Monday, May 31, 2010

Running in tribute -- times 2

I started off my holiday weekend by participating in the Grey Ribbon Crusade Walk/Run-A-Thon, a 5-kilometer race to honor the late Dubuque Senior High coach Jim Boughton and to help others in their fight against brain cancer.

Coach Boughton, 56, lost his six-month battle to brain cancer earlier this month. His death is a loss not only to his family and the Senior High community, but to the Dubuque running community overall.According to Jim Leitner's story in Sunday's TH, the event drew 496 runners, and that could make it the largest field for an inaugural race in Dubuque. That's a great tribute to Coach Boughton and everyone involved in organizing this race on relatively short notice.

The race started in the Mystique Casino parking lot and took runners along the Dubuque floodwall and back. I ran -- raced would not be the word for it -- the event with friend Dennis Healy, Jim's long-time colleague and friend. Dennis, immensely popular around Senior -- he was commencement speaker for the umpteenth time on Sunday -- had to expend extra energy acknowledging all the greetings directed his way during the event.

Dennis' retirement, just a few days away, means the loss of two popular distance running coaches and teachers from the Senior community.

That the race occurred one day before the 13th anniversary of my mother's death -- to brain cancer -- had me running in tribute to two special people.

Oil Spill Cam

Watch live streaming video from wkrg_oil_spill at

Oil spill cam from the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Streak of perfection

For only the second time ever, Major League Baseball has had two perfect games in the same season. And, like the other occasion, in 1880, they occurred in the same month.

May 2010 is when Oakland's Dallas Braden and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (pictured) recorded 27 consecutive outs to notch only the 19th and 20th perfect games in major league history. Some 130 years ago, Lee Richmond of Worcester and Providence's Monte Ward threw perfect games just five days apart in June 1880.

The subject of my latest published biography, Ray Schalk, was the catcher the fifth perfect game ever. On April 30, 1922, Charlie Robertson, making only his fourth major league start, blanked Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers.

MLB, which has gone years and even decades between perfect games, has now seen three perfect games in less than a year. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox had one last July. Note that after Robertson (with Schalk's help) threw a perfect game in 1922, the next perfecto did not come until Don Larsen's historic performance in the World Series of 1956 -- a span of 34 years. This span was less than 34 days.

Here is the list of perfect games, and a list naming the catchers with a hand in history.

Photo: Associated Press

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Video evidence

To refute any doubts that I did participate as a contestant in the "Dancing with the Stars: Dubuque Style," here is video evidence from the evening of May 22, 2010. (Video by Mediacom Channel 22.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Raising the stakes

I learned on Thursday that my employer will match donations ('votes") for my participation in Dancing with the Stars: Dubuque Style, dollar for dollar, up to $1,000.

All vote donations for me go to Riverview Center -- plus I don't have to dance as well to "win!"

Send the pledge to me or visit Don't delay. The event Saturday night, May 22, at the Grand River Center.

Thanks Jim and Telegraph Herald.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Higher than face value

Thanks to Google Alerts, I receive e-mail notices and web links to mentions of the subjects of my past and future books, Red Faber, Ray Schalk and Jay Berwanger.

Some alerts tag blog references. Many of those are comments by supposed experts categorizing Schalk as a terrible pick for the Hall of Fame because of his .253 career batting average -- ignoring, apparently, that he was a long-time star because of his defense.

Anyway, the alerts also notify me when memorabilia or, occasionally, my Faber or Schalk biographies hit ebay or a blog.

Today I learned that someone is trying to sell copies my Schalk biography for $33.36 (plus $4 for shipping). Thing is, the book lists for $29.95 (plus $4 shipping) from the publisher's web site.

Quite the bargain. I'd autograph and ship the book for less than $37.36.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ray Schalk Field re-dedicated

On a bitterly cold and windy Saturday morning, Litchfield (Ill.) staged its annual Little League parade to open the 2010 season.

Ceremonies included re-dedication of Ray Schalk Fields, named after the Hall of Famer who grew up in Litchfield (and was the subject of my latest biography). I was listed as the "keynote" speaker, and I had to ad lib somewhat. I couldn't hold my script and the microphone without having one or the other blow away. (Yes, it was THAT windy.)

The ceremony brought to Litchfield about 18 members of the Schalk family. The baseball star's grandson Jim Schalk (pictured), with his wife, Laura, drove all the way from Florida to be there. Other Schalks traveled the 250 miles from the Chicago area.

After the unveiling of the plaque to honor Ray Schalk, we adjourned to the new Maverick restaurant, where I presented my slideshow and visited with family members and folks from the Litchfield community. Some of the relatives had lost track of each other through the years, so they had some catching up to do.

Despite the February-like weather, it was a great day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pizza and ribs in 2-mile-high city

Going to Colorado this summer (as we are)? Check out Leadville and my brother-in-law's family's pizza restaurant, High Mountain Pies. Best pizza (and ribs) anywhere! Leadville, the highest municipality in North America (its elevation is above 10,000 feet), is an old mining area that's now a great place for visitors.

Their place just received a great write-up in the Denver Post.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Play Ball! And read the fine print

The Major League Baseball season is entering its second month, so I am remiss in not posting this cautionary note earlier.

See the ad above? Major League Baseball posts this -- and others like it -- on team pages. "Watch Every Regular Season Cubs Game Online." Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Especially for folks who travel or might choose to not have cable or satellite TV.

Look at the ad again. Toward the bottom, take note: "Blackout and other restrictions apply." Those are critical words, especially when you learn -- as I did, the hard way -- just how expansive the MLB blackout zones are.

Here in Iowa, all six Midwest teams are blacked out: both Chicago teams, St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Minnesota.

Last winter, I signed up for the service. Yes, I didn't read the fine print, figuring the blackouts were probably just when the Cubs were involved in a national game. Mistake. I even saw a couple of Cubs spring training games online. But once the regular season started, so did the blackouts.

It took a lot of effort -- and not giving up when MLB said, "Sorry, no refunds" -- before I finally got my money back.

This online service could be great if you live far -- very, very far -- from the home city of your favorite team. However, even if you are a state or two away, you could be blacked out and ripped off.

Baseball fans, beware!

2-for-1 opportunity

I received a dinner invitation Saturday evening, which presented a couple of opportunities:
1) To get out my bicycle and try to prepare for Dubuque's Bike to Work Week (May 17-21),
2) To spend time with the cutest granddaughters in the world.