Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Baseball in the Land Of Edison

Baseball in the Land Of Edison

Thomas Edison with the Philadelphia Athletics

Thomas Alva Edison always said that he came to Fort Myers, Florida, because of the weather. When scouting for an appropriate place to set down roots, he spotted land on the Caloosahatchee River. It suited him perfectly, particularly because of the bamboo plants on the site. He was in the process of trying to find an ideal filament for his light bulb project.

Many years later, he noticed that baseball had arrived in Fort Myers, in the form of the Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack was in charge of the team. The year was 1925, a few short years before Edison was to pass away. Edison loved baseball, and made a point to visit the team at Terry Park.

A marvelous stadium had been constructed near the downtown area of the city, sufficiently large to house more than 5 000 spectators. The Athletics remained in Fort Myers until 1936. The Cleveland Indians trained there in 1941 and 1942. In 1955, the Pittsburgh Pirates came to town and stayed until 1968. The last Major League franchise to train at the site was the Kansas City Royals, who stayed and played from 1969 to 1987. Presently, the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox train in Fort Myers.

Terry Park was virtually levelled in 2004 by Hurricane Charley. Decisions were made to rebuild the stadium to its original grandeur; however, financial restraints led to a substantial downsizing for the main stadium. It houses less than 1000 seats. There are three other wonderful ball diamonds attached to the complex. Many significant ball tournaments take place there nowadays, including the Roy Hobbs Tournament.

Edison enjoyed taking a few at bats with the Athletics. As is shown in the photograph, his form was not perfect. Nonetheless, he did manage on one occasion to smack the ball, hitting Ty Cobb on the shoulder. It was reported that Ty Cobb forgave the inventor.

On another occasion, Edison invited the team over to his place for a fine cigar and libations. He distributed the cigars to the players, and lit up his own stogie. He then noticed that none of them smoked. He asked Connie Mack about the situation. Mack told him that the players had decided not to light the cigars, as they were a special gift from a very special man. "Nonsense', indicated Edison, and he had another round of cigars distributed for smoking purposes.

As a former Yankee fan, I was well aware of the reputation that Bath Ruth had in the city of New York. He had such influence that even Yankee Stadium was know as "The House that Ruth Built". While touring the Ford and Edson Estates in Fort Myers, I discovered that Edison also entered into the mining business later on in his life. It was not a great success, but his company did produce cement. His product was used in the building of the stadium. You get the point. At the Estates, we say the Yankee Stadium is the "House that Edison Built".

But enough of that history. Our focus is now on the Toronto Blue Jays, and their quest for a third World Series Championship. They have their hands full with the pesky Kansas City Royals. Their win Monday night was a step in the right direction to achieve the goal.

And yes, I believe there was an election Monday!!

Friday, October 16, 2015


Bat Flips!

There has been a host of nonsense and tomfoolery about a certain "Bat Flip" that took place recently in a Major League Baseball game.

In a critical situation in the late innings, Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays launched a home run. After watching it for a few seconds, he flipped his bat and rounded the bases.

An entire nation watched in awe. That would be the nation north of the United States. The fate of the Blue Jays has captured the attention of all Canadians.

Election? What election? It's a good thing a lot of Canadians have already voted. In record numbers, I believe.

Today's paper says that the Kansas City Royals will be in Toronto on election day. game Time 8:07pm.

And will all eyes be glued to watch the election results? Forgetaboutit. At least until the game is over. At any rate, there will still be people voting in some parts of the nation.

I thought that Bautista's shot was good enough. I jumped off the couch when I saw the bat fly.

I grabbed this off Facebook a moment ago. Hope you like it.

I still think Jose's is the best.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The Season begins-2015-2016 NHL

The Chicago Black Hawks opened the 2015-2016 regular season last Wednesday night in Chicago. Due to the fact that they were celebrating their third Stanley Cup win in six years that evening, they did it with style. The United Center, also known as the Madhouse on Madison Avenue, was filled to the brim, and it was a little bit difficult to hear a pin drop.

Before the opening faceoff, the Hawks were re-introduced to their fans. A very loyal group. All players walk a red carpet, veterans and rookies, as well as the club ambassadors. Denis Savard, Tony Esposito, and Bobby Hull walked the gauntlet to the accolades of the fans. Later in the evening, Stan Mikita was also recognized, and he was represented by his wife and grandson.

                                             Our great hosts, Jody and Steve

We arrived on the scene just as the first player exited from the arena to greet the fans. There was a great “swoosh” from an air gun as confetti showered down on the player. Commentators on a platform above the crowd chatted about each player as he greeted as many fans as possible in his trip down the carpet. Plenty of ‘High Fives” and “Selfies”. A nice greeting from the fans, almost all clad in Hawks jerseys.

Also on hand was Gary Bettman and the rest of the brass from the NHL. I cornered Donald Fehr. I told him that I was impressed with his work. I then asked him why he left baseball as the head of the players, and moved to hockey. "I had heard that hockey players were quality individuals. And it has proven to be true."

Following the warmup, the players and team personnel lined up for the unveiling of the Stanley Cup banner. It was an impressive ceremony, lasting more than half an hour. Former Hawk Ed Olczyk is the Hawks television colour analyst. He handled the introductions from the podium. As is often the case, the cheers are louder for favourites. Robert Marvin Hull received a rousing reception, as did Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz. His family has been in the hockey business since 1954, when his grandfather bought the team.

Once the banner was raised, and the anthem sung, the teams got down to business. With less than two minutes gone, the Rangers struck first. They also added two more markers in the first period, and the Hawks could not dig themselves out of that hole. They replied with one goal in the first period. Rookie Artemi Panarin scored with assists going to Patrick Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Panarin was a free agent signing this past May. He is 23 years old. I am certain he will be asked for his birth certificate to prove his age for the next 20 years. He looks about sixteen years old. He began playing in the KHL, Russia’s top league when he was 16. Last year he had 62 points in 54 games in the KHL. I suspect he will do very well in the NHL.

Teuvo Teravainen played on the same line with Panarin. Only 21, he is also going to be a bright star for the Hawks.  After the game, I spoke with him about the young Russian. “He is going to be really good for us. He adds to the depth on the team.” Many scribes felt that the opening ceremonies dragged on too long, affecting the Hawks’ game. The young Finn commented: “It may have slowed us a little bit. But it was really awesome! It was great to be part of it. So many great memories.” He added that it doesn’t help when you lose, and the Rangers ended up on top 3-2.

Andrew Shaw also enjoyed the pre game festivities. After the game he told me that he felt the Hawks had a slow start. “I just think we did not play our systems the way we are used to playing.” Naturally, the Rangers and their goalie Henrik Lundqvist worked hard to keep the Hawks off balance. The puck did go in the Ranger net with one minute left in the third period. Shaw was serving a minor penalty at the time, along with the Rangers Keith Yandle. They had been battling in front of the Ranger net. Andrew was slightly miffed at the call. “I thought they might have let that one go. They hadn’t called it all night.”

Alas, the ice is broken on another season. More than 80 games to go in the regular season. Last year the Hawks also had 23 playoff games. Win enough, you get to hoist the Cup! Game on!

James Hurst-sportslices.blogspot.com
October 13, 2015     

Monday, October 05, 2015




I was severely chastised a couple of times this past week for not taking the time to reflect upon the life of Yogi Berra. We lost Yogi about a week ago. He left an indelible mark on the game of baseball, and also on the lives of all baseball fans.

Yogi grew up in St. Louis in the same neighbourhood as Joe Garagiola, and the two became fast friends on the sandlots. Interestingly enough, they both became catchers in the major leagues.

Berra was perhaps the best-loved of all baseball characters from years ago. He began his career on September 22, 1946 with the New York Yankees. He remained with the Yankees for 18 years. He did play four games for the New York Mets in 1965, the last of his career.

Records show that Yogi was an All Star 18 times, and that he was the Most Valuable Player three times in the American League. Of all the moments that remain with us from his career, perhaps the most memorable was when he rushed out to the mound to hug Don Larsen. Larsen had just pitched the only perfect game in major league history. Berra was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Rare is the photo that does not portray Berra with a huge smile upon his face. He loved the game, and everything that went with it. Even though he played in an era of salaries that do not compare with those of the present day, he was careful with his money. A recent analysis suggested that Berra had a net worth of five million dollars.

Following his playing career, Berra was a manager in the majors for several years. Yogi lived in New Jersey, and his back yard adjoined the yard of John McMullen, at one time the owner of the New Jersey Devils. Belleville’s Rick Meagher played for the Devils at that time, but was on the  injured list. He sat in the box with McMullen and Yogi. One of the Devils took a stick to the head in the first period, and bled profusely. He was led off the ice, towel to his head.

As the second period progressed, Yogi noticed that the same player was back on the ice, playing a regular shift. He asked Rick about it. Meagher told him that the player likely took a few stitches, probably without freezing. Yogi, completely amazed, told Meagher that he had lost a pitcher once for two weeks, due to a hangnail!

I first saw Berra play when I went to Yankee Stadium in 1954. At that time I was a Yankee fan, and the experience was most worthwhile. On a recent visit to the new Yankee Stadium, there were special presentations, and Yogi was involved. He went to the paying field in a golf cart, and it was apparent that he was not in good health. Sometimes, we just want our heroes to live forever, do we not?

As I am sure you are aware, Yogi became famous for many famous quotes.  “It ain’t over until it’s over” is perhaps the most quoted. But there are many others, too many to quote here.

A couple of gems: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.” “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”

Baseball has certainly lost one the greats of the game. Sorry it took me so long to bring it to your attention.

James Hurst
October 5, 2015 

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