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

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chase Metzger drives in winning run vs. B-E

Post 29 played errorless ball in a 4-3 win over Post 188 of Brandon-Evansville on Thursday, July 23. The difference came in the fifth inning when Chase Metzger strode up to bat and stroked a single, pushing in the game-winner. Fans watched at the Evansville diamond.
Brady Jergenson drove in the other three Morris runs. Jergenson's two-run single in the third gave Post 29 a 2-0 advantage. The lead was short-lived as B-E evened things up, using a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kevin Campbell. Then in the fourth, B-E went up 3-2 on the scoreboard thanks to a Jake Hintermeister double and Gideon Morrow single.
The back-and-forth complexion continued in the fifth. Now it's Morris assuming the momentum with a two-run rally, decisive. Toby Sayles was perched at first when Brady Jergenson doubled. The score is tied. Robert Rohloff was on base as courtesy runner when Chase Metzger grounded a single to center. Rohloff breezed across home plate with the run that turned out to be the game-winner.
It was our fifth win of the season against two losses, and in league play we sport a 4-1 mark. B-E came out of the day at 2-1. Our line score was four runs, six hits and that nice "zero" total in errors. The B-E line score was 3-8-1.
Metzger had a stolen base to go with his RBI. He had a two-for-four line. Jergenson stood out with his double as part of going two-for-three, and he drove in three runs and scored one. Toby Sayles doubled and scored a run. Sean Amundson had a hit and a run scored.
Hintermeister was a force for the host Post 188 crew. He went two-for-three with a double, stole a base and scored a run. Morrow had a double, stole a base, drove in a run and scored one. Kevin Campbell had a hit and an RBI. Campbell's hit was not reported in the Willmar newspaper.
Toby Sayles was the lucky winner on the mound, in the sense his stat line wasn't particularly good. Sayles struck out four batters, walked four and gave up six hits in his six innings. The three runs he allowed were earned.
Ryan Bowman was handed the ball for one inning of pitching work. Ryan got the save, his second of the season, as he struck out two batters, walked none and gave up one hit. Losing pitcher Kevin Campbell pitched the whole way. He struck out five batters, walked five and allowed six hits and the four Morris runs, all earned.
 
Are we becoming a forest?
The old "main street" of our community seems to be a growing concern. Road signs would point to this as the "business district." I don't know about this term anymore. Businesses have been moving out of the historic business core of the town.
Of course, I'm old enough to remember when main street was really "the place to be" for shopping and socializing. I remember the pool hall. The now-vacant Aaron Carlson building was abuzz as a major grocery store: Juergensen's. Today we have seen businesses deserting main street, either closing or re-locating.
And I have to wonder: Do we really need those trees up and down Atlantic Avenue? Whose idea was this? The trees really just seem to obscure the businesses. They look out of place. If we want to appreciate nature, we can drive a few blocks until we're on the outskirts of town. We're a rural place, man. Businesses ought to stand out along main street. What other purpose does main street have? I felt sorry for Cullen's whose storefront was really obscured.
The Coborn's building sits there increasingly blighted. Remember when that was a real "hub" in Morris?
"People" activity does a lot in projecting vitality of a community. Coborn's is gone and Willie's has a monopoly, which makes the Willie's owner happy I suppose. Monopolies aren't the blessing they might appear to be.
Consolidation and "efficiencies" are taking over in our economy. But does this leave the general citizenry happier? Or it it just good for the richest element? Our drug stores have abandoned main street in favor of a tiny building on the outskirts. The grand opening there was trumpeted in the Morris newspaper like it was a big special deal. Marty Ohren smiling does not convince me that it's big or special. I think it's depressing.
That new service road on the north end of town is built so long, it looks like the city is anticipating much more development there. There's even a little "spur" for the possible extension of Columbia Avenue out across that field. I can remember when Columbia Avenue didn't even make it to the highway, in the pre-Pizza Hut, pre-Subway days. The so-called "Columbia Avenue extension" was actually controversial. Main street businesspeople were afraid it would be used for bypassing their businesses. Main street just kept fading.
The trend appears to be continuing now. If there's an economic depression triggered by that "Brexit" thing, well, Katy bar the door.
Could we get a pool hall back?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minneosta - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Is MnSCU really a sinking ship?

Steven Rosenstone, chancellor
It almost seemed like a parody headline: "Public colleges in 'crisis,' report says." It was on page 1B of the Wednesday Star Tribune.
I have the type of cynicism typical of a long-time journalist. Remember how former U of M President Mark Yudof - remember him? - jousted with Governor Jesse Ventura - surely you remember him? Ventura gave one of his most memorable quotes: "For the amount of money we (the state) give the U, maybe I should run it." Would all of the waste in athletics happen, if the governor had to sign off on the monetary system and values?
Well, now it's the statewide network of public colleges and universities, what I would call the many-headed hydra known as "MnSCU." There's a picture of a guy named Phillip Davis who says "we have to act now." Imagine, a publicly funded educational system that says it's in a financial emergency. Who could have expected this? Well, everyone.
All these representatives of public educational institutions are like those gremlins in a box in one of those "Gremlins" movies, clamoring to be fed. (They had tampered with the clock so as to be fed after midnight.)
Let's look at the opening sentence of the Strib article, where we learn that the future of these institutions is "financially unsustainable." The article quotes some sort of report that was eight months in the making. Our MnSCU "must act quickly to avert a crisis," the report says.
Oh my, a "crisis." Where is the finger pointing? Well, partly to a slowdown in state funding. Who wrote the report? A "work group," we learn. Let's push aside the layers of bureaucratic cobwebs surrounding this all. No wait, there's no way to really get clarity. MnSCU is nothing if not a maddening bureaucracy. It was created to promote efficiency. I could lose my cookies (or Twizzlers).
The reason government is not efficient is that it has no incentive to be efficient. MnSCU grew into a bloated self-serving bureaucracy. It educates or purports to educate about 400,000 students a year. This just shows that it's too big.
As a kid I was puzzled about why we had these state colleges along with our hallowed U of M - separate systems. How were they to be defined vs. each other? I'm not the only one wondering. I remember a Strib reporter writing a little in-house opinion piece in which she stated "we all know" there are redundancies between the two systems. The words "we all know" stood out for me. So it's understood there are inefficiencies, and we just shrug and accept this as status quo, like we might accept and love an eccentric or senile uncle or aunt.
I have always thought it sad that these two systems, which really have the same goal, are set up vs. each other with each seeking one-upmanship. Why?
I have heard UMM advocates including a former chancellor deride St. Cloud State as a "party school." It's not untrue that St. Cloud State has historically had problems with this. But it seems to me that everyone involved in state-sponsored higher education should show mutual respect. Wouldn't the state want it that way? All these schools are assets of the state. The state with its legislators would want all these institutions to command the public's respect.
Secondly, the drive to eradicate that party school image problem is way too belated. The state should have insisted sooner that any and all actions should be taken to remedy that. Earl Potter came along and rolled his sleeves up. He cancelled Homecoming. It was necessary but it also trumpeted to everyone that SCSU had a heckuva problem. Who cancels Homecoming?
Now Potter is gone, victim of a car crash for which we still don't have the answers.
The Wednesday Strib article quotes Phillip Davis saying "the financial model for public higher education in Minnesota and throughout our nation has broken down." Davis is identified as an associate vice chancellor and co-chair of that "work group." We hear about that "crisis" looming.
Look, there are accountable people in positions to guide these educational systems, and I shake my head at all of their hand-wringing. Education administrators are given resources and then their job is to add value to those resources. If a crisis is looming, it's because of a dereliction on various fronts. Yudof of the U was rather a flim-flam man.
Is the whole traditional model becoming questionable? All of education was affected by the Cold War years in which it seemed necessary to create discomfort for kids, to make it seem like they had to break through barriers in the classroom. It was "pain equals gain."
"Rigorous" education was a way to try to stay ahead of the Soviets. Then the Cold War ended. Now we didn't have to feel so threatened anymore. And then, we got the sea change of old "analog" systems of doing things, giving way to the digital-based approach. The old dirty and unpleasant ways gave way to user-friendly systems, systems that actually help you master them.
School classes with onerous requirements suddenly seemed not so necessary. I have heard about the following generational change: Kids today, when asked a question in a classroom assignment or discussion, will respond to the teacher by saying: "If you know the answer, why don't you just tell us." Amen and hallelujah.
I'm 61 years old now and no one cares much about what I think, but let me say my memories of being at St. Cloud State have their share of down notes. I think the traditional dormitory where you're assigned a roommate is obsolete. I would have been called a wet blanket if I had pleaded for "quiet hours" in a dorm, a time when you could simply sleep soundly. Maybe beginning at 10 p.m. and be firm in enforcement. Instead, so many of my generation were rambunctious and insisted on playing loud music on our "stereos."
I think that privately many students would have agreed with me. But my generation was so pampered, it wasn't proper to apply such discipline. My position would be equated with being "prudish." Prudish. We were so foolish with our stereotypes which included the notorious "nerds." The term "nerds" ended up having a short lifespan. That's due in large part to how they totally won that cultural skirmish.
I was handicapped in my young years having a physique that did not lend itself to the clothing fashions of the time. Boys wore clothes that had to be very tight-fitting, almost like they were painted on. If you really preferred loose-fitting clothes, you might get teased. It was hard to even find looser-fitting clothes. The solution was not to buy a larger waist size, because the pants would just look funny. I had a heckuva time.
Those were the days when if you went to a store for clothes, you'd immediately be accosted by a clerk who'd say "can I help you?" and then keep his/her eyes on you the whole time you were there. Finally the Wal-Mart model came along to relieve us of this. We can relax and examine clothes in privacy.
No one makes an issue of loose-fitting clothing today. It's fine to wear loose clothing and to be overweight. The old "Starsky and Hutch" look was a disgrace.
A tight-fitting shirt would develop perspiration odor by the end of one day. Tight-fitting pants were worse: they might tear at the crotch and even be hard on your genitals. All this was going on during disco music.
Young people just flooded into St. Cloud State University. Where did we ever develop the belief that young people mature well when spending so much time around each other? Kids break down and do stupid things when they live and socialize with each other all the time. Maybe we wouldn't have such a problem with sexual assault on campus if kids could be sent out into the world to seek maturity in different ways, like with spending more time with older, settled people.
In the meantime we have advocates for our behemoth State University system crying like those hungry gremlins in a box. Cliches are being tossed around, like "transformative change" (a redundancy?) and even "re-branding." I want to gag over these. We hear a recommendation for "consolidated duplicated services across the state." Well, do it then. In fact, you should have done it as soon as you realized the problem.
First, I suppose, they want the money. They say we need to "streamline" the curriculum. What in fact does that mean? It's a cliche. No one is against "streamlining" anything.
Chancellor Steven Rosenstone says that faculty, students and others will have a chance to comment on the report "over the next few months." Yawn. No hurry. But I thought this was a "crisis." Austerity will come and campuses will close, I predict.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Brady Jergenson fans eleven in Legion win

Morris 10, Wheaton 1
Brady Jergenson was handed the ball for starting pitching duties Monday, here. He was not only effective, he was overpowering. Jergenson set down eleven Wheaton batters on strikes in four innings. Wow! His performance was part of a 10-1 win by the Morris Legion nine at Chizek Field.
He got lots of offensive support early: eight runs in the first three innings. Our last two runs came in the fifth. Our line score was superlative: ten runs, eleven hits and no errors. It was a textbook fine performance. Wheaton kicked the ball around, committing six errors.
Jergenson walked four batters and allowed one hit. Ryan Bowman got the save with three innings pitched. Ryan struck out three batters, walked none and allowed one hit. There were two pitchers for Wheaton: Eric Schwagel and Nelson Schmidt. Schwagel had Wheaton's only hit.
Jergenson hit well for Morris, sporting a two-for-four line. He drove in two runs. Mitchell Dufault was a perfect two-for-two with two runs scored and an RBI. Mitchell Torgerson also went two-for-two and he scored two runs.
Philip Anderson tripled and scored two runs. Toby Sayles went one-for-three with an RBI and run scored. Jared Anderson had a hit and a run scored. Tim Travis and Philip Messner also hit safely for the Post 29 crew.
 
Willmar 2, Morris 1
The site was Swansson Field, Willmar, for Saturday American Legion baseball action. The fifth inning told the story as Willmar was able to push across two runs, both unearned. Dalton Rambow singled and advanced on a sacrifice bunt, then he advanced further on a fielding miscue. He completed his trip around the bases on an off-the-mark throw on an attempted steal.
Sam Warne scored the other Willmar run in the fifth. Warne was perched at third when a pop fly was misplayed, allowing him to score.
The sixth was when the Morris nine scored their lone run. We had the potential to score more than the one run, to be sure. The first three batters got on base. How it developed: An error allowed Sean Amundson to reach. A single resonated off the bat of Toby Sayles. Chase Metzger singled to score Amundson. But Willmar pitcher Matt Flaig bore down to retire the next three hitters. Morris was unable to summon another run-scoring rally.
Flaig pitched all seven innings, and the one run he allowed was obviously unearned. He struck out four batters, walked two and allowed five hits.
Sean Amundson hurled for six innings for Post 29. The two runs he allowed were unearned. He set down five batters on strikes and walked one.
Chase Metzger had a multiple-hit game for Post 29. One hit each came from Toby Sayles, Denner Dougherty and Tim Travis.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, June 20, 2016

We age better today, but we still get old

I'm hardly conscious that I am becoming an older person. Members of my generation never envisioned themselves becoming old, to be like those old people we remember from when we were growing up. People are in fact aging better today. Our society has made inroads on many fronts helping people age better.
That president of St. Cloud State who died in a car crash recently was 69. In my childhood, that would be considered old. Such a person would be retired. Today we read that he was 69 and think nothing of it. He had signed on for three more years at St. Cloud State. Earl Potter was the crusader who decided St. Cloud State simply had to cancel Homecoming. He probably realized this decision had become unavoidable. But, canceling Homecoming?
Potter didn't make himself available for quotes at the time this decision was reported. I remember one of my old classmates, Mike Nistler, who puts out that "Minnesota Moments" magazine, was quoted on behalf of St. Cloud State. Today our University of Minnesota shields Eric Kaler by telling the press that the president is "not available" for giving quotes. It's as if some higher power hovers over President Kaler, keeping him silent whenever one of those embarrassing sports stories breaks.
I believe that St. Cloud State should have tried to beat down its party school reputation long ago. Homecoming there degenerated so far, some people used the word "riots." Light a dumpster on fire.
I wonder if President Potter was a victim of distracted driving. Was he on a cellphone call? Or was it simply a case of being 69 years old and not having quite the same reflexes or alertness as when younger? We are reminded of the fragility of life. One minute you are on your way to a work meeting, your mind on all sorts of little details. Then in a mere instant, all your worldly concerns are pushed aside and you die. No chance for contemplation or communication with loved ones. Your soul instantly departs this life for whatever God has in mind for you.
 
Age gives perspective
I am now 61 years old. I'm old enough to remember certain things that younger people may be clueless about. I'm aware that even the nation of America can get dragged into a conflagration called the Viet Nam war. It can draft its young men into that mess and subject these men to a great likelihood of dying a miserable death.
Why do you think I project skepticism about police officers in my online writing? It's because when I was young, I soaked in lots of news media that showed us scenes of police with their shields and billy clubs going after the young Viet Nam war protesters. The kids could sometimes be beaten savagely. The National Guard opened fire and killed some young people in Ohio. And when all was said and done, we learned the protesting kids were 100 percent right.
I am old enough to remember when Republicans campaigned like conservatives but if elected, governed from the middle. Today there is too much pressure from conservative media, what David Frum calls the "conservative entertainment complex," to allow Republicans to behave in such a way. Republicans are too scared of being "primaried" from the right.
Republicans scare us by saying we must stomp out "socialism" from wherever it emerges. We have heard Barack Obama be decried in these terms for years. Claire McCaskill decried Bernie Sanders for being a "socialist." McCaskill is a Democrat. Please remember: All advanced industrial nations are a combination of free market capitalism and socialism.
I will be an outlier here and say we need a little more socialism in America. Jeb Bush at one point in his pathetic, short-lived campaign, said we must "abolish Medicare." So many of us, particularly older men, have a knee-jerk reaction of applauding all the anti-socialism rhetoric. These are men at an age where they actually will become fairly dependent on Social Security and Medicare. These programs are socialist. And yet these pickup-driving men sense in the ether that people within a certain strain in America must throw stones, in effect, at the likes of Obama and Sanders.
The reality is that life in America is becoming way too challenging for too many people. We learn that foster homes for children are filling up to capacity, and that many kids are forced to stay with their allegedly dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional? Maybe it's just getting too hard to make ends meet in America. People succumb to stress and start making mistakes.
We saw a front page headline in the Star Tribune a few days ago about how an epidemic is looming of elder abuse. Are there really that many bad people out there, or are people just struggling under unreasonable economic pressure? It's easy to point fingers. But this whole trend of stress within families suggests to me that life is just getting too difficult and that maybe we need things like "Medicare for all" (Bernie Sanders).
Keep in mind that the whole purpose of any government program is to help people. The programs can be flawed and inefficient in some ways, but their purpose is totally people-centered.
When you deal with any private sector-based system, you quickly learn that the purpose is quite different. When you think you have a homeowner's insurance claim, you'll realize that the company will pull any and all strings to either not pay at all, or pay minimally. You might have to shout at that poor insurance company rep for a while. Dylan Ratigan once said that these workers really appreciate it when you're nice to them, because they get shouted at so much. You might get them to pay the claim. But it's like pulling teeth.
How onerous is American life becoming? Joe Scarborough of "Morning Joe" summed it up one morning by saying: "Everything you need to do is hard. When you go to the Post Office, it's hard."
Yes, when you go to the Post Office now, you'll be required to answer certain questions and then you'll be asked if you want "insurance." I stood there speechless the first time I was asked about insurance. I said "I'm just sending this package to Starbuck and I'm sure you guys can handle it." Actually the package would probably go all the way to the Twin Cities first.
The Republicans have wanted to "privatize" the Postal Service. Heck, they'll privatize everything if you let them. And under Jeb Bush we might see Medicare abolished. And yet many politicians of this ilk get elected. I'm waiting for the worm to turn.
I saw a bumper sticker at the parking lot of DeToy's Saturday: "Trump for president, Hillary for prison." The owner of the pickup might actually live better under the kind of programs that Clinton would promote. But there is this odd sort of cultural tic, a continuation of the old John Bircher-ism.
Republican Richard Nixon gave us the EPA. What different times. At age 61, I remember.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota -bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, June 17, 2016

Toby Sayles a standout in 14-4 Legion win

The lights were on at Chizek Field Thursday night. It was a night of American Legion baseball. We see many of the same names and faces from the high school season. Our MACA Tigers had their offense fall off in the closing stages of the spring. Our Thursday performance in Legion ball revealed a quite robust offense. Fans at Chizek saw our team plate 14 runs on 14 hits. We committed just one error.
Post 29 defeated Clinton by a score of 14-4. Clinton scored its four runs on five hits and committed three errors. It was a night to shine for Toby Sayles. Sayles was the winning hurler with a five-inning stint. He was overpowering much of the time as he accumulated ten strikeouts. He walked four and allowed five hits. One of the four runs he allowed was unearned.
Ryan Bowman finished up the Morris pitching. The Willmar paper spelled his last name "Bauman." Why don't you guys ask how the name is spelled? Clinton used four pitchers: Lucas Attleman, Jordan Bauer, Seth Staples and Tanner Teske.
Our Post 29 hitters rolled along regardless of who was on the mound for Clinton. We scored two runs in the first inning, three in the third, six in the fifth and three in the sixth. Clinton scored two runs each in the fourth and fifth.
Sayles made noise with his bat. He tripled as part of going two-for-three. He drove in a run and scored three. Sean Amundson doubled as part of going two-for-four. He drove in two runs and scored one. Brady Jergenson doubled and scored two runs. Chase Metzger was perfect with his two-for-two numbers, plus he drove in two runs and scored two.
Philip Messner went two-for-three with two RBIs and one run. The Willmar paper spelled his first name with two l's. Denner Dougherty had a hit and a run scored. Mitch Torgerson had a two-for-four line and drove in three runs. Robert Rohloff had two hits in four at-bats, drove in a run and scored one.
Braxton Thompson lifted up Clinton with two hits, two runs and an RBI. Tanner Teske and Austin Kipp produced run-scoring singles.
A road game is on tap for Saturday in Willmar.
 
Glenwood 5, Morris 2
The outcome wasn't so rosy when the Morris nine vied with Glenwood. Glenwood jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third. We answered with a two-run fifth. But Glenwood jumped forward with a three-run sixth and this time Morris wasn't able to answer.
Glenwood scored its five runs on nine hits and committed one error. Our line score was 2-7-2.
The game's big blow was off the bat of Michael Gruber. The score stood 2-2 when Gruber brought his lumber to the plate in the sixth. He socked a triple that brought in two runs. Gruber was "in the zone" on this day, finishing with a three-for-five boxscore line. He drove in three runs. He scored the game's final run when the Morris pitcher uncorked a wild pitch.
Matt McIver had two hits in two at-bats and scored a run.
For Morris, the hitting standout was Chase Metzger: three-for-three including a triple. Toby Sayles socked two hits in four at-bats. Brady Jergenson had a hit and an RBI. And Travis Engebretson had a hit and a run scored.
Jergenson was the losing pitcher and had a rough outing that included seven walks and nine hits allowed. Ryan Bowman pitched one inning for Post 29.
Riley Thompson pitched four innings for Glenwood, striking out five batters and walking none. He allowed no runs. But it was Austin VerSteeg picking up the pitching win even though he gave up the two Morris runs. He struck out six batters, walked one and gave up three hits. Austin is one athlete who never needs any introduction for Morris fans!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, June 13, 2016

"I Miss the Mighty St. Cloud Rox" of baseball

The good old days! 
St. Cloud is a vibrant city right in the middle of Minnesota. I had a professor at St. Cloud State who, for the purposes of an assignment, made up the mock name "Dead Center University" with the reference being to SCSU.
Vibrant though it is, the city's college has never had more than a modest type of athletic program - nothing resembling Division I. That's a shame. If any city were a candidate to field a program to challenge the U of M Gophers, it would be St. Cloud.
As it stands, SCSU has an old reputation of a party school that has been a target for eradication the last few years under President Earl Potter III. What took so long? SCSU has even been in the news for cutting some athletic programs.
Oh, but there was a true glory era in St. Cloud for sports, specifically baseball. It was in the years leading up to the creation of our Minnesota Twins. St. Cloud had the "Rox" of the Northern League. St. Cloud was to be commended getting this institution established and built up. The Rox alumni included some of the best in big league ball: Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry and Matty Alou.
At the start, the Rox were made up of local talent along with players cast off by the Minneapolis Millers. You might need some reminding who the Millers were. They were the very high caliber minor league team that preceded the Twins. Once Calvin Griffith brought the Twins here, the Twins totally commanded our baseball attention. This might have contributed to the Rox's eventual demise.
The Rox in their prime were a spectacular Central Minnesota sports attraction. The name "Rox" came from a naming contest. Many submissions were "Rocks," inspired by the area's reputation for granite. The judges chose that name but with the spelling adjusted. The fledgling team played on a converted cornfield on Division Street between 25th and 27th Avenues. They won the pennant their first year, surpassing the "Twins" of Fargo-Moorhead. The Rox then dispatched those Twins in the playoffs for the league title.
The Rox got an actual stadium on their cornfield site in 1948. America was brimming with post-war prosperity. The Rox opened their home season with six games at Fairgrounds Park in Little Falls before playing their first game at Municipal Stadium on May 25. The place filled up and some fans had to be turned away. But capacity was increased with the completion of a grandstand to go with the bleachers.
Municipal Stadium served the city for more than two decades.
The Rox were affiliated with the San Francisco Giants for a time, then switched to the Chicago Cubs in 1961. Lou Brock was a stellar performer with the Rox in 1961, his first season in professional ball. Brock had a .361 average and stole 38 bases for the Rox in 1961. You'll recall that was the first year for our Minnesota Twins. It was the year that Roger Maris hit 61 home runs for the Yankees. Brock got called up to the Cubs but then bounced to the Cardinals where he won great fame.
 
Music in tribute to the Rox
I decided to write a song in tribute to the old St. Cloud Rox. Called "I Miss the Rox," it has a polka tempo, perfect for Central Minnesota with its German base. There is a fine line between polka and disco! I don't know if I'll have this song recorded.
Here are the lyrics:
 
"I Miss the Rox"
by Brian Williams
 
Back before the Twins
Back before their wins
Baseball had a home
Long before the Dome
Right here in St. Cloud
Fans were cheering loud
In the Northern League for sure
 
Future superstars
Came from very far
On our welcome mat
They would set their bats
They were getting trained
In the nation's game
And their talent would endure
 
CHORUS:
I miss the Rox
I miss the Rox
I miss the mighty St. Cloud Rox
Their mem-ry lives
Within us still
Those heroes in the batter's box
We saw Lou Brock
His bat did talk
And Gaylord Perry on the hill
Here in that Granite City
We would hear "play ball!"
I can hear it still
 
 
St. Cloud is a place
Where we can embrace
All the loving style
That we find worthwhile
Granite is our thing
It just makes us sing
But there's room for baseball too
 
By the river wide
Mississippi pride
We can feel our oats
Raise a hearty toast
Back in '58
We had a full plate
Baseball had us on the move
 
(repeat chorus)
 
When the major leagues
All those top-notch teams
Played so far away
We just had to pray
They would someday come
Entertain us some
Put us in the upper tier
 
In that bygone time
Baseball was just fine
Right here in St. Cloud
We were very proud
We were in Class 'C'
In good company
All throughout those precious years
 
(repeat chorus)
 
From an island place
Came a smiling face
Puerto Rico's pride
Skill a mile wide
Giants had an eye
For this special guy
He was on his way no doubt
 
"Cha Cha" he was called
Now he's in the Hall
He had quite the bat
With a St. Cloud cap
We were fortunate
He was in our midst
Showing all his class and clout
 
(repeat chorus)
 
© Copyright 2016 Brian R. Williams

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fisk University and UMM: a music parallel

Fisk University Jubilee Singers
Much of the nation was in smoldering ruins when the Fisk School was established. Today it's Fisk University, proud of its roots in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. We go way back to 1865 to appreciate the start of this school which today is a distinguished private liberal arts university.
It's located in one of my favorite cities: Nashville TN. Yes, much goes on in and around "Music City" that is separate from music. Music is how I developed my affection for the place. I used to go to Opryland before it was a big hotel. It was a theme park with a little train that would take you around. Everyone waved to each other: people on the train and people on the grounds. Today I write occasional songs and have them recorded at Nashville demo studios. The music professionalism is second to none. Standards are high but people are relaxed and friendly too. They are always honest with you.
Fisk University has a historical parallel with our University of Minnesota-Morris. Both had a defining music group that traveled and promoted the institution. Fisk University gave us the Jubilee Singers in 1871. They originated as a group of traveling students who set out from Nashville on October 6, 1871, taking the entire contents of the University treasury with them for expenses. They prayed that through their music they could somehow raise enough money to keep open the doors of their debt-ridden school.
To this day, on October 6 annually, Fisk pauses to observe the anniversary of the singers' departure from campus in 1871. Today the Jubilee Singers perform in a University convocation and conclude the day's ceremonies with a pilgrimage to the gravesites of the original singers. The old songs are sung at the burial places of the first performers.
The Jubilee Singers introduced much of the world to the spiritual as a musical genre. In the process they raised funds that preserved their University and permitted construction of Jubilee Hall, the South's first permanent structure built for the education of black students. Jubilee Hall is today the dramatic focal point of the Fisk campus.
In the case of our U of M-Morris, the men's chorus under the direction of Ralph E. Williams was a defining group. Our UMM was a quite fledgling institution at that time: the early 1960s. The institution was transitioning from its long history as an ag school. The men's chorus traveled in the area but more importantly went to two World's Fairs, in Seattle and New York City. They opened the Minnesota Day festivities at the Seattle World's Fair. They did much to elevate the early profile of our four-year liberal arts college. Their signature tune was the "UMM Hymn."
If the choir would continue performing that tune today, I would direct my annual $ contribution to music instead of the social sciences. (A faculty member tells me it should be "science" and not "sciences" but I have my habits.)
Social sciences is the field where I personally have a sense of comfort and affinity. I feel some intimidation from the academic music crowd.
Fisk University got our attention recently because we almost got our new chancellor from there. In a rather surprising episode, Dr. Rodney Hanley withdrew not long after having been chosen and announced. I went public with my theory about that. No one has contacted me to contradict it. The turn of events was highly unfortunate.
In the wake of Hanley's withdrawal, we have the news that Jacqueline Johnson, after being ushered into retirement with fanfare, is going to stay! I'll wager she stays through the whole next academic year and maybe even beyond! Maybe she was inclined toward retiring because of some unpleasant things. School administrators always deal with unpleasant things.
But now, maybe the institution realizes that regardless of particular issues on campus - the "Northstar?" - she is really needed. Maybe she is getting some special accommodations. That would be wonderful. We can disregard "Northstar" so long as it doesn't come back.
As expected, you can find an exhibit of Fisk's Jubilee singers on YouTube. What a wonderful presentation. I urge you to click on the link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLU70RBqxJE
 
And, don't forget that you can appreciate the original UMM men's chorus on YouTube. Here's a link to that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcXFMzPGCH0
 
Fisk University promotes itself with a slogan that would be equally appropriate for UMM: "Fisk is small enough to know your name and large enough to meet your needs."
I wonder what awaits Rodney Hanley in his future. He formally resigned at Fisk. Has that resignation now been rescinded? I don't know. Is he a total free agent now?
Hanley's resignation from Fisk was not a complete surprise to education field professionals who track higher education. It had been expected since the sudden departure last year of President H. James Williams, the person who recruited and hired Hanley. Williams abruptly parted ways with Fisk last year for reasons that neither he nor the University explained. It was reported that he and the University board had reached differences on key leadership decisions. Williams was hired earlier this year to be president of Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.
Hanley's departure comes as Fisk has been searching for a new permanent president. Hmmm. . .you don't suppose the wheels have been turning to get Hanley in the president's position?
 
A bulwark for black America
Probably no single institution has played so central a role as Fisk, in the shaping of black learning and culture in America. Our UMM has developed into the "jewel in the crown" of the U of M, quite distant from the mess in the main campus wrestling program, or the overall ridiculous stuff that has been going on in athletics there. If it hasn't crossed a line yet, when will it cross a line?
We wish the best for Dr. Rodney Hanley, who may have had to withdraw here because of unpleasant circumstances. We don't know, of course. I don't think he withdrew because of any sort of perception of living in Morris. He had plenty of time to consider living here in this small rural town, a safe and quiet setting that many people like. It's even better now with Ted Storck's chimes gone. You can visit Floyd the Barber, a.k.a. Dave Evenson, who can always fill you in on what's going on.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, June 6, 2016

Concern about football while we still watch

We see a major conflict of interest as we try to adjudicate the sport of football. Here in Morris is a prime example: Big Cat Stadium, a state of the art facility for high school and college football. Is it really necessary? It sits there all winter, dormant.
The last Tiger football game I ever covered for the print media was in Henning. There I saw the totally typical high school field from the days before these fancy artificial turf places. Am I suggesting that Henning is just as good? That's not really the point. The point is that we should not be investing in elaborate resources for football at all. We should keep what we have and begin preparing to phase that out.
I saw the movie "Concussion" a few days ago on DVD. I checked it out from our Morris Public Library. I'll insert a plug here for the library: I am very impressed by the availability of reasonably current movies there. You might have to request it and wait a few days - no big deal. Watching the movie at home is preferable to seeing it at the Morris Theater. You can follow the dialogue better. If I'm going to write about the movie online, I am going to want to hear all the dialogue well.
The Morris Theater has historically had sound issues. I have always felt this was because of the sheer size of the place: it's hard to distribute high-quality sound over all the space. The last movie I saw at the Morris Theater was "Tropic Thunder." At present, my system of getting movies from the Morris library is 100 percent satisfactory. Again, kudos to our library.
Word is, our library director isn't going to be staying there much longer. I'm very saddened by that. These plans can always change, as we are learning with Jacqueline Johnson, UMM chancellor. Remember, Bud Grant came back to coach the Minnesota Vikings! There I go making a light reference to pro football. We are so imbued with images and the history of pro and college football.
Football did not have that kind of position in our culture when I was in elementary school. It was almost marginalized. My parents gave the impression that it was a foreboding thing, not to be admired, because of the obvious violence. We saw football enter the real mainstream of our culture in the mid to late 1960s. I would say that was because of TV tech advancements making the picture sharper. Football steadily became an absolute opiate in our culture.
The popularity meant that boys and young men were going to push themselves ever harder to get bigger, stronger and faster, so as to become heroes on the gridiron. I heard coaches at banquets implore their young charges to "lift weights in the off-season." The idea was to knock opposing players on their keister. What a Neanderthal activity.
It belongs in an earlier age, an age when football was consistent with getting young men ready for military service and combat. We possessed the common sense in that earlier time to be fully aware of the dangers of football. Even if those dangers were merely physical and not related to the brain, football was a sport that should have been discouraged.
I will repeat: Any sport that is too dangerous for girls is probably too dangerous for everyone. Maybe it's time we excise this one last "masculine" sport. It's not the way we think nowadays.
I will also repeat: Why can't our entertainment industry do more to erode the popularity of football? It seems the whole entertainment machine slows down and capitulates to football at football's prime times of the week. Those times themselves have expanded, as you all are aware. When I was young and football began its burgeoning trend, football was confined to some quite specific times of the week.
Consider this principle of marketing: scarcity or the perception of scarcity has a lot to do with the popularity of something. The market can get saturated. But is the football market saturated yet? It ought to be. Unfortunately, or tragically, football casts this incredible allure that we just can't back away from. The young men playing the sport, much bigger and faster than they once were, are punishing themselves horribly out there.
I am fortunate in that I never had the potential to play football in anything like a competent way. But what about all the kids who get sucked into this sad obsession called football? Logic demands that we withdraw from the pastime of playing and watching it. If people stop watching, the  boys will stop playing. We are culpable: us fans.
Some people will read this and want to gnash their teeth. So many of us want to gloss over or ignore football's unavoidable dangers. We have watched football with such glee over such a long time. Getting rid of an addiction can be a painful process involving denial. What would our Sunday afternoons be like without football? What about Saturday when the collegians play?
There is so much money involved. There is so much marketing. Towns that invest in these artificial turf fields are going to want to keep feeding the monster. What if the boys, emboldened by the new knowledge, watching the movie "Concussion" among other things, just start walking away? They could so easily find more productive channels for their energies and interests after school. They could be friends with their peers from other communities, those young men who in football would be their "enemies" on the field, feeding pathetic small town parochialism of the type we saw in the movie "Hoosiers" (Gene Hackman).
In the early '50s we accepted the undesirable model. We are well into a new digital, information-infused age in which major wars and football should be put aside as relics. We fight pinprick wars today and even those are sad. There was no conscription for the Iraq War, unless you want to count the involuntary participation of National Guardsmen. The National Guard? Why did we call on our Guardsmen to fight a foreign war? Today there's an ever-growing consensus that that whole mess was a mistake. Including the cost of treating wounded soldiers, the cost to us was something like $6 trillion.
Centuries from now, wars and football will be seen as sad curiosities from an earlier epoch in human history. The movie "Concussion" might be seen as a little quaint because it seemed to be walking a fine line: showing us the obvious about football while still acknowledging its hallowed place in our lives and culture.
Given the demonstrable facts about football, our only conclusion is that it must be phased out as fast as possible. If we stop watching, the kids will stop playing. Think about the kids.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Tigers of softball, baseball end 2016 road

The diamond sports are done for the 2016 season, for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Double-elimination can make things interesting in the post-season, although I can often get confused. You lose twice and then you're done.
The MACA softball girls had the fleeting exhilaration of beating New London-Spicer. Could they parlay that quality into subsequent games? Yes and no, as the Tigers split their next two tournament contests, before having the curtain come down on their season in a 10-7 loss to the Thunder Hawks of Montevideo, on Wednesday, June 1, at Marshall.
It seems a premature end to a a season that had so many highs: dominating wins, power bats etc. We might have expected more. Normally we expect the main challenge in the post-season to come from the teams way down south who seem to possess some mystical quality. Montevideo is generally not seen as in that category. But the T-Hawks had the tools to prevail in the June 1 game. So it's on to the summer months for Morris athletes, before the leaves start turning brown and we can look forward to volleyball. Remember last fall when the volleyball Tigers made state! Boffo.
 
Tigers 5, Windom 2
The first inning says it all in connection with this MACA softball win. We scored all five of our runs in the first inning. We played errorless ball. We scored the five runs on just three hits, while Windom had four hits. Windom committed two errors. This was one of two games the Tigers played on Tuesday, May 31, at Marshall.
Ashley Solvie connected for a two-run home run in the first inning. She had two RBIs. The other two MACA hits were by Lindsey Dierks and Madison Wevley.
The pitching department saw Solvie get the win and Brooke Gillespie the save. Solvie struck out a batter, walked one and gave up two hits in her four innings. Gillespie fanned a batter, walked one and gave up two hits in three innings of hurling. The losing pitcher was Faith Willard. Ellie Maricie also pitched for Windom. Willard's bat produced two hits.
 
Martin County West 4, Tigers 1
MACA dropped into the loser's bracket as a result of their Section 3AA loss to Martin County West. This was a winner's bracket semi-final game on May 31. Our bats were mostly quiet as we managed only two hits. Piper Gibson doubled and drove in the lone Tiger run in the fourth. Nicole Solvie had the other MACA hit. Karli Siegel scored our lone run.
Brooke Gillespie pitched like a trooper but was tagged with the loss. She fanned two batters, walked none and allowed eleven hits in her seven innings. She was out-dueled by Sierra Williamson of MCW. Williamson set down six Tiger batters on strikes. She walked two and gave up two hits in her seven innings.
MCW's Jessica Kilma had four hits in four at-bats. Jordan Gregory powered a double and a home run and drove in three runs. MCW scored two runs each in the third and fifth innings, while MACA plated its lone run in the fourth.
Our fielding was quite flawless: zero errors. MCW had two fielding miscues but they had other strengths to compensate. Surely hitting topped that list: eleven hits compared to the Tigers' two.
Alas, we were now in the loser's bracket and had no margin for failure. Failure occurred with that 10-7 loss at the hands of Monte. There would be no state tournament in the Tigers' script for 2016. There were plenty of successes along the way, to be sure. Plenty of memories to embrace from the diamond.
Now we'll start getting ready for fall sports. A key question: Will we see a drop-off in participation in football? Hopefully the answer will be "yes." I watched the movie "Concussion" with Will Smith a couple days ago on DVD.
 
Baseball: New London-Spicer 8, Tigers 5
The Wildcats of NL-Spicer always seem to be hovering out there as an obstacle for our MACA Tigers. It applies in baseball like in softball. The baseball Tigers came up against the Wildcats in loser's bracket play.
MACA fans were heartened by a strong start by their squad. The orange and black shot out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. But MACA would not score again over the next five innings. That hurt. The Wildcats began clawing away, first with a two-run third inning. Then the Wildcats made a big step forward with a four-run rally in the fifth. The Tigers kept languishing at bat, while NL-Spicer moved forward with a two-run seventh.
MACA managed a feeble one-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, which wasn't going to be enough. We lost 8-5. Season over. It seemed our offense was slumbering too much in the closing stages of the season.
NL-Spicer had a line score of eight runs, eleven hits and three errors. Fielding was certainly no problem for us, as we had zero errors. Our hit total was eight.
The winning pitcher was Will Roguske who fanned five Tiger batters while walking two and allowing four hits. Matt Spaulding pitched 2 1/3 innings for the winner.
Sean Amundson was tagged with the pitching loss for MACA. He worked 4 1/3 innings with a strikeout total of three and walk total of three. He gave up seven hits. Toby Sayles hurled for 2 2/3 innings and fanned five batters while walking two and allowing four hits.
Sayles handled the bat well, recording two hits and driving in a run. Brady Jergenson had a pair of safeties and drove in a run. Robert Rohloff's bat was good for two hits in three at-bats. Philip Messner had a hit and a run scored. Sean Amundson crossed home plate once. Ryan Dietz came through with a hit, plus he drove in a run and scored one.
Two NL-Spicer batters had three hits each: Wyatt White and Evan Haugen. John Perkins went two-for-five for the victor.
 
Baseball: Minnewaska 2, Tigers 0
Austin VerSteeg's name is a most familiar one for MACA sports followers. This Minnewaska Area Laker was a thorn in our side in basketball. His talents flourish in the spring too. VerSteeg tossed a no-hitter at the expense of our MACA Tigers, leading his Lakers to a 2-0 win on May 28 at 'Waska.
The Lakers were seeded No. 2 in Section 3AA-North, while our Tigers were No. 3. Our loss put us in the loser's bracket.
VerSteeg set down eight Tiger batters on strikes, while walking just two. Brady Jergenson held up the Tigers' pitching just fine. Brady fanned five Laker batters, but struggled with control some, walking six. He allowed just three hits in his six innings. One of the two Laker runs was unearned.
The Lakers scored one run each in the second and third. Those runs were scored by VerSteeg and Matthew Gruber. The three 'Waska hits were off the bats of Matthew McIver, Matthew Gruber and Justin Amundson. We hurt ourselves with three errors while the Lakers committed one.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trying to understand Summit Cemetery

I stopped out to Summit Cemetery yesterday (Tuesday) to see if I might remove the flag that I had placed in the ground next to my father's name on our family monument. I half expected it to be gone. I should have fully expected it to be gone. It was of course gone. I had placed it there Sunday morning. I also discovered that I had to wipe off a little bird excrement from our otherwise handsome monument.
I'll repeat: anyone visiting Summit Cemetery is welcome to use our bench monument to sit a spell. That's what I got it for.
The question is the extent to which visitors are even welcome at the cemetery. There continue to be two "no trespassing" messages at one of the entrances. One says "no trespassing" and the other says "trespassers will be prosecuted." So much for a visitor-friendly atmosphere.
I know, I know, our cemetery is located right next to a college, where we might expect the kids to cause problems in an immature way. Personally I don't think college kids are as inclined toward destructive behavior as they once were. Secondly, if any college student who chose to cross the cemetery, in a totally innocent way, were to actually get a trespassing citation from law enforcement, I think a judge would look down on it.
There is a fixture out there that was once subject to vandalism by youth who probably just didn't have enough to occupy their minds. I won't specify what the fixture is, because I don't want to give anyone any ideas. It got repaired and put back into place with some ceremony, and ever since it has sat there just fine - no further problems.
As for my flag, I do have a theory. I believe there is a veterans organization or its auxiliary that places flags around the cemetery, on the official vet markers that have a little hole for inserting the flag. And then I assume these people make the rounds at the end of Memorial Day weekend to retrieve all the flags. Am I correct?
Well, our family monument is not like an official vet marker. My father's service in World War II is specified on our monument: "USN WWII." He was a gunnery commander in the Pacific, very fortunate to have survived all that mayhem. I have written a blog post about Floyd Lange who was not so fortunate in the Pacific. His ship, the USS Luce, was attacked by kamikaze planes in the last stages of the war when the Japanese got desperate. I invite you to read the post:
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2014/06/floyd-lange-gave-last-full-measure-of.html
 
I had heard the name Floyd Lange for a long time when reporting on the Gold Star Mother/Sister recognition at the Memorial Day program. For almost my entire press career here, I covered those programs at the old elementary auditorium. I remember such a peaceful and soothing atmosphere as the people gathered at that auditorium, listening to Eleanor Killoran playing "It's a Grand Old Flag" on the piano, among other songs.
I buy my own flag each year because I assume we won't automatically get a flag, due to my father's monument not being an official vet marker (with that hole). I bought a package of two flags this year at Family Dollar for a price of $3. So I have a flag left for next year. But I sort of wish it wouldn't disappear so quickly. Why can't the flags remain for a week or two?
I hadn't been to our monument since last July. Last July I found it excruciatingly tempting to pull into a little patch of wide open ground, so as to reduce my mother's walking distance by one-half. My mom is 91 years old, set to turn 92 on June 8. I was sharply verbally reprimanded by a cemetery attendant who was standing about a block away. He couldn't take the trouble to just walk over to us to speak calmly. I subsequently had a little exchange with this individual who said: "We've had idiots drive all over the cemetery." He used the word "idiots" twice.
I contacted two people who I knew had some involvement with the cemetery: Jim Morrison and Bob Stevenson. I used email. I made repeated queries about cemetery parking policy or "etiquette." I couldn't get an answer from either. So finally I decided to bother Blaine Hill, city manager, with an email regarding this. I have known Blaine a long time, going back to when he coached VFW baseball. I once wrote a blog post about Blaine's father Bennie and his amazing service in WWII. Here's a link to that:
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2013/12/survivor-of-flaming-aircraft-bennie.html
 
Blaine, classy person that he is, answered and said the city had no connection to the cemetery. I searched for a possible Summit Cemetery home page on the Internet. I was hoping to find a list of the board, but no, couldn't find anything. So I'm still adrift in some confusion about policy, about whether visitors are even welcome at Summit Cemetery, and whether you're "donating" a flag if you place one in the ground.
I had always thought a cemetery was like a public park with a relaxed atmosphere, and welcoming of visitors. I have been disappointed to find this is not the case.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com