Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sands of time

You know how it seems that little kids receiving presents often seem more enthralled with the box and packaging than with the gift itself?

That thought came to mind today, when we celebrated granddaughter Lise's first birthday.

Madame X and I gave Lise a little plastic sandbox in the shape of a turtle. But, because today's weather was cool and rainy, we carried the sandbox inside. The bags of sand will be poured into the sandbox on a better day.

However, as this photo shows, the absence of sand didn't seem to bother Lise and her older sister Claire in the least.

Happy birthday, Lise!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's a gas

The highlight of our weekend -- and our spring -- was a family gathering involving all four of our children, their significant others, plus two granddaughters.

The older granddaughter likes to entertain as only a 3-year-old can do. She also is pretty forthright about what is going on with her -- as the video shows.

Truth and fiction of NFL's first pick

With the National Football League draft going prime time, sportswriters and bloggers are reflecting on the history of the draft.

If they go all the way back to the first draft, in 1936, they invariably mention Jay Berwanger, the subject of my next biography.

Berwanger was the first pick in the first NFL draft, selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, who immediately traded their rights to the University of Chicago star to the Chicago Bears. The legend is that Berwanger demanded $1,000 a game (actually, $20,000 for two years of service with a guaranteed contract) – roughly 10 times the going rate at the time – and that Bears owner George Halas refused. Embroiled in a contract dispute, Berwanger never played a down of professional football.

Reality is that Berwanger stated a salary figure that he knew was astronomical, especially during the Depression, not as a demand as much as a statement that he was not interested in playing pro football. The only “negotiation” in which Berwanger and Halas engaged was a brief exchange when they bumped into each other in a hotel lobby. There was no dispute, no holdout -- and no contract.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nice to have been in the running

I received word today that my book Ray Schalk: A Baseball Biography was not selected for the 2010 Larry Ritter Award of the Society for American Baseball Research. The award goes to the year's best book focusing on the Deadball Era (1900-1919).

The honor went to Robert Peyton Wiggins for The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs, which was published by McFarland (publisher of my Schalk and Red Faber biographies).

The Schalk biography was among the 10 or so finalists did not advance to the top three in the judging. Congratulations to Mr. Wiggins.

Though it would have been great, obviously, to have a book rank higher, it was nice to have a book nominated for the award.

I doubt that my next book will even be considered for this award. After all, it's a football biography.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What have I gotten myself into?

The rumors are true: I am participating in the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce's first Dancing with the Stars -- Dubuque Style.

On May 22, about 10 "celebrities" will dance with professional instructors (or their top students) in a charity event. Folks may "vote" for a contestant by donating money toward his or her selected charity. (My choice is Riverview Center.)

Being a contestant doesn't mean I can dance. Madame X and I took lessons about 20 years ago, but most of that is forgotten. I'm essentially starting from scratch.

Fortunately for me, my instructor is Jennifer Mulcahey, of Ballroom by Jennifer in Dubuque. She and her crew are donating their services toward this charitable event. I've had two lessons, and I'll just say that Jennifer is a very patient instructor.

Don't look for moves like those you see on the TV version of this event. I'm just hoping not to injure anyone.