So, I was just glancing over some of my earlier posts, and I discovered a serious factual error. In my post entitled “Elmoo and Elvis”, dated 1/08/2017, I said Mike’s late wife, Gena, had died in 1977, the same year as had Elvis Presley. Not at all! She passed from this life in 1992. Indeed, Elvis died in 1977, the same year that Mike and Gena had married, and the post correctly indicated that it was posted on their 40th wedding anniversary. Sorry for the confusion. Sloppy proofreading on my part. I would like to blame Mike, but I can’t. He definitely would have picked up on that mistake right away.
I awakened early this morning to a crashing thunderstorm. Mike’s phone kept going off with alerts informing him of the obvious. Glad I was indoors. The other cats were very nervous. Mike got up and turned on the stairwell light for us. It didn’t make the other cats any less nervous, but it made him feel better. Speaking of obvious, let me tell you about one of my pet peeves. I find it extremely irritating when someone says “obviously” when the referenced fact is not obvious in the least. This is particularly annoying and common in broadcast sports journalism, especially on radio broadcasts. I hear quite a lot of this because Mike frequently will have a game on or listen to sports talk radio. Granted, it is a refreshing break from politics. I’ll give you an example. One of the conversations I hear is whether LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan. The other day someone on the radio said, “Obviously, Michael Jordan was surrounded by better players on his team than LeBron James.” In what way is that obvious? A person as old as Mike would remember Michael Jordan and his teams, but not me! I think it is a fact (you can look this up if you are interested – I could be wrong)that Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship until the Bulls got Scottie Pippin, who is considered by some (same stupid argument extended to 50 players) to be one of the top 50 NBA players of all time. But the greatness of a player is not measured only by his athletic ability, or by his personal statistics. It is also measured by whether he elevates the play and success of the other players. Anyway, what is obvious about this is that if something can’t be seen it is not obvious. I won’t bore you with other examples. But if you listen to the radio or participate in any sort of communication with people you will notice this use of “obviously” often. I hope it irritates you as much as it does me.
And while I am on the subject of listening to the radio, I heard Mike tell of how he used to listen to the radio before his family had a television set. And even after they did (his father eventually gave in – he had been holding out waiting for a color TV) he didn’t get to watch after 9PM. Mike remembers listening to the Indiana State High school basketball championship final game in 1954, the year Milan beat Crispus Attucks High School of Indianapolis. He thinks the score was something like 32-30. He also has a vague recollection that one of the Milan players was surnamed Plum. You could look this up too, if you are interested. This David vs. Goliath story was eventually turned into the movie, Hoosiers. Also of interest, a sophomore on the Crispus Attucks team was a fellow named Oscar Robertson, one of the 50 Best Ever. The following year Crispus Attucks went 34-1 and won the Indiana State Championship, the first ever for an all-black high school in Indiana. They got the traditional parade in Indianapolis, but the after-parade party was held outside the city limits. The authorities were afraid of the black people having too good of a time and getting rowdy, I suppose. In 1956 they went undefeated and were state champs once more.
In case you were wondering, Crispus Attucks was the first man killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770, and generally regarded as the first casualty of the American Revolution. He was of mixed-racial descent, with some African and some Native American (Wampanoag) elements, but really, not that much is know about him.
And now that I think about it, I also remember hearing Mike talk about another game he heard on the radio in 1959. It was played in Milwaukee between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Braves. These are the same Braves that now play in Cobb County about a mile from Mike’s office. (They are still called the Atlanta Braves, though. The Cobb County Braves sounds lame.) So, this particular broadcast was not live. Rather, it was some guy reading a telegraph wire and embellishing the information, pitch by pitch. Very dry, but at that time Mike was really into sports, and he was desperate for even low-value entertainment. The broadcast was on when he went to bed that night. He shared a room with his brother who must have heard the game as well. I’m sure he would be able to tell you about it, because Bob never forgot anything, but sadly, he is no longer on this side of the Rainbow Bridge.
It was a dark and stormy night. Harvey (“Kitten”)Haddix pitched for Pittsburgh, and Lew Burdette pitched for Milwaukee. It was the most remarkable game ever played, some say. After 9 innings, neither team had scored, and not a single Milwaukee player had reached base. Today, it is rare to see a starting pitcher pitch 9 innings, and they are considered to have pitched well to get through 6 innings and give up 1 or 2 runs. But pitchers were real men in those days. Haddix and Burdette pitched 3 more innings each without giving up a run, and Milwaukee still had nobody to reach base. Haddix had retired 36 consecutive batters. Felix Mantilla led off the 13th inning and hit a ground ball to Don Hoak at third base. Hoak threw to first but the ball was in the dirt, and Mantilla reached on an error. The imperfect end of a perfect game effort. The next batter was Hank Aaron (the same Hank Aaron whose statue is standing in front of Sun Trust Stadium, the land of the free and home of the Braves). He was walked intentionally. The next batter was Joe Adcock. He was a big guy who could hit the ball a mile, and he whacked it over the fence for a 3 run home run and a Milwaukee victory. So you might imagine that the final score was 3-0. But no. After Hank Aaron rounded second base and Mantilla scored, Aaron left the base path and returned to the dugout. He must have been more than ready to take his shower and go home. Adcock, meanwhile ran all the way around the bases to home plate. Initially, the final score was posted as 2-0. However, the next day, the league office changed the score to 1-0. Obviously, Aaron hadn’t scored because he returned to the dugout after touching second base. Adcock was ruled out for passing Aaron on the base path. But baseball’s officialdom wasn’t done. Over 30 years later the Great Powers who decide such things stated that Haddix had neither pitched a no-hitter nor a perfect game. In a way, of course, he hadn’t, but I think it was petty of Major League Baseball to say so. The main thing that bothered Haddix was that he lost the game. By the way, when Haddix broke into the major leagues he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. He had grown up on a farm in western Ohio, not that far, really, from Milan, Indiana. There wasn’t much to do but work on the farm and play baseball in those days. His first major league victory was against, you might have guessed it, Lew Burdette, who was pitching for the then Boston Braves, in 1952. Haddix picked up his “Kitten” nickname that year because of his supposed resemblance to another left-handed pitcher on the Cardinal staff, Harry, “The Cat” Brecheen. Obviously.