Monday, March 24, 2014

Tickets to Saturday's record sellout an adventure

If you were part of that record 8,556 crowd at McKechnie Field last Saturday, raise your hand.
Sunburned? Yeah, mine, too.
And my father-in-law's.
Funny part is, we almost never made it to the ol' ballyard.
On my way to work Tuesday morning, I stopped by McKechnie to buy a pair of tickets and there was quite a line. Two of them actually.
Turns out there were a lot of folks trying to get their money back from tickets they'd bought to the St. Patrick's Day game with the Yankees.
That was the day before and it was a rainout.
Overheard one guy tell the ticket office person with some urgency they had to fly back to Pittsburgh that afternoon.
This went on for awhile.
Finally, when my turn came at the window, I asked the fellow for a couple of seats for Saturday's game with the Phillies in Section 12. We'd enjoyed seats there earlier for the March 1 game against the Rays.
Those seats weren't available, he told me, but a couple in the right field grandstand were.
Sold, I said, giving him my credit card.
Ticket envelope in hand, I returned to my truck, pulled onto Ninth Street West and continued onto work.
But before I reached 13th Avenue West, I decided to check the tickets.
Good thing.
They were for last Thursday night's game against the Orioles.

So I turned around and headed back to the McKechnie ticket office, hoping I could make an exchange then and there.
Uh, oh.
Those two lines weren't any shorter than the ones I'd navigated before.
So I waited and waited
Aah, but I was in luck.
The woman in front of me wanted tickets to Thursday night's game with the Orioles.
Then a guy at the front of the line, who'd just finished his business at the window, announced he had two tickets to Saturday's Phillies game for $15 apiece.
First row in Section 21 in left field.
And the game's a sellout, he said.
So, bing-bang-boom, I sold my tickets to the woman for face value ($28), then turned around and paid the man for his tickets.

Of course, leave it to my mother-in-law to joke I'd bought counterfeit tickets.
They weren't.
Got the sunburns from nine innings in Section 21's first row to prove it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Garrity compassion a powerful example for state

The images of Josh Hunter are indelible even after all the years have gone by.
Images conjured up by news the Florida Clemency Board has heard an appeal from the former Braden River High School head football coach’s family and friends to reduce his 10-year sentence for DUI manslaughter.
The first image was from the 2003 state championship weightlifting meet at Lakewood Ranch High School, where he coached the girls team.
When one of Hunter’s lifters won her weight class title, she leaped into his arms amidst a cloud of chalk dust and left her handprints on his black T-shirt.
A joyful moment.
The second image was the extreme opposite.
Hunter was forlorn standing outside Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church in 2009 after the funeral mass for his best friend and coaching colleague, Doug Garrity, killed when Hunter rolled his truck after an afternoon of drinking.
Numerous people embraced Hunter, but the Braden River coach was the picture of despair.
His irresponsibility had cost his buddy his life.
He knew, too, the state would exact a harsh penalty, which it eventually did.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

That lucky osprey feather packs some punch

Lucky osprey feather works for Andrew McCutchen

There’s a cool story that goes with the osprey feather Lloyd Fait wears with his Pirates Booster Club ballcap while on duty working security at McKechnie Field.
The feather floated down from a nest atop one of the light towers during batting practice before the Pirates March 7 game with the Twins. Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen picked it up and stuck it in his dreadlocks.
Upon returning to the dugout, the 2013 National League MVP gave the feather to Fait and told him to wear it.
So what happened?
McCutchen homered that game and told the usher to keep wearing the feather.
Hope Mathews, a fifth-grader at Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School, and Elise Raimon, a Haile Middle School seventh-grader, will have their handiwork in 2014 Embracing Our Differences art exhibit at Sarasota’s Island Park and at Bradenton’s Riverwalk beginning March 28. Hope’s teacher Kathy Kushmer. Elise’s is Joseph Gibson.
• Last but not least, maybe you noticed Wednesday's sign on the Shake Pit marquee along Manatee Avenue West.
If you didn't, what the message means is this:
After 40 years in this business, including the past 16-plus years with the Herald,
retirement is right around the corner for yours truly.
My last day is next Friday, March 28.
Wish me luck.
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Giving blood to meet favorite Pirate player

Brad Slopey didn't want to have his blood drawn.
Who can blame him?
Born with Down syndrome, the Pittsburgh Pirates fan had already undergone more procedures than he could count.
So when Dr. Joe Coroso, their family physician, needed blood work done for a regular checkup several years ago in Pittsburgh, Brad told him no thanks.
"He's always been reluctant," his father, Jim Slopey, said. "He had open heart surgery at five and a lot of surgeries since then."
But Coroso, who was also the Pirates team physician at the time, had an idea.
"Joe asked Brad, 'Who's your favorite Pirate?'" Slopey's dad recalled. "At the time, it was Jay Bell."
Bell was a Pirate infielder from 1989-1996.
"Joe says, 'If I arrange for you to meet Jay Bell, will you h ave blood drawn?'" the father related. "Brad said, 'Yeah,' So we came down here (McKechnie Field), met Jay Bell and we’re watching the game and Jay Bell comes to bat.
"Brad yells, ‘Hey, Jay Bell, hit a home run!'
"Jay turned around and goes, 'Hey, Brad Slopey! Give blood!’"
And he did.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Yard sale an entrepeneurial exercise, education

Yard sales were never a big thing for me.
Never went to one.
Never held one.
Until last Saturday morning, that is.
The event was to raise money for our niece, a freshman at the University of Florida, and by our family's modest standards it was a success.
It was an education for yours truly, too.
Amazing how people will pony up money for stuff which had been thatclose to going to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity or the Kidney Foundation or whomever.
Like a pair of weathered poolside recliners we'd  been wanting to unload.
They weren't that comfortable and the only thing they did was leave rust marks on our pool deck.
Sold both of them for $5.
Or a bouquet of plastic flowers we were always threatening to throw out.
A neighbor bought it for $1.
Then there was this gizmo my sister-in-law brought over. You lie down on your back and place your lower legs on these two holders atop the device that vibrate. It's supposed to be good for your back.
It'll never sell, I thought.
Not only did a woman buy it -- after a hilarious demonstration by my game sister-in-law -- but she bought a bunch of other items, too.
Which is more than I can say for the five Hawaiian shirts I put out for the cause.
Only sold one for $3.
Anyway, the yard sale went well enough the family is planning another one in June.
Can't wait.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

City Council should support Turning Points

The next time Adele Erozer sees Bradenton City Council members Bemis Smith or Gene Gallo inside Turning Points at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center will be the first time.
That goes for Gene Brown, too.
They’d be most welcome, Erozer said, to see what really goes on there.
Their colleagues, Harold Byrd and Pat Roff, have been there, however, and are personally familiar with the nonprofit on 17th Avenue West that offers help and hope to the down-and-out.
Which is why the Turning Points executive director is vexed by the council’s 5-0 vote to convey its misgivings about changes there.
“De facto expansion,” one council member described it.
Improvement is more like it.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Mercedes shows winning style at Trop meet

Big ups to Mercedes Boyles, a Level-4 gymnast at South Florida Gymnastics. At the Gasparilla Classic at the Trop, she took first on bars, floor and beam, was second on vault and won first place overall in her age division, scoring 37.375, her best meet of the season.
• Duffy’s Tavern boss Peggi Davenport wants all the revelers in Sean Murphy’s annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Holmes Beach Sunday to know the fabulous Dunedin Pipe Band will perform not only during the parade but afterwards at Duffy’s.
• The one and only Coach Eddie Shannon is 92 years young.
By the way, the Eddie M. Shannon Scholarship Golf Tournament is April 26 at Terra Ceia Bay Golf & Tennis Resort, 2802 Terra Ceia Blvd., Palmetto.
It’s sponsored by the Pi Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Call B.C. Pratt Jr. at 941-722-5006 for details.
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Superintendent unloads big pitch for investigation

 One of Rick Mills’ first official acts as Manatee County’s new school superintendent was throwing out the first pitch at McKechnie Field last March.
It was a breaking ball.
A year later, he’s firing a heater all the way to Tallahassee.
Whether it’s a strike we’ll have to wait and see.
Mills wants the Florida Department of Education’s Inspector General to investigate the Manatee school district’s financial practices under its previous administration from 2010-2012.
Principally, that would be Tim McGonegal, Mills’ predecessor, and Jim Drake, the former assistant superintendent responsible for finance.
Those are just some of the allegations Mills unloaded in last Thursday’s letter to the inspector general.
Malfeasance? Misfeasance?
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Manatee High School alum new U.S. Army Ranger

 A salute to Christian Marsden. The 2013 Manatee High School alum graduated Feb. 21 from the U.S. Army Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the elite 1st Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Marsden made it through 31 weeks of training at Fort Benning, including RASP, which constitutes eight weeks of the most physical and mentally demanding infantry training.
His proud family includes parents Holly and Roger and brother Nick
• If you want to see Manatee County’s impressive scholastic dance team talent, come out to see the sixth annual, “Yes, We Can DANCE” showcase, March 15 in the Samuel R. Neel Performing Arts Center at the State College of Florida , 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton.
Showtimes are 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For details, call 941-792-8274.
Or email
• Big ups to Bashaw Elementary School’s Hannah Rudolph. Running with her dad, Rudy, the 10-year-old recently completed her first distance race, the Cinderella Royal Family 5K run, in 49 minutes. It was part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon event. Hannah also raised more than $150 for the Manatee County No-Kill Shelter.
Her proud family includes siblings Abigail Rudolph, Joshua Rudolph, Michael Stambaugh and Jessica Rogers, as well as mom Lisa Rudolph.
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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monopolizing TV remote thing of the past

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is still intact, thank you.
I’m no longer monopolizing the TV remote like I once did.
You can ask my wife.
When the recent Winter Olympics were drawing near, Sherri was making noises about watching them on our bedroom TV alone since she knew I was not a big fan.
She didn’t want to listen to my saracastic running commentary, either.
Especially during the figure skating.
Well, surprise, surprise!
We watched the Sochi games every night.
That included the figure skating, definitely a first for me.
Sherri was amazed.

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