At the suggestion of a daily reader, some weekly observations as a new Press Pros feature…what we see in sports (and other pursuits), and how things have changed.
A long-time reader, Tom Killilea, wrote to us recently sharing a regular feature idea for the site – as a way to address the changing perspectives in sports by our veteran writing staff.
“I would think your guys would be well-equipped to compare past and present,” he said.
He also asked about how long we were going to use the 10 year anniversary logo, pictured at the left, seeing as how we’re rapidly coming up on our 12th year.
Interesting suggestion, Tom, at least in the short term. So here goes with a pilot effort, Signs of The Times…and we’ll do our best to share more in future weeks. Greg Hoard, Hal McCoy, Greg Billing, Steve Blackledge, Bruce Hooley and Mark Znidar have all pledged to weigh in.
As for the logo, we’re on that, too.
I chuckled last week when I read that Dodger manager Dave Roberts was mad about being ejected by umpire Angel Hernandez over a pair of calls he made in a recent Dodgers-Brewers game.
After Hernandez ruled Chris Taylor went around on a check swing from first base, Roberts was ejected and came out of the dugout to voice his displeasure. He not only took issue with Hernandez’s ruling on Taylor’s swing, but also a balk call on pitcher Jimmy Nelson in the previous inning.
“I didn’t agree with the earlier balk call with Nelson, and then right there, I’m in the third base dugout so I don’t have a great angle, but it was pretty clear to me from the backside that C.T. didn’t go around,” Roberts explained.
He went on.
“I just think we all need to be held accountable (umpires included), and I felt he missed it.”
Mother Mary comfort me….(Let It Be, The Beatles, 1970). Accountability over balls and strikes? And what, for instance, would be the consequences for calling a balk, or ‘strike’ on a check swing?
Given my years of umpiring minor league baseball I have some experience on the subject. And Dave Roberts reminded of one particular incident that occurred in the old AAA American Association in 1980 involving Indianapolis manager Jim Beauchamp.
During a three-game series with Oklahoma City, Beauchamp was ejected the night before by my partner working the plate…over a check swing call. Beauchamp didn’t have a very good relationship with some umpires because he had a bad habit of reminding you of what happened yesterday, a cardinal sin in baseball.
The next night I was calling balls and strikes when Beauchamp brought his lineup card to home plate before the game. He nodded, handed me his lineup and roster, and then immediately started in on the check swing call from the night before…and I immediately threw him out.
“What the *#$% hell?” he bellowed. “You didn’t make the call and I didn’t say a word to you. Why the #*$^ did you throw me out?”
“Because I’m working the plate tonight and you’re a distraction,” I answered. “I don’t like distractions.”
“Well you can’t throw me out for that,” he demanded, throwing his hands in the air; and ultimately he appealed a fine levied on him by league president Joe Ryan.
Two weeks later Ryan called me to the league office when my crew was working a series in Wichita, Kansas.
“I have Mr. Beauchamp’s letter of appeal here,” said Ryan, peering through his Coke-bottle thick glasses. “I’m denying it. Good response. I don’t like distractions, either.”
But imagine that happening today. Back then the officials on the field represented the league and were the ‘official’ first line of administration regarding all game activities and disputes. And unless you came to work drunk there was no talk about demands for accountability.
Fast forward forty years and official authority on the field is that which comes through a headset from New York. I don’t know how MLB top cop Joe Torre is going to respond, or whether Angel Hernandez will have to take some online course in sensitivity, accountability, and anger management.
But back in the day…I know how Joe Ryan responded. He sent you a bill for $100!
About a month ago we received word that former Press Pros outdoors contributor Tom Cappell had passed away after a short illness. He was 78.
Tom took over those duties during the winter of 2018 following the passing of long-time friend and our original outdoors writer Jim Morris, of Troy, in 2018.
I found some photos this week from Montana that reminded me of Cappell, and one of his first submissions to Press Pros, entitled, Go West Young Man…If You Want To Hunt (Pheasants). His premise was you have to go to where there’s more land, and pheasants, than people if you want to be successful.
And he was right. The enclosed photo is that of a ranch that I hunted this past December on the Montana/North Dakota border and it clearly supports Cappell’s theory that where birds can live without the encroachment of civilization they’ll flourish in numbers.
I, along with friends from Minneapolis, have hunted this area for years. And if you can fathom it, the picture shows just a part of 50,000 acres owned and operated by one family. We hunted there for three days, saw more birds than we could count, and never saw another hunter. Try doing that in Ohio.
One of my friends wore one of those ‘fitbits’ on his arm that measures distance walked, and at the end of three days it said 32 miles.
Try doing that…anywhere.
And if you do, wear comfortable boots.