such circumstances. I believe it can be viewed a different way. The kind of relationship I'm talking about is the classic unconditional friendship. We have drifted apart and no longer affect each other's life at all, yet we value the old bond to the extent we write each other once a year.
I'd like to share about one such friend. Her name is Donna Breidenbach and she lives in St. Charles MO. This story has a happy ending even though her Christmas card of 2014 ended up belated. At first I was left to wonder. Finally I got a "Peace on Earth" card from her in March. "The past six months have been very different for me!" she wrote.
She reported that on Labor Day evening, she was on her way to bed and fell. "I was on the floor for 14 hours, until a friend called my neighbor when she couldn't reach me on the phone." She was taken to the hospital and then went into rehab at "Mount Carmel" in St. Charles. She ended up in assisted living, temporarily, at that facility. She described the accommodations there as wonderful. "They have bingo three times a week, and cards every evening: Crazy 8's!" she reported.
Donna found that her right knee had to be replaced. She was told her knee may have buckled, causing the fall. I have often heard that seniors with a broken hip actually fell because of the break - the fall didn't cause the break. In August Donna wrote me again, to report that her right knee was replaced on March 18. She was nearing the end of all her special care. She expected to be home again by the end of summer. I assume that happened.
Donna is not an age peer of mine. She and her husband Mel were bus chaperons for a trip I took in the summer of 1972. Mel was the high school band director in St. Charles. He passed away a few years ago. Our traveling group was musical. We played at the Kennedy Center when that facility was new. We flew overseas and performed in a great many places. I did all this when such touring was very reasonably priced, certainly by the standards of today.
It's not good to put off seeing Europe. Seize the opportunity. Our party began in Italy and ended in England. We traveled by bus through Europe, crossing the Alps and crossing the English channel to the "white cliffs of Dover." I'll never forget that.
I had a reunion with Donna about three years ago. She has relatives in the Upper Midwest. Yours truly along with my parents visited Donna at the motel on the outskirts of Glenwood. She shared with us something I only vaguely suspected at the time of the trip. I considered the trip 100 percent wonderful, but there were corners that were cut: spartan hotels and eating accommodations etc. I weighed 145 pounds and wasn't attuned to eating heavily. I hardly noticed any of the frugality, but apparently many of the chaperons were concerned.
Heck, I personally couldn't find fault with any aspect of the trip. We performed at Carnegie Hall. When the group dispersed for free time, I took my trumpet over to the front of the stage and just improvised for a few minutes. There I was, 17 years old and filling Carnegie Hall with the sound of my trumpet! In my free time I took a photo from the base of the brand new twin towers.
I'll never forget the scenery of Austria. Soccer games were going on here and there. My roommate and I walked extensively around the Vatican. Yes, I cherish those memories.
St. Charles is a city of 66,000. It's located to the northwest of St. Louis on the Missouri River. It was founded in 1769 by a French-Canadian fur trader. For a time, St. Charles had a significant role in the U.S. westward expansion. It was considered the last "civilized" stop by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804.
St. Charles is where the first claimed Interstate project started in 1956. Kansas and Pennsylvania also lay claim to the first Interstate project. What happened to Route 66?
I hope to communicate with Donna Breidenbach on the usual timetable this coming Christmas. What a blessing that the belated communication of 2014 wasn't tragic with its cause. Just a "bump in the road." I'm sure you have friends in this category: once a year correspondence. Someday it has to end. But how?
It's sad but also heartening, to know these unconditional friendships have such long-lasting soundness. Godspeed, Donna Breidenbach. We miss Mel and his musical flourishes. (He looked like Ozzie Nelson.)
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gala Homecoming week ends in 26-14 win

The sun came out for the MAHS Homecoming parade Friday. It was a glorious afternoon for the community to celebrate the school.
A huge highlight for me was seeing a familiar face from the mid-1960s. Seated on one of the parade units was Roger whose lengthy last name I won't attempt to spell here. He was an exchange student from Madagascar. He and another alum were seated on a car with a banner trumpeting the MHS Class of '65 reunion. I remember Roger well because he lived in my neighborhood, just two doors down. He was a guest of the Holt family. Dr. Holt got the USDA soils lab going.
I know Roger was on the football team. I think he was the kicker because of his background in soccer. Roger has an infectious smile. I ran alongside the car and shook hands. He might have been thinking "my goodness, I wasn't expecting anyone along the parade route to remember me."
Kids today are all familiar with Madagascar because of the movie, right? I hope Roger's life has been blessed with lots of success. The Class of '65 members have entered their retirement years. The parade was super. So was the game.
Tigers 26, Sauk Centre 14
Lots of orange and black was seen among the sea of fans at Big Cat Stadium Friday night. I have been saying we as a society must turn away from football. There was no sign of any retreat here. It helps we have a winner I'm sure.
We improved to 5-1 with this success vs. the Streeters of Sauk Centre. Sauk was the Homecoming opponent when I was a senior in high school. We didn't fare so well in '72, when Jim Satter was the coach and Dan Long the star player. Our team was a great bunch of guys, though, like Willard Wevley and Craig Birch. Sauk's quarterback was Loren Beste, I recall.
In the 2015 edition of the MAHS Homecoming football game, played at the state of the art Big Cat facility, we took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Sauk Centre wasn't this soft when I was in high school. Chase Metzger scored the first touchdown of the evening. Chase was off to the races, as in a "chase" - get it? - and scored on a 25-yard run. The conversion try was no-go.
Metzger was off to the races again for our second score - he sprinted 50 yards! The conversion play was good on a pass from Trent Marty to Eric Staebler. Sauk Centre scored in the second quarter on a 36-yard pass from Simon Weller to Kyle Froseth. The PAT kick try failed.
The Tigers scored the next two touchdowns. First it was Marty passing to Sean Amundson 33 yards for the score. Next it was Metzger racing over 73 yards of real estate. The conversion tries misfired after these scores.
The Streeters concluded the night's scoring with a Weller touchdown pass to Will Funk. Weller passed to Blaine Olson for two on the conversion.
The Tigers rushed for 306 yards on the night. Metzger had superlative stats: seven carries for 143 yards. Jacob Zosel rushed for 62 yards on 13 carries. Ryan Dietz clutched the football eleven times for rushing yardage of 48. And Connor Koebernick had five carries for 32 yards.
Marty was typically efficient passing the football: four completions in eight attempts for 63 yards and no interceptions. Metzger had four catches for 41 yards, and Amundson made a reception for 33 yards.
Weller for Sauk Centre had 13 pass completions in 20 attempts for 169 yards, with one interception. Kyle Froseth grabbed five receptions for 94 yards. Dylan Haskamp gathered in three aerials for 17 yards. Funk rushed for 36 yards and Haskamp for 33. Sauk was left with a 1-5 season record. The Tigers are shining in Mid-State District play.
Volleyball: Tigers 3, BOLD 2
The MACA girls traveled to Warrior country of BOLD Thursday and had its second five-game match of the week. This time the Tigers won. MACA garnered its eleventh win of the season at the expense of BOLD.
We started out with a 25-14 win in game 1. BOLD evened things up with their 25-21 game 2 win. Game 3 had the Tigers surge to a 25-20 win. BOLD forced game 5 by prevailing over the Tigers 25-18 in game 4. Morris Area Chokio Alberta turned on the jets in the deciding game 5. We were the 15-4 victor in game 5, thus we took the match 3-2.
Jenna Howden was at the fore in the hitting department, producing 12 kills. Brooke Gillespie pounded down eleven kills. Ashley Solvie was the third Tiger in double digits with her ten kills, then came Lindsey Dierks (9), Carly Maanum (4), Karly Fehr (3), Haley Erdahl (2) and Riley Decker (1).
Fehr put up 40 set assists. Maanum supplied three assists. In ace blocks, Gillespie and Solvie each had two and Fehr had one. Decker was at the fore in digs with 23. Dierks dug up the ball 16 times while Gillespie had 12 digs. Fehr added eight digs to the mix, and Koral Tolifson had seven.
Three Tigers each had two ace serves: Fehr, Dierks and Decker. Tolifson batted one ace serve.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MACA girls edged in home marathon

Sauk Centre 3, Tigers 2
A clash of West Central Conference powers unfolded Tuesday night at the MAHS gym. Homecoming week spirit filled the cavernous place. The spirit was buoyed by the 5-0 record the Tigers owned coming in. But look, Sauk Centre had similar credentials. Something would have to give.
The first two games went the way of the Streeters by scores of 25-22 and 25-12. Undaunted, the Tigers summoned new resolve and made this a most interesting match. The orange and black took games 3 and 4 by identical 27-25 scores. Game 5 would decide it all. Alas, this match would not go into the win column for the Tigers. Sauk took the deciding game 15-13.
Sauk came out of the night with a 12-2 overall record, 6-0 in conference. MACA has the still-sterling record of 10-1, 5-1.
Click on the permalink below to read about the following recent MACA sports action: the football team's big win over YME, the volleyball team's sweep win over Minnewaska Area, and the cross country team's appearance in the New London-Spicer Invitational. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Karly Fehr accumulated 54 set assists in the marathon affair vs. Sauk. She also pounded two aces at the serving line. Jenna Howden and Koral Tolifson each had one serving ace.
Ashley Solvie went up to produce three ace blocks. Howden and Carly Maanum each had one ace block. In digs it was Riley Decker standing out with her ample harvest of 49. Lindsey Dierks dug the ball up 19 times. The list continues with Fehr and Brooke Gillespie each with 17, then we have Koral Tolifson with 13 and Cassidy Fehr with five.
In the crowd-pleasing hitting department, Gillespie put on a show with 24 kills. Solvie pounded down 14 and Howden 12. Dierks came through with nine kills and Maanum had four.
Sauk Centre's setting was handled primarily by Jill Klaphake who had 49 assists. The big standout in hitting was Becca Weir with 32 kills. Weir and Mikayla Olson shared the team-best position in ace blocks, each with six. Kenzie Schmiesing was the top Streeter in digs with 28. Taylor Borgerding had three serving aces.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta fall athletics for 2015! And remember the Homecoming parade on Friday.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My song "Halsey" should touch MN boomers

Debra Gordon sings "Halsey"
The boomer generation of Minnesota developed a great affection for Halsey Hall. He could be like a surrogate favorite uncle. His home was in the broadcast booth. He's associated with the Calvin Griffith era of Minnesota Twins baseball. It was the first era in the history of our storied franchise.
I am pleased to have written a song about Halsey. I hope more than a few long-time Twins fans stumble onto this YouTube page and give a listen. Debra Gordon does a marvelous job singing this song, simply called "Halsey." The song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank Michels. Frank is a great guy who puts his heart into his projects. He's a bandmember with Michelle Wright.
I love Nashville. I have spent some time hanging out at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Broadway in Nashville. It's a hangout where stars of the Grand Ole Opry once retreated to. It's a most humble place. Great songwriters frequented there. I hope some of that songwriting genius rubbed off on me. 
Here is the link for listening to my song, "Halsey."
Back when I first began dabbling in songwriting, I thought the music, i.e. the melody, was most important. I wrote melodies that were distinctive but sometimes went a bit too wide with vocal range. That's fine if you have George Jones or Ronnie Milsap singing for you. Or Frankie Valli!
These days my emphasis is on the lyrics. I strive to write songs with a storytelling air. My melodies sound nice but they tend toward the generic. That doesn't bother me at all.
Today in the music business, there is a problem with artists accused and sued over writing melodies that have similarity to a pre-existing melody. Well. . . Songs are not random patterns of notes and chords. There are certain progressions that work. You all know how "three chords" prevail in so many songs. Some recent highly-publicized lawsuits were directed at musical composers who inadvertently wrote something that had (at least some) similarities with something previously written. There is much concern being vented about this trend.
Countless songs have been written through the years. How can we count on each new song being completely original? We can't.
As a non-professional, I don't have to worry too much. I have no economic incentive. My lyrics are my top priority. I try to craft song ideas that are similar to what the great Tom T. Hall gave us.
Thanks to Frank Michels - actually it's "Franklin" - and Debra Gordon for making my "Halsey" song, in my mind anyway, memorable. I hope my song brings a smile to everyone who grew up listening to Twins radio and TV broadcasts in the 1960s.
The bridge in my song accents a major contradiction of the 1960s. It was a decade of tremendous pain if you remember the news headlines of that era. The Viet Nam war was No. 1 on the list of unpleasantness. We sought escapism through baseball. That's where Halsey figured in. My bridge talks about the pain of the bad stuff, but how we could still "find a smile" through baseball. There are signs of hope and optimism through each era of adversity. Call it the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
Halsey left us for that broadcast booth in the sky in 1977. Us boomers can imagine his voice, his laughter and even his cigar smoke as if it were yesterday. My song "Halsey" was a labor of love. If you know of friends who'd enjoy listening to it, please forward a link to them. Thanks as always to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck MN for getting the song online for me.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Now they're 5-0: MACA volleyball Tigers

OK, so there's no more "conference" for football, but I guess there is in volleyball. All these alignments can get confusing.
Our Tigers are looking very good in West Central Conference volleyball play. We have first place secured at present. The Tigers built their stock further with (another) win by sweep on Tuesday. Success vs. Monte came by scores of 25-13, 25-13 and 25-15.
Click on the permalink below to read about the sweep wins over Benson and ACGC last week. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." It also includes coverage of the MACA football team's loss to Minnewaska Area. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Tigers 3, Montevideo 0
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls are undefeated overall (5-0). Brooke Gillespie came at the Thunder Hawks with three serving aces. Karly Fehr batted two serving aces, while Lindsey Dierks and Koral Tolifson each had one.
Fehr chalked up 20 set assists. Four Tigers each had one ace block: Fehr, Jenna Howden, Carly Maanum and Moira McNally. Riley Decker set the pace in digs with 14. Gillespie had ten digs and Lindsey Dierks had eight.
On to hitting: here it was Gillespie setting the pace with her eight kills. Ashley Solvie and Howden each had six kills, while Dierks and Maanum each had three. Fehr added two kills to the mix, and Haley Erdahl one.
Abby Olson had ten kills for the visiting T-Hawks. Kaylee Glomstad performed three ace blocks. Olivia Hagen had nine digs. Grace Sulflow was the busiest setter, getting ten assists, and Hagen produced two serving aces.
Whither sport of football?
We're reading about efforts on the part of the football powers-that-be, to reduce health dangers of the sport. George Will questions whether football can continue as it has, with proper health precautions taken. Football is by definition violent. Violence seems the whole point.
Maybe back in an age when we groomed young men to be warriors, it seemed reasonable. Today that thought gives pause. I remember as a child hearing speeches expressing the hope "there will be no more war." It was balderdash, as we got dragged into the biggest hell pit of all time: Viet Nam. About half of the deaths in Viet Nam happened after our leaders in Washington D.C. realized it was a failure. Yes, our nation really did experience that.
Today, football as a model for militarism seems obsolete. In this age of new media that penetrates everywhere, a debacle like Viet Nam would not repeat itself, I feel. Iraq was bad enough. We backed away from intervention in Syria.
Football? Here's a question I have been offering over the recent past: If all the players in the NFL outside of the quarterbacks and wide receivers were low-round draft picks, would anyone notice or care? Actually, it might be nice to see offensive linemen who actually look like athletes, with well-defined bodies, rather than these huge masses of flesh that are just designed to obstruct.
Coaches are adjusting now, prepared to test their whole depth chart in games, due to players being pulled because of injuries or concussions. The NFL is afraid of lawsuits. Who isn't afraid of lawsuits? It's a relative thing, with all coaches knowing the other coaches will be doing the same thing. The quality of backup players will become more important. In the meantime, the Vikings look lousy. I really don't care.
You know, that "true purple" color may have fed nostalgia for a while, but I'd actually like to see the team go back to its standard old uniforms, like of the '90s. A uniform only seems "cool" if the team is winning anyway, right?
"Are you ready for some football?" I'm really not.
- Brian Williams -morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 12, 2015

At age 60, a time for reflection

An old high school friend was in town recently. These conversations can be predictable. We talk about the infirmities of our parents. Many of my age have said goodbye to their parents. In the case of this friend, a new development is that his mother is in a nursing home. This had to be done even though family members were available to be with her all the time.
Strange how God created us to become so delicate. Medical science is a miracle for extending life. On the flip side, age does catch up with all of us. It's even catching up to us boomers even though we always swore it wouldn't. Granted, 70 may be the new 60 or whatever. Still, we deal with mounting health issues at some point, and it's not pleasant no matter when it happens.
I turned age 60 this past January. We get philosophical as we reach the various age milestones. I'll quote Dean Chance, the Minnesota Twins pitcher of the 1960s: "Everybody, by the time they're 50, they're selfish as hell. Everybody thinks only of himself or herself. Then, when they hit 60, they want to return to religion and want to forgive everybody. They want to go to heaven, and that's the stage I'm in."
My generation was slow getting into the mainstream of church-going. A few of us decided to become overly zealous about religion, as if it was an all-or-nothing proposition. We were great for getting obsessed about certain things or causes - a trait that made us the complete opposite of our parents.
My Morris High class had its 40-year reunion in 2013. A shrinking number can even talk about their parents in the present tense. We are simply following the path of all generations. We find we are less and less relevant for the cultural trends in bloom.
In another ten years, our children will be watching over us out of concern we're getting brittle. The great Doug Rasmusson wrote about this. Doug would be having a field day with the Internet. He did the best he could in his time, getting self-published. Doug wrote that at a certain advanced age, he found his children would pay occasional visits, not just for the inherent joy of being with parents, but to "check on" the parents in a spying sort of way - sorry if that word is blunt.
Doug imagined the two children touching base with each other after each visit, wondering if the parents were indeed fit to stay at home longer. He pointed out an example of what might prompt concern by the kids: a peanut butter jar in the cupboard with the lid off. A sign of declining mental faculty or just a typical cutting of corners that anyone might commit? Well, Doug sensed what was going on.
My family has had two visits from Human Services, one for each of my parents. It's rather unnerving. You are always put on the defensive. Secondly, with many very old people, you cannot create a perfect day-to-day lifestyle for them. There are going to be some struggles and some physical hurdles that cannot be completely overcome. If you're my age, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I remember an impassioned letter to the editor in the Star Tribune. It implored us to realize that in many cases of alleged elder neglect or abuse, there really are two sides to the story. Elderly people can become angry that they are being forced, often by the children, to give up some of their freedoms. Simply put, growing old is difficult.
At age 60, I'm prompted at this time of year to think back to school. School was enjoyable for me through the sixth grade. It became steadily miserable after that. To this day, I wonder why it isn't good enough to simply master basic arithmetic - adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing - and to memorize multiplication tables. Those tables were burned into my mind. Eight times eight is 64.
I don't know why I had to be dragged into so-called advanced math, where you're confronted with all the theoretical stuff. My self-esteem was slammed as I realized I couldn't cut it. At a certain point I probably got excused from some of these requirements on a wink-wink basis by administration. I think this is called "mainstreaming," to leave a kid progressing with his peers even if he's clearly stumbling.
Reading and writing? That was my bread and butter. This is why I might have gotten excused from the other stuff. "How can Williams be so hopeless" when he clearly can write well? If only the teacher knew that my literacy came more from "unapproved" reading sources, like comic books, Mad Magazine and sports magazines, rather than school reading assignments.
School reading assignments? Why in the world did we have John Steinbeck thrust at us? Or Jack London? Or Herman Melville? Maybe Steinbeck was relevant in the 1930s. Maybe George Orwell projected a certain fascination at a certain time. I found his "Animal Farm" to be depressing and political.
Today with the Internet enabling so many people to share their writing skills with so many, it seems stupid to even pay attention to the "classic" authors. What made them "classic?" They wrote at a time when getting published was a very restricted proposition - the opposite of today. The barriers to distribution have come down.
I remember a Morris High instructor telling us not to quote from American Heritage Magazine, because it was "superficial." Spoken like a typical pretentious academic boor. Our schools were full of them then.
I question why kids even need to be pushed so hard in school today. The jobs of the future will be designed to impose minimal mental strain or demands. That's so the pay level can be kept low. If it helps to have pictures on the buttons you push, so be it. Only if you're destined to be a corporate leader do you really have to push your education to a high level.
Most of the best learning is done on the job anyway. May John Steinbeck rest in peace.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"The Ballad of Sandy Valdespino"

Obscure baseball players of past eras promote a certain kind of fascination. This is why "Moonlight Graham" got penciled into the script of "Field of Dreams." That movie itself has drifted into the past.
Maybe I misunderstood the movie, but it strikes me as overbearingly pretentious. It pays homage to the boomer generation as if we needed any more stroking or recognition. Boomers were still in their liberal phase in their political thinking, thus we see a character demonized who was at a public meeting to protest an allegedly inappropriate book at school. She was a tea party type. She was made to look shallow and stupid.
Boomers have largely done a 180 in their political thinking. Today that book protester would be portrayed in a sympathetic way, and her critics would be dismissed as "liberal." And so the world keeps turning.
I recently posted on the subject of an obscure Minnesota Twin of the 1960s. This post is on my "Morris of Course" site. It's about Sandy Valdespino. Sandy Valdespino! He made only some brief ripples in major league baseball. But it wasn't as if he was just "up (in the big leagues) for a cup of coffee." He was on our American League pennant roster in 1965. In the World Series he got three hits, one of them off Sandy Koufax, the other-worldly lefthander for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A hit off Koufax in the World Series assures you of having made a permanent mark in the game.
Valdespino had only one year of decent offensive productivity with Minnesota. That was '65 when he batted .261. He stuck around a while longer with hits coming infrequently.
Valdespino did carve out one more chapter in his Twins tenure: It was with an outfield catch that was perhaps the best-ever in Twins history. It happened in the 1967 regular season in a game vs. Cleveland. Valdespino, playing in left field, sprinted to the fence to chase a drive hit by Larry Brown. He leaped, still not facing the field, dug his spikes into the wall and snagged the ball over his shoulder in midair. If ESPN had been around, the catch would have gained much more notice. Manager Cal Ermer described the catch as just as good as Bob Allison's famous World Series catch.
We liked the ring to Valdespino's name in an age when non-Anglo names got our special attention and sometimes amusement. To be amused was non-P.C. of course. Bombo Rivera? Boomers have to feel guilty, because there was a time when "Bombo" brought a snicker or two. Not today. Names with a so-called ethnic quality are simply accepted. Even on a subconscious level we pay no special attention. A name is simply a name.
Valdespino had his stint with the Twins when the Calvin Griffith chapter was at its apex. He was part of the heartbreak when our club got edged out for the pennant in 1967. After '67 Valdespino became a journeyman, even playing for the Seattle Pilots who had just one year of existence.
Just as "Moonlight Graham" helped inspire a movie, so too does Sandy seem like fodder for an artistic work. An obscure player who had a couple significant moments in the sun, then he fades from the game. I have written "The Ballad of Sandy Valdespino." The lyrics of the song appear below. I might have it recorded. We'll see.
"The Ballad of Sandy Valdespino"
by Brian Williams
We remember Sandy Valdespino
Even though he was no superstar
With his Twins cap on, he could entertain those throngs
And with his name we could go far
As a boy he fell in love with baseball
It was king in Cuba, that's for sure
He could not stay there with the commies on a tear
So here he came like on a tour
He was in the bushes for a long time
Still he knew his dreams were good as gold
It was '65 and his legend came alive
The Twins brought him into their fold
He was penciled in the starting lineup
For that chance he'd waited for so long
It was May 19th and he's on a winning team
We won that game and then moved on
He had three hits in the World Series
One was off the greatest lefty known
It became a fact he could hit off that Koufax
So what else would he have to show?
We remember Sandy Valdespino
He was born with horsehide in his veins
He was five feet/eight, still he knew he could be great
In baseball - how we love that game
It was June 18th of '67
And the Twins were primed to play all nine
Could we land a punch, get the Indians on the run
With Sandy in his outfield prime?
There were two outs and the bases loaded
Larry Brown, the Indian at the plate
Well he just teed off and he sent that ball aloft
To left where Sandy held its fate
He could see that ball as it descended
A home run, the crowd could all assume
To that Cuban eye it was really not that high
And to that warning track he zoomed
All the fans watched with anticipation
Wondering if it was the winning hit
Could it reach the stands and be sought by all the fans?
Just one man 'tween the field and it
Those who saw it never have forgotten
How it seemed so other-worldly
Sandy used his spikes to climb up and reach the heights
Defying law of gravity
We remember Sandy Valdespino
From that island nation to our hearts
He was quite the Twin helping build up all those wins
His bat and glove gave off that spark
He would never be a Hall of Famer
Just a blip on baseball's radar screen
Such is life for most, toiling for our heav'nly host
We're famous only in a dream
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Great start in football, volleyball for Tigers

Football: win vs. Benson
The Tigers prevailed in a back and forth football battle Friday (9/4) at Big Cat Stadium. No more West Central Conference. This was a Mid State District game, pitting our Tigers against the Braves of Benson.
The Tigers prevailed 47-39 in overtime. This was game #3 of the newly moved-up schedule: three games before school even starts! Now we're into September, temperatures ought to drift down to become more typical of football.
The final score was the kind I remember from covering nine-man football. In that bygone time, I remember West Central Conference scores being much lower. I'm sure fans enjoy scores coming regularly. The Tigers outscored Benson 8-0 in the overtime extension to carve out victory. It was Conner Koebernick running the ball in from the ten. Koebernick was also handed the ball on the conversion play, and again he succeeded.
As this game unfolded, neither team took charge: the first quarter ended with the score 7-7. The MACA touchdown came first: Trent Marty, the quarterback, ran the ball in from the one. Ricky Hernandez kicked the PAT. Benson's score came on a nine-yard pass from Layton Connelly to Adam Lindahl.
The Tigers owned the second quarter. Jacob Zosel clutched the football on a six-yard scoring scamper. Hernandez booted the PAT. Zosel followed that up with a big play run: 30 yards for six. Hernandez kicked the PAT. The halftime score is 21-7.
Can the Tigers cruise? It turned out the Braves had the tools to rebound from their deficit. Connelly scored a TD from the one. MACA answered with a one-yard scoring run by Marty, and the PAT was good. Benson's Brett Sulier found the end zone on a run from the three. Connelly passed to Max Peterson for two on the conversion.
Connelly passed to Lindahl on a thrilling 68-yarder, assuring that Benson was staying in this game until the end. That message was extended when Josh Manzke caught a three-yard TD pass from Connelly. It was extended further when Manzke thrilled Benson fans again, catching a 50-yard touchdown pass from Connelly.
Benson was having trouble with its conversion plays at this stage of the game. Truly that would haunt them.
Conner Koebernick scored for Morris Area Chokio Alberta on a two-yard run. Marty tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Eric Staebler. The Tigers too were sputtering on conversion plays now. Finally Koebernick plunged into the end zone in overtime, twice in fact (for the TD and conversion), and MACA could close this one out with a 'W'. Whew!
Zosel covered a whopping 191 yards on the ground in 22 carries. Relax this week, Jacob. Koebernick finished with 78 rushing yards on eight carries. Quarterback Marty had 27 rushing yards. Chase Metzger had 17, Toby Sayles ten and Ryan Dietz six.
Marty completed seven passes in 16 attempts for 153 yards and wasn't picked off. His stats through the three games have been stellar. Sayles completed a pass. Sean Amundson gathered in the pigskin three times on receptions good for 70 yards. Staebler had three catches for 68 yards, and Metzger made two catches for 32.
Staeber did the Tigers' punting. Philip Messner and Metzger each intercepted a pass. Sayles had eight solo tackles and four assists. The tackle list continues with Dietz (5-3), Messner (4-4), Metzger (5-0), Marty (4-1), Amundson (4-0) and Brady Jergenson (0-6).
Connelly was a prolific passer for the visitor: he completed 19 passes in 34 attempts for 313 yards. He also topped Benson's rushing list with 64 yards in 21 carries - quite the athlete. Brett Sulier rushed for 60 yards.
Lindahl was a favorite target of Connelly's - he caught nine passes for 176 yards. Manzke had four catches for 85 yards. Other pass catchers were Peterson, Zach Sonnabend, Sulier and Connor Staton. It's a nice sign that life is going on as it should, when a journalist like me can keep typing "Staton" in connection with Benson!
Next for MACA: a road game vs. rival Minnewaska Area, Friday.
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Melrose 1
Excuse me but I'm a little confused. The MAHS school calendar informs us that the Tigers played at ACGC on Thursday night (Sept. 3). I don't think I'm dreaming, but I'm looking at the Friday edition of the Willmar newspaper and I see we played Melrose.
I remember back when working for the Morris newspaper, I didn't put complete stock in the school calendar. Mark Ekren advised me one fall that the dates for JV football games were off. I heard kids were involved in putting together the school calendar. That was several years ago.
Today, I'm assuming some sort of schedule change was made - I don't know why. So, the Tigers went on the Interstate to Melrose Thursday, rather than going to ACGC. Our team won in four games. Scores: 25-17, 25-17, 22-25 and 25-17. Yes, the 25-17 score appears three times. The match was Melrose's season opener.
Karly Fehr was all over the court to produce 37 set assists. Carly Maanum had three assists. Lindsey Dierks was aggressive and precise at the serving line, coming through with three serve aces. Brooke Gillespie, Fehr and Riley Decker each batted one ace.
Ashley Solvie went up to deliver three ace blocks. Gillespie, Fehr and Jenna Howden each had one ace block. Decker produced 22 digs. She was followed in that department by Gillespie (19), Dierks (16), Fehr (7) and Koral Tolifson (6).
Let's wrap up this stat report with hitting. Here it was Howden pounding down 12 kills and Gillespie getting eleven. These names follow: Solvie (8), Dierks (7), Maanum (6) and Fehr (5).
Tigers 3, New London-Spicer 0
New London-Spicer has projected a mystique in girls athletics for a long time. These things are known to end. Teams don't win because of their uniform. NL-Spicer has been blessed by some pretty hard-charging programs. NL-Spicer in overall athletics has cast rather a spell on MACA athletics, or curse.
Maybe those roles can be reversed sometime soon. Like maybe now?
No that's not a typo: the Tigers beat the Wildcats 3-0. This was the season opener for our Tigers, played on Tuesday (9/1) at home. It was a memorable opener. The Tigers won 25-22, 25-23 and 26-24. It's a real plum to get this kind of win over the dynastic Wildcats. A prelude of things to come? We'll see.
Karly Fehr was proficient with her 33 set assists, and Carly Maanum was handy to produce her two. (I wrote about Carly's mom Jeanne when she played softball with Hancock, not Benson-Hancock but Hancock.)
Riley Decker produced two aces from the serving line, and had perfect 21-for-21 in good/attempts. Brooke Gillespie had one serving ace on 9/10 in G/A. Koral Tolifson had 11/11 serving stats in good/attempts.
Jenna Howden went up to execute two ace blocks. (I'm assuming Jenna is Thom's daughter and I'd like to advise Thom to lose some weight.) Fehr, Ashley Solvie and Maanum each had one ace block.
Gillespie and Riley Decker each had 19 digs. The digs list continues with Lindsey Dierks (14), Fehr (12) and Tolifson (7).
On to the crowd-pleasing hitting department. Here it was Gillespie putting on a show with her 16 kills. Howden pounded down nine kills, then it was Solvie with five, Maanum with three, Dierks with two and Fehr with one.
Kabrie Weber led NL-Spicer in kills with 13. Erin Tebben had four ace blocks. Carly Cronen had 15 digs while Alyssa Fredrick had 14.
MACA volleyball fans are anticipating a truly excitement-filled season of 2015. Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta athletics!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Wadsworth Trail Dreamin' " (of the future)

The great Del Holdgrafer drew a cartoon with a hiking party getting out to a quite remote place. The guide said "pretty soon we'll be getting into wilderness." The humor was that it was quite obvious the group was well into such territory already. A man's teeth chattered in response to the resonating sound of a coyote.
Holdgrafer had an appreciation for all things wild and natural. I sense he gravitated to the natural state. He had an ingrained suspicion of progress. He was naive about medical expenses. He expected the "family doctor" to come to your door and for the charge to be minimal, not eye-popping. Alas, the Norman Rockwell world was going to erode. "Progress" forges ahead, just like how the Morris area (including Delmar's beloved Donnelly) would get developed in the first place.
That earthy hiking guide would feel at home along the Wadsworth Trail. It's chapter 1 of Morris area history. It passed by Wintermute Lake. The train wiped out the need for it. The train also made Morris possible by 1871.
Last night at around 10 p.m., I felt a sudden inspiration to write poetry. I should stress that I don't really write poetry, rather I'm a song lyricist who on occasion writes verses that are meant to be presented narration-style with no melodic line.
Bill Anderson recorded material like this. I was discussing this with Jim Morrison at the newspaper once, and he mentioned how "Whispering Bill" could get maudlin. Yes he could. He came to perform in Morris in the early 1980s. I covered that for the Morris newspaper. I also got to interview "Whispering Bill" afterwards. I asked him to refresh my memory on what chainsaw company he did a commercial for, in the 1960s. He smiled and said "Homelite." He darn well should have smiled, because in the 1960s if you got on TV to do a simple commercial, you'd likely gain more fame with the masses than if you scored a couple song "hits." He was a nice man.
I also got to hear Anderson sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in the mid-1980s. His song "Po' Folks" had impact. He joked that everyone who had been to Nashville's Fan Fair celebration for a week were now "po' folks." I have had no interest in visiting Fan Fair since it left the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. It has become too big and impersonal.
My poetry has to do with a couple intrepid souls traveling along the old Wadsworth Trail. One of them has a dream, envisioning the future Morris, Minnesota. He's like a psychic, envisioning the future Eul's Hardware, Willie's Super Valu and the University of Minnesota-Morris.
I hesitate to use the word poetry. My material is meant to be recited with vamp-style music in the background. A perfect example of this would be Walter Brennan's "Old Rivers." Anyway, I'm pleased to share with y'all "Wadsworth Trail Dreamin'." Hey, I'm dreaming of dining at one of the Longhorn restaurants in the Nashville area!
"Wadsworth Trail Dreamin' "
by Brian Williams
We were out along the Wadsworth Trail
Night beginning to spread its veil
Civilization far away
We had to feel like castaways
Still my soul was filled anew
As I longed for that morning dew
Sleeping outside without a tent
Darkness of night just came and went
Making some coffee to wake the dead
Got us feeling we should forge ahead
Facing the west where danger might lie
We're still undaunted, my partner and I
Prairie is wide, unbounded as heck
All the fresh air a human can get
Flowers and rivers make us feel awe
Eagles and owls issue their calls
Hoping the trail will stay dry for the day
So we can plug ahead, making our way
We can imagine that fort in the West
Named for a Civil War general, the best
Union was saved, and now we move on
One nation solid, clear under God
Man was endowed by Him to be free
U.S. was burgeoning under that creed
Here's a good place for a town, I thought
River's nearby, and lakes are about
I had a dream that it's good as done
Morris its name, it's second to none
Now look over there, a place for a store
Eul is the name with hardware galore
A place to get food, a welcome mat out
Willie's the man who gives out that shout
A college, my goodness, where wisdom is gained
UMM gives this town its share of fame
Two thousand students with energy high
Transforms the prairie, give a high five
I slowly awoke from that fantasy
Wondering if somehow it could be real
Eyes focused west with oxen and horse
We made our progress, dead on our course
Surely we got to that fort with its wall
Such a grand edifice giving its call
There at Fort Wadsworth we sat a spell
Having gone through both heaven and hell
Frontier was opening, no need to wait
That vast expanse looked vibrant and great
Owls and rabbits scurried at peace
Nature's whole kingdom there at our feet
I wondered if somehow that dream would come back
Of that small town not bold on the map
Morris its name, generous its fame
Not so far from our campfire flame
I made some more coffee, looked all around
Long in the future, those folks would abound
Still I can see the gem it will be
No doubt the prairie makes it so real
Those who might say the prairie is flat
As if there's nothing more to it than that
Are missing the vistas, the presence of God
In Morris we celebrate all He has brought
My partner and I just gave a sigh
Knowing the limitless landscape outside
We'd be supplied and take off once more
Ready to watch the bald eagle soar
Still I embraced the thought of that town
That danced in my head, such sights and sounds
Like of trains spitting smoke, moving so grand
And of kids playing music, in marching band
We can remember those pioneer days
The 19th Century hardscrabble ways
It all had to start in a humble domain
We ought to remember from where it all came
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com