Tuesday, July 28, 2015


At the Conclusion of the Pan American Games-2015



As an avid fan of international sports contests and games, I was intrigued when an announcer mentioned that there were tickets remaining for the Closing Ceremonies of the Pan American Games in Toronto. I had not seen any of the events, but caught some of the action on TV. I watched the conclusion of the basketball final between Canada and Brazil. Canada trailed by 25 points at the half, narrowed the gap to six points in the second half, then ran out of steam. Their silver medal was the first for this country, ever, in basketball. It is indicative of the growth of the sport in the past twenty years.



I was intrigued enough to go on line to see what tickets might be available. In short order, I bought a pair, at $ 95 each, to attend the closing ceremonies. I heard that a special commemorative program was going to the first 10 000 to enter the gates, so I planned to get there early. As we often do, we drove to Oshawa, and took the GO train from that station. The bonus at that point was that the train was free, with the purchase of the ticket for the Closing Ceremony. We arrived about three minutes before the train left the station, another positive.



Once we had arrived at Union Station, we walked along Front Street to the Rogers Centre. They have completed all of the repairs on the street, for your information. It seemed that they were repairing that area in front of the Royal York Hotel forever. It certainly was a vibrant walk. People of all nationalities had taken to the streets on that fine day. No jacket required.



Our seats were in the upper area of the Rogers Centre, the “500” level. We were not alone, as the entire section was full. There were very few vacant seats in the Dome. Those that promote had done a good job. They had hired Kanye West and “Pitbull” to head the list of entertainers at the event. A token Canadian, Serena Ryder, was also thrown into the mix, to provide the 33% Canadian Content.



There has been much controversy concerning the selection of the entertainers at the event. That discussion continued after the show. I was amazed at the acoustics, and the brilliant use of technology to get all of the acts co-ordinated for the show. And then, somehow, there was a failure. Near the conclusion of Kanye’s presentation, the music stopped in the middle of a song, and his microphone did not function. He tried to continue, but without success. He tossed the microphone in the air, and departed.



Well! That has really upset the group that did not want him to perform in the first place. Personally, I am not terribly fond of his musical interpretations. But he has garnered 57 Grammy nominations, and has won 21 Grammys. Obviously, he is doing something right. His fans stood throughout his presentation, and mouthed the words of every song.



Armando Christian Perez is presented in the program as: musician, performer, business entrepreneur, fashion icon, and actor. As indicated, we know him as “Pitbull”. He certainly put on a better show than Kanye, and had the audience in the palm of his hand. All of the athletes who had paraded into the stadium got the groove much easier with his presentation.



Alas, all of this kerfuffle has little to do with sport. There were flags lowered, and others raised. The next Pan American Games will take place in Lima, Peru. We were entertained by Peruvians, with bits of Peruvian culture woven into the performance. All in all, a fine evening.



James Hurst

July 28, 2015. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Roy Bonisteel Canadian Citizenship Reaffirmation Ceremony

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


The 50 Greatest Dodger Games of All Time


J. P. Hoornstra



There was a knock on our door last fall, just after we had settled in. It is a long and exhausting journey to Fort Myers from Wellington, and it takes me some to adjust. I opened the door to my good friend Mike Richey. He handed me a baseball. It had been signed by Carl Erskine. Mike hails from Pendleton, Indiana, which is a stone’s throw from Anderson. Erskine resides in Anderson.



Erskine grew up in Anderson, attended high school, and still lives there. He will be 89 in December. Erskine played for the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn, then in Los Angeles. He was fortunate to play for the Dodgers at a time when they established themselves as the best team in baseball. They won the World Series in 1955, the first time in franchise history.



He played for the Dodgers from 1948 to 1959, and retired because of injury. He entered the business world, and later became president of the Star Bank of Anderson. His philanthropic work in the state of Indiana is extensive. He donated land to the Anderson Community School System. The Erskine Elementary School was built on the site.



The exploits of the Dodgers from that era are well recorded in Roger Kahn’s great book, “The Boys of Summer”. Another book on Dodger baseball has recently hit the shelves: “The Fifty Greatest Dodgers Games”. It was written by J. P. Hoornstra who is the ultimate authority on Dodger baseball. He reports on the team for the Los Angeles News Group. I am certain that he bleeds “Dodger Blue”.



For many years, beginning in the early 50s, I was a New York Yankee fan. It was not difficult because they were in the hunt every year. They had the most glamorous players, and they were, in fact, the closest franchise to the main cities in Canada. My visit to Yankee Stadium in 1954 to see the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians sealed the deal for me.



The fifty chapters in the book tell the tales of the fifty games that Hoornstra has selected. In the countdown from 50, chapter 11 refers to Manager Charlie Dressen’s time with Erskine. “Oisk” was the name attached to Erskine. It is a derivative of his last name in “Brooklynese”. In 1952, Oisk had just pitched the fifth game of the World Series, all eleven innings. After the game, he fielded questions from the media, while shaving. He had a date that evening. It was his fifth wedding anniversary.



The Dodgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in that game on an RBI single from Andy Pafko, a sacrifice fly from Pee Wee Reese, and a two run homer off the bat of Duke Snider. The Yankees came storming back and took the lead. Erskine was sure that he was going to get the hook at that stage; however, in his trip to the mound, Dressen asked Erskine what his plans were for that evening. He retired the next nineteen Yankee batters, with none reaching first base. He was supported by great fielding, particularly by Pafko and Carl Furillo. Yankee manager Casey Stengel remarked, “I never saw two better catches anywhere”. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost the next two games, and the Series.


The chapters are not in any chronological order. Each one is a fine read all on its own. Little fragments of baseball history.


As is the case with these reviews, this book will be on the shelves of the Wellington Library in a week. A must read for any Dodger fan.



James Hurst

July 14, 2015



Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Canada Day with the Blue Jays!



Prior to the game on Canada Day, the roof was closed at the Rogers Centre, also know in another life as the SkyDome. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox were preparing to take the field for the third game in a four game series. Several dozen military types took the field, caressing the largest flag that I have ever seen. I was told that the roof was closed preventing an untimely gust of wind that could have transported a couple of the flag-holders to the upper reaches of the Dome.



Once the anthems had been sung, and the flag tucked away, the Blue Jays took the field for another day of baseball. Keep in mind that these guys do this 162 days a year. I only mention that to keep the losses and the victories in perspective. It is a very long season. Mark Buehrle took the mound for the Jays, and shut the Red Sox down, with the exception of a single to David Ortiz. Any time you can shut the big fella down, and leave him stranded on base, it is a victory of sorts.



Jose Reyes started things off for the Jays. To my mind, he is the straw that stirs the drink for the Jays. He is always in perpetual motion, and it is obvious that he loves to play the game. He singled to begin the game. Josh Donaldson also singled, moving Reyes to second. It was a bunt attempt, an indication from the Blue Jays that they just wanted to start the game with a run on the board. “Small ball”, they call it. They both advanced to third on a wild pitch. Jose Bautista struck out, the first out of the inning.



Edwin Encarnacion at that point was second on the team in home runs, trailing Bautista by two dingers. The ball he hit travelled to the second deck, giving the Jays a three run lead. Catcher Russell Martin was hit by a pitch, and took first base. I am certain that Major League baseball players expect to see close pitches following home runs. There is an element of frustration for the pitcher at that time, and that tiny emotional upset often leads to an errant pitch. On occasion, it is intentional.



Justin Smoak, a switch-hitter from goose Creek, South Carolina, lined an offering from Rick Porcello into the stands to bring home Martin. Kevin Pillar doubled to keep the parade alive, but was picked off at second base. Ezequiel Carrera flied out to right field to end the inning. Bottom of the first: Blue Jays 5-Red Sox 0. Always a great way to start the day. So much for small ball.



The Blue Jays continued to pour it on in the second inning, scoring twice. Smoak hit a towering home run in the third inning into the third deck, just above the name of Tony Fernandez. Most of you will remember Fernandez with a smile. Yet another Jay who played the game hard, day in and day out, somewhat in the style of Jose Reyes, without the hoopla.


Donaldson homered in the eighth inning to finish a triple shy of a cycle. He has received a voting spot to the All Star game next week. Well deserved. Certainly a step up from last year’s third baseman, Brett Lawrie. Bautista and Martin will accompany Donaldson to the mid-season classic. It is promoted as “The game that will decide who will host Game Seven in the 2015 World Series”. Pretty weak, from my perspective. Then again, the selection method leaves a lot to be desired. Fans vote to get their favourite players a chance to play. Each fan is limited to 35 votes on the internet. Maybe some astute political party will suggest the same for an upcoming election. Please, no.



This promises to be a roller coaster season for the Jays. Let not your emotions swing too high or too low. But with the guns on the staff, and the lack of sustained pitching, it will be an exciting second half for the Jays.



James Hurst


July 7, 2015  


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