Its been a while since my last blog and I apologize to any readers who had developed the bad habit of reading my ramblings. Sometimes you just need a nudge to write. It might be a triumph or a tragedy that pushes the urge to type. This time it's the tragedies that we have felt over the past few months, people we have lost who directly or indirectly have had impacts on some or all of us.
First, Sparky Anderson
Skipper of my beloved Tigers, but more importantly the reason I took a high school head coaching job. I had been contacted by the Athletic Director at the high school in my district and was asked to interview for the vacant baseball coaching job. I initially declined, feeling my abilities lacking to do the job properly. On a trip with my Dad to Seattle to see the Tiges take on the Mariners, I read an interview the Seattle Times did with Sparky. He stated that there were baseball guys out there that had greater technical knowledge than he, but he felt that the most important aspects of being the head guy was organization and people management. After reading the article, I was contacted again by the A.D. and said yes to the interview, and subsequently got the job. In my first year we won the district tournament, qualified for state, and gave me the opportunity to coach the league's MVP (which consisted of writing his name on the line up card every game). Thanks Sparky.
Second, Dave Niehaus
This Mariner Hall of Fame broadcaster kept baseball fun, which all sports should be. My Dad was a huge baseball fan, having taken me to see several games at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. His love for baseball was a common ground that kept us going until his death. Listening to baseball broadcasts on an old kitchen radio was something he greatly enjoyed. When the Pilots were in Seattle, we could barely get reception out in the sticks of eastern Oregon, but Dad would have his ear up close to the speaker to hear every play. The enjoyment he got from listening to the games was something he passed on to me. One of the best announcers ever to call a game, Dave Niehaus had wonderful catch phrases. Who can forget Niehaus' signature "My Oh My"
or his shout after a bases clearing tater, "Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it is grand salami time!" He was a throw back to the old announcers who actually watched the game during broadcasts and could balance his anecdotes with the play on the field (are you getting the hint Joe G.?). We'll miss you, Dave.
And third, Officer Chris Kilcullen
I never met Officer Kilcullen, but from all reports he was a great guy. He gave his life while doing his job, that of keeping us all safe. An unnecessary tragedy that impacts all of us. His untimely death reminds all of us how important it is to appreciate the people around you and to let them know of your appreciation. Thank you Officer Kilcullen for all that you did in protecting us from each other.