Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Golfing History-In Prince Edward County
The Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this year. George Cumming was a popular pro and teacher at the Toronto Golf Club, and he was elected as the first president of the organization.
In 1988, Lou Garrison won the CPGA Seniors’ Championship in London, Ontario. That title was certainly the highlight of the career for a man who had learned the game of golf in Picton, Ontario.
“Louie”, as he was known to all of his friends, was not born with a golf club in his hands. He took up the game in his teens, likely after finishing his chores on the family farm. His father was a cattle drover, and started the auctioneering business at the Picton Auction Barn. “Louie” also worked in the family business for years, but his first love was golf.
He lost the Picton Club Championship in 1962 to a young ball striker named John Lipson, nineteen years old at the time; however, Lou did go on to win three club championships. Another of Garrison’s playing partners from those days was Joe Skratt.
Joe vividly remembers those days. In fact, Skratt was with the Picton Gazette at the time, and photographed Garrison and Lipson at the conclusion of the club final. “Fred Purcell was the pro in Picton at that time, and he took Lou under his wing. Above all, he taught Lou some of the finer aspects of the game, including self control,” Joe told me recently while reminiscing about those days. “Lou decided at that time that he was going to make a career out of golf. I believe that John Lipson gave him the impetus to do it.”
Garrison was fifty-one when he won the Canadian Championship. For years, Moe Norman had held the crown. But other well-known golfers have also had their names engraved on the trophy: Bob Panasik from Windsor, Al Balding from Mississauga, Ken Girard from London, and Bob Rose from Waterdown, to name a few. At the time of his victory, Lou was playing out of the Sutton Creek Golf Club.
With his win at London, Garrison realized that he had an exemption for the Senior British Championship. He phoned the secretary at Turnberry in Scotland, and was delighted to find that he had earned the berth to play. He was joined by Harold Hambleton, a long-time friend and fellow pro.
Lipson recalled Garrison’s trip to Scotland. “Louie fired a 69 as his opening round. He talked to us about the fact that his name was on the leader board with all of the greats of the game. Gary Player remarked that Louie had a wonderful swing.” Garrison’s final rounds did not go as well, but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. His quote from the Toronto Star, just before he headed to Turnberry: “I’m going to work hard, and then come back and try for my card on the U. S. seniors’ tour. I’ve been working hard for three years. And now it is starting to pay off.”
Hambleton and Garrison met in 1968 when they were both assistant pros at Rosedale Golf Club in Toronto. Shortly thereafter, Louie met Toronto business magnate E. P. Taylor who convinced him to work at Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. John Lipson recalled that Garrison was far ahead of his time. “Louie introduced video as a golf pro. He could analyze a client’s swing, and demonstrate his teaching techniques with video. It was unheard of at the time.”
Sadly, Garrison was felled by cancer before he could really get untracked on the Seniors’ circuit. He passed away in June, 1992.
Joe Skratt and John Lipson still bang the ball around at the Picton Golf Club, currently celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the additional nine holes to complement the original nine. I am certain that once in a while, perhaps quietly, each might mumble over a lipped putt, “Louie would have sunk that one!”
July 26, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
The Kids at Ivor Wynne Stadium
For those of you who recognize the name of the stadium, I am sure you can hear echoes of “Oskee Wee Wee” faintly in the distance. There were manly cheers for the Hamilton Tiger Cats last Saturday, as they demolished the winless Saskatchewan Roughriders. The final score was 33 to 3. The Ticats emerged from the game with their first win of the season, and Coach Marcel Bellefeuille was quite pleased.
“It isn’t so much the victory,” he told me after the game, “but the process. If we stick to our plan, and we execute well, but lose, I can be satisfied.” He was beaming from ear to ear as he chatted with the Ticat faithful on the field. I had the distinct feeling that he was savouring the victory, just a little.
Almost seventy players, coaches, parents, and football fans from the Belleville Minor Football League attended the game. Most went home happy with the result. The young fans were also thrilled when they were invited to go on the playing field after the game, and meet the players.
The entire Tiger Cat squad assembled in various locations on the field, and entertained the fans for at least half an hour. They signed autographs. They posed for photographs. They chatted with all of their fans.
Michael Patterson has just completed Grade Seven at Tyendinaga Public School. He is, however, a seasoned veteran on the football field. Next year he will play in his third and final season for the Belleville Club Bears. He told me he plays weak side linebacker, but also plays on the special teams. “I have blocked a few convert attempts this year,” he told me after the game. “I also really like the contact in the game, and the control you have on defence.”
He said that he kept a special eye on Dave Stala and Stevie Baggs of the Tiger Cats. When I mentioned to him that he was just about as tall as Arland Bruce III, he quipped, “Maybe I can take over for him!” He really enjoys watching Bruce, and was disappointed that Bruce did not play. Although Bruce has been under the microscope lately for a variety of reasons, he was most hospitable with the fans.
Patterson said he had a terrific day. He said that he is “first and foremost” a football guy, and that he plays two-handed touch at school.
The stadium in Hamilton is located in the heart of the city. I headed to the upper levels, and was impressed with the panorama. The view is dominated by the brown and olive drab buildings and roof tops, and the stacks at all of the steel works. Scattered amongst the houses of all of the steel workers are the domes and steeples of their places of worship. Brilliant gold, seasoned copper, almost all topped with crosses.
In the distance are the sails of boats in the Hamilton Harbour. The Skyway Bridge is barely visible above the East Side stands.
The attendance was announced at 22 245, somewhat disappointing. Many Tiger Cat fans missed a great show by the home team. Running back Marcus Thigpen had an outstanding game. He gave the Tiger Cats excellent field position in the first half, returning kicks for great yardage.
After the game he told me “It’s just a win. But a win is a win.” When asked if there had been extra pressure since the Ticats had been winless up to this point in the season, he added “In this business, there is always pressure. We compensated for the fact that two of our best players were not in the lineup. It shows the depth that we have.”
The Tabbies fly to British Columbia to take on the Lions this Friday night. The Riders have the dubious honour of heading to Montreal for their next game. From the frying pan into the fire!
All in all, a great excursion for the football players from the Quinte Region.
July 17, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
At the All Star Break 2011
The crème de la crème of Major League baseball players has assembled in Phoenix, Arizona, for the annual all star break. Festivities got under way Monday night with the Home Run Derby.
Players work their way through various rounds until they face the best from the game in a head-to-head confrontation. On Monday night, the New York Yankees' exciting second baseman, Robinson Cano, entered the final against Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox. Yet another classic Yankees-Red Sox confrontation.
Cano did not have to search too far to find a decent pitcher for the contest. His father Jose was there for his son. They hail from San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic. There have literally been dozens of All Star baseball players from the same community in the Dominican, about an hour from Santo Domingo.
Jose Cano had a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros, hurling six games before spending several years in baseball in the minors. He has been pitching to his son for almost 29 years. “Robbie” is 28.
Robinson, who is named after Jackie Robinson, wears number 24 as a tribute to the great Brooklyn Dodger who broke the colour barrier in baseball. Jackie wore number 42; however, that number has been retired from baseball. For Cano, 24 was the next best thing.
Robbie entered the Yankee household via the “non-drafted, free agent” route as a teenager in 2001. He spent the majority of his first season with the Gulf Coast Yankees, hitting .230 with 3 home runs in 57 games. He got the call to the Big League Yankees in 2005, and has never looked back. He truly has surpassed all expectations of most professional baseball observers, quietly attaining All Star status.
He now has more than one thousand hits, a third of the total of his Yankee teammate Derek Jeter. Last week Jeter had five hits in one game, including a home run for his 3000th hit. Over the years, there have been countless New York Yankees who have had illustrious careers, and have been ushered into the Hall of Fame. But only one Yankee has ever had 3000 hits-Derek Jeter.
Jeter is normally a cool customer, but he admitted to feeling the pressure as he approached the 3000 hit plateau. “I'm glad it's over,” he said after the game. “I was nervous!” Memory serving me correctly, I believe that Bobby Hull and Roger Maris experienced the same feelings as they approached their respective record-breaking marks.
Hull recorded fifty goals in fifty games to shatter a National Hockey League mark. Maris had sixty-one home runs in 1961 to top Babe Ruth's total. Hank Aaron also experienced pressure as he approached Ruth's career total. He also had to put up with death threats, as he was African American, and it did not sit well with some fans that he might break Ruth's record. Water under the bridge at this point, thank goodness.
The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista also took part in the Derby. He leads the Majors in home runs, and broke the Blue Jays' team record of a fellow Dominican, George Bell, just before the All Star break. Bautista now has 31 dingers, Bell had 29 at the break. Unfortunately, he did not get untracked in the Derby. No big deal. I recall a few players who took months to get back into their groove following success in the Home Run Derby. Jose should enjoy the break, and prepare for the grind until October, truly a long season.
The Yankees head into Toronto this coming weekend for a four game series. The Jays are eleven games back of the Bronx Bombers, and will need to make up ground quickly if they want to experience post-season play. Bring on the Dog Days of Summer!
July 14, 2011
Monday, July 04, 2011
Hunter's First Blue Jay Game
The man sitting behind us in Section 115 wore a T shirt with the words “I’m not dead yet” emblazoned across his chest. I had to comment on the shirt. He accepted my admiration graciously. I told him that the little fellow sitting with us was our grandson, at his first Blue Jay game. He introduced me to his grandson, who would be about ten years old. “I remember my first Jays’ game,” the young lad added.
It was still about half an hour before the first pitch. We sat in the blazing sun, but Hunter was unfazed by the heat. He drank in the whole experience, as kids do. And he consumed great amounts of liquid as well: Coke, lemonade, Seven Up, plain old water. He also put away a baseball park hot dog before the anthems. He was ready.
He can smack a decent hit off a T Ball stand, and he did take his glove to the game. Other than that, he has had little experience with baseball. I pointed things out to him, to little avail. By the end of the game, I think he ended up with a pretty fair taste of the exercise.
Hunter is four. That means that his care givers in charge on that occasion had to react quickly to his request to use the facilities-four or five times before the seventh inning. I remember taking my own children to Exhibition Stadium for several games when the Jays played there. I remember the trips to the washroom. I always wanted to try the catheter with them. It seemed to make good sense. Verboten, said my wife.
Jo Jo Reyes had pitched adequately for the Jays, trying to salvage a win against the mighty Phillies. They had taken the previous two games against the Jays, and had Cliff Lee on the mound. He had chalked up many scoreless innings, and was most stingy at the beginning of the game. The Phillies put a few runs on the board, and looked like they might sweep the Jays. As is usually the case with popular northern teams, like the Yankees and the Red Sox, there were as many Philly fans as there were Jays fans at the park-all told, about 26 000.
I knew that one of the keys to a successful day with Hunter would be to keep him on the move. We circumnavigated the entire park on the 100 level in the fourth inning. He got to sample 3D television, and enjoyed the ocean scenes more than the soccer. Quite understandable. He sent a message via the internet to his mother. He was rewarded with a Jose Bautista poster for his effort.
He explained to the Sportsnet girl that he had broken his arm when he fell off the monkey bars at school, on the last day. He will be on the “DL” for eight weeks. All recorded for posterity. He did not explain the stitches on his forehead. Those came during the street dance in Wellington. That is my guilt trip. I was in charge.
We moved to shaded seats directly behind the Jays’ bullpen in left field after the fifth inning. One of the smartest decisions I have made in my life. He consumed another beverage, made a couple more trips to you know where. He also became fascinated by the catcher’s gear. He has decided to play goal in the winter, and be a catcher in the summer.
Octavio Dotel was warming up in the bullpen. I always enjoy watching that activity. The ball really smacks the catcher’s mitt. It’s intimate. It grabbed Hunter’s attention, for a few seconds.
In the eighth inning, the Jays unloaded on the Phillies. Thames smacked his third homer in the last five games. Bautista lashed his twenty-seventh of the year. Lind singled, and Encarnacion drove him home with another home run. It was electric. Hunter gave high fives to everyone nearby. He wiggled when they played “YMCA”. He told us that the big kids at school dance to that song. He added, “The big kids in Grade Three”.
Dotel shut the door on the Phillies in the ninth inning to preserve the win.
Hunter was fast asleep when we hit the Don Valley Parkway. I think it was a successful day.
July 4, 2011