I spent the entire day a week ago sorting out the program collection at the Newport Sports Museum, then interviewing John Hamilton for an upcoming piece in the WeAreSC magazine. Almost on purpose, I left some work undone so I could go back down next week and finish up and spend more time looking over all the neat stuff.
My thanks to those who have added to our collection so far, Aaron Sakamoto, George Cardamenis (though Manny Juncos) and Richard Shilling. I met Manny and Richard face-to-face and enjoyed talking with fellow Trojans.
Hopefully, you guys are checking your personal caches for those programs we could still use. The good news is that we have every home program dating back to 1988 in good shape, and other than a few that need replacement due to some damage, we have all home programs back to 1981. Check the list and if you have a box of stuff somewhere, and can part with what we need, let me know.
Great to see Batman in the college football hall of fame. Richard Wood was an amazing talent at LB, and its hard to think of anyone else better with uniform #83 on their back, even though we have had some other good ones!
I see where Gabe Pruitt got an agent, so he's a goner now. This is bad for him and bad for the University's basketball team. Tough news on both fronts.
The first glimpse of this news I got was in a roll at the bottom of ESPN News, wherein Jim Gray was reporting it to be true. I took it with my normal grain of salt; when working at other sports and news radio outlets in my career, it was a standing edict in almost every newsroom that if ESPN was reporting it, you HAD to get corroboration from an independent source before going on the air with it, as about half the time, it turned out NOT to be true and you would have to broadcast a retraction.
Such is the journalistic world of today, where everyone wants to be the first with a story, regardless of the actual facts.
Sports radio has not been around that long. Can you remember when it was just a 15-minute show at the end of the afternoon news on the old KMPC, and occasional updates on the all newser?
In 1983, I left my job in Riverside, CA, to join forces with my godfather, Hal Uplinger in putting together a staff and formatics for an all sports radio station. CNN Radio had commissioned Uppy with the job.
They bought the entire weekend's time from a small station in Corona, KWRM to try things out and see what worked: round tables, live reports, continual updates, call in shows, we tried everything we could. Really interesting and fun stuff to grow the format from scratch like a culinary school.
We had some good talent in the house, guys you have heard of like Geoff Nathanson, Fred Wallin and myself, along with some guys and some women who wanted to get their feet wet on the ground floor.
We got to cover the LA Olympics as fully accredited reporters.
Eventually, CNN bought the format we had found to be successful, and before even trying it themselves on a local or national level, sold it to a group in New York. That group took it and ran, calling their first ever sports station WFAN. I think you might have heard of them.
There are so very many all sports stations, locally and nationally now it's hard to keep track. They come and they go. None make very much money; none do all that well in the ratings. But only one was first…Sports Radio Network.
There ought to be a movie in this story somewhere, huh?
Nice win for the men's tennis team. Any win over the domers is a good one, in any sport! Beat Virginia.
At press time of this piece, the women are ahead of Miami in their round of 16 match.
The Griffith Park fire hit close to home for sure. Having grown up just south of Los Feliz Blvd, just off of Commonwealth (Cedarhurst Drive, home of the Rocks), the park was our backyard playground. We often rode bikes up to the Greek, down to the tennis courts, walked the Bird Sanctuary trails, and visited the Observatory regularly, as it was free to attend. A good place to take a date when you were low on cash. The-merry-go-round is wonderful any time of year; the ponies and miniature trains evoke memories of early childhood, as does Travel Town.
None of the landmarks were burned down, but the surrounding area took a huge hit. No homes were lost, but the beauty of the park, the largest in an urban setting in the U.S. suffered mightily. It will re-grow, of course, as nature always bats last.
I talked with Hoppe on the phone about it, and Steph Truitt, and thought of all of my friends who have enjoyed the park with me over the years. As a matter of fact, I'm taking my daughter Ronnie there tomorrow night for the planetarium show with Jenny and a friend of Ronnie's.
The councilman for the area, Tom Labonge is a long time friend. His family and ours have deep roots stretching back well back into the 1900's there in Silverlake and Atwater. Labonge was on camera (always the good politician) at every opportunity. He loves his area, and is out amongst ‘em constantly, leading hikes in the park, and fighting to preserve it and other areas which have become more beautiful lately under his guidance, such as the Atwater corridor, some parts of Hollywood and Silverlake and the Los Angeles River.
He's in the middle of tons of children in his family…I know four or five of ‘em. Great bunch of guys. I was closest with his younger brother Mark, who was in my brother Jerry's class at Marshall.
Speaking of Jerry, he is the girl's tennis coach at Marshall and head of the PE department there, and the other night in Commerce, he was awarded with the Victory with Honor award for the LA school district coaches. He personifies fair play and good relationships with his players, other teachers and coaches, and runs a good clean house. That can't be said for every coach in every sport, as I am sure you are aware.
Jerry does it right. I coached him when he was a kid, and he was also in my group at mountain camp a few times. I suppose I had some influence on him, but he took it to a whole other level. My sister and other brother were both there, and we are all quite proud of him, as our father no doubted is, and his mom would be.
He has outstanding fortitude and conviction to do that which is right, and always weighs things carefully before acting (a real Libran) and I have never heard him lie about anything. Some people take advantage of this nature in him and try to pull stuff, but he keeps close score and knows the good from the bad.
Way to go Jer!
John coaches the pole-vaulters on the Marshall track team, and has at least two boys and two girls going to the city finals. Outstanding!
My girls' basketball team has played its final game. We went a perfect 10-0 in winning the ARC high school league championship, including a win over our rivals the Santa Clarita Wolverines in the title tilt. Several of the girls had been with the team for five years, and I tried to put them on the floor together at the end. A few tears were shed, and not just by the players.
The team went something like 220-80 over their run, with numerous league and tournament championships, and a consolation title in the nationals a couple of years back in Las Vegas.
All but two girls are in the upper levels of high school ball now, with at least a few having college aspirations as far as playing. USC has sent letters to at least one. The other two, my daughter and her friend Nicole are volleyball players, having been run off of the girls varsity team at Valencia by a coach who screams no matter how good they do on the floor. They did not want to be coached that way, so changed sports. I wonder if Valencia could use a 6-4 center on their team…for that's what Nicole has grown to!
Loyal Trojan Gary Sommes of Smart and Final have sponsored the team for several years. Thanks Gary!
My baseball team is gasping on its way to the finish line. Blown up by Carson yesterday 15-1, to fall from a tie for first into fourth in the wild 6 team race, but playing poorly lately leads me to think this will be a fourth place club when it's all over. Good talent, at least one real prima dona, but not terribly cohesive in the field, and the pitching has started to get battered, no pun intended.
One other problem is competitive balance. I used to coach in the HIGHLY competitive league up at HART PONY baseball. The all star team that was third in a world series one year, won the world series two years later at the next level. Every game was played hard. Rules were in place so that the very best kids were in an upper division of ten teams; the rest in a lower league split into two divisions of ten teams each.
In Santa Monica PONY league, there are three teams in our division. 36 kids or so, THREE teams. We have one, maybe two guys who could play upper division ball at HART PONY. Here, everyone plays every other inning, and the teams bat the entire batting order, 13 guys in our case.
All well and good when the teams from our won park are playing each other, but when we play against teams from other leagues (a combined league due to lack of players apparently) we are at a distinct disadvantage. These teams from Mira Costa and Carson do not carry as many players as we do, and do not have to play every kid every other inning nor bat their entire order, and sometimes they don't. Their order, being 9 guys, allows them to come up more frequently than ours. It's no surprise that one of the MiCo teams and Carson are tied for first place.
Our coaches and umps casually dismiss the rulebook even when brought to their. This attitude, while wonderful for fostering good warm feelings and comradeship, serves the players poorly when coming to understand how the game is played, and certainly when it comes time for post season "all-star" tournaments.
As such, the exodus of all-star talent to travel teams and other leagues in other areas has been such that they have called a meeting to discuss how to best stave off the recent trend.
I am the first to call for leagues to have minimum or even equal playing time requirements and to make sure coaches teach the game as well as life lessons. So long as everyone plays by the rules of the game, and everyone plays by the same rules! Youth sports can be crazy and way too serious if you're not ready for it. There is a way to make it really fun and yet play hard and play to do your very best every moment of every game.
If it's a recreational league, then call it that, and leave it at that. Otherwise, it's time to get serious before all of the top talent vacates.
The job I have been offered has been delayed until June 1. I can't wait to get started. Thanks again for all of your kinds words and thoughts.