The Glove

LittleDaveGlove[My dad's been gone for more than five years, but as we build toward his favorite sporting event of the year—the World Series—I can't seem to stop thinking about him. Here's something I wrote for a Father's Day gift a few years ago. He loved it. I hope you will, too.]

I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was in the second grade and had received my first report card containing nothing but A’s. Perhaps one of the reasons I remember that card so well is that, sadly, it didn’t get lost in the shuffle with many other such report cards.

In any event, my parents were appropriately impressed with my accomplishment and told me how proud they were. And that would have—and should have—been more than enough. They’d encouraged their three children to do well in school, corrected fractured grammar when we uttered it, helped us with long division and multiplication tables, and generally taught us that education was a good thing.

So when Dad asked me to go with him for a ride to the store after dinner, I had no idea that it would be anything more than just a pleasant father-son drive. Even after we arrived, I didn’t know why we were there. But I must say that my interest piqued when we got to what I considered to be the store’s Mecca—the Sporting Goods Department.

The sights, smells and sounds of a good sporting goods department in the pre-aluminum-bat days of my youth were almost overwhelming to a second-grader. And I think it still affected Dad the same way.

It couldn’t be said that we were rabid sports fans in the sense that we loved every sport and every team with equal intensity. In fact, in many respects, we were just casual fans. We didn’t really have a strong interest in football, golf or tennis. And we didn’t even know anyone who’d ever been to an auto race.

But we did share two great passions in the sporting world—the Boston Celtics and anything to do with baseball.

It was easy to love the Celtics. They were the best team in the world, and they played basketball the way it was meant to be played—with passion, skill and ego-free teamwork.  The Celtics also had Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones and John Havlicek. What’s not to love?

It was easy to love baseball too. We loved baseball because . . . well, because it was baseball. It truly was the national pastime then. I remember sneaking a recently invented transistor radio into school to hear the World Series (back in the days when the Series was actually played before the sun went down so 10-year-olds could be awake for the final out). And, in days when video games were 35 years away from being invented, baseball was what kids did for fun after school or on Saturdays. It was what I did and it was what Dad had done.

He was from Pennsylvania and a lifelong Phillies fan—a hearty, long-suffering breed, to say the least. Dad had taught me practically everything I knew about baseball. I have vivid memories of him showing me how to turn my shoulder away from the hitter in my pitching motion, then how to “push off” the rubber, take a big stride and “follow through” as I delivered the ball toward the plate, remembering to finish in a good fielding position (as if anyone would ever hit one of my pitches). I also remember him teaching me to hook slide and that a drag bunt can only be executed by a left-handed hitter who “drags” the ball with him as he runs to first base. Regrettably, a sports commentator I heard recently must not have had a father to teach him that.

Dad usually spent time with my older brother and me—playing catch with us and telling us how to field ground balls or get our hips and arms into our swing—after he’d put in a long day at the office. But he seemed to always find time.

It was partly because he loved baseball, but mostly because he loved his sons, and his daughter, too, when she wanted to take a few swings.

So, it shouldn’t have been that surprising when he and I found ourselves at the store, in the sporting goods department, standing in front of a display rack of beautiful-looking, wonderful-smelling baseball gloves. All were a rich, dark tan and had leather engraved with names like Wilson, Spalding, Rawlings and MacGregor.

I was in a near Nirvana-like trance when he asked, “Which one do you like?” Of course, I liked them all, but I had been immediately drawn to one in what was as close to love at first sight as a second grader is likely to experience.

It was simply beautiful, the MacGregor GC27 Ernie Broglio Professional Model, with the Flex Pad and Natural Ball Pocket. And it was, of course, Hand Lasted. All the best gloves were Hand Lasted. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was good.

It fit my hand perfectly and, when I brought it up to my face, the smell of the new leather was intoxicating. I loved it.

“Let’s get it,” he said.  “Sometimes when you do things like making straight A’s, good things happen to you.” That was all he said. Or at least it’s all I remember, because I was so excited I just couldn’t take in anything else.

I couldn’t believe it. A new glove!  I was too young to know for sure, but it had to rank right up there with a new car on a 16th birthday or having the guy from TV’s “The Millionaire” ring your doorbell and hand you a check. A new glove. Wow. A new glove.

It was a simple, yet very powerful, lesson. He hadn’t dangled the glove out to me as a prize to be sought or even something to be earned. He had said absolutely nothing about it in advance. No bribes, no enticements. He and my mother expected their three kids to do well in school because we were capable of doing well and because it would help us have a better chance in life if we did well in school. Period.

But the glove was his way of showing that if you do the right thing just because it’s the right thing, there may be some unexpected, wonderful consequences. Not a bad lesson to teach a second grader.

Several years later, more than 30 in fact, I was in another sporting goods store, this one in San Antonio. Once again, after looking at golf clubs and running shoes, I found myself standing in front of a rack of baseball gloves. This display didn’t have quite the same effect on me as the rack in the second grade (too many red and blue gloves for my purist’s taste), but I still loved the feel and smell of the leather.

I looked the gloves over and tried on a few, eventually being drawn to “the one,” just as I had been with my dad so many years before. This one was a Louisville Slugger Eric Davis model LPS24D Players Series made of Genuine Steerhide Leather with Bruise-Gard Padding.

I don’t know why I did it. I was approaching my 40th birthday. I had no tryouts scheduled with any major league teams. I didn’t even belong to a church league softball team. But I bought the glove. I had to have it.

If I hadn’t been with my girlfriend when I bought my glove, I’d probably explain my totally irrational purchase by calling it a “guy thing.” But she wanted one, too. So we both got new gloves.

Then, I thought about Dad. He was over 70 then, but I knew he’d love getting a new glove just as much as I did, and he’d have just as much practical use for it—no tryouts on his calendar either.

But this wasn’t about being practical. It was about getting a new baseball glove. No other explanation required. So I got him one, too. He said it’s the best glove he ever had. So was the one he got me.

Now, at 87, he’s the one with the pain-free arm, and I’m the one nursing a sore rotator cuff (the likely result of trying to whip an out-of-shape body into condition before a milestone reunion). And even though it’s been a while since we took our gloves out to play catch, the few times we did were more than enough practical reason to have bought them. Or maybe it was just the icing on the cake.

Thanks, Dad.  For the glove—and for everything from then ‘till now.

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Here’s the Ultimate Weapon Against Evil

IMG_8536I have some thoughts on the general topic of gun control, but I don’t want to get into that here. What I do want to say is that it saddens me that every time there’s a high profile shooting in America, the solutions proposed by many in government and on social media invariably focus on the particular weapons used and never seem to mention instilling character, godliness and a reverence for life in our children. When was the last time you heard any TV talking heads mention the Bible as the obvious place to start changing hearts and changing behavior?

In spite of the fact that early schools in this country were founded to teach students to read the Bible (“Truth for Christ and the Church” was the founding motto for Harvard in 1636)–-in the belief that a literate, spiritually grounded populace would lead to a more civil society–-suggesting adding a morning devotion to a kids’ school day would be met with outrage today. “Separation of church and state!” Yes, the go-to response when those who’ve never read the Constitution try to tell the rest of us what’s in it.

FYI, the “separation” isn’t in the Constitution. It wasn’t a factor in our lives until an activist Supreme Court in the early ’60s turned the 1st Amendment on its head and defined it exactly opposite of what the Founders intended. And God has been pushed farther and farther from the public square ever since. Which, at long last, is all to say . . . parents, read this book with your kids. A society full of people doing that will have far fewer tragic occasions leading us all to scratch our heads and ask “why?”

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Parents, Save Those Clippings

#TBT I was at my parents’ house a few years ago and my mother handed me an envelope containing this frayed newspaper clipping detailing a highlight of my athletic career. She likely saved it because there were so few “glory days” in my sporting life that she wanted to keep a tangible record of each of them. I was a high school freshman in Farmington, Maine, when I recorded a game-winning, walk-off single that kept our unblemished record alive en route to the district baseball championship. Funny, I hadn’t thought about it in years. But when I saw the clipping, the memories of that time came flooding back so clearly.ScarlettSingle
Two outs. Bottom of the last inning. Score tied. First baseman Bill Hodgkins standing on third. I’m in the on-deck circle getting ready to walk to the plate. Our outstanding coach, the now-deceased Red Dean, comes up to me, puts an arm on my shoulder, looks me square in the eye and says, “You’re gonna win this for us.” Picture Gene Hackman in “Hoosiers” telling Ollie “and you WILL make the second one.”
As I walked to the batter’s box, I looked out over the chain link fence to the left-field parking lot. And I saw my dad’s car pull in. He was president of Farmington State College and it wasn’t easy for him to get away in the middle of the afternoon to come see a baseball game. But he had come as soon as he could. I’m not sure now what the count was when I saw a knee-high pitch coming over the inside half of the plate, but I put a nice smooth swing on it and saw the ball lift over the short stop’s head and land about 30 feet in front of the left fielder, who had no chance of throwing Bill out at the plate. It wasn’t a solid hit; I caught it on the handle. But it was enough. And what a feeling! My teammates—mostly seniors and juniors—were patting me on the back and jumping up and down with me. Coach Dean was right there with them.
And as the excitement was starting to fade, I had just one thought: I wish I could’ve seen Dad in the car when the ball made it out of the infield. I never asked him about it, but I KNOW he was sitting there alone in his car, clapping as loud as he could . . . banging the steering wheel with his hands and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Atta Boy! Atta Boy!” God bless Mom for saving that yellowed clipping. And God bless Dad for being a part of such a great memory. Parents, save those clippings.
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The NFL’s Goodell Chooses Thugs Over Patriotism . . . Shameful

Goodell

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I’d Rather Be Hung By Strangers, Part II

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(This piece was first posted in January, 2014, but recent events with the GOP “leadership” in Washington, have made it beyond appropriate to update and reprise it.)

It’s one of the most powerful scenes in the classic American western Lonesome Dove as Jake Spoon is about to be hanged by his buddies, Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, for falling in with some murdering thieves to get through Indian country “without getting scalped.” But as Gus tells Jake, who, with noose on neck, sits astride his horse under the hanging tree, “You ride with outlaws, you die with outlaws. I’m sorry it’s us, Jake—I wish it had fallen to somebody else.” Jake responds simply, “Well, hell, boys. I’d damn sight rather be hung by my friends than by a bunch o’ damn strangers.”

 

As much as I love that wonderful movie, which extols traditional Old West American virtues like honor, justice, strength, chivalry, consequences for behavior and simple right and wrong in nearly every scene, I have to disagree with Jake’s view of his executioners. If I’m going to be done in, I don’t want it to be at the hands of my friends.

Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening in Washington where Speaker John Boehner and others in the Republican leadership appear unwilling to really fight to save our country’s future, fiscal and otherwise. In November of 2010, the voters kicked the buttocks of liberal Democrats from coast to coast, in state houses, governors’ offices and the U.S. Congress. The election sent an unmistakable message that “we the people” have had enough: enough profligate spending, enough demonizing of the achievers in our society who allegedly are not paying “their fair share,” enough lies about Tea Party “haters and racists,” enough of the war on domestic energy sources, enough of Obamacare—or, as it should more accurately be called, The American Health Care Destruction Act—and enough of liberal contempt for the U. S. Constitution.

The 2010 election gave the House a duty call from the American people to resist Barack Obama and his socialist agenda. But by 2011, the Republican spines that should have been rock steady with resolve were turning to linguini as Speaker Boehner acquiesced to the Democrats in every aspect of the “fiscal crisis” discussions—from the non-existent spending cuts to the raising of the debt ceiling. But it didn’t end there.

Boehner abandoned a traditional cornerstone of conservatism—the belief that Americans are taxed enough—by all but kissing Obama’s ring and asking, “How much in new taxes do you need, master? I’ll get you whatever you require.” Then he led a committee purging of patriotic House members who had the gall to not vote the party line—which is becoming more liberal every day—and, instead, vote according to the conservative principles their constituents sent them to Washington to protect.

In early 2013, Boehner proclaimed that his top legislative priority for 2013 was—wait for it—to pass some form of immigration reform (aka amnesty). This at a time when we still had a backbreaking national debt; sky-high unemployment; the administration openly, brazenly, criminally shredding the Constitutional rights of American citizens on a daily basis; terrorists successfully killing us at home and abroad; the Middle East exploding; anger in America nearing the boiling point; and Obamacare becoming the national “train wreck” so many of us knew it would be. Yet John Boehner’s top priority for the year was to help bi-partisan traitors in the Senate pass legislation giving enough current (and future) illegal aliens voting rights to ensure that socialist Democrats will rule in America for decades . . . or until America is totally destroyed, whichever comes first. And, with the recent hire of Rebecca Tallent, who has worked with Sen. John McCain and had a role in drafting the 2006 and 2007 immigration bills providing a pathway to legal status for some illegal immigrants, Boehner makes it clear he is still willing to alienate a huge voting block of traditional conservatives in hopes of gaining a miniscule number of new Hispanic voters.

He also championed the disastrous budget deal co-authored by Paul Ryan which raises discretionary spending above $1 trillion for 2014 and 2015 and reneges on $63 billion of sequester cuts. Its $28 billion in projected deficit reduction over the next decade (planned cuts that far in the future almost never happen) pales in comparison with the $680 billion deficit piled up in 2013 alone. Not to mention raising taxes, particularly on airplane passengers. Note to Speaker Boehner: WE HAVE NO MONEY and can’t afford this budget monstrosity.

And, of course, the budget deal locks in spending for The Affordable Care Act—or as it accurately could have been named: The American Health Care Destruction Act of 2010—ensuring that the worst parts of Obamacare will continue to devastate millions of Americans. Tea Partiers and other conservatives—led by the heroic efforts of Ted Cruz—pushed hard and long in 2013 to get their representatives to fight to defund Obamacare, while Boehner was coerced into reluctantly going along with that opposition . . . once.

But his days of cooperating with conservative groups were short-lived. Boehner’s made it clear to the world that he’s casting his lot with the establishment GOP, the Chamber of Commerce and other big business power brokers while taking dead aim at the same Tea Party that gave him his majority and speakership in 2010. As recently as December, Boehner—referencing the Tea Party’s unyielding support of defunding Obamacare in 2013 and their opposition to the new budget deal–slammed conservative groups saying, “They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous.”

No, Mr. Speaker, what’s ridiculous is knowing our President and his treasonous cronies are intentionally dismantling our beloved America while you, rather than upholding your oath and fighting like a lion along-side those of us trying to stop him, are raking Constitution-loving American patriots over the coals. If John F. Kennedy were around to write an updated version of his Profiles in Courage today—focusing just on you and other House members this time—the entire book would be about two pages long. You, sir, are a coward.

Barack Obama may succeed in his quest to bring America to her knees. But seeing him abetted by someone who’s supposed to be fighting for the good guys is infuriating. Jake Spoon might have preferred being destroyed by his “friends.” But it turns my stomach.

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“Your Time’s Up, Mister!”

968full-dolly-partonSeveral years ago, I spoke with Dolly Parton for the first time, during a phone interview about her acclaimed Imagination Library reading program for Tennessee kids. It was a long day of interviews for Dolly, as she did one phone interview after another, talking with writers and radio personalities all across the nation. I had been told in advance that I would have five minutes with her, and no more. So I tried to ask questions I knew she wouldn’t be asked 100 more times that day, while still getting the nuts and bolts of what her innovative program was all about. We talked about The Little Engine That Could and how that never-give-up spirit has been a hallmark of her own up-from-poverty success story.

When we had chatted for about 4 1/2 minutes, I asked another quick question, which she answered just as quickly with a warm laugh. Then I took a chance and said, “I think that’s about all of my five minutes . . . unless you’ve got time for one more quick one.” She laughed out loud and said, “Your time’s up, mister!” And I laughed, too. Because I knew I’d agreed to just five minutes; she knew we’d just reached the five minute mark; and it was, “Nice talkin’ to you . . . buh-bye.” I loved it. Even after having subsequent in-person interviews with her that lasted 30-45 minutes or more, I still love the memory of being told, “Your time’s up, mister!”

While I’m quite thankful that my thoughts of Dolly Party never lead me to think about Barack Obama, I must confess that his activities since Donald Trump was sworn in have led me to think about that long-ago five-minute conversation with Dolly. The reason has nothing to do with whether you’re a fan of Trump, Obama or neither. But it does have to do with the long-accepted tradition that when one American president leaves office, he retires from the spotlight to give his successor an opportunity to do his (and someday, her) thing without being second-guessed at every turn by the person who just had 4-8 years to accomplish as much as possible.

Barack Obama said during his presidency that “America has one president at a time and one administration at a time” and that, once he left office, he would only speak out when “core values” were at stake. Of course, he also said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If  you like your plan, you can keep your plan. And the average family of four will see health care premiums drop by $2500 per year.” And “Benghazi was caused by a horrible video.” So, did we really have any right to expect that he would honor his commitment to let Trump do his job without interference from the man Trump replaced? Apparently not.

On Jan. 30, Obama denounced President Trump’s temporary travel ban from six predominantly Muslim countries. He’s also attacked GOP efforts to fix his disastrous “health care” program. And he’s criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from the bogus Paris climate agreement. Obama has even embarked on a world tour that obviously shadows Trump’s visits with foreign leaders. As chronicled by Fox’s Lou Dobbs, Obama has met with the former prime ministers of both Britain and Italy. And he met with Germany’s Angela Merkel in May, just hours before her meeting with President Trump. Obama met with South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, just three days after the South Korean leader met with Trump at the White House. More recently, Obama “concidentally” showed up at the G-20 summit in Germany, where President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin met for the first time.

Violating every established protocol and traditional courtesy regarding how a former president treats his successor, Barack Obama has done as much to disrupt Donald Trump’s presidency as possible. Yes, Obama had eight years to do as much good or harm as he wanted. But, in his mind, that just wasn’t enough.

While I’m confident Dolly Parton would be too nice to ever say anything to Barack Obama about his despicable post-presidency behavior, I’m not. So, Mr. Obama, on behalf of millions of people who are thrilled that you are no longer in office and want to see the new guy have the same opportunities you were given. . . please GO THE HELL AWAY.

Your time’s up, mister.

 

 

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Will Patriots Also Protest Against GOP Socialism?

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Prayers for victims? Of course. Then destroy the slime who killed them.

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Well, GOP, We’re Waiting for You to Keep Your Word

HouseLiars

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Other Airlines Rush to Capitalize on United’s PR Nightmare

AirlineSlogans

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