"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)

Friday, April 29, 2016

12 hits and one error in 16-5 softball triumph

Tigers 16, Melrose 5
Runs came home frequently for the MACA cause in April 21 road action. The site was Melrose. The Tigers got going with three runs in the first inning, and then really pulled away with eight runs in the second.
In the end it was coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers prevailing 16-5. It was our seventh win of the season against no losses. We pounded out 12 hits and committed just one error, while the host Dutchmen struggled in the field with seven errors.
Brooke Gillespie was at centerstage in the MACA attack. Not only did she stand out at bat, connecting for a two-run home run, she pitched four of the five innings. Gillespie's bat resonated with three hits total, and she drove in four runs. Nicole Solvie was a force at bat, going two-for-three with two RBIs. Piper Gibson was a perfect three-for-three. Madi Wevley socked a double and had two ribbies. Courtney Storck went two-for-three, and Lindsey Dierks added a hit to the mix.
Melrose's Kayla Austing went two-for-three including a double. Sandra Sprenger tripled. Abby Hinnenkamp had two hits. Arri Bitz and Taryn Van Heel each added a hit to the mix.
Gillespie struck out three batters on her way to getting the pitching win. Two of the four runs she allowed were unearned. She allowed seven hits and walked one. Ashley Solvie finished the pitching with a real flourish, getting three strikeouts in her one inning! Sandra Sprenger took the pitching loss.
Baseball: Tigers 10, Pelican Rapids 0
The Tigers came out of the starting gate with four runs in each of the first two innings in their April 22 game against Pelican Rapids. The onslaught got MACA on its way to a 10-0 win in the MACA-hosted tournament  This game was in the Friday phase. We added one run each in the third and sixth innings.
We scored the ten runs on nine total hits. And in errors the number was the best possible: zero. Pitcher Ryan Bowman limited Pelican Rapids to three hits. He was quite in the groove with his deliveries, setting down ten Pelican Rapids batters on strikes. He walked just one. The losing pitcher was Logan Knorr.
The offensive story had Sean Amundson with a double and two runs scored. Toby Sayles was a perfect two-for-two and crossed home plate twice. Ryan Dietz socked a home run and drove in three runs. Four Tigers each posted a one-for-two boxscore line: Mitchell Dufault, Denner Dougherty, Robert Rohloff and Mitchell Torgerson. Brady Jergenson went one-for-three. Pelican Rapids had Jacob Gottenborg go two-for-three.
Tigers 19, Silver Bay 2
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta bats produced 17 hits in this one-sided game in the Morris Tournament. We committed just one error compared to Silver Bay's four. Mitchell Torgerson was the winning pitcher, allowing one hit and no runs in his two innings. Mitchell Dufault pitched three innings for the winning cause. He struck out two batters, walked six and allowed just one hit. The losing pitcher was Jason Blood.
Many Tigers made a statement with their bats, obviously. Ryan Dietz tripled. Chase Metzger had a hit and two RBIs. Philip Messner had a perfect three-for-three line and drove in three runs. Dufault connected for a home run and drove in three runs.
Torgerson rapped a hit and drove in a run. Sean Amundson and Toby Sayles both went two-for-three. Brady Jergenson had three hits in three at-bats. Jared Anderson was a perfect two-for-two. Denner Dougherty added a hit to the mix. For Silver Bay, Justin Ketola doubled and drove in a run.
Baseball: MACCRAY 7, Tigers 2
Derick Sommers cooled the MACA bats in the Morris Tournament. Sommers of MACCRAY struck out five batters in his seven innings in the 7-2 win that the Wolverines achieved over our Tigers. He walked two batters and gave up five hits. One of the two runs he allowed was unearned.
Coach Mark Torgerson of the Tigers had four pitchers work: Tim Travis (the loser), Sean Amundson, Trent Marty and Mitchell Torgerson. MACCRAY jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning. The Wolverines outhit the Tigers 11-5, and we were hurt by our seven fielding miscues. Ouch!
Ryan Dietz doubled. Brady Jergenson went two-for-four. Amundson and Philip Anderson both went one-for-three. Jared Anderson contributed an RBI. Chase Christenson had one hit for MACCRAY, plus he drew two walks and got hit by pitch twice. He drove in two runs. Connor Cronen and Tyler Plowman each went three-for-five. Braden Hoekstra had a hit in his only at-bat.
Quick comment: Why doesn't the Willmar paper refer to us as "MACA" instead of "MCA?" There's a billboard out by McDonald's that congratulates the "MACA" cross country team. So that's official, right?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lizzie Staton scores 14th run in 14-13 win

Benson-Hancock 14, Minnewaska 13
Benson-Hancock edged Minnewaska in a wild game 2 of a Tuesday doubleheader. It was wild not just from the standpoint of the frequent runs and hits. B-H pounded 17 hits and 'Waska pounded 15. The game was wild in that fielding broke down for both teams at times. The Brave-Owls committed four errors while Minnewaska struggled with seven.
The final inning determined the victor: B-H plated two runs and 'Waska scored one. The final scoreboard story was B-H with 14 runs and 'Waska with 13. Whew!
The game-winning run was accomplished on a wild pitch. Lizzie Staton, on base as pinch-runner, sprinted home when the wild pitch was uncorked.
This game looked grim in the middle innings for Benson-Hancock. In the middle of the fifth, 'Waska had eleven runs and B-H four. It looked as though 'Waska might complete a sweep of this twin bill. 'Waska won the first game 8-4.
In the second game, Benson-Hancock surged with ten runs scored over the last three innings. Minnewaska kept its engines going too, with eight runs in the last three innings, and ten runs over the last four.
Addie Forbord was the trooper on the pitching rubber all the way for the winning Brave-Owls. She survived the 15 hits off the 'Waska bats. Four of the 13 runs she allowed were unearned. She struck out one batter and walked three. Rachel Erickson took the loss for the Lakers, also pitching the whole way.
Let's take a look at the robust Benson-Hancock offense with the 17 total hits. Nicole Berens had three hits in four at-bats. It warms my heart to see that we continue to have the "Berens" and "Staton" names in Benson sports! I'm not quite so happy about the "Braves" nickname and the logo with headdress feathers. I'm surprised that Benson hasn't been pressured to move beyond that. Strange.
Forbord stoked the B-H offense with three hits in four at-bats. Two of her hits were doubles. Forbord drove in two runs. Kayla Crowell homered and had two RBIs as part of her three-for-five boxscore line. Presley Gonnerman went three-for-five with two RBIs. I'm assuming that Presley is the daughter of the old UMM football player.
These Brave-Owl players each had one hit: Kaitlyn Knutson, Kamri Kalthoff, Grace Lee, Megan Amundson and Brooke Johnson. Lee had two RBIs.
For Minnewaska, Emily Edmunds homered and drove in three runs as part of going three-for-five. Abby Ver Steeg's bat resonated with four hits in five at-bats, and this Laker drove in two runs. Mason Schlief had a double as part of going three-for-four, and this Laker drove in three runs. Alisha Vigil went two-for-four with an RBI. Kaitlyn Lange added a hit to the mix. Carly Stewart socked a double and drove in a run. Bailey Stewart had a hit and an RBI.
Game 1 had 'Waska prevail
B-H outhit 'Waska in game 1, 11-9, but came out on the short end of the 8-4 score. Benson-Hancock had three fielding miscues while Waska had one. Rachel Erickson was the winning pitcher for 'Waska, going the whole way and fanning eight batters. Forbord took the loss, also pitching the distance. Forbord like Erickson set down eight batters on strikes.
Kamri Kalthoff went three-for-three at bat for B-H. Presley Gonnerman drove in two runs. Minnewaka's Emily Edmunds homered, scored two runs and drove in one while posting a two-for-three line. Mason Schlief tripled, drove in a run and finished two-for-four. Benson-Hancock scored three runs in the sixth but couldn't sustain a long enough rally.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 25, 2016

Orlando Cepeda played in St. Cloud MN

We learn that Orlando Cepeda played in the minors with Salem, Kokomo, St. Cloud and Minneapolis. That's not St. Cloud, Florida. It's St. Cloud, Minnesota.
We might forget that St. Cloud, beginning in the heady post-WWII years, had a minor league baseball club with major league affiliation. Future Hall of Famer Cepeda passed through. The St. Cloud team was called the "Rox." The St. Cloud area is distinguished for its quality of granite. It has also been distinguished for having a party school college. The administration of that college (or University) has been working doggedly to eradicate its dubious image. To the extent: no more Homecoming. That's drastic and it shows just how determined that institution is, led by President Earl Potter.
Orlando Cepeda was a mere 20 years old when he reached the major leagues in 1958. The Latino phenom homered off Don Drysdale in his first major league game. He was a San Francisco Giant, on the same roster as Willie Mays. Cepeda and Mays both played with the Minneapolis Millers on their way up. Back in about 2007, Barbara Flanagan wrote a column in which she remembered interviewing Mays in 1951. Amused, I sent an email to David Brauer of Minnpost saying "anyone who can remember interviewing Willie Mays in 1951 should probably be retired."
A procession of future superstars indeed graced our Twin Cities in the days before we got real major league baseball. And in St. Cloud, fans could celebrate the likes of Cepeda, Lou Brock and Gaylord Perry passing through - Hall of Famers all. It's a chapter of Central Minnesota history that might be drifting away from us.
I wrote a blog post for my companion website that explores deeply the background of the St. Cloud "Rox." You may click on the permalink below, and thanks for reading. - B.W.
Distinguished Latino Cepeda got groomed in his St. Cloud stint. He was destined to be a household name on the strength of nine .300 seasons, and eight seasons of 25 or more homers. He had two nicknames: "Baby Bull" and "Cha Cha." His father in Puerto Rico was known as "the Bull" in baseball. As for "Cha Cha," it was due to Cepeda's fondness for salsa music in the clubhouse.
I recently posted on Tommy Davis, the notable Los Angeles Dodger of the early 1960s. Davis and Cepeda had something in common. Both were sidelined for most of the 1965 season due to injury. After that, both moved on to teams other than the one where they made their first substantial impact. Davis became a pure journeyman for reasons I haven't been able to understand.
Cepeda bounced around to an extent too, but he made a big enough impact with St. Louis to become solidly associated with that red color. This he did with one big season. It was 1967 when the U.S. was at the height of its Viet Nam war misery. If I remember correctly, Jose Feliciano did the National Anthem for one of the '67 World Series games in a manner that many straight-laced older Americans didn't like. Think of Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino."
Baseball played forward through all the social tumult - a real testament to its part in America's fabric. I remember a documentary about the generation gap in which a man was interviewed about his younger days, and he said baseball was the only thing he and his father could really talk about with a feeling of commonality. That stuck in my mind. I came from a generation gap family too. I never felt I really knew my father, who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. That was "the good war." My generation got bequeathed "the bad war."
Baseball survived WWII on FDR's insistence. It survived the culturally tumultuous 1960s. But it could not survive, really, the labor strife of the 1990s. Baseball had to "look the other way" and allow PEDs so that some musclebound players could hit homers to bring fans back to the game. Some of these players were "thanked" by being disallowed into the Hall of Fame. It's a brutal world.
Orlando Cepeda led the St. Cloud Cardinals to the 1967 World Series title. He was named National League MVP in a unanimous vote, becoming the first unanimous N.L. MVP since Carl Hubbell in 1936. He hit .325 with 25 homers and an N.L.-best 111 RBIs, as the Cards' cleanup hitter.
I liked the Cardinals when I was a kid, I suppose partly because they represented the Midwest. But in the old days, when train travel was the norm, St. Louis was "the west." Chicago too. Out west we had the Pacific Coast League, technically a minor league but with talent comparable to the majors. Who wouldn't want to live in California? Finally the majors moved out West, leaving New York City with just one team, the Yankees, for a while.
Minnesota Twins fans will remember our 1967 season as perhaps the most heartbreaking in team history. We were edged out at the end by Carl Yastrzemski and his Boston Red Sox. As a kid I was absolutely devastated. The '67 World Series saw Cepeda and his Cardinals defeat the Red Sox in seven games.
I have always associated Cepeda with the 1960s, the richest baseball decade in my memories. But Cepeda was an impact player before the '60s began, as he batted .312 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs for San Francisco in 1958. He was unanimously named Rookie of the Year. In '61, Cepeda led the N.L. with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs, and he was second in the MVP voting. I was six years old in 1961, the year Roger Maris hit all those home runs in the A.L. I first started collecting baseball cards in 1963. Many of them were off cereal boxes.
By '62, Cepeda was a most established superstar. The '62 campaign saw the "Baby Bull" hit 35 home runs and drive in 114 runs, helping San Francisco to the N.L. pennant. Cepeda was injured in '65 when he dove for a ball in left field. He required surgery.
It was in May of 1966 that Cepeda was traded to St. Louis for. . .Ray Sadecki. No superstar, Sadecki, although he had a long career as a rather capable pitcher. Cepeda appeared invigorated. He batted .303 with the Cardinals in 123 games. The stage was set for '67, Cepeda's prime year.
Cepeda dealt with knee problems through much of his career. His final seven seasons were particularly affected. He retired after 1974 with 379 home runs, 1,365 RBIs and a .297 average. He was chosen an All-Star seven times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Oh, I haven't mentioned his stance yet. I'll let Roger Angell do the talking here: "I cannot understand how Orlando Cepeda, the Giants' slugger, ever hits a pitch. At the plate, he stands with his hands and the bat twisted back, almost behind his shoulder blade, and his vast riffles look wild and looping. Only remarkable strength can control such a swing."
"Riffles?" I remember when Angell, of The New Yorker, described our Metropolitan Stadium as an "airy cyclotron." Hey, he's with The New Yorker.
Let's understand something about batting stances in general: They are almost entirely cosmetic, and if you evaluate a batter's swing in slow motion through the whole process, you'll see that all hitters really begin their swing from the same position. Did you think Carl Yastrzemski began his swing from that position with the bat held up high? Or that Dick McAuliffe could really begin his swing from such a zany position? No. It's cosmetic, maybe even based on superstition.
Juan Marichal's leg kick as a pitcher was psychological. Maybe it intimidated the batters. A little leaguer who tries copying this stuff would be frustrated. It is not what it appears to be.
Cepeda got in trouble with drugs once but he rehabilitated his image. I hope this talented fellow has never forgotten his stint in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the "Granite City."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

MACA softball beats Benson-Hancock 5-3

The MACA softball team kept its winning ways going with a 5-3 triumph over Benson-Hancock Tuesday.
Click on the link below to read about the Tigers' doubleheader sweep over Sauk Centre, along with the win the next day over Redwood Valley. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
The game against Benson-Hancock was on a rainy day. It was B-H taking the lead in the first inning, 2-1. The Tigers failed to score against B-H pitcher Addie Forbord over the next three innings. Then in the fifth, MACA got going with the game-winning rally. It was good for four runs. B-H scored one run in the fifth.
Forbord pitched all seven innings as did MACA pitcher Brooke Gillespie. Thanks to the fifth inning rally, Gillespie got the 'W' next to her name in the boxscore. Gillespie scattered ten hits. She struck out two batters and walked one. One of the runs she allowed was unearned. Forbord gave up nine hits and struck out one.
The MACA offense had Ashley Solvie with a hit and two RBIs. Three Tigers each had two hits: Lindsey Dierks, Piper Gibson and Gillespie. Three Benson-Hancock batters each had two hits: Kamri Kalthoff, Presley Gonnerman and Kayla Crowell. Kalthoff doubled and drove in two runs. One of Gonnerman's hits was a double.
Benson-Hancock outhit the Tigers 10-9. But MACA presented better fielding with three errors compared to B-H's five. Oh, if you add up the hits among the MACA individuals, you get seven. But the line score in the Willmar paper has us with nine hits. Also, in the pitching stats for B-H, Forbord has five numbers listed but there are supposed to be six. So I can't be totally sure what each number stands for.
I have noticed many problems of this type turning up in the Willmar paper so far this spring.
I remember back when I wrote for the Morris and Hancock papers, I used the Willmar paper as my information source for B-H Legion baseball, on the suggestion of the coach. I sometimes wonder if I should have used the Willmar paper more as a source for my sportswriting. This has an up side for the coaches as they would be relieved of the task of dispensing information specifically to me. It would save them time and a hassle.
On my end, I would need a little change to dash over to Willie's or wherever in the morning to get the Willmar paper. That's fine. However, an ongoing system of relying on the Willmar paper would have problems. Some Morris fans would instantly react: "What, you need another newspaper to do your job?"
On many weeks this system would be quite serviceable. However, two problems would eventually emerge. One, we'd find that certain games just wouldn't get covered in the Willmar paper, for various reasons. If I'm looking for coverage and it isn't there, I'd be in a mad scramble to contact the coach, most likely at a time when he's in class.
Second, sooner or later we'd find game coverage in the Willmar paper with serious errors in it. And if I were to use that coverage, two consequences: 1) Everyone would realize I'm using the Willmar paper, and 2) we would simply look bad, and fans would find colorful ways of describing my laziness, stupidity and incompetence.
Then again there's always a "silent majority" out there of people who don't give a rip if there's any sports in the Morris paper at all. Heck, I don't actually read any sports coverage in the Morris paper. A former Morris principal once told me that the only reason sports parents look at the Morris paper's sports section is that they are eager to criticize it. They'll question the paper's sports priorities, which anyone can do.
We had an editor who told me in writing that UMM sports should be our highest priority. At first I just didn't believe it. Eventually the whole roof just came in on me anyway, in this town of horrible social cliques and political recriminations.
The average man on the street just looks at the sports section and goes "ho hum."
As far as UMM is concerned, is there really a substantial faction of devil worshipers out there? Might they try to recruit our local high school youth? If this current news at UMM is just a big joke, there should be a big headline in the Morris paper assuring us of that. I know some people are scared. I overheard some talk at the recent Sons of Norway gathering.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tommy Davis was inexplicably a journeyman

The circle of people who can remember seeing the Seattle Pilots in person is shrinking. I saw them play our Minnesota Twins in a doubleheader in 1969. It had to be 1969 since that's the only year the Pilots existed. The Twins dominated on that day.
Really though the Pilots were a decent team. Certainly they could be exciting. Often they had Tommy Davis parked at No. 3 in the batting order. The meat of the order often included Don Mincher, the old Twin. We might forget that the big, powerful Mincher was in our lineup on the very first day of our franchise. Davis and Mincher made a mark with their offensive prowess. Both had a journeyman tag by the time they retired.
Davis got a little down over how he'd get released, only to join another team and keep pounding out hits. The best theory I have come across about this, is that in terms of pure cosmetics he seemed laid back, maybe even lazy. I gather it was pure cosmetics. Davis himself said the air about him helped him play better - a relaxed air. Certainly major league baseball kept the faith in him.
Many fans associate Davis primarily with the L.A. Dodgers. That's where he got established. A career-altering injury early in the 1965 season kept Tommy from playing against our Twins in the World Series that year. It's sad he couldn't be part of that show. He was a likeable player and most certainly a pure hitter. If you needed a player to produce with a minimal .270 average (and probably much higher), he was your guy. He did this wearing quite the variety of uniforms.
His stint with Seattle meant he had a presence in Jim Bouton's revolutionary sports book, "Ball Four." Davis and Bouton both ended up with the Houston Astros before the end of the '69 season. Bouton was sharply analytical, to a fault actually, rendering many of his subjects (victims?) looking shallow or foolish, but Davis comes across looking fine.
Davis' '65 injury had the effect of reducing his power. Such was his innate skill for making good contact, he could still spray hits around. His injured leg bothered him during his time with Seattle. We learn this history along with the history that he stole 19 bases in his five months as a Pilot. His stat of 29 doubles made him a standout on the team. He cruised along with a .271 average and was leading the Pilots in hits and RBIs when he got traded to the Astros.
In 1970 the "journeyman" tag really took hold for this talented ballplayer. There was no evidence he was disruptive in the clubhouse. It's really hard to ascertain why he bounced around. The '70 season saw Tommy pull on uniforms for the Astros, Oakland A's and Chicago Cubs.
Sometimes there are clues for the movements. Houston called up prime outfield prospect Cesar Cedeno, a mere teen. Oakland faded from contention, so owner Charlie Finely sold Davis to the Cubs. Davis made his transitions pretty seamlessly and he batted .284 for his '70 season. I was 15 years old and quite focused on baseball.
Davis had suspicions that Finley pulled strings to engineer a re-signing back to Oakland at a lower salary. Finley was, shall we say, a "colorful" owner.
Baseball players had very limited power to guard their interests in those days. A blessing for the players was that even though they were mistreated in their active years, the time came when they could capitalize on their names, attending memorabilia shows etc., and cash in pretty fine. All they had to do was "hang in there" while they were players. Bite the bullet as it were.
And Tommy Davis most certainly did that, putting in a solid year with Finley's A's in 1971. He was a cog in helping the A's to the playoffs. So, he'd become a fixture with the A's? No! You see, Davis was an apartment-mate of Vida Blue, an amazing young pitcher for the A's, and Davis introduced Blue to attorney Robert Gerst. Whoa Nellie! Gerst guided Blue to demand a new contract that did not include the reserve clause.
Davis was released in spring training with many feeling this was punishment for his role with the Blue episode. At the time, Davis was not perceived as a viable everyday defensive player. He drifted for several months with no affiliation, then he got part-time duty with the Cubs and Orioles in the second half of 1972. Davis was 34 years old, an advanced age by the standards of that time.
My, but he could still hit. The designated hitter rule came along to accommodate him. It was 1973, my senior year in high school and a time when Elton John rocketed to music fame. Let's note that the DH did not work in practice like the theory suggested. The reason is that any player whose physical attributes are such that he really cannot play in the field anymore, probably can't hit well either. Hitting is a very physical task involving the whole body.
The DH was supposed to help some famous players stay in the game longer, but really did not have that effect, not to the extent hoped. But Tommy Davis was an exception. He became Baltimore's full time designated hitter and led the team in hits with 169 and RBIs with 89.
I was happy to see him land on his feet like this. He was third in the American League with his .306 average. And, he kept right on going in '74. Again he led the Orioles in key offensive categories. His batting average was .289.
Remember that Davis' career was during what baseball historians have called "baseball's second dead ball era." A .289 average was to be admired. My brain is still wired in the context of that dead ball time.
Baltimore won the A.L. East, surviving a late charge by the Yankees. Unfortunately, Baltimore got stopped in the ALCS in both '73 and '74. That era belonged to Tommy's former team, the A's.
Davis' last year as a regular was 1975. Never could he be held down in terms of batting average. His .283 average was bested only by Ken Singleton on the Orioles. Davis had a hot September with 25 hits. But Davis always had to watch his back, figuratively speaking. Now there was the specter of Lee May, whose defensive skills were deteriorating which meant he'd likely become the DH. Davis got released.
I don't understand how impulsive teams were in releasing him. I wish like heck he could have been signed by our Minnesota Twins. He would have looked super in a Twins uniform. He caught on with the Yankees but got released in spring training. I'm incredulous. Davis was no clubhouse lawyer. His sin was having a mere surface appearance of being laid back, an air that Tommy said helped him focus and play better.
He finished the '76 season as the Kansas City Royals' DH. But he had signed too late to be eligible for the post-season. Surely he would have helped the Royals in their memorable battle with the Yankees. K.C.'s designated hitters in the series were a dud. Strange how the Royals could not have been better prepared, getting Davis signed sooner. He was a guaranteed-not-to-tarnish .280 hitter (at least). I wonder what Calvin Griffith thought of him.
The Royals released Davis in January. He retired from the game with a career pinch-hitting average of .305 in 203 at-bats.
Davis' story is fundamentally a happy one, journeyman status notwithstanding. He's popular at memorabilia shows, and is a sought speaker. He co-authored "Tommy Davis' Tales from the Dodgers Dugout." He started his own small company.
Maybe he should be in the Hall of Fame, really. And we'll never forget his season as a Seattle Pilot.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tigers take control at Atwater field

Baseball: Tigers 12, ACGC 0
Morris Area Chokio Alberta got the job done in five innings Thursday (4/14) against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. The baseball Tigers downed the Falcons of ACGC 12-0. The ten-run rule was applied after five innings.
It was a pretty flawless game by the orange and black crew. We scored 12 runs on eight hits and committed no errors. ACGC was hurt by five errors. The Falcons hosted this game at the Atwater diamond.
The score stood 2-0 after one inning. MACA rallied for five runs in the second and had another five-run outburst in the fifth. ACGC had a string of goose eggs due partly to the pitching of Toby Sayles. Sayles pitched the whole way, setting down nine Falcon batters on strikes. He walked one and gave up two hits.
The ACGC pitching was divided among four players: Colton Minnick (the loser), Kobe Holtz, Cullen Hoffmann and Michael Dallmann. The Willmar paper didn't give Minnick's first name but my memory was good for it!
Sean Amundson scored three of the MACA runs while going two-for-four. Ryan Dietz scored a run while socking three hits in four at-bats. Brady Jergenson went one-for-three with two runs scored. Philip Messner crossed home plate once and had a hit. Seth Staples had no hits but scored two runs. Mitch Torgerson added a run to the mix. Philip Anderson's bat resonated with a double.
ACGC's Kobe Holtz gave main spark for the host team with two hits in as many at-bats. Holtz socked a double.
The Willmar paper did not report RBIs for Morris. The runs scored among the individuals did not add up to 12. I suspect there was a sloppy scorebook involved.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tigers prevail on diamond in 4/12 action

We're getting a taste of summer today (Thursday). How refreshing! Everyone will go crazy as they don their wardrobe suitable for the balmy months.
A big signal of springtime's bloom came forth Tuesday. Home baseball and softball unfolded at our Eagles sports complex. We had a long break since winter sports, since unfortunately our basketball teams didn't progress far in post-season. Now the focus is on the springtime teams. The diamond sports are showcased.
Not only could we celebrate the weather, we could celebrate victory. The girls and boys both prevailed on this pleasant day for prep sports.
Softball: Tigers 9, ACGC 5
The MACA girls were buoyed by major scoring success in the third and fourth innings. We rallied for four runs in the third and three in the fourth. Thus was generated the momentum to win in the 9-5 final over the Falcons. We plated single runs in the first and fifth innings.
Our line score was nine runs, six hits and four errors. A little more polish will be sought in fielding. But ACGC was less than flawless in fielding too, with six errors. The Falcons scored their five runs on nine hits. Yes, we were outhit but it didn't matter.
Brooke Gillespie was a key contributor for the winning Tigers. Gillespie pitched the whole way, seven innings, and survived the nine hits off ACGC bats. Only two of the five runs she allowed were earned. A big plus was zero walks, and another plus was her eight strikeouts.
Gillespie was a factor offensively with her two-for-four boxscore line. Lindsey Dierks went two-for-three with both of her hits doubles. Madi Wevley had a hit and two RBIs. Nicole Solvie had a hit in three at-bats.
Gillespie's pitching opponent was Taryn Reinke who did better than the score suggests. Just three of the nine runs allowed by Reinke were earned. She gave up six hits in six innings. She walked three batters and struck out one.
These ACGC batters each had two hits: Maree Lee, Rylie Wilner, Hannah Wilner and Madison Denton. Shelbie Jackson had one hit, a double. Both of Denton's hits were doubles. A double came off Hannah Wilner's bat too.
Baseball: Tigers 6, Montevideo 0
Chizek Field was the site for prep baseball Tuesday, an upbeat day for the orange and black cause. Jared Anderson socked a two-run triple right away in the first inning. Ryan Dietz had a perfect three-for-three showing at the plate with two of his hits doubles, and he drove in a run.
Sean Amundson's bat was productive with two hits, one a triple, in three at-bats, and this Tiger scored two runs. Brady Jergenson was potent with his two-for-three line, and he drove in a run. Allen Tanner had a triple in his only at-bat.
The MACA line score was six runs, nine hits and two errors, while Monte's numbers were 0-7-4. We scored four runs over the first three innings, a span in which the Thunder Hawks were held scoreless. We scored one run each in the fifth and sixth.
On to pitching: Here it was Jergenson picking up the win with his stint of four innings. He allowed three hits and no runs, walked three and struck out seven. Amundson put his arm to work for three innings. He allowed three hits and no runs, walked three and struck out five.
The losing pitcher was Christian Kanten. Garrett Christianson and Jake Mundt also pitched for the losing cause. Kanten had two hits in four at-bats. These T-Hawks each had one hit: Bailey Eickhoff, Connor Kontz, Jack Tweeter and Andrew Sweeney.
We're at the start of a fun-filled spring for Tiger baseball and softball.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Some revised poetry/lyrics re. Sandy Valespino

Rookies Valdespino and Tovar, '65
Every major league baseball team has a player like this in its past: obscure with his accomplishments but still endearing in a permanent way. Our Twins' 1965 season was like a fairy tale. Embedded in our memories is Sandy Valdespino. He had only one year of decent offensive production in his career. He chose our magical 1965 ride for that burst. He only batted .261 but was a valuable hand. He in fact was considered our top rookie in a year that had a nice slate of Twins rookies.
Valdespino was part of our significant "Cuban connection." Jim Kaat once joked that the "T/C" on Twins caps stood for "Twenty Cubans." We should be relieved these guys at least were able to get to the U.S. away from Fidel Castro.
Jim Merritt and Dave Boswell were two of our promising rookies in '65. They were the best you could find in terms of pitching prospects, but both unfortunately threw their arms out when they were young. This happened to Jim Merritt after he was traded to Cincinnati. I thought he looked like Kent McCord of the "Adam-12" TV series (about cops on the beat). When Mad Magazine satirized the TV series, it had the duo of McCord and Martin Milner driving right past serious crimes on their way to petty stuff like someone double-parked. Milner had been in the "Route 66" series.
Frank Quilici was a Twins rookie in 1965. He would go on to be a Twins manager in that time when we were struggling, pre-Dome. Andy Kosco was a rookie, a prime example, like Rick Renick, of a guy who looked promising in the minors but couldn't quite master the majors. Joe Nossek was a rookie in '65. I remember Joe best for getting the nod to play on a platoon basis with Jimmie Hall in the World Series, odd since Hall had been a quite productive everyday player - a fan favorite too. Who was Joe Nossek? Appreciating Joe Nossek probably required a Bill James outlook.
Valdespino was known to have the powerful shoulders of a boxer. In '64 he was the International League batting champion. He was 26 years old for 1965. His real first name was Hilario. Teammates voted Sandy the team's top rookie in '65. The Twins won the pennant in '65 and lost the World Series in seven games to the Dodgers.
If I go to heaven and God allows me to experience an alternate reality from my time on Earth, I would like to experience our Twins winning Game 7 over the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax.
I have written about Sandy Valdespino before. I previously shared some poetry/lyrics about him. Today I have revised poetry/lyrics to share. Why revised? The original version bothered me a little. Reflecting upon that, I realized I was being too much of a journalist and less an artist when writing the first version. I insisted on shoe-horning in too much minutiae from his life and career, to the detriment of the art I was trying to create.
"Detriment" is perhaps too harsh a word. My first version was acceptable as stand-alone poetry. As a song it seemed a little less than organic. My new version was written with the proper artistic criteria in mind. Will I have it recorded? I might. Here it is:
"Ballad of Sandy Valdespino"
by Brian Williams
We remember Sandy Valdespino
Even though he was no superstar
With his Twins cap on he was more than just a pawn
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 would ride those buses in the minors
Staying firm with what his goal would be
In the USA there is nothing in your way
So Sandy saw his destiny
It was way up north in Minnesota
In the state where Humphrey was the man
And the day would come when Ventura was the gov
Could Sandy captivate those fans?
He was off and running in his first game
With three hits he won the populace
It was '65 and the Twins were on a ride
To first place - they could hardly miss
He was part of joyous pennant fever
In the state with lakes ubiquitous
Now he made those rounds getting known to all the throngs
So far from when he rode that bus
In October with the festive bunting
Sandy took his lumber to the plate
In the top showdown he would carve out some renown
A hit off Koufax made him great
It was two years later on a fine day
With the Twins and Indians on the field
He was there in left with an eye to make a theft
His glove was blessed or so it seemed
Larry Brown was trouble for the Indians
With a swing, he gave the Twins a fright
There's a ball hit high, getting lost up in the sky
But one man had it in his sights
Those who saw it never have forgotten
How it seemed he had wings on his feet
He went up the fence like a demon all hell-bent
And with that ball he smiled sweet
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
We remember Sandy Valdespino. . .
We remember Sandy Valdespino. . .

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Gay devil worshipers" on campus now?

UMM has been the cause of some embarrassing headlines through the years. None of this has stood in the way of UMM essentially keeping its "jewel in the crown" status. Enrollment numbers don't seem affected. What are we to make of the embarrassing stuff? Maybe we should dismiss it like we dismiss an uncle who has fits.
Is it possible that a pocket of gay devil worshipers is now developing on campus?
There was a time when I thought people associated with UMM were becoming too strident in the gay rights cause. All social rights movements get going with baby steps. Gay rights has proceeded with the usual fits and starts. One senses an underlying momentum that is not going to be stopped, just blunted now and then. We have some southern governors causing problems. The corporate world is pushing back against them. Maybe we need a major political realignment in this country that quarantines the South. Hey, hasn't that been the norm in the history of the U.S.? Regressive Southern interests coalesce and then they lose, lose, lose. All the Dixiecrat Party ever did was lose.
I was not pleased seeing a gay rights demonstration on the UMM campus that had a booth with a poster-size picture of Eleanor Roosevelt on the side. Did Eleanor Roosevelt ever proclaim she was gay? Would she have wanted the public to know about it? Could we even assume it was true? Shouldn't people associated with UMM apply some scholarly standards to this?
One bit of infamy from UMM's past, lest you need reminding, was the two biological males named king and queen for UMM's Homecoming. I showed up as media to take a photo of them before the start of the parade, and I was unfazed. I didn't act like I was taken aback at all. I immediately sensed what had happened. I knew such a scenario could happen here.
Eventually UMM cancelled Homecoming royalty completely, not admitting any particular embarrassment about the episode with the two men. I think UMM just reasoned that Homecoming royalty were anachronistic. It's fluffy tradition. It's harmless and it probably should have continued. We just needed the students to go along with the fluff. They couldn't be trusted to do that.
And then in the past couple of years, we learned we couldn't trust students to put out a reasonable student publication. Oh, the University Register is quite fine. It reflects UMM's basic ethos. But UMM allowed a purportedly conservative group to come along and have all its whining for their own paper granted. But then of course they abused it. We got "NorthStar."
Normally I'm a fan of alternative campus publications. But NorthStar seemed to have a fundamental purpose of hurting people and even trying to hurt UMM itself. Much of it was basic nonsense, such as a headline wondering if Mussolini was overrated or underrated. In other words, we either appreciated Il Duce too much or not enough. He ended up having his body hung up on meat hooks and mutilated.
The NorthStar creators, who I guess had nothing better to do with their time, used "satire" as a cover explanation for all it did.
The other day I brought up the subject of this new Satan group with a student acquaintance of mine. At first she laughed. Then she made a face. She then tried to dismiss the whole thing as possible "satire."
Where is all this "satire" taking us in terms of taste? If the point is to make a political statement, well then my goodness, make it, and I don't care if you somehow do it in a nuanced way. Indirect means of communication is in fact a trait of well-educated people, sometimes to a fault. We have irony, sarcasm and parody.
When I acquired a copy of Mad Magazine in my youth, it was obvious "satire." No label needed.
The satire we see emanating from UMM is dangerous. I have wondered if I have generational problems trying to relate to today's young people. Maybe I'm clueless and I just cannot penetrate what they're trying to do and say. 
My generation was rebellious. But we had causes like the Viet Nam war and civil rights.
The self-described conservatives behind these oddball campus publications today don't seem to be pursuing anything righteous. They put on "affirmative action bake sales" that end up with police intervening.
The NorthStar had access to campus video surveillance to catch people taking more than one copy. In order to go after these "thieves" on legal terms, they tried arguing they were charging $5 a copy after your first free copy. Does anyone think the supposed $5 charge was anything other than a ploy to try to catch people who might be trying to remove papers from campus?
I know of at least one instance where a UMM faculty member removed copies of the University Register from campus. Student papers and controversy are well-known acquaintances. Sometimes a paper will get in the vortex of controversy in connection with printing the name of an alleged sexual assault victim.
Nevertheless, the campus should have but one student news/opinion publication, and if it strikes you as "liberal," well so what? College students have historically been liberal. Many of them moderate as they get older, as they acquire assets, but I would hope they still want kids to have access to clean, safe drinking water. I'm starting to wonder.
The new gay/Satan thing on the UMM campus has a purpose of combating conservatism. Why not just combat it with well-articulated ideas? Just saying.
A campus-wide email announced that the new "gay devil worshipers" were coming out of the woodwork to combat an alleged uprising of conservative voices on campus. Was the idea to be just as silly as "NorthStar?"
I think here is where UMM's new chancellor might start intervening. Reason can triumph after initial confusion. 
By way of background, let me share about a conversation I had with a former Morris Public Library director. The computer department at the library was new. How quaint! You'd get shown how you could call up "Amazon.com." Amazing! I discussed with Rita Mulcahy the rash of incidents mainly in the Twin Cities where perverts were coming to the library to do, well you know what. Eventually librarians threw up their arms and said "well, we have free speech, we have the First Amendment." This got modified, Ms. Mulcahy said, when a new line of reasoning took over: "It wasn't a free speech issue, it was a patron behavior issue."
I think UMM's new chancellor should put his foot down, saying "UMM has an amazing variety of political and philosophical ideas, but we must govern the ways the adherents present the ideas so as to appear mature and responsible." It's a behavior issue, not a free expression issue. In the meantime we have the "gay devil worshipers" providing a new bizarre chapter in the history of our University of Minnesota-Morris campus, one that makes the rest of us want to wash our hands.
Addendum: The proper spelling is "worshipers" and not "worshippers," and "worshiping" not "worshipping," according to some quick research I did. I was inclined to go with the two p's at first. My research indicated that many people opt for the two p's but that technically it's incorrect. Oh, I also learned that "Satan" should be capitalized.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Please listen to my song about Target Field

The new major league baseball season is underway. A big deal is always made of opening day. So much so, it seems many journalists feel obligated to use capital letters: "Opening Day." Fine, enjoy your Opening Day. I think the importance is symbolic. It's like a rite of spring, a signal that summer isn't far off.
In terms of actual importance, well, consider that a major league baseball season is made up of 162 games. It's quite the opposite of NFL football where each game can have appreciable importance. Is it still 16 games or have they expanded to 18? Either way it's a small number compared to baseball. I am at a stage in my life where I don't wish to pay any attention to football.
Our Minnesota Twins have their home at the still-new Target Field. I am certain it is a wonderful experience to watch a game there. In 2010, ESPN The Magazine ranked Target Field as the No. 1 baseball stadium experience in North America. Given that, it's entirely apt that I have written a song celebrating the experience there. My song is called "When I'm at Target Field." It has a swinging rhythmic feel and the idea is to exude joy.
I write all this having not visited Target Field myself, yet. I'm a homebody at this stage of my life, as most of you know.
My song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank Michels. "Franklin" is his formal name. The Nashville musical community is wonderful. I invite you to listen to my song by clicking on the YouTube link below. Thanks to Brent Gulsvig of Gulsvig Productions, Starbuck MN, for getting the song online.
Target Field hosted the 2014 Major League All-Star Game. I can remember it was a big deal back in 1965 when we got the All-Star Game here. Remember, we weren't even big league back in 1960. Minnesota ended up falling totally in love with big league baseball. It has been quite the fulfilling marriage, to where we now have a stadium judged the best in North America.
Our Target Field accommodates just under 40,000 fans. It's in the warehouse district west of downtown Minneapolis. It's a "neutral" park that was built not to favor either hitting or pitching. But as it turned out, pitching seems to have gotten the upper hand. Our previous stadiums were known to be friendly to hitters.
The original home, of course, was Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington. One of my top missions as a blog writer has been to keep alive memories of the old "Met." I have written a song/paean about the Met, not recorded yet, that has this chorus:
We called it the Met
Without it we could never be big league
It rose up like a castle on the plains
We always heard the jets
And yet it seemed so soothing and serene
People came from far to see the games
I'd like to think that's very descriptive. We must never let go of our memories of the Met. It was an open-air stadium that was not engineered in any special way to ward off the cold. Target Field is quite the opposite that way.
I feel old when I realize I gave journalistic coverage to the efforts to plan the Metrodome, a.k.a. "The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome." Democrats were more popular back then.
Supposedly the Dome was a breakthrough, a way to ensure that big league sports would stay here. Part of that argument was that a roof was needed to completely insulate us from the elements. Of course it was just a sales job. Just like a sales job emerged again to persuade us that we really needed a good open-air park. Bert Blyleven said of baseball at the Dome, toward the end: "That's not baseball." He would never have said that during the drive to get the Dome built.
Truth be told, fans can simply get bored with a sports venue. But we had better embrace Target Field, because I can't see the day when we feel that has to be replaced. As for football, I can see the day when this sport simply fades away and disappears. Football is likely to have its last bastion in the U.S. Southeast. It will become a sport with a low image, played by men largely from challenged backgrounds.
Metropolitan Stadium had a fascinating chapter in hosting the Minnesota Kicks soccer team. It was a phenomenon in its prime. My generation went wild over it. I never attended a Kicks game. The Met's final years saw my generation begin to diss the Twins as entertainment. It was sad to observe. The cure for that was the new Metrodome, which seemed to give the Twins a shiny-new image again, just like in '61.
Here's a question: What if the Twins had stayed in the second division for a long time in the 1960s? It could have happened. Would Minnesotans have had enough patience? I think the reason we brought back Bill Musselman to coach the Timberwolves was that the powers-that-be in this state realized we couldn't have a typical losing expansion team. We needed some spark right away. We did get it. But the Timberwolves may have picked up a jinx that rears its ugly head still today. We needed some higher draft picks early-on. Those early years were so frustrating: There would be four can't-miss prospects in the NBA draft and we'd draft fifth.
At any rate, our state seems still quite attached to our Minnesota Twins. We played the 2016 season opener. Now, just 161 more games to go. Play ball!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com